Picture book villages in the snow

Picture book villages in the snow

by Darryl Curcher

Tunbridge Wells is Christmas

Welcome to our winter wonderland...

This year it feels like we need to make Christmas extra special and spend quality time reconnecting with our loved ones. Whether you are seeking space to breathe in the great outdoors, or planning on visiting family and friends in Tunbridge Wells we can serve up a fantastic selection of Christmas activities, glorious countryside strolls, events, gift boutiques, butchers, excellent choices of cafés, bars and restaurants offering you a premier destination for all things festive.

Join us in the countdown to Christmas via a few celebrations and trips along the way.  Read on as we show you where to go for a sensational start to the seasonal festivities.

Father Christmas Arrives in Kent

Father Christmas has so many places to be however, he will be welcoming families visiting the picturesque town of Royal Tunbridge Wells.

At Groombridge Place the elves are busy transforming their beautiful grounds into a truly magical Christmas experience for all the family this December.

From Wednesday 16th December to Christmas Eve, you can visit the Wishing Tree in the secret garden to make a wish, wave to Santa in his sleigh, and watch Punch and Judy shows.  Due to social distancing measures there are limited tickets so don’t delay in booking yours!  

Country Christmas days out around Tunbridge Wells

Sunset strolls in the country | near Tunbridge Wells

The glorious landscape which characterises the borough of Tunbridge Wells is the perfect backdrop for creating special memories this year.

Whether you’re are seeking a challenge, or simply looking to cancel out the Christmas calories and escape the indoor fuggy feeling, the area contains both extensive walking trails and pretty, undulating rambles that won’t push you unnecessarily.

Our walking page has a number of route suggestions. Feel free to have a browse so you can make the most of this High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which covers 70% of our region and provides a protected status for this unique patch of England.

Some of the finest gardens and grounds are open and promise to add some Christmas sparkle to your seasonal strolls.

Spend a spectacular evening in one of the most popular natural attractions run by Forestry England. Christmas at Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest is a wonderland of Christmas illuminations and musical delights. Read our blog ‘A Magical Christmas Weekend in Tunbridge Wells’ to see what a treat is in store for you.

Christmas lights at Bedgebury Pinetum | near Royal Tunbridge Wells
Photo: Bedgebury Pinetum

By night, tread a fantasy path beneath the iconic trees as they are lit up in a multitude of colours in the dark. Fairy lights flicker in time to festive tunes, enjoy hot chocolate or mulled wine with marshmallows and be hypnotised by the shimmering shadows and sparkles.

Book in advance for dates between 4th December 2020 and 10th January 2021.

By day, walk in A Year Long Wonderland of the gently rolling utopia of evergreen firs and pines.

Scotney Castle in winter, Tunbridge Wells. Photo: Darryl CurcherA short drive from here, near the village of Lamberhurst is Scotney Castle. With its stunning grounds, medieval castle ruins, and handsome house, this National Trust owned property is a true fairy tale setting for a festive visit this winter.  Grounds only are open daily until 3rd January 2021. Tickets have to be booked in advance and are made available every Friday.

The shop, packed full of exquisite gifts, and the tea room with seasonal treats will be open too. The house unfortunately will have to remain closed due to government restrictions.

Also in the borough, near the charming village of Goudhurst, Sissinghurst Castle Garden has a rich history.  It has been (amongst other things) a family home to a host of fascinating characters, most famously writer Vita Sackville-West, who during the 1930’s, alongside her husband Harold transformed its grounds into the world renowned gardens that exist today.

The grounds are open daily from 9th November, with the Granary Restaurant serving take away refreshments.  From 5th December, the shop will reopen.  Pre-bookable tickets will be available for the following weeks on Fridays. The Tower, Long Library, South Cottage, Coffee Shop and Exhibition will have to remain closed. Dogs on leads are welcome in the wider grounds but not in the formal gardens

A little further afield, Hever Castle is all decked out and ready for your visit.  From the Peter Pan trail in their magnificent grounds, to the illuminated walkways after dark, all the family will be filled with Christmas wonder.  As all activities are outdoors, Hever is open for Christmas from 21st November to 8th December (Wednesday to Sunday) and daily from 9th December until Christmas Eve.  Pre-book your tickets to avoid disappointment.

Christmas Shopping in Tunbridge Wells

The region of Tunbridge Wells is brimming full of fantastic independent boutiques, shops and delis packed with perfect gifts for your loved ones this Christmas.  Whilst you may not be able to visit them in person, many are offering fantastic online services. Just take a look at this Christmas Shopping guide and also browse our Shopping page for full listings.

Hawkhurst Christmas Market is going ahead in the southern Weald area of the borough and will have beautiful hand made goodies to purchase for some unique presents this year.

Royal Tunbridge Wells High Street Christmas Lights | RTWT BID - R Bainbridge
Credit: R Bainbridge

Fenwick’s department store in Royal Victoria Place has launched their brand new Concierge Services exclusively for Christmas 2020.  They are offering a full delivery service for your online purchases, a bespoke Virtual Personal Shopping experience, and a Gift Service which will handpick your chosen gifts for you from instore, wrap and deliver to your door!  Why not go the whole hog and treat yourself to The Ultimate Fenwick Tree?  Simply describe your chosen theme and they will deliver the full package complete with decorations and the tree.

Set against the iconic Georgian colonnade in heart of the historic old town, The Pantiles Market offers an array of food & drink, artisan goods and great gifts.  They will be setting out their festive fare on weekends (10am to 4pm) from 5th & 6th December to the 19th & 20th December.

For a crowd-free experience in gorgeous rural locations do support local and pay a visit to the Pashley Manor Christmas Shop and the Penshurst Place Gift Shop.

The Cranbrook Christmas farmers' market will be taking place on Saturday 19 December from 9.30am – 1pm. It is packed full of local produce and gifts including vegan, vegetarian, gluten- and lactose-free products as well.

Ice skating in Tunbridge Wells

Usually set in the magnificent amphitheatre of Calverley Grounds in the centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells, the ice rink is still suffused with sparkling festive lights to admire on an amble in the pretty gardens. We are hoping this might be able to go ahead later this year so keep an eye on the What’s On listings.

Evening Skaters at Royal Tunbridge Wells ice rink

It’s still worth visiting the town to admire the Christmas lights and the snowman which are providing the residents with much needed joy in 2020. Have your photo taken with the snowman in Fiveways so many others have shared their pictures online!

Meet Father Christmas online or at home

There are three new magical opportunities this year to meet Father Christmas: at your home, in your street (Tunbridge Wells only) and via ZOOM.

Father Christmas at your door in Royal Tunbridge Wells | D Curcher

Home visits have never been done before in the south-east and has already proved extremely popular with families as most areas have had more dates added. We advise you to book as soon as you can to avoid disappointment as key dates are booked well in advance. 

There is a maximum of 6 family members per visit due to Covid19 restrictions unless in an extended bubble or restrictions change. There will be no queuing to see Father Christmas as everyone has a pre-booked time slot. There is also no charge for babies under one with a full paying adult.

We highly recommend re-confirming events nearer your timeslots. For further information on things to see and do in the Tunbridge Wells area over the Christmas period, please browse the full What’s On at Christmas list and of course the Royal Tunbridge Wells Tourist Information Centre is available to advise you remotely too. The office is currently shut to visitors.

Getting here and getting around

Being situated in the West of Kent we are only an hour from London or Hastings by train. Trains are roughly every half an hour to and from these locations. More details are to be found on the main Getting Here & Getting Around page. 

Parking on Sundays is £2 all day in the 5 main town centre car parks and free after 3pm Monday - Friday.

Remember to familiarise yourselves with the current government guidelines which you can view on our COVID19 update.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a magical stay here from us, the Tunbridge Wells Tourism Team.

Search Accommodation

Type:
Area:
Keyword: (OPTIONAL)

Search Things to Do

Type:
Area:
Keyword: (OPTIONAL)

Search What's On

Type:
Area:
Keyword: (OPTIONAL)
Date

Search Food & Drink

Type:
Area:
Keyword: (OPTIONAL)

Search Shopping

Type:
Area:
Keyword: (OPTIONAL)

Search What's On

Type:
Area:
Keyword: (OPTIONAL)
Date

Now featuring traveller reviews from TripAdvisor.