Ice Rink

Ice Rink

Calverley Grounds

Tunbridge Wells is Christmas

When the Christmas season is upon us, so the magic begins…

With its fantastic selection of Christmas activities, events, boutiques, excellent choice of cafés, bars and restaurants, Tunbridge Wells is the premier destination for all things festive.

The countdown to the celebrations has begun, so read on as we show you where to go for a magical start to the seasonal festivities.

Ice skating in Tunbridge Wells

Set in the magnificent amphitheatre of Calverley Grounds in the centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells, and suffused with sparkling festive lights, the beautiful winter real ice rink is a firm favourite Christmas destination.

Skating at the Ice Rink in Tunbridge Wells by Jez Timms
Photo: Jez Timms

The ice rink is open daily from Friday 16 November to the Wednesday 2 January 2019 (closed Christmas Day).  You will need to book now as this is an extremely popular attraction, so hurry, grab your skates and take a twirl around the ice.

This is arguably one of the most fun nights out at Christmas in Royal Tunbridge Wells, everyone is welcome: families, couples, friends, kids, all abilities, office parties, Para-Olympians and Olympians too!

As Father Christmas has so many places to be, he and his friendly elves will be welcoming families visiting the picturesque Calverley Grounds in Royal Tunbridge Wells on selected dates from Saturday 1 to 24th December. Book now to see him in his beautiful log cabin.

Calverley Ground Ice Rink at night by David Hodgkinson
Photo: David Hodgkinson

The Royal Tunbridge Wells Christmas Lights

It wouldn't be Christmas without the Christmas lights. This year the lights will be switched on across town on Sunday 18 November when Father Christmas takes up residence in his Festive Grotto under cover of the Royal Victoria Place Shopping Centre.   Make sure you get there early to give Santa Claus your list!

Pantomime season is well and truly upon us….oh yes it is!

The annual popular pantomime provides sparkling festive entertainment, glittering sets, gorgeous costumes and magical special effects. Singing, dancing and plenty of audience participation provide fun and laughter for the whole family at the Assembly Hall Theatre.

Sleeping Beauty pantomime at Assembly Hall Theatre, Royal Tunbridge Wells 2018

The antics begin on Friday 7 December so book well in advance and wake up to the Christmas jollies with Sleeping Beauty starring famous actors Clare Sweeney and Derek Moran from Milkshake!, on until 2 January 2019.

In early December the Trinity Theatre is host to the Christmas Comedy Café, where the comedy has a festive feel good factor. There is a great comedic line up waiting to get you in the Christmas spirit during a laughter-filled evening on 6,7 and 8 December.

Their Christmas show is the timeless children’s story, The Wind in the Willows. This new musical production by Julian Fellowes includes brand new songs from Olivier award winner George Styles and Anthony Drewe.

On 20th December Trinity Theatre screens the definitive Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker, recorded from the Royal Opera House. With a sprinkling of magic, dancing mice and snowflakes, the kingdom of sweets and a Sugar Plum Fairy, this enchanting ballet is the perfect Christmas treat. 

4 Country Christmas days out around Tunbridge Wells

Meet Santa at Spa Valley Railway, Tunbridge Wells

1. The Spa Valley Railway is a winning day out the whole family can enjoy.

For Christmas, take a trip through the Wealden countryside on one of the Spa Valley Railway Santa Specials

The jollity starts at Eridge Station. Before joining the train pop into the Waiting Room where two face painters will be waiting to decorate your cheeks with Christmas trees or snowmen!

Visitors meet Santa Claus and his elves on board the special Santa steam train. All children will have the opportunity to meet Father Christmas and receive a gift. Booking is essential, do note this sells out fast!  

Don’t forget to do ‘Spot the Snowmen’ out the windows as you chug through the valley.

2. At Penshurst Place, get creative and make some Christmas crafts.

Inspect the naughty and nice lists and see the toy prototypes before being led to the secret grotto where Father Christmas is waiting to meet his guests.

Tickets must be pre-booked online for 24 and 25 November, 1 and 2 December then open daily from 8th December – 22nd December 2018.

Why not also pop into the Christmas Gift Shop from 2 November to 24 December, 10.30am – 4.30pm? Discover a treasure of gifts and festive goodies, also open late until 7pm on Wednesdays from 14 November.

3. Let your little ones loose at the Bewl Water ‘Christmas Experience’.

This engaging event has a Magic Wishing Tree, a Magic Ice Rink, Father Christmas’ Grotto, and unlimited fairground rides. Running from 1st – 16th on weekends only, then 21st - 24th December and you will need to book on their website.

4. Christmas at Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest is an illuminated wonderland.

Tread a magical path between the iconic trees as they are lit up in a multitude of colours after dark! Sparkling lights flicker in time to festive tunes, enjoy hot chocolate or mulled wine with marshmallows and revel in the shimmering shadows and luminosities.

Book in advance for dates between 30 November – 30 December 2018.

3 of the Best Christmas Concerts in Tunbridge Wells

Christmas Candles

1. The 9 December sees ‘A Traditional English Christmas Concert’ at Goudhurst’s Church of St Mary with RTW Choral Society and the Wadhurst Brass Band performing live from 6.30pm. Tickets are available in advance or on the door.

2. On 16 December, visit our lovely country village of Lamberhurst and hear Carols by Candlelight in the delightfully atmospheric Church of St Mary’s at 7.30pm. The choir of Clare College will provide the Christmas carols in this year's Lamberhurst Music Festival programme - bringing beautiful classical music to the rural areas of Tunbridge Wells.

3. Handel’s Messiah, now a Christmas staple, will be performed live at the Parish Church of King Charles the Martyr on 8 December at 7pm with guest soloists. Details and tickets are available via their website.

With so much going on throughout the festive season, it is going to be a very special Christmas indeed.

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 our Christmas Shopping and Markets page. Of course the Royal Tunbridge Wells Tourist Information Centre is available to advise you too.

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. 

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

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