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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.

On 7-9th July is the Live Expressions Festival at Colebrook Lakes again. 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, held at the end of May over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, is four 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 inaugural Royal Tunbridge Wells Food Festival encompassing the annual Pantiles Harvest Food Festival in September 2017!

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 on Sunday 1 October.  The RTW Symphony Orchestra commences with Dame Sarah Connolly who will be serenading 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 14 October when the festival closes with Verdi's Requiem at 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.

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Number of items: 65

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  1. Add Christmas Collective Shopping Event at The Spa Hotel to your Itinerary

    Christmas Collective Shopping Event at The Spa Hotel

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    On 29th November, The Spa Hotel is hosting a Christmas Collective shopping event offering gifts from handpicked companies, who will be inviting you to buy their unique wares.

    Type

    Sale

    Dates

    From:
    29 Nov 2017 To 29 Nov 2017
  2. Add Tunbridge Wells Pride Disco Party at The Forum to your Itinerary

    Tunbridge Wells Pride Disco Party at The Forum

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    The Forum is proud to be hosting a fundraising party for next years Pride event on 25th November.

    Type

    Performance

    Dates

    From:
    25 Nov 2017 To 25 Nov 2017
  3. Add Winter Sessions at Calverley Ice Rink to your Itinerary

    Winter Sessions at Calverley Ice Rink

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Live music sessions at Calverley Ice Rink in November and December.

    Type

    Sporting Event

    Dates

    From:
    30 Nov 2017 To 30 Nov 2017
  4. Add Winter Sessions at Calverley Ice Rink to your Itinerary

    Winter Sessions at Calverley Ice Rink

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Live music sessions at Calverley Ice Rink in November and December.

    Type

    Sporting Event

    Dates

    From:
    3 Dec 2017 To 3 Dec 2017
  5. Add Winter Sessions at Calverley Ice Rink to your Itinerary

    Winter Sessions at Calverley Ice Rink

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Live music sessions at Calverley Ice Rink in November and December.

    Type

    Sporting Event

    Dates

    From:
    10 Dec 2017 To 10 Dec 2017
  6. Add Winter Sessions at Calverley Ice Rink to your Itinerary

    Winter Sessions at Calverley Ice Rink

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Live music sessions at Calverley Ice Rink in November and December.

    Type

    Sporting Event

    Dates

    From:
    14 Dec 2017 To 14 Dec 2017
  7. Add Winter Sessions at Calverley Ice Rink to your Itinerary

    Winter Sessions at Calverley Ice Rink

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Live music sessions at Calverley Ice Rink in November and December.

    Type

    Sporting Event

    Dates

    From:
    17 Dec 2017 To 17 Dec 2017
  8. Add Anti Nowhere League live at The Forum to your Itinerary

    Anti Nowhere League live at The Forum

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    See hardcore punk sensations Anti Nowhere League performing live at The Forum.

    Type

    Performance

    Dates

    From:
    23 Dec 2017 To 23 Dec 2017
  9. Add The Burlesque Fever Christmas Special at The Forum to your Itinerary

    The Burlesque Fever Christmas Special at The Forum

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    The Burlesque Fever Christmas show, featuring a variety of exciting stage acts ranging from classic cabaret, drama and humour to the glamorous art of striptease.

    Type

    Show / Display

    Dates

    From:
    8 Dec 2017 To 8 Dec 2017
  10. Add Hug-Many this New Year's Eve on The Pantiles to your Itinerary

    Hug-Many this New Year's Eve on The Pantiles

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Come and join the Hug-Many New Year's Eve party in The Pantiles.

    Type

    Show / Display

    Dates

    From:
    31 Dec 2017 To 31 Dec 2017
  11. Add Winter Sessions at Calverley Ice Rink to your Itinerary

    Winter Sessions at Calverley Ice Rink

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Live music sessions at Calverley Ice Rink in November and December.

    Type

    Sporting Event

    Dates

    From:
    23 Nov 2017 To 23 Nov 2017
  12. Add "Boogie Nights" New Years Eve Party at The Forum to your Itinerary

    "Boogie Nights" New Years Eve Party at The Forum

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    DJ's Richard Marshall and Markus Holler return for the ultimate New Year's Eve Party.

    Type

    Concert

    Dates

    From:
    31 Dec 2017 To 31 Dec 2017
  13. Add New Year's Eve at The Spa Hotel to your Itinerary

    New Year's Eve at The Spa Hotel

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Celebrate New Year's Eve in style this year!

    Type

    Concert

    Dates

    From:
    31 Dec 2017 To 31 Dec 2017
  14. Add Christmas Eve Dinner & Jazz at The Spa Hotel to your Itinerary

    Christmas Eve Dinner & Jazz at The Spa Hotel

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    This Christmas Eve we are hosting a 3 course dinner with live jazz music from The Violet Jive.

    Type

    Concert

    Dates

    From:
    24 Dec 2017 To 24 Dec 2017
  15. Christmas Cinema Night at The Spa Hotel

    Add Christmas Cinema Night at The Spa Hotel to your Itinerary

    Christmas Cinema Night at The Spa Hotel

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Come and join us for our Christmas cinema night, we will be screening Home Alone on the big screen in our Royal Suite.

    Type

    Theatre/Drama

    Dates

    From:
    30 Nov 2017 To 30 Nov 2017
  16. Add Christmas Fair & Late Night Shopping in Goudhurst to your Itinerary

    Christmas Fair & Late Night Shopping in Goudhurst

    Goudhurst

    Christmas Fair and Late Night Shopping in historic village Goudhurst on Friday 24th November.

    Type

    Fete / Fair

    Dates

    From:
    24 Nov 2017 To 24 Nov 2017
  17. Add Christmas Time Cream Tea Special at the Spa Valley Railway to your Itinerary

    Christmas Time Cream Tea Special at the Spa Valley Railway

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Spend a crisp winters afternoon between Christmas and New Year taking a journey on the Spa Valley Railway and indulging in a Cream Tea!

    Type

    Participatory Event

    Dates

    From:
    30 Dec 2017 To 1 Jan 2018
  18. Add The Royal Ballet:The Nutcracker Recorded Live Transmission at The Trinity to your Itinerary

    The Royal Ballet:The Nutcracker Recorded Live Transmission at The Trinity

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Come and watch a special recorded Live Performance of The Royal Ballet performing "The Nutcracker" on Thursday 21st December at The Trinity Theatre, Royal Tunbridge Wells.

    Type

    Performance

    Dates

    From:
    21 Dec 2017 To 21 Dec 2017
  19. Add Richard Durrant - A Candlelit Christmas Guitar Concert to your Itinerary

    Richard Durrant - A Candlelit Christmas Guitar Concert

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Richard Durrant - A Candlelit Christmas Guitar Concert - with special guests Amy Kakoura and Nick Pynn

    Type

    Concert

    Dates

    From:
    20 Dec 2017 To 20 Dec 2017
  20. Add Saturday Craft Club at Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery to your Itinerary

    Saturday Craft Club at Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery

    Tunbridge Wells

    Monthly free drop-in craft sessions for all ages.

    Type

    Workshop

    Dates

    From:
    18 Nov 2017 To 10 Feb 2018

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