IT’S FESTIVAL SEASON!
It’s festival season once again, and from now until well into the autumn you can take your pick of the exciting, entertaining, spectacularly different festivals across Kent and beyond.
Sevenoaks Food Festival // 5-7 May
The Sevenoaks Food and Drink Festival was launched in 2015 and was an immediate hit with the visiting public. Great setting, fantastic selection of foods, mouth-watering street dining and a craft beer festival to wash it all down. It’s no surprise that it returns each year, and that the visitor number keeps going up!
The Soundcrash Funk & Soul Weekender // 12-15 May
The Soundcrash Funk & Soul Weekender is pure joy. It’s huge, with headliner George Clinton and plenty of other acts such as Greg Wilson, Ruby Wood and Norman Jay. There is nothing quite like this festival dedicated to funk and soul.
Sacconi Festival // 19-21 May
The Sacconis have burgeoned and bloomed both professionally and personally, and parts of Folkestone are unrecognisable since the inaugural concert back in 2008. The fact they are still going strong after ten years is in no small part down to the ongoing and incredibly generous support of the Sacconi Friends. Their enthusiasm and passion for music has been an inspiration every year, to bring to the Festival the very best there is to offer in music and musicians. This year the Sacconi Friends had say in the programme by choosing from a selection of piano quintets, for the Sacconis and pianist Alasdair Beatson to perform in the final concert to close the Festival. After the voting had closed, the final choice was Dvorak’s masterpiece: Piano Quintet No.2 in A major, Op. 81. An appropriate choice as it was Alasdair that performed it at the Festival with the Sacconis back in 2010!
Elderflower Fields // 26-29 May
Escape to an enchanting Sussex woodland and dip your toes into a wealth of activities, the delights of nature, eclectic music and the best local food and drink around. Elderflower Fields is a wild weekend of discovery and inspiration for adventurous families. Explore six unique zones with their own focus and atmosphere. From Leaping Meadows to Lazy Glades, Elderflower Fields offers children and adults a chance to delve into sports, crafts, music, cooking, science, nature, spoken word and so much more. Confirmed acts include The Makeshift Ensemble, Moulettes, The Emerald Armada and Town of Cats.
WOODLANDS FESTIVAL // 9-11 June
A new festival is coming to Kent this summer – and it will have plenty of activities for you and your kids! Woodlands Festival will take place at Elm Wood in Hawkhurst, and will include live music, kids’ discos, bush craft workshops, woodland treasure hunts and storytelling during the three-day event. The festival has been set up to raise awareness and funds for Dementia UK & Cancer Research UK, so a great weekend for two very good causes! The live music element will be jammed-packed full of talented local artists, performing on two stages. When the kids’ entertainment wraps up and they’re tucked away in their sleeping bags, the Woodlands Silent Disco will start up, so you can dance the night away under the stars. Also on offer is a giant outdoor silent cinema, complete with vintage Pick n Mix, hot chocolate or a Woodlands-inspired cocktail.
Food & drink
A handpicked selection of local traders will be serving up delicious, locally sourced goodies. There will be sweet & savoury, meat & veggie options in order to cater for all; as well as a diverse range of bars including Kent Cider Co., Beetlejuice cocktails, The Little Gin Co. and the Pimms bar.
Can I camp?
Yes you can! And you can even wake up to yoga in the mornings. And for a little more luxury, you can have the full glamping experience and hire a fully kitted out Bell Tent for the weekend.
Tickets are limited, so for more information & to book tickets go to www.woodlandsfestival.co.uk
South East Open Art Studios // 9-25 June
Whatever kind of art you prefer – or even if you love it all – the annual South East Open Art Studios festival offers over 300 different places to see it. Artists across the South East will be welcoming art lovers into their studio spaces to see a fantastic behind the scenes glimpse of how art is made. It shouldn’t be missed.
Camp Wildfire // 16-18 June
Half adventure camp, half music festival, this adult experience is only for the curious! By day, Camp Wildfire is a bustling adventure camp full of expeditions, bushcraft, artistry, engineering and adventure sports. Over 80 amazing activities are included in your ticket such as life drawing, totem pole carving, sword play, secret code cracking, astronomy, dark room workshop, drumming, raft building and trap setting. By night, the forest transforms into a wild music festival, with music from a secret line-up of varied, exciting bands and artists. Discover new music, and be thrilled at old surprises!
Held at The Quex Park Estate in Birchington from 10am-4pm both days, this show is expected to have over 55 stalls ranging from French crépes, German sausages, chilli, Thai food, cupcakes, jam & chutneys, beers, ciders, mead, juice and lots of other foods, plus face painting, cards, homewear, East Indian crafts, jewellery, fudge, pottery, quilting, textiles, artwork, wildlife photography and much more. Kids can access the outside play area at Jungle Jims for free, and there will be birds of prey displays and a beer tent. The event supports the Kent Air Ambulance. All enquiries please to Mick on 07966 225217 or 01843 595143, or Jason on 01843 842762 or 07725 460276.
Sevenoaks Festival // 24 June – 9 July
Alongside the professional offerings, community groups’ events feature prominently throughout the 16 days of festival from Saturday 24th June to Sunday 9th July including the combined talents of Sevenoaks Philharmonic Society and Sevenoaks Symphony Orchestra with A Night at the Opera, open air performances of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and a Beer Festival at The Vine Cricket Club. Festival Fair opens Festival 2017 on Saturday 24th June, centred in Bligh’s Meadow with plenty also going on in The Shambles and Vine Gardens throughout the day – much for young children and most of it completely free.
St Edmund’s Festival // 28 June – 4 July
St Edmund’s School Canterbury has announced the line-up for its inaugural festival to be held this summer. The festival will be a week-long celebration of the arts with concerts, drama productions and workshops. Ivor Novello award-winning composer and eminent saxophonist, John Harle, is the festival’s patron and will be performing at the closing night American Serenade concert. The critically acclaimed concert pianist and former St Edmund’s pupil, Freddy Kempf, will open the festival on 28th June with a stunning programme.
Tentertainment // 30 June – 2 July
Tentertainment is entertainment in Tenterden – it really is as simple (and as wonderful) as that! It’s free too, so there is an added bonus, and a definite reason to visit the 2017 Tentertainment festival. Tentertainment is about having fun, but it is also a spectacular way to show off Tenterden itself – what is has to offer, what it produces and why it is such a great place to work, live or play in.
Deal Festival of Music & The Arts // 30 June – 16 July
Deal is a truly lovely town, and when it combines with Sandwich and Dover for the annual Deal Festival, it is lovelier than ever. This festival celebrates classical and contemporary music and is a great way to listen to something new. As well as music there is literature, theatre, opera, cinema, dance and visual arts. This year is the 35th anniversary of the Deal Festival of Music & The Arts, and it looks as though it will go on for many years to come yet.
JAM On The Marsh // 6-16 July
This annual multi-arts festival has the magnificent Romney March at its heart. There are a number of beautiful medieval churches in the area, and many of these play host to the fantastic events that are a part of JAM On The Marsh. For 2017, JAM On The Marsh is to be curated by Westminster Abbey’s organist, Daniel Cook. There is plenty of music to look forward to including South Baroque, the BBC Singers and Onyx Brass as well as much, much more. New for 2017 is Children’s Sunday so that the entire family can enjoy this unique festival. Another first is the Changeling Theatre’s interpretation of a Shakespeare play.
Kent County Show // 7-9 July
The Kent County Show attracts in excess of 80,000 visitors over three days each year, and it’s little wonder. This showcase of farming and rural life offers the very best in Kentish food, animals and entertainment. There are interactive experiences to enjoy including the shire stables, woodland craft workshops and the ‘Why Farming Matters’ discovery zone. There is live music throughout each day, and you can taste some of the best produce from around the Garden of England too.
Leeds Castle Classical Concert // 8 July
A staple in the classical music calendar, the Leeds Castle Classical Concert never disappoints. Bring a picnic and enjoy the view of ‘the most beautiful castle in the world’ as you are entertained by live classical music (from tenor Anthony Flaum, soprano Katie Bird and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by John Rigby), with a spectacular fireworks finale.
The Vicar’s Picnic // 14-15 July
The Vicar’s Picnic is a great name for a great festival. Located in Yalding just outside of Maidstone, the Vicar’s Picnic was born out of disappointment. A group of friends did not manage to get tickets to Glastonbury, so they decided to create their own festival at home. It worked, and it has gone from strength to strength ever since! Acts for 2017 include The Fratellis, The Standard Lamps, The Native Oyster Band, The Kar-Pets and Lazy Habits. As well as the music, there are kids’ workshops, poetry recitals, comedy shows and plenty to eat and drink.
The Wealden Literary Festival // 15-16 July
Launched in 2016 with the backing of award-winning authors such as Robert Macfarlane, Wealden Literary Festival is an annual celebration of place and nature through books, food, arts & crafts. Set in the enchanting gardens and woodland of Boldshaves Garden near Tenterden in Kent, this festival, which takes place on 15th and 16th July 2017, offers a unique opportunity for both children and adults to explore the magic of the natural world. This year’s programme includes talks from authors such as Nicholas Crane (co-presenter of Coast), the award-winning garden writer Alys Fowler, Dame Fiona Reynolds (former Director-General of the National Trust) and acclaimed naturalist, Mark Cocker. There are also art exhibitions, artisan food stalls and woodland activities from craft workshops and foraging courses to wildlife safaris.
Medway Open Studios // 15-23 July
Medway Open Studios & Arts Festival takes place every July throughout the Medway Towns. Run by volunteers, the aim of the festival is to celebrate the wealth of creativity in Medway. More and more artists have signed up year on year, benefitting the aims of the festival and promoting a positive opinion of Medway. The great thing about Medway Open Studios is that there is no pressure on either the artist or the people who want to come and look. Buying is possible, but it’s not the only reason for attending; these open studios are there to be enjoyed, and whether you visit one or dozens, this is a day out with a difference. You don’t even need to have any artistic knowledge as this is something that can be enjoyed by art lovers and those who aren’t in the know! The only thing required is an appreciation of beautiful things and the hard work that goes into creating them.
Create Festival // 22 July
It’s big and it’s free which might be all you need to know about the Ashford based Create Festival. However, what is also important to note is that it is also one of the South East’s biggest and most diverse festivals, and it is jam packed full of original acts that encompass, folk, pop, dance and rock. Create 2016 saw the likes of David Live (an incredible David Bowie tribute act), Ben Russell & The Charmers, Dorey the Wise and Old Town Souls. 2017 looks set to be bigger and better than ever before.
Ramblin’ Man Fair // 28-30 July
Ramblin’ Man Fair is the must see event for discerning festival-goers. A quality musical line up with a number of UK exclusive performances. The event is a unique experience fast becoming a staple of the UK festival calendar. The festival will take place in the beautiful Mote Park in Maidstone. The park is one of the largest in South East England with more than 450 acres of mature parkland and a 30-acre lake. The festival will be split into four stages over three days. Stages announced so far include Planet Rock Mainstage, Prog In the Park Stage, Outlaw Country Stage and Blues Stage. New for 2017 is a guest stage unique to this year’s event…
Margate Soul Festival // 4-6 Aug
With a variety of different stages hosting a variety of different soul acts, Margate Soul Festival is chilled and contemporary with a splash of old fashioned entertainment thrown in. Join in to see Trevor Nelson, Arrested Development, Candi Staton, Joe Bataan and many other big names from the world of soul.
Leefest // 10-12 Aug
This is the UK’s most celebrated independent festival, and it’s right here on our doorstep. It’s definitely got something for everyone! A kids’ activity camp, inspiring workshops, glitter wrestling, wild drag shows, burlesque, a retro gaming arcade, beach parties, circus… the list goes on! Join your tribe and explore the three realms that make up Leefest’s Neverland. And of course there is music, and plenty of it including Jake Bugg, Annie Mac, Kate Tempest, Moxie and Superglu.
Broadstairs Folk Week // 11-18 Aug
Broadstairs Folk Week is in its 52nd year and is a celebration of English and multi-cultural folk music and dance. There are venues all over the town, bursting with music. The 600-seater concert marquee in the town’s park is the festival hub where the main headline acts appear and it’s a great place to meet your friends, have a drink at the bar and chill out. This year’s headliners include Lau, The Dylan Project, Faustus, and the Demon Barbers plus many more. There are over 70 workshops in music, dance and song for beginners to advanced. This could be the year to take up the ukulele or learn English clogging!
A New Day Festival // 25-27 Aug
What a festival this is! Young, fresh and exactly what you need for a hot bank holiday in August (or even a warmish one), the A New Day Festival puts fantastic acts together with a gorgeous location, and offers it all for you to enjoy. For 2017 you can see some incredible live acts including Slade, Lindisfarne, New Model Army, The Yardbirds, Dr Feelgood and Solstice.
Sandgate Sea & Food Festival // 26-27 Aug
The August bank holiday just wouldn’t be the same without the Sandgate Sea & Food Festival. It’s a combination of two of Kent’s greatest treasures: food and the coast. The event kicks off on the Saturday evening with a spectacular firework display together with the formal lighting of the beacon with Sandgate’s 95th Rifles in attendance. Other events and entertainment includes stilt walkers, Punch and Judy, numerous stalls, circus workshops and live music.
Dover Music Festival // 26-27 Aug
Forget about the weather and relax at this two-day indoor music festival. For the 2017 event 80’s punk megastar Toyah has confirmed, as has Paul Young with Los Pacaminos. There is much more to come, all of a fantastically high standard.
England’s Medieval Festival // 26-28 Aug
With stage shows, jousting, medieval re-enactments, music, dance, stargazing, an outdoor cinema, a marketplace, medieval banquet and so much to do for the whole family, England’s Medieval Festival is a fun and fascinating event. For history lovers this is the ultimate day (or weekend) out. Come for the day, stay for the weekend, and enjoy the stunning surroundings of Herstmonceux Castle.
Faversham Hop Festival // 2-3 Sep
The Faversham Hop Festival could be many things. A beer festival. A folk music festival. A food festival. A fun fair. A Morris exhibition. A celebration of Kent and the way we do things here. Hops. But what is it really? The Faversham Food Festival is all of these things, and more. Why not come along this September to find out? You’ll want to return year after year, which is exactly what many of the visitors here do.
Into The Trees // 9-10 Sep
It went so well last year they’re doing it again! Into The Trees is a festival all about nature – specifically trees, woods and forests. Learn about how we can use these areas for work, play and education as you have fun and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Pippingford Park in East Sussex.
Skabour // 15-17 Sep
This is Skabour’s seventh year, and it is just as popular as ever – if not more so. Celebrating the unique and peculiarly British ‘ska’ movement, visit Skabour in 2017 to see Tree Kong, King Prawn, Misty In Roots, Millie Manders & The Shutup and Bitt Mclean.
Southbeats Festival // 23 Sep
The Southbeats Festival takes place at the wonderful Port Lympe Reserve. It is 40 acts on four stages and that’s not all. With a funfair and street food stalls the entire family can join in with the fun. You can even register as a VIP and enjoy enhanced gifts and treatment that includes secret DJ sets, fast track entry, gourmet street food, a private VIP bar, entry to the award-winning cocktail bar and champagne garden and hammocks!
Broadstairs Food Festival // 29-30 Sep & 1 Oct
With a plethora of delicious food from the naughty to the nutritious and plenty in between (all of it wonderful and most of it locally produced), the Broadstairs Food Festival is ideal for foodies of all kinds. Whether you like to cook, to eat, or to do a bit of both, this is the festival that will open up your eyes (and tastebuds) to what is out there. You might even be inspired to buy some of the wonderful ingredients and try something a little bit different for dinner!
Tenterden Folk Festival // 5-8 Oct
The 25th Tenterden Folk Festival’s guest list includes Doug Hudson, Keith Kendrick and Pete Castle while Woodchurch Morris Men will be heading the procession. The programme so far includes around 50 acts and there are expected to be up to 50 Morris sides and other folk dance display teams. There will be a variety of special events in numerous venues over the four core days with, for the first time, added events during the day on Thursday and the regular special concert in the Town Hall in the evening. The craft fair, music stalls and street stalls on the Saturday and Sunday will also be expanded this year, as will the free music and dance stage events all on the recreation ground.
Canterbury Festival // 14 Oct – 4 Nov
Last year saw over 65,000 visitors attend the 200 free ticketed events to watch the 2,800 artists that came together to make up the Canterbury Festival. This year is envisaged to be just a fantastic, which is why the Canterbury Festival is seen as one of the most important cultural events in the South East. This is where artists can be inspired to perform and to create. New work is created specifically for the festival, so if you want to see something exciting and different, something that makes you think and makes you remember, this is the place to be.