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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.

The Art Gallery & Museum host performers of spoken word, poetry and readings from award winning writers as well.

It usually all kicks off early evening 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 now in it's third year of 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 a good few years in Blackpool but has now fallen in love with the region of Tunbridge Wells.

There will be overnight camping, 7 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.

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?

Tom Kerridge's food and music festival, Pub in the Park, is coming to Dunorlan this July.

The laid - back summer celebration will see pop-up pubs serving food throughout the weekend including Tom's The Hand & Flowers and The Coach, Chef deomonstrations from Angela Hartnett and the Tanner Brothers.

There will be bars serving every tipple from craft beer to artisan gin, lots of shopping and cracking music from household names including Tom Odell, Razorlight, Melanie C and Billy Ocean.

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 Transport 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 Show returns to the Hop Farm in Paddock Wood. This is now a five (5!) 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

On the early May Bank Holiday weekend, the Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival is a 2-day event thanks to its continuing success. Previous guests have included Terry Waite and Adam Sisman. This year we have Ian Rankin, Aardman Animations, Evan Davis, Cressida Cowell and Kate Mosse to name a few.

Workshops are available for adults and young people too.

Hever Theatre Festival, celebrating 35 years in 2018, 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 fairly 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, broadcasters and illustrators talk.  

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 one is in 2018 with Alison Weir, Natasha Farrant, Vanessa Altin, Davina McCall, Jeremy Vine and Johnny Duddle (Harry Potter illustrator).

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 saw the return of the Puppetry Festival to various venues across Tunbridge Wells. This is a biannial event so 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 different historic venues each year 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. Check our Blogs for an advance peek into what happens!

Many of the villages across the borough have their own village festivals such as beer and food festivals, like the Cranbrook Apple Fair and not just during summer months! 

Basket of local apples, cider and juice

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. We have more on how to get here and get around.

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 and even more festivals can be found in the What’s On listings nearer the times of the occasions themselves so make sure you bookmark it. 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.   

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Number of items: 172

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  1. Soul Train on the Pantiles

    Add Soul Train on the Pantiles to your Itinerary

    Soul Train on the Pantiles

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Freak out on the Pantiles on a Saturday night!

    Type

    Performance

    Dates

    From:
    28 Jul 2018 To 28 Jul 2018
  2. Add Launch of Jazz on the Pantiles 2018 with Lipstick & Beatniks to your Itinerary

    Launch of Jazz on the Pantiles 2018 with Lipstick & Beatniks

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Live jazz at the Bandstand on the Pantiles, launching tonight with Lipstick & Beatniks from 7pm

    Type

    Performance

    Dates

    From:
    3 May 2018 To 3 May 2018
  3. Add Wicked Witch of the Wild Wood Storytelling at Penshurst Place to your Itinerary

    Wicked Witch of the Wild Wood Storytelling at Penshurst Place

    Penshurst

    Creep quietly down the leaf-trodden path and emerge in our forest clearing where a warming hot chocolate will be awaiting you. Take a seat under the cover of our yurt and brace yourself....the witch is about to emerge from her forest dwelling!

    Type

    Participatory Event

    Dates

    From:
    22 Oct 2018 To 26 Oct 2018
  4. Add August Bank Holiday at Penshurst Place to your Itinerary

    August Bank Holiday at Penshurst Place

    Penshurst

    Get the family together this August Bank Holiday and get to grips with nature with our bushcraft skills workshops on the Woodland Trail, falconry demonstrations, pantomime-style storytelling and a handful of amazing crafts to make and take home! Perfect for children and adults of all ages.

    Type

    Participatory Event

    Dates

    From:
    26 Aug 2018 To 27 Aug 2018
  5. Add Spooky Half Term at Penshurst Place to your Itinerary

    Spooky Half Term at Penshurst Place

    Penshurst

    Unravel ridiculous riddles and rambunctious rhymes during our Halloween Garden Trail as we get our spook on once again! We'll also be opening up The Old Coach House for creepy crafts and creations!

    Type

    Participatory Event

    Dates

    From:
    20 Oct 2018 To 28 Oct 2018
  6. 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
  7. Add Summer Sundays at Penshurst Place & Gardens to your Itinerary

    Summer Sundays at Penshurst Place & Gardens

    Penshurst

    Discover the brand new Falconry Show for Summer Sundays 2018 at Penshurst Place. The Hawking Centre demonstrate how different animals interact to hone in on their prey! We'll also be welcoming back Aardvark Productions for new garden pantos and offering our popular children's crafts.

    Type

    Participatory Event

    Dates

    From:
    22 Jul 2018 To 2 Sep 2018
  8. Add Maize Maze Challenge at Penshurst Place & Gardens to your Itinerary

    Maize Maze Challenge at Penshurst Place & Gardens

    Penshurst

    Back by popular demand, the Maize Maze this year features some new twists and turns, so if you think you cracked it last year, why not come back again and see if you can beat your time and find all the hidden checkpoints?

    Type

    Participatory Event

    Dates

    From:
    14 Jul 2018 To 2 Sep 2018
  9. Add Armed Forces Day at Penshurst Place & Gardens to your Itinerary

    Armed Forces Day at Penshurst Place & Gardens

    Penshurst

    In celebration of our Armed Forces and the centenary of the end of WWI, Hands on History will be joining us, along with a selection of memorabilia and weapons from famous battles and wars across the ages.

    Type

    Participatory Event

    Dates

    From:
    30 Jun 2018 To 30 Jun 2018
  10. Add Welcome Summer! at Penshurst Place & Gardens to your Itinerary

    Welcome Summer! at Penshurst Place & Gardens

    Penshurst

    Celebrate the start of the great British summer with us, and come along to make a few seasonal headdresses and crafts using materials from around the gardens.

    Type

    Participatory Event

    Dates

    From:
    23 Jun 2018 To 23 Jun 2018
  11. Add A Weekend for Dad at Penshurst Place & Gardens to your Itinerary

    A Weekend for Dad at Penshurst Place & Gardens

    Penshurst

    Step inside The Old Coach House on Saturday 16th June and make a card to show Dad how special he is. On Sunday 17th, treat Dad to a musical performance unlike any other this Father's Day, as we invite the hugely entertaining Junk Orchestra to play a tune or two on their musical junk-struments! A...

    Type

    Participatory Event

    Dates

    From:
    16 Jun 2018 To 17 Jun 2018
  12. Add Minibeast Safaris at Penshurst Place & Gardens to your Itinerary

    Minibeast Safaris at Penshurst Place & Gardens

    Penshurst

    As part of our Glorious Gardens weekend of celebration, we're calling all intrepid explorers to join our special guests, Kent Wildlife Trust, on safari throughout the grounds, hunting for minibeasts of all descriptions!

    Type

    Participatory Event

    Dates

    From:
    3 Jun 2018 To 3 Jun 2018
  13. Add 'Vulnerability' Exhibition at Trinity Theatre Gallery to your Itinerary

    'Vulnerability' Exhibition at Trinity Theatre Gallery

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    A solo exhibition of over 50 expressive, figurative paintings and drawings by local artist Jenny Neill, with the theme of 'Vulnerability'.
    Jenny's highly unusual work is emotional and thought-provoking and has sold both at home and abroad.

    Launch evening: 18.00 - 20.30 Tuesday May 8th.

    Type

    Exhibition

    Dates

    From:
    8 May 2018 To 18 May 2018
  14. Pub in the Park with Tom Kerridge at Dunorlan Park

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Pub in the Park with Tom Kerridge will be coming to Dunorlan Park, Tunbridge Wells in July.

    Type

    Festival

    Dates

    From:
    6 Jul 2018 To 8 Jul 2018
  15. Add Pirates and Princesses at Groombridge Place to your Itinerary

    Pirates and Princesses at Groombridge Place

    Groombridge, Tunbridge Wells

    Ahoy there! Come down me harties to Groombridge Place and meet the naughty pirates of Groombridge! There will be storytelling, a Pirate sing-a-long, crafts, bouncy castle and lots more to see and do!

    Type

    Participatory Event

    Dates

    From:
    5 May 2018 To 7 May 2018
  16. Add Fairytales and Fables at Groombridge Place to your Itinerary

    Fairytales and Fables at Groombridge Place

    Groombridge, Tunbridge Wells

    Once upon a time, a very poor woodcutter lived in a tiny cottage in the enchanted forest with his two children, Hansel and Gretel.

    Type

    Participatory Event

    Dates

    From:
    26 May 2018 To 3 Jun 2018
  17. Orpheus Male Voice Choir at Trinity Theatre

    Add Orpheus Male Voice Choir at Trinity Theatre to your Itinerary

    Orpheus Male Voice Choir at Trinity Theatre

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Come and see the spectacular Royal Tunbridge Wells Oprheus Male Voice Choir this May at Trinity Theatre.

    Type

    Concert

    Dates

    From:
    12 May 2018 To 12 May 2018
  18. Add Holiday Happenings - Crafting Calm at Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery to your Itinerary

    Holiday Happenings - Crafting Calm at Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery

    Mount Pleasant, Royal Tunbridge Wells

    For the May Holiday Happenings the Museum and Art Gallery are working with their Seasons of Change partners, Fegans, to produce a series of craft activities designed to enhance the wellbeing and calmness in children.

    Type

    Workshop

    Dates

    From:
    29 May 2018 To 30 May 2018
  19. Add Parent Consultation with Fegans at Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery to your Itinerary

    Parent Consultation with Fegans at Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery

    Mount Pleasant, Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Parent consultations will be held at Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery as part of the exhibition "Seasons of Change".

    Type

    Workshop

    Dates

    From:
    17 May 2018 To 17 May 2018
  20. Add Mayfield Festival of Music and Arts to your Itinerary

    Mayfield Festival of Music and Arts

    Mayfield

    The Mayfield Festival of Music and the Arts is an English Arts Festival which is primarily devoted to classical music.

    Type

    Festival

    Dates

    From:
    28 Apr 2018 To 13 May 2018

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