Muddy Bumper Guide
We have hunted high and low for the best family fun to be had in Kent and just a little further afield.
The summer holidays are ever nearing… dive for cover! But what’s this I see before me? Praise be! Swooping in at the last minute, like all good calvalry do, here comes the Bumper Summer Muddy Guide on what to do and where to take those mudlets… We have hunted high and low for the best family fun to be had in Kent and just a little further afield. Shall we…?
The Lost World, Bedgebury Pinetum, Sat 15 July
Join the brilliant Illyria theatre company again (the ones that put on Danny The Champion of the World last summer) for more outdoor theatre frolics. This year it’s this Sir Arthur Conan Doyle classic (starts at 2.30pm) so expect lots of prehistoric thrills, monster laughs and life-size dinosaurs (apparently) all in the beautiful Bedgebury setting. A must for all mini intrepid explorers.
Witness brave knights display spectacular jousting skills in an authentic arena – took my 8 year-old son last year to watch his first joust and he loved it. Each tournament begins with a procession from the Castle forecourt when Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn lead visitors across the grounds to the Jousting Arena complete with a Royal Box and professional compere.
Summer Holiday Tennis Camps, Evolution Tennis, July & Aug
This summer Evolution Tennis have a huge range of fab camps where your mudlets can have fun (and while they’re out of your hair you can too…) Groups are tailored to ensure all new players enjoy the right experience level while also being a great fun opportunity for more seasoned players. There’s loads of venues for you to choose from, including Brenchley &Matfield, Marden, Iden Green and Paddock Wood. My minis have done this club loads of times and have enjoyed it almost as much as I’ve enjoyed having them out the house for the morning!
Summer Maize Maze, Penshurst Place, 15 Jul – 3 Sep
The Penshurst Maize Maze is back once again this year, and they are keeping the design a closely guarded secret ready for the summer (we have tried to find out I promise). Open daily, the Maze will be ready and waiting for you to discover its concealed corridors and clues hidden within. Will you crack the Maize Maze message?
Vicars Picnic, Vicar’s Island, Yalding, 14-15 July
Have slightly older kids and want to introduce them to the festival experience? The Vicars Picnic is the perfect family-friendly, local festival with a fab Kid’s Field is every bit as popular as the musical line-up. Catering for all sizes and ages –past years have included climbing walls, tag laser, vibrant arts & crafts workshops, walkabout entertainers, facepainters, a science workshop, hula-hooping classes, rodeo bulls, reading corners and staffed inflatables from large slides and obstacle courses – to little bouncers for weeny ones.
Wealden Literary Festival, Boldshaves Garden, Woodchurch, Nr Tenterden, 15 – 16 July
The Wealden Literary Festival is a celebration of the outdoors, the natural world and the earth beneath our feet and this is the second year for this two-day event. Family-friendly, entrance for children aged 13 and under is free. Activities designed for children includes, talks and readings from children’s authors and illustrators; den-building, bushcraft and foraging.
Cherry Fair, Brogdale Collections, 16 July 2017
With over 400 varieties of Cherry in the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale this is the place if your nuts about fruit (or just like the fun and quirky). The Cherry Fair at Brogdale is packed with all possible forms of cherry entertainment – including a cherry pip spit challenges (niiiiice), the messy cherry pie eating competition, live music, local producers, craft demonstrations alongside yummy cooking demonstrations and special subject talks plus displays of cherries. Good wholesome fun.
Dogs Don’t do Ballet Theatrical Show, Groombridge Place, 16 July 2017
Based on the award-winning children’s book by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie, this fabulous feel-good show features music, songs, handcrafted puppets and Biff, the ballet-dancing dog (obvs). Biff is not like other dogs. He doesn’t do dog stuff like peeing on lampposts, or scratching his fleas, or drinking out of the toilet. No, Biff likes moonlight and music and walking on his tiptoes. You see, Biff doesn’t think he’s a dog. He thinks he’s a ballerina! Good choice if you have little ones.
The Tiger That Came To Tea, Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, Fri 21 – Sun 23 July
Direct from a smash-hit West End season this musical play based on the much-loved children’s book by Judith Kerr is beautifully adapted and put together. The doorbell rings just as Sophie and her mummy are sitting down to tea. Who could it possibly be? What they certainly don’t expect to see at the door was … Can you guess?
Drusillas Park; Creepy Crawlies Weekend, 22 July
Slither, slide and creep down to Drusillas Park and meet some amazing mini monsters. The Discovery Centre, open between 11am and 4pm, will be swarming with weird insects, slimy molluscs and scary spiders and experts from the British Tarantula Society will be available to answer your questions. For some people this is the perfect day out.
Knights & Princesses School, Hever Castle, 22 July – 28 Aug
At the end of each session, children will take part in a fun Have a Go Jousting activity before receiving their ‘Knight School Certificate’ and being officiated as knights and princesses of Hever.Classes last around 40 mins and take place at various times throughout the day.
Bedgebury butterflies, Bedgebury Pinetum, 22 July
There’s so much more to Bedgebury than dog walks and bikes – it’s a leading forest conservation area with heaps on offer for outdoor/wildlife lovers. Why not join Bedgebury’s butterfly specialist, Anna Picken, as she leads a family walk through the Pinetum in search of the butterflies that live there. You will learn about the habits of butterflies and the ways to identify them.
Whistable Oyster Festival, Sat 22 – Mon 24 July
Taking place at its new home on the Tankerton Slopes there’ll be the usual historic Landing of the Oysters, Seafront Procession and Grotters (little piles of oyster shells built on the beach and lit up at night) – accumulating with the Family Festival Finale on Monday 24 July. Head to the slopes for the Whitstabubble Picnic; bring a blanket and a basket of food and let the kids run wild through a host of free activities with plenty of bubbles. Let’s Fly a Kite is the traditional end to the day before heading down to the Horsebridge Beach for the festival finale…. Magical.
Family Archeology, Knole Park, Mon 24 July
Visit Knole on Family Monday during the summer holidays for a range of archaeology themed activities in the amazing grounds. We are always partial to a visit to Knole to see the amazing deer and stags and the lovely recently updated cafe.
The War And Peace Revival, The Hop Farm, 25 – 29 July
Love all things vintage? Of just got kids that love armoury and war bomber planes? Then you will want to hot foot it down to the Hop Farm for this celebration of military history and vintage lifestyle – featuring tanks and heavy armour, WW2 motorcycles, battle enactments, classic cars, vintage tractors, vintage dining, home front and animal farm, vintage clothing, fair ground, music and camping – to name but a few! Entertainment act, The Jive Aces, (above) will be amongst the many acts performing. Educational and entertaining all rolled into one.
Teddy Bears’ Picnic, Bore Place, Monday 31 July
Take your minis on a morning of exploring the Bore Place vegetable garden to spot the hiding bears amongst the seasonal produce and harvest some cucumbers and tomatoes. To prepare the picnic, they will make fresh sandwiches with Bore Place harvest (or even with some Bore Place honey, bears love honey!) and bake delicious scones. While the scones bake they will have the opportunity to meet our herd of dairy cows and then enjoy our picnic together with our bears (and a story or two) in the Green Man Glade.
Summer BBQ, The Curious Eatery, Boughton Monchelsea, every Sat, July & Aug
A fantastic day of scrumptious feasts and live music at a lovely, quirky and award-winning eatery – winner of Best Restaurant in Kent as voted by you in the Muddy Stilettos Awards! Enjoy all-day BBQs every Saturday, during the summer, with the usual friendly table service. Think Peri Peri Chicken, Chilli & Coriander Scarlet Prawns… salivating, much? Better still kiddies get a free sausage dog when an adult meal is purchased. Pass me the car keys please!
Junk Orchestra, Leeds Castle, 5 – 6 August
Join The Junk Orchestra on a supersonic journey of the UK’s finest recycled objects in this show for the whole family in the Maze area from 11am – 4pm. Learn how to build an orchestra, shake it to a recycled rave and join the band for a recycled rock concert. All that off-the-wall fun included in the price of admission.
Fireworks at Viking Bay, Broadstairs, 19 & 26 July, 2 & 23 Aug
Watch a fantastic firework display over Viking Bay in Broadstairs. There will be live music, food and entertainment throughout the evening, before the display lights up the skies.
Heroes, Heroines and Hoods, Leeds Castle, 12 – 13 Aug
The stories of legends, of Kings and Queens and other historical heroes are brought vividly and often hilariously to life in this interactive children’s theatre with a difference. Have a go at circus skills before and after the show including stilts, juggling, hula-hoops, diabolos, spinning plates and juggling machines.The stories of legends, of Kings and Queens and other historical heroes are brought vividly and often hilariously to life in this interactive children’s theatre with a difference. Have a go at circus skills before and after the show including stilts, juggling, hula-hoops, diabolos, spinning plates and juggling machines.
Castle Canines, Hever Castle, 5 & 6 Aug
This is a perfect one to get the kids and the pups out in the sun… Hever Castle has a paw-fect (he he) weekend for all dog lovers – with stalls, entertainments and prizes for the best pooches. Castle Canines is a weekend dedicated to our four legged friends – whether you own your own dog or just love them, there is something for everyone. Enjoy displays and entertainment from a variety of dogs including guide dog puppies, Pets as Therapy dogs and huskies from the Siberian Husky Welfare Association.
Dinosaur World, Marlowe Theatre, Fri 11 ‐ Sun 13 Aug
Grab your compass and join our intrepid explorer across unchartered territories to discover a pre-historic world of astonishing (and remarkably life-like) dinosaurs in this interactive family show. Meet a host of impressive creatures, including every child’s favourite flesh-eating giant, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Triceratops, Giraffatitan and Segnosaurus, to name a few. Hear me roarrrrrrr!
Children’s Theatre: Wind in the Willows, Leeds Castle, 17 & 18 Aug
Eye-catching costumes, toe-tapping music and larger than life characters promise to capture the imagination of the youngest of audience members whilst the sheer nostalgic charm of this beloved story is guaranteed to take older generations on a glorious trip down the riverbank onto memory lane with Badger, Rat, Mole and, of course, our favourite boy-racer Toad. Pack your picnic for the perfect summer treat for all the family from The Immersion Theatre.
Mr Alexander’s Travelling Show, Leeds Castle, 19 to 20 Aug
Mr Alexander brings his amazing Travelling Show to Leeds Castle for the first time. A traditional vintage style family variety show with three different programmes per day including magic, juggling, unicycling, balance and illusion performed on a traditional theatre stage which has the flavour of a Victorian Theatre. Included in the price of admission.
The Railway Children, Marlowe Theatre, Tue 15 ‐ Sat 19 Aug
Remember the story? When their father mysteriously disappears with two strangers one evening, the lives of Roberta, Peter and Phyllis are turned upside down and they swap their privileged life for a much poorer one. I loved this story growing up and I’ve heard great things about this new production of a classic, that harnesses the original intrigue and adventure of the story but brings to it beautiful period costumes and ingenious designs. One to watch.
Hairy Maclary and Friends, Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, Thur 24 Aug
Aw, excuse me while I indulge in a moment of pure nostalgia. Do your mini mudlets love these furry friends as much as mine did? ‘Out of the gate and off for a walk, went Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy…’ If you have a 3 – 5 year-old then this might be just the ticket – a play that brings Hercules Morse (as big as a Horse), Bottomley Potts (covered in spots) and the rest of the gang to life. It’s been described as proper old school theatre in all the right ways.
Ice Cream Festival, Kent Life, 28th August
Leave your favourite t-shirts at home, because it’s time to welcome back the Ice Cream Festival! Sample tasters from ice cream vendors, chocolatiers and sweet stalls. Take part in the animal activities or get your face painted (if there’s any space around all that sticky ice cream…) Sit back and enjoy music from The Boogie Woogie Gals or take a trip on our fun farm ride (just to jiggle around all that sugar in your stomach). Fun.
Milk Fest, The Milk House, Sissinghurst, Fri 25 – Mon 28 Aug
With the Huge Success of last years Milk Fest, (I went with the family and it was fab) The Milk House in Sissinghurst is once again bringing together the cream of Kent, with music from top local talent and fabulous food and drink from some wonderful local suppliers. From cocktails to hot dogs, face-painting to juggling, there’ll be something for everyone.
Night Dusk Safari ,The Aspinall Foundation, Port Lympne Reserve, Wed & Thur, from 1st June – 31st Aug
Experience a wild night out with a difference on Wed & Thurs evenings from 5:45pm throughout the summer. Journey to Kent’s authentic savannahs – alive with Asian and African animals, whilst taking in the stunning sunset views, before enjoying a three course menu at the 4-star Port Lympne Hotel.
Open Air Cinema, Betteshanger Country Park, Sat 19 Aug
Sling your Jimmies – it’s comfy shoes all the way here, pack a blanket or deckchair and a hamper. Sit back, (popcorn in hand) relax and enjoy an alternative cinema experience under the stars. This year’s votes have been counted and the film that the Betteshanger Fans chose was… Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. Great family fun.