Did you know that high-speed train services from St Pancras International and Stratford International can get you from Zone 1 to the seaside faster than ever? Get out of town! Throw your arms around adventure and make the most of spring’s bank holiday spirit with these seven super things to do in Kent this May and during the half-term break. All easy to reach with Southeastern high-speed services. While you’re at it, check out our fab London high-speed escapes competition. You could WIN a mini-break for four people in Whitstable.
Whether you fancy a sightseeing glide on the river through Kent’s beautiful cathedral city with friends and family, or you want to book a romantic tour for two with a champagne picnic (violinist additional), the Canterbury Punting Company is perfect for a spring jaunt – when the banks the River Stour are in bloom.
WhitLit, May 8-9, 13-14
One of the great pleasures of Whitstable (beyond oysters and ice cream on the beach) is browsing second-hand shops and book stores. The annual Whitstable literary festival is the ideal excuse for a trip out of London and the main events, on the weekend, include readings and interviews. For this year’s festival, Susan Hill and Abdulrazak Gurnah are among the guests.
The Grange Open Days, May 12-15
For lovers of history and architecture, the free public opening of Augustus Pugin’s home in Ramsgate is a rare treat. Pugin had a passion for medieval design and that’s reflected in the stunning look of The Grange and his desire to live out his Victorian life in a style that chimed with the middle ages. Pugin was a major influence on the gothic revival of the 1800s and one of his most famous works was on the interior design of the Palace of Westminster, which he worked on when he lived here.
Great Tower at Night, May 20
As part of the Museums at Night Weekend, Dover Castle’s medieval spaces (restored to appear much like they did in Henry II’s reign) are the setting for an evening of immersive sound and light displays. It runs from 6pm to 10pm so there’s still time to catch the last high-speed service back to London.
Pirates! At Historic Dockyard Chatham, May 27 – June 4
For a half-term day trip, the vast, fascinating maritime museum at Chatham can’t be topped. As well as the hands-on galleries and permanent displays, there’s a pirate theme to the special events happening over the school break. Landlubbers can go on a family adventure with treasure chest-loads of costumed fun and activities. So get practicing your ‘arrrrghs’ now.
WWII Weekend, May 27-29
Marking 100 years of the Wrens and the 77th anniversary of Operation Dynamo, Dover Castle (which played a strategic part in the WWII campaign) offers a chance to see what life was like in Britain at war. Get up close to a Spitfire and step inside a bombed-out shop to get a feel for living on rations. Treat yourself to a victory roll hairdo at the 1940s beauty parlour, swing out to the live ’40s jazz band and have fun with family activities, then whet your whistle at the ‘Resistance Bar’.
Magical Patterns, May 27 – June 4
Or travel further back in time to the world of knights, archers and Chaucer at The Canterbury Tales museum. With immersive displays and costumed talks, it tells the history of one of the most important cities in medieval England. For May half-term, family activities include the chance to explore kaleidoscopes, see how the astrolabe helped the earliest astronomers study the stars, have a go at maypole dancing and pattern colouring, then get your hair plaited!