Muddy’s Guide to Summer

The best castles in Kent, Open Now

Ready for a right royal day out? We’ve rounded up 12 of the coolest castles in reach of Kent that are open for business. Tiara at the ready, let’s go!

Summer Jousting, Hever Castle, Sat 10 July – Mon 30 Aug

Witness brave knights display spectacular jousting skills in an authentic arena at Hever Castle this summer. Watch exhilarating displays of action, stunts, falls and fights in an arena complete with medieval spectator stands and a Royal Box. 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. Battling it out in the saddle and on foot in one-to-one combat, the valiant knights will then compete for points to find this season’s ultimate champion. Bring a blanket or watch the joust in style from the stands and cheer your knights to glory. Get your tickets now!

Paddle Cabin, East Peckham

We love this new watersport venture, Paddle Cabin, just launched by friends and co-founders Hayley and Jo who are in love with the paddle boarding way of life and all the incredible benefits and experiences that come with it. Offering Super-friendly SUP sessions, coaching and experiences to help your feel at home on the water. From intro sessions for beginners, coaching for improver paddlers, family sessions, date night experiences and more. Discover and learn in a safe and positive environment and at a pace that suits you, all run from their cute cabin in East Peckham along the River Medway. Book a family session and have fun some! Find out more here.

The Street Food & Golf Festival, Betteshanger Park, Fri 16 – Sun 18 July

Betteshanger Park have team up with the hugely popular City Feast to bring you the Street Food & Golf Festival this summer! Watch golf on the biggest screen in Kent, eat delicious street food, play crazy golf course or go on the fun fair rides, enjoy the live music and entry is completely FREE. Click here for all the details.

Port Lympne Reserve

Visit the savannah – right here in Kent! Go on, sit back and enjoy the view with Port Lympne’s safari experiences! Choose from a selection of unique safaris where zebra, wildebeest, ostrich, and many more animals roam free with stunning views to the Kent coastline. Or, go behind the scenes with the animal encounters. Get hands on with the range of animal experiences for all ages. Budding animal keepers can find out what it takes to care for some of the world’s most endangered animals on a keeper experience day or come face to face with some of their visitor favourites on a 30 minute animal encounter. The wild just got wilder!

Open Air Cinema, Leeds Castle, Thurs 29 July – Sun 1 Aug

Roll out your picnic blanket and enjoy a night at the flicks with a difference at Leeds Castle, the perfect setting for cinema under the stars. Located on Cedar Lawn, it’s a magical setting! Watch A Star Is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody Dirty Dancing or from a galaxy far, far away Star Wars – A New Hope. Book your tickets now.

Animal Experiences, Wingham Wildlife Park

Wingham Wildlife Park, near Canterbury, is a popular family attraction and now boasts more species than any other zoo in Kent. This is a small, manageable-sized park, so easy to get around, found in a picturesque region of the county. For little ones there’s play areas, mini diggers and go-karts. But by far the best thing about this bijou zoo is the hands-on animal experiences to try – like Keeper for a Day or Meet the Tigers (arrrrgh) to Penguin Experience (awww) or Meerkat Experience (simples). There’s also a Dinosaur Zoo too for any Jurassic-mad mudlets

Wildlife Walk Experience, Hever Castle, Fri 30 July

Join naturalist, wildlife detective and learning specialist, Ed Drewitt (pictured) on a 1 hour Wildlife Walk Experience around the woodlands at Hever Castle estate. During the experience, you will identify birds by sight and call, see wildflowers, pollinators and search for signs of elusive woodland mammals. If you or your little ones have got a passion for wildlife, the outdoors and want to take their interest to the next level, this is the perfect way to see and learn something new. Suitable. for adults and children aged 7+. What are you waiting for? Book now.

Hidden Heroines, The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

This landmark venue makes for a great day out, celebrating everything associated with the great age of sail. The exhibition is all really interactive, there’s always new stuff happening and with three massive, MASSIVE warships to explore – what more do you want?!

The Historic Dockyard (which you may already recognise from Call The Midwife) is an 80 acre site and included in your ticket (which lasts for 12 months by the way so you can keep having fun!) is 2 guided tours, 3 historic warships, temporary exhibitions, galleries, gardens, indoor and outdoor play areas and much more. 

This June, their latest temporary exhibition (FREE, included in your day ticket) is Hidden Heroines: the untold stories of the women of the Dockyard, celebrating the extraordinary women who campaigned for change, fought against the odds and whose impact left a lasting legacy. Brought to life in the No.1 Smithery Gallery, Hidden Heroines brings together a fascinating collection of stories, objects and photographs for the first time. Buy your tickets now!

The Jungle Book, Leeds Castle, Tues 13 – Weds 14 Aug

Filled with original music, audience interaction (and the chance to meet the characters after the show), you are invited to join Mowgli and his friends, Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther – not forgetting fierce tiger, Shere Khan! Enjoy some outdoor theatre this summer on Leeds Castle‘s beautiful lawn. Funny, exciting and wildly entertaining, this larger-than-life musical will have you howling with laughter; The perfect treat for the whole family! Get your tickets here.

Bewl Water Aqua Park

The Bewl Water Aqua Park is now open and a great way to cool off in the heat. 3000sq meters of floating inflatable fun will consist of two trampolines, monkey bars, flippers, slides, hurdles, springboards, overhang climbing frame, giant iceberg! You get the idea. Kids must be aged 8+ or you can join the sessions for 6-7 year olds only. There’s also plenty of food and drink options courtesy of the Waterfront Café and Boat House Bistro on the water’s edge. Adjust swimsuit and summer-time fun, here we come!

Go Ape Tree Top Adventure, Bedgebury Pinetum

Bedgebury Pinetum is one of the UK’s best sights and experiences not to be missed but don’t take our word for it! There’s so much to do and explore this summer at this local gem including; walks, bike trails, Go Ape with nerve-testing crossings of Tree Top Challenge, to the high ropes of Tree Top Adventure that are ideal for the little ones, the forest canopy waits to be explored. Or enjoy their Natural Play Area, with a shipwreck, giant rope swing and planks to keep your balance on. That should tire them out

Falconry Shows, Penshurst Place, 17 July – 28 Aug

Every Saturday over the summer holidays enjoy a superb Falconry Show show filled with acrobatics and flying prowess from some incredible Birds of Prey who will be there for another summer of fun! Included in your admission ticket at Penshurst Place, enjoy the shows at every Saturday until 28 Aug at 11:30am, 2:30pm or 4:30pm.

Hangloose Adventure, Bluewater

This summer Bluewater will be home of Skywire, England’s longest and fastest zipline. Located on the majestic Bluewater cliffs, the zipline is just the first of a number of sensational adrenaline activities with bungee jumps, climbing walls and one of the largest swings in Europe to be added soon! Over 700 metres long, trust us, it’s not for the faint hearted! Minimum age is 8 years old. Book your tickets now!

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, Sevenoaks, Weds 21 July – Mon 30 Aug

Lots of fun to be had at Riverhill Himalayan Gardens this summer! With 12 acres of historic gardens with their woodland paths and breathtaking views, you won’t want to miss out. They’ve got 6 weeks of summer holiday fun from crafts, treasure hunts and workshops! They’ll be kicking off week 1 with a straw bale obstacle course (pictured), complete the course and see if you make the leader board for the fastest time! Not just for the kids, it’s fun for dogs and adults as well! Then spot the yeti in their woods between 2-4pm, explore their fiendishly tricky hedge maze and let off steam in their Adventure Playground.

Grab your snacks from Otto’s Pop-Up Cafe at Riverhill who will be bringing their usual exceptional food and drink. Open for takeaway only but there’s plenty of benches around to sit. They are completely single-use free so don’t forget your keep cup. No keep cup, no coffee! Their words not ours. Book your timed entry tickets now.

Kent Life, Maidstone

Looking for something fun to do with the family? Kent Life Heritage Farm Park is a 28-acre working farm and visitor attraction in Maidstone. It’s heap of fun for the little ones who can discover more than 200 farmyard animals including donkeys, alpacas, sheep, pigs and goats as well a indoor and outdoor play areas, farm rides on the land train or tractor and even a cuddle corner with some very cute animals! You are in danger here of having too much to do with your offspring. Buy your tickets here.

Circus Zyair, The Hop Farm, Sat 31 July – Sun 15 Aug

Round up, round up Circus Zyair is back for 2021! Let the whole family enjoy this high-energy spectacle in a big-top tent at The Hop Farm this summer. Expect a ragtag band of clowns, acrobats and jugglers before fearless daredevils brave the high wire and wheel of death. They will be performing everyday at 2pm and 5pm. Buy your tickets now.

Bodiam Boating Station, Bodiam

This lesser-known gem is a brilliant river activity centre 6 miles from Rye and 8 miles from Cranbrook and a real Muddy favourite. Perfect for a family day out, with every kind of boating you can imagine on offer. Amble up the River Rother at your own leisure in one of the rowing boats, kayaks, tandem kayaks, Canadian Canoes or SUPs. 

You’ll find Bodiam Boating Station smack bang on the border of Kent and Sussex near to the village of Robertsbridge, is not far from the A21 that runs from north Kent down to the coast. Refreshments are provided in their gorgeous, rustic café.

Camp Kindling, Sevenoaks, Fri 20 – Mon 23 Aug 

Don’t miss out on this brand-new summer camp for families this August in Sevenoaks! Camp Kindling promises to be a wild weekend set in a gorgeous forest retreat with over 100 amazing activities (included in your ticket) to do, learn and discover new skills and make tons of memories! Then dance the night away amongst the trees with 50 live bands and DJs across the weekend. Relax in wood-fired hot tubs or chill around the campfire. Sound good? Book your tickets here!

Wildwood, Canterbury

For the perfect family day out, you should consider heading to Wildwood, positioned just outside Herne Bay, where you can get to know over 200 native animals set in 40 acres of beautiful ancient woodland. Expect to see bears, wolves, Arctic foxes, bison, owls, wild boar, lynx, wild horses, badgers and beavers – and that’s just 10 of those 200! 

How about booking an Experience for something a little different? Book a BearLynxArctic Fox or Wolf experience and go behind-the-scenes to feed them and learn all about your chosen animal. Or have your children ever wanted to be a keeper for the day? They can deliver feed to some of the animals, prepare food for them, clean out the enclosures (and we mean clear out everything – euggggh) but it might encourage some good disciplines for back at home?!

There’s plenty to see and do, simply stroll through the woodland, admire the animals and head to their two play areas with tree-top towers, wild fort towers, climbing frame. There’s even an under-5’s play area too with swings, slides and most importantly, lots of seating for YOU! Takeaway hot food and drinks available or bring your own picnic. Book your day ticket now!

Canoe Wild, Canterbury

This brilliant water sports company is your one-stop-shop for messing about on the river in Canterbury. Join the friendly team at Canoe Wild on the beautiful River Stour where you can hire canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and much more. A brilliant activity to do with the kids this Half Term and what’s more the hire centre sits on the Grove Ferry Picnic Site, the perfect spot for enjoying refreshments alongside the picturesque banks of the Great Stour River. Book your adventure now.

Whitstable Oyster Festival, Fri 27 – Mon 30 Aug

Join in with the fun at the annual Whitstable Oyster Festival this August! The event kicks off with the Landing of the Oysters and proud parade through the town. Definitely a unique family-fun event that’s not to be missed. Have a claw catch on at the Crabbing, cheer on the competitors in the famous Oyster Eating Competition, spend an afternoon on the pull at the Mud Tug, take in the sea views and explore the Tankerton Food Fair. Make sure to hang about as the beautiful sight of the beach will be full of glowing Grotters at twilight… Magical. 

Dinotropolis, Bluewater

Introducing this Dinosaur Adventure Park! Complete with animatronic dinosaurs, three storeys of soft play, interactive games, raptor racing and the tasty Fossil Café. It’s a land full of wonder, excitement and discovery! Dinotropolis is a soft-play park like no other. Get your explorer passes now.

Elmley Nature Reserve, Isle of Sheppey

Enjoy a real UK safari experience at Elmley Nature Reserve! We are not talking lions, tigers and bears (oh my) but since 1991, Elmley has been deemed a National Nature Reserve and is an internationally recognized site for the the conservation of rare birds, plants, animals and insects. 

With 3,200 acres, Elmley provides the perfect place for your little ones to explore and get closer to nature. It’s a family-run farm with approximately 700 cattle grazing the pasture each year plus chickens, ducks and tractors to admire! We’d recommend booking one of their Tours, drive around in their Safari Truck with guide Abbie and see some of Elmley’s most special wildlife. After a stomp through their nature trails, fuel up in their Cafe before you head home. Book your day ticket here.

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

Support your local theatre! Amazing performances are available to watch all summer long such as Disney’s classic now as an exciting new musical Bedknobs And Broomsticks (Weds 25 – 29 Aug) and for the really little ones, Mister Maker as seen on CBeebie’s (Sat 24 & Sun 25 July). Head to The Marlowe to see what’s on for you! 

Rare Breeds Centre, Ashford

Release the little people! Rare Breeds Centre in Ashford has lots going on to keep the kids entertained. Children can meet and pet friendly animals, including cuddly rabbits, hamsters, new born chicks, goats and horses. And if you’re really lucky, you may even meet a piglet or two. After you’ve finished with the animals you are spoilt for choice with a load of brilliant outdoor activities, check out their Adventure Playground with zip wires, swings and tyre snakes to climb on. Or watch the Falconry displays, go on a woodland walk and lots more. Phew! Book your tickets here.

Compiled by Mia Jackson

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