It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, and Kent does Christmas so well! Here at Catchpole & Rye we’re proud of our Kentish heritage and are keen to champion local products and services across all industries, not just our own. With this in mind, we have compiled an edit of things to see, do, eat and drink in Kent over the festive period. We guarantee that they’ll get you into the holiday mood!
Spending a few hours soaking up the bustling atmosphere and browsing the stalls at a Christmas market, preferably with a large glass of glühwein in hand, is an excellent way to get into the festive spirit. We love Canterbury’s traditional offering, which runs from 26 November until Christmas Eve.
Wrap up warm and take in the lovely views of a sparkling Calverley Grounds while gliding (or stumbling) your way around Tunbridge Wells’s open-air ice rink. Children of all ages will love the magical atmosphere. It’s open every day except Christmas Day until 2 January, but get your skates on – tickets are selling fast.
A rousing rendition of Oh Come All Ye Faithful and other favourites is an uplifting way to welcome in Christmas, and there are few settings more spectacular to do so than Canterbury Cathedral. Its Christmas Carol Services will be held on 23 December at 7.30pm and 24 December at 3pm. This is a hugely popular event and entry is on a first come, first seated basis so arrive early – it will be worth the wait.
We all enjoy eating hearty, home-cooked food over Christmas but if you’re in need of a break from the kitchen, let one of Kent’s acclaimed chefs look after you for an evening! Restaurant Apicius in Cranbrook, named after the ancient Roman gourmand, is cosy and unpretentious, with a frequently changing seasonal menu. For a place that oozes charm and character, try Thackeray’s, in Tunbridge Wells. Or, for something truly special, head to The West House in Biddenden. This is a local restaurant with a difference – it has held a Michelin star since 2004. Chef Graham Garrett focuses on top-quality local ingredients and is renowned for his complex, beautifully presented dishes.
Thackeray’s and The West House also sell vouchers – the perfect gift for a keen foodie.
‘We have always been passionate about supporting small independent producers,’ says Sarah Clout, owner of Holwood Farm Shop. ‘Shopping locally makes sense on so many levels. Yes, it helps to boost the local economy and reduces our carbon footprint, but perhaps most importantly, food that has had a short field-to-fork journey is fresher and tastes better, too.’
Christmas isn’t Christmas without a few bubbles and, with an award-winning winery just down the road, buying British is no sacrifice. Set among 22 acres of vineyards, Chapel Down in Tenterden is England’s leading wine maker and a lovely place for a day out.
We recommend treating yourselves to a case of Three Graces 2010 sparkling wine, which won a gold medal in the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships 2016.
The Festive Fizz case would make an excellent present for a patriotic wine lover – it comes with a guided tour and tasting voucher for those who’d like to learn more about the wine-making process. Another innovative gift idea is to lease a vine: perks include the chance to visit your vines, take part in the harvest and receive a case of custom-labelled wine.
From family fun to food and fizz, Kent has plenty to offer this Christmas (and beyond!). We recommend looking out for festive events happening near you and exploring the cornucopia of wonderful home-grown produce that is available up and down the UK. Not only will you reduce your food miles and find unique gifts – you’ll be supporting small British businesses to boot!