Christmas market scene

As winter’s chill sets in, Kent transforms into a festive wonderland, with its towns and villages aglow with Christmas lights and decorations. Central to this transformation are the Christmas markets that pop up across the county, each offering a unique blend of traditional charm, local crafts, and festive cheer. In this article, we delve into the heart of these markets, uncovering what makes each one special and why they are a must-visit during the holiday season.

Canterbury Christmas Market (10th November – 24th December)

Nestled within the medieval city, the Canterbury Christmas Market is a tapestry of twinkling lights and festive sounds. Stalls brimming with handcrafted gifts, aromatic mulled wine, and an array of gourmet treats create an atmosphere of old-world charm. “It’s like stepping into a Christmas card,” says a local artisan, showcasing her hand-painted ornaments. Visitors can immerse themselves in the spirit of the season while supporting local craftsmen and women.

Rochester Christmas Market (25th November – 10th December)

Set against the historic backdrop of Rochester Castle, this market blends tradition with a contemporary twist. Visitors are greeted with an array of stalls selling everything from bespoke jewellery to festive decorations. The market buzzes with energy, with live music filling the air and enticing aromas wafting from food stalls. “It’s a perfect blend of history and holiday spirit,” remarks a family enjoying the festive fare.

Hever Christmas Fair (9th November)

For a truly unique experience, the Hever Christmas Fair at the iconic Hever Castle offers a one-day extravaganza. The fair features an exclusive selection of handcrafted gifts and local produce, set in the castle’s picturesque grounds. “Every stall here tells a story,” says a vendor, surrounded by her handmade soaps and candles.

Whitstable Christmas Fair (2nd and 3rd December)

In the quaint coastal town of Whitstable, the Christmas fair adds a seaside twist to the traditional market. Known for its oysters and maritime charm, the fair offers a selection of local seafood, arts, and crafts. “It’s the essence of Whitstable in a festive setting,” a local fisherman shares, offering samples of smoked fish.

Faversham Christmas Market (9th and 10th December)

Faversham’s market is a celebration of Kent’s rich agricultural heritage, showcasing the best of local produce and crafts. From artisanal cheeses to handcrafted wooden toys, the market is a haven for those seeking authentic, locally-sourced gifts. “We take pride in our local heritage,” says a stallholder, arranging her display of Kentish jams and chutneys.

Wealden Times Midwinter Fair at The Hop Farm (16th – 18th November)

Ideal for families, the Wealden Times Midwinter Fair offers more than just shopping. With activities for children and a diverse range of stalls, it’s a festive outing for all ages. “The kids love the magic shows, and I can get all my Christmas shopping done,” laughs a parent, her children in tow.

Margate Christmas Fair (25th November 2023)

Get ready to immerse yourself in festive cheer at the Margate Christmas Fair on 25th November 2023. The fair, running from 12pm to 6pm, is set to be a highlight of the holiday season in Margate.

Key Features:

  • Christmas Tree Light Switch-On: At 6pm, witness the magical moment when the Christmas tree lights are turned on, marking the official start of the season’s festivities.
  • Free Parking: Conveniently available at Mill Lane Carpark, making it easier for visitors to attend.
  • Live Performances: Enjoy a range of live entertainment from 12pm to 6pm, adding to the festive atmosphere.
  • Free Santa’s Grotto: A special treat for children, offering a chance to meet Santa in a magical setting.
  • Free Entertainment: Throughout the fair, visitors can enjoy various free entertainment options.
  • Concessions: Special concessions for NHS and TDC, providing winter warmth and information.
  • Christmas Market Stalls: Explore a variety of stalls featuring Christmas-themed goods, perfect for holiday shopping.

The Margate Christmas Fair promises a day filled with joy, community spirit, and holiday magic, making it a must-visit event for families and visitors of all ages.

Christmas World at Dreamland, Margate (15th December – 22nd December)

Dates: 2023 Season Location: Near Margate Station Experience a winter wonderland at Dreamland with family-friendly performances, Santa’s magical grotto, snowball fights, sleigh rides, and Steins By The Sea for adults. Enjoy a variety of food and drink options in this festive joy-filled setting.

Festive Marketplace at Folkestone Harbour Arm (17th November – 24th December)

Location: Near Folkestone Central

This year’s marketplace will feature more decorations, free films, and entertainment, including a chance to meet Father Christmas. Explore local produce from Kent businesses and enjoy live music and carol services.

Christmas in Canterbury (10th November – 27th December)

Location: Near Canterbury West Station

Canterbury dresses up in its festive best with independent huts, delicious treats, and winter drinks. Explore the city center adorned with twinkling lights for unique gifts and festive experiences.

Rochester Dickensian Christmas Festival (2nd & 3rd December)

Dates: 2nd & 3rd December

Experience Victorian festivities with street entertainment, readings, song, dance, and Dickens’ characters, bringing the writer’s world to life.

Christmas in Tenterden (24-26 November)

Location: Accessible via bus from Ashford International

The Christmas tree light switch-on event features a variety of stalls with international cuisine, arts and crafts, and festive goodies.

Christmas Artisan Market at Tonbridge Castle (19th November)

Location: Near Tonbridge Station

Explore a range of local traders and market stalls in a magical castle setting, complemented by a stroll along the river or a visit to the town shops.

Faversham Christmas Artisan Craft & Gift Market (10th December)

Location: Near Faversham Station

The Alexander Centre in Faversham brings back its indoor Christmas market with unique, quality gifts from local traders.

Christmas Ramsgate Handmade and Vintage Fair (26th November)

Location: Near Ramsgate Station

The fair adds a festive twist with the Land Train, Christmas Lights switch-on, mulled wine, Santa, and festive stalls.

Christmas Artisan Fair at Chiddingstone Castle (25th November)

Location: Access via taxi from Penshurst

Chiddingstone Castle hosts a Christmas fair with unique products, gifts, decorations, food, and drinks in the Castle and a heated marquee.

Christmas at Gravesend Borough Market (25th November – 23rd December)

Location: Near Gravesend Station

Gravesend’s Christmas market features handmade gifts, sweet treats, and a festive atmosphere.

Something for Everyone

From the historic streets of Canterbury to the coastal charm of Whitstable, Kent’s Christmas markets are a mosaic of festive joy and community spirit. They offer not just shopping opportunities but a chance to immerse oneself in the holiday spirit, creating memories that last beyond the season. As the year winds down, these markets stand as a testament to the enduring allure of a traditional English Christmas.

With each market offering its own unique flavour and experience, a visit to Kent’s Christmas markets is an essential part of the festive season. Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift, a taste of local delicacies, or simply to soak up the festive atmosphere, these markets have something for everyone.