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Join in the annual Jazz Festival at The Pantiles

Join in the annual Jazz Festival at The Pantiles

by David Hodgkinson

Live Music & Festivals in Tunbridge Wells

If you’re looking for a Glastonbury-style feel good festival, come to Tunbridge Wells for a cheaper, cleaner, fun-filled, friendlier experience.

Annual festivals in this area are numerous, lively and varied with more popping up each year..

Tunbridge Wells is in the middle of rural Kent with acres of beautiful meadows to host such events away from city life.

The town of Royal Tunbridge Wells is the main hub for the area. It is on the main railway line between Hastings and London stations, only 55 minutes by train from London and 45 minutes from Hastings.

Many festivals are free, including the music festival Local & Live, Jazz on the Pantiles, UnFest and the Mela, which are all in the town of Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Live outdoor music

Jazz on the Pantiles is a popular and well loved festival having been going for more than 20 years in the town’s remaining bandstand. This event starts in May, goes on till September and enlivens the tender English summer evenings out on the pedestrianised Pantiles terraces.

The Pantiles Jazz Festival by David Hodgkinson

Every Thursday night from 7.30pm, soak up the warmth of the atmosphere, enjoy the cool beats and sip on a local wine, juice or ale from one of the many classy bars, cafés, or restaurants. It does get busy so book into a joint for a relaxed view otherwise you can dance your socks off!

Unfest is an annual local music and arts fringe festival for Tunbridge Wells and the South East region organised by the Forum music venue. It is held every Spring Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May.

This will appeal to indie music and art lovers. The festival centres around The Forum (a highly acclaimed music venue) on Fonthill in Royal Tunbridge Wells town, and pubs on the Pantiles and the High Street.

Last year for the first time, the Art Gallery & Museum hosted performers too! There were spoken word, poetry and readings from award winning writers.

It usually all kicks off at 6pm on Friday of the Spring Bank Holiday and goes on until late on Spring Bank Holiday Monday. Come and experience something creative, inspiring and Tunbridge Wellian!

Don't forget the art pop up installations too. The list of performances across the town was a mile long so do check their website for full details.

Alfresco is a new addition to the festival schedule in and around Tunbridge Wells. Three days of family friendly music and activities will be held during the Spring Bank Holiday in late May.

This event has spent the last few years in Blackpool but has now fallen in love with Colebrook Lakes near the A21 in Tunbridge Wells.

There will be overnight camping, 4 stages of music (you should see the length of the list!) as well as cool activities for children: roller disco, magic shows, balloon modelling, graffitti - oh this list is too long as well!!

Bedgebury Forest Live, next to Goudhurst village, is famously anticipated every year in June.  The Forest has welcomed Tom Jones, Jessie J, Paloma Faith, Debbie Harry, Erasure, and Keane to name- drop a few greats! Bring your own chairs and picnic.

The Live Expressions Festival at Colebrook Lakes took place at the beginning of July over the last 2 years. Glamping, camping, rocking, funking and more, a summer feel good family festival in the sticks!

Book your camping on site for a 3 day weekend. Suitable for ages 5 and up. You could splash out and book a luxury bell tent with furnishings!

A mere 50 mins or so from the centre of London the nearest train station is High Brooms, the station between Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.

But get your skates on, this late night extravaganza sells out fast.

A family festival, Dunorlan Park, Royal Tunbridge Wells

Local & Live is a lively town–centric music festival held in August to make the most of the long bank holiday weekend (and possibly some nice weather!). People and bands arrive from far and wide to enjoy and partake in the music making.

This eclectic fringe-music festival pours out across the town of Royal Tunbridge Wells to the pubs and cafés.

The railway station is in the heart of the festival happenings and being only 50 minutes from London, makes it an ideal weekend break for couples and friends.

The main man, Paul Dunton, organsies this event with the help of other local businesses and venues, as well as numerous other music events throughout the year. He is a passionate local musician who likes to keep the music 'Local & Live'!

And Roger Daltry, no less, has recognised the success of this annual event so why would you miss out?

Local Celebrities and Celebrating Local

The Tulip Festival at Pashley Manor Gardens is the highlight of any gardeners’ calendar.  You have to see it to believe it – such a stunning vivid mass and range of colours from only one type of bulb!

For all day family fun, the Mela celebrates the diversity of the local community through music, visual arts, food and dance. Join this lively event in July, taste the delights of India, Bangladesh, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and South America in Calverley Grounds.

The Cricket Festival will be in June 2018. Three day’s worth of cricket and tasting local food and drink!

The Nevill Cricket Ground in Tunbridge Wells was named as one of the best outgrounds in the country by The Independent Newspaper in April 2015.

For something totally different go to the Summer Steam Festival on during the first weekend of July at the Spa Valley Railway. Lots of different experiences to try, come and find out more.

At the latter end of July, the War and Peace Revival returns to the Hop Farm in Paddock Wood after a 2 year break. This is now a five day show and up to 2015 had been going continuously for 25 years.

This is a week of celebrating the lifestyle of the first half of the 20th century and military might from all over the globe.

Day tickets or camping on site is available. It is only 8 miles from Royal Tunbridge Wells by road and there is plenty of parking.

The nearest mainline railway station is Paddock Wood which is a short taxi ride away. The number 6 Arriva bus transports you right to the venue entrance from Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Maidstone directions.

The Full Fat Milk Fest is held on August bank holiday weekend at The Milkhouse Pub in Sissinghurst in conjunction with Produced in Kent – it’s all about local delicacies as well as a weekend of live music and fun for all the family!

For much more of the local delicacies, join us for the Royal Tunbridge Wells Food Festival encompassing the annual Pantiles Harvest Food Festival in September, a month long food fest!

Arts, Classical and Theatre Festivals

In May, the Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival is now a 3 day event thanks to its continuing success. Listen to Terry Waite, Adam Sisman or 19 other literary speakers give fascinating talks on their tales.

Workshops are available too.

Hever Theatre Festival provides dramatic entertainment in the open air in July and August for adults and families to enjoy. 

From comedy to cinema, musicals to drama you cannot fail to enjoy this outdoor event in such an opulent backdrop as Hever Castle, a veritable fairy tale. 

Look out for the programme in our What’s On schedule.

A new festival to the scene is the two day Cranbrook Literature Festival. Cosy up with like-minded people every 2 years at the end of September and hear great authors’ talks. 

In 2016 Alex Preston, Vanessa Nicolson, Dave McKean, Julian Clary and Giles Brandreth were some of the celebrities who shared their experiences with audiences.  The next is in 2018.

The Wadhurst Arts Festival, started in 1996, is held every September in the heart of the Wealden countryside.  Pay a visit to this ancient historic English village dating from the 7th or 8th century to view local artists’ work.

You can also take in Scotney Castle in nearby Lamberhurst village, another ancient and historic settlement, or a pub lunch near Lamberhurst vineyard. 

Classical musical festival - violin player

The Frant Music Festival is a year long festival of some of the greatest names in opera, jazz and classical music in the world. Held in the local church in the Wealden countryside only a couple of miles from Royal Tunbridge Wells, St Albans has "unsurpassed accoustics".

The Lamberhurst Music Festival is a classical annual music festival held in the local church and village hall.  Delivered with style and passion, this has been going for at least 15 years now and continues to be eagerly anticipated.

October 2017 sees the return of the Puppetry Festival to various venues across Tunbridge Wells. Keep an eye on the What’s On entry for further details to come.

One of the most anticipated classical music festivals in and around Tunbridge Wells is the annual RTW International Music Festival which begins in early October.  The RTW Symphony Orchestra has in the past commenced with Dame Sarah Connolly who serenaded us with her world famous mezzo-soprano talent at the Assembly Hall Theatre

More rapturous performances are hosted in 4 dramatic venues across the borough until mid October when the festival closes at historic venues such as Penshurst Church.

Beer and cider festivals still remain popular in this hop and apple growing part of the world. In particular we must mention the Spa Valley Railway CAMRA festival Real Ale and Diesel Gala in Autumn.  This is now the second largest hop festival in the South East. Keep checking our Blogs for an advance peek into what's happening.

Many of the villages across the borough have their own village festivals which pop up exclusively for one or two years only such as beer and music festivals, like the Cranbrook Apple Fair and not just during summer months! 

Basket of local apples, cider and juice

Bookmark the What’s On listings for more events going on in September to December and keep an eye on it for once in a lifetime opportunities and memories. 

These numerous imaginative events are testament to the sense of fun, cultural appreciation and beauty the Weald has to offer.   

Where do I stay? how do I get there?

Book your accommodation early to allow yourself to be fully immersed in the festival vibes and soak up the rural flavours.

There are plenty of taxis that can ferry you back and forth, your accommodation provider can help with this or contact the Tourist Information Office.

If you stay a little longer in the Garden of England, you can experience so many wonderful country pubs and restaurants in the area. It’s the Tunbridge Wells sensation!

Browse the site for plenty more events and exhibitions; more detail can be found in the What’s On listings nearer the times of the occasions themselves.

Number of items:

Number of items: 180

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  1. Add Tunbridge Wells Artisans at The George Pub to your Itinerary

    Tunbridge Wells Artisans at The George Pub

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    The George Pub's grade listed II listed stables have now been occupied by a collective of 30 local Artists and Artisans to share a retail space in the very centre of Tunbridge Wells.

    Type

    Workshop

    Dates

    From:
    22 Feb 2018 To 19 Sep 2018
  2. Add SECR P-Class No. 323 Bluebell’ visits the Spa Valley Railway! to your Itinerary

    SECR P-Class No. 323 Bluebell’ visits the Spa Valley Railway!

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    The Spa Valley Railway is delighted to announce the visit of South Eastern & Chatham Railway P-Class Locomotive No.323 'Bluebell' courtesy of the Bluebell Railway.

    Type

    Participatory Event

    Dates

    From:
    24 Feb 2018 To 25 Feb 2018
    From:
    3 Mar 2018 To 4 Mar 2018
    From:
    17 Mar 2018 To 18 Mar 2018
    From:
    24 Mar 2018 To 25 Mar 2018
  3. Add Kids for a Quid at the Spa Valley Railway to your Itinerary

    Kids for a Quid at the Spa Valley Railway

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Kids for a Quid! Visitors this coming weekend (24 and 25 February) can book a train journey and explore any of the destinations along the line including High Rocks, Groombridge, Eridge and Royal Tunbridge Wells.
    There is also a 'Kids for a Quid' promotion taking place this weekend when all...

    Type

    Participatory Event

    Dates

    From:
    24 Feb 2018 To 25 Feb 2018
  4. Add Sculpture in Particular at Pashley Manor Gardens to your Itinerary

    Sculpture in Particular at Pashley Manor Gardens

    Ticehurst, near Wadhurst

    Sculpture exhibition in the gardens, as well as a display and sale of maquettes (small sculptures) in the house throughout the eight day event.

    Type

    Festival

    Dates

    From:
    24 Apr 2018 To 8 May 2018

    Venue

    Pashley Manor Gardens, Wadhurst

  5. Add Royal Tunbridge Wells Choral Society at Assembly Hall Theatre to your Itinerary

    Royal Tunbridge Wells Choral Society at Assembly Hall Theatre

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Assembly Hall Theatre presents the RTWCS with the Salomon Orchestra, conducted by Rebecca Miller.

    Type

    Performance

    Dates

    From:
    29 Apr 2018 To 29 Apr 2018
  6. Add Forest Live 2018 at Bedgebury Pinetum to your Itinerary

    Forest Live 2018 at Bedgebury Pinetum

    Goudhurst

    Forest Live featuring Paloma Faith and Heaton & Abbott.

    Type

    Festival

    Dates

    From:
    15 Jun 2018 To 16 Jun 2018
  7. Add Ken Aiso and Sam Haywood  at Church of King Charles the Martyr to your Itinerary

    Ken Aiso and Sam Haywood at Church of King Charles the Martyr

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    A special concert and a welcome return to King Charles for the superb international violinist Ken Aiso, accompanied by the equally renowned pianist Sam Haywood.

    Type

    Concert

    Dates

    From:
    6 Mar 2018 To 6 Mar 2018
  8. Add NT Encore: Cat On A Hot Tin Roof at Trinity Theatre to your Itinerary

    NT Encore: Cat On A Hot Tin Roof at Trinity Theatre

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    In a recorded transmission from the National Theatre London in 2017, don't miss the chance to see Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, starring Sienna Miller, Jack O'Connell and Colm Meaney.

    Type

    Theatre/Drama

    Dates

    From:
    22 Feb 2018 To 22 Mar 2018
  9. Add Murder on The Nile at Trinity Theatre to your Itinerary

    Murder on The Nile at Trinity Theatre

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Moonlit nights on the Nile...ancient temples...young love, glamour, money - and murder...Agatha Christie's own adaptation of her novel Death on the Nile, this classic whodunnit is a masterpiece of the genre.

    Type

    Theatre/Drama

    Dates

    From:
    27 Feb 2018 To 3 Mar 2018
  10. Add Royal Tunbridge Wells Food and Drink Festival to your Itinerary

    Royal Tunbridge Wells Food and Drink Festival

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Tunbridge Wells Food and Drink Festival will be held in Calverley Grounds and is the culmination of Tunbridge Wells Food Month.

    Type

    Festival

    Dates

    From:
    22 Sep 2018 To 23 Sep 2018
  11. Add Bushcraft Skills Workshops and Camping Hacks at Penshurst Place & Gardens to your Itinerary

    Bushcraft Skills Workshops and Camping Hacks at Penshurst Place & Gardens

    Tonbridge

    Get grubby with the team at Camp Wilderness and learn the most effective ways to build a fire, tie your ropes, and many more priceless camping hacks, all in time for your summer adventures!

    Type

    Participatory Event

    Dates

    From:
    6 May 2018 To 7 May 2018
  12. Add Tulip Festival at Pashley Manor Gardens to your Itinerary

    Tulip Festival at Pashley Manor Gardens

    Ticehurst, near Wadhurst

    Pashley Manor’s spectacular Tulip Festival sees this garden, on the border of Sussex and Kent, carpeted with over 40, 000 tulips, creating stunning scenes for visitors to enjoy.

    Type

    Festival

    Dates

    From:
    24 Apr 2018 To 8 May 2018

    Venue

    Pashley Manor Gardens, Wadhurst

  13. Add Go West at Assembly Hall Theatre to your Itinerary

    Go West at Assembly Hall Theatre

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Go West will be performing all of their greatest hits including: " We Close Our Eyes", "Call Me", "Faithful", "King Of Wishful Thinking" and "Don't Look Down".

    Type

    Concert

    Dates

    From:
    25 Mar 2018 To 25 Mar 2018
  14. Add The Magic of Motown at Assembly Hall Theatre to your Itinerary

    The Magic of Motown at Assembly Hall Theatre

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Prepare yourself for 40 back-to-back classic Motown hits, glittering costume changes, dazzling dance moves and outstanding muscianship in this explosive concert experience.

    Type

    Performance

    Dates

    From:
    24 Mar 2018 To 24 Mar 2018
  15. Add Pantiles Market to your Itinerary

    Pantiles Market

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    The Pantiles Market is held on the first and third weekend of each month - combining hot food and seasonal local produce with a broad selection of artisan crafts, gifts, clothing and accessories.local produce, tasty treats, designer clothes and artisan crafts

    Type

    Markets

    Dates

    From:
    7 Apr 2018 To 8 Apr 2018
  16. Add Pantiles Market to your Itinerary

    Pantiles Market

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    The Pantiles Market is held on the first and third weekend of each month - combining hot food and seasonal local produce with a broad selection of artisan crafts, gifts, clothing and accessories.local produce, tasty treats, designer clothes and artisan crafts

    Type

    Markets

    Dates

    From:
    15 Dec 2018 To 16 Dec 2018
  17. Add Pantiles Market to your Itinerary

    Pantiles Market

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    The Pantiles Market is held on the first and third weekend of each month - combining hot food and seasonal local produce with a broad selection of artisan crafts, gifts, clothing and accessories.local produce, tasty treats, designer clothes and artisan crafts

    Type

    Markets

    Dates

    From:
    1 Dec 2018 To 2 Dec 2018
  18. Add Pantiles Market to your Itinerary

    Pantiles Market

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    The Pantiles Market is held on the first and third weekend of each month - combining hot food and seasonal local produce with a broad selection of artisan crafts, gifts, clothing and accessories.local produce, tasty treats, designer clothes and artisan crafts

    Type

    Markets

    Dates

    From:
    17 Nov 2018 To 18 Nov 2018
  19. Add Pantiles Market to your Itinerary

    Pantiles Market

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    The Pantiles Market is held on the first and third weekend of each month - combining hot food and seasonal local produce with a broad selection of artisan crafts, gifts, clothing and accessories.local produce, tasty treats, designer clothes and artisan crafts

    Type

    Markets

    Dates

    From:
    3 Nov 2018 To 4 Nov 2018
  20. Add Pantiles Market to your Itinerary

    Pantiles Market

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    The Pantiles Market is held on the first and third weekend of each month - combining hot food and seasonal local produce with a broad selection of artisan crafts, gifts, clothing and accessories.local produce, tasty treats, designer clothes and artisan crafts

    Type

    Markets

    Dates

    From:
    20 Oct 2018 To 21 Oct 2018

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