Kent is known as the Garden of England, a region that showcases a captivating landscape of rolling hills, orchards, and picturesque villages.
Amidst its natural beauty, it provides a distinctive backdrop for holiday getaways, setting itself apart with its unique, charming Christmas markets that reflect the rich history and culture of the region.
In this guide, I list the best Christmas markets in Kent, ensuring you have all the necessary information, such as confirmed 2023 dates and locations.
Christmas Markets in Kent 2023
Each Christmas market in Kent provides a unique experience. In Canterbury, you’ll find a larger celebration with wooden huts set among the city’s ancient streets.
Rochester sets itself apart with a market in the castle gardens and the Dickensian Christmas Festival, transporting you back to the Victorian era with readings, songs, and dances by characters from Charles Dickens’s novels.
Folkestone’s harbour is the setting for its market, where you can meet Father Christmas and enjoy live music.
Despite the diversity, each market in Kent is committed to providing excellent shopping and entertainment options.
Here is a list of the best places to visit in 2023.
1. Rochester Christmas Market
In Rochester, the Christmas market stands out with the historic Rochester Castle as its grand backdrop, making it distinct in ambience and appeal. The castle’s unmatched architectural mastery from the 11th-century Norman era enhances the market’s atmosphere.
As the largest Christmas market in Kent, it presents a vibrant and lively atmosphere, drawing numerous visitors to enjoy the broad range of over 70 stalls filled with artisan goods and seasonal treats.
The market operates over three consecutive weekends within the expansive Rochester Castle Gardens.
It seamlessly blends the modern with the ancient, featuring contemporary live music performances and craft workshops amid the enchanting ambience of the castle’s illuminations and decorations.
It’s also an excellent opportunity to shop for handmade and personalised gifts and enjoy food and drinks, including traditional mulled wine.
You might like to explore my guide to Rochester Christmas Market where you’ll find practical information such as confirmed 2023 dates and opening times, assisting you in planning your visit or crafting a detailed itinerary.
2. Canterbury Christmas Market
In the historic city of Canterbury, the Christmas market stands out with its unique setting among charming medieval streets and the backdrop of the renowned Canterbury Cathedral.
You’ll find a traditional holiday experience as the city comes alive with more than 70 wooden chalets selling a wide variety of gifts, crafts, and seasonal treats.
A significant attraction for families is the beloved Santa’s Grotto, creating magical moments for children as they meet Santa Claus and receive a Christmas gift.
Adult visitors enjoy sampling locally produced Kentish ales and gins, contributing to the celebratory atmosphere.
The market’s location at Whitefriars Canterbury, Gravel Walk, adds to its historical allure, allowing you to explore the historic city alongside your market visit.
To assist in planning your visit, my guide to Canterbury Christmas Market provides confirmed 2023 dates and all the essential information you might need, ensuring your trip is as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
Kent Christmas Markets
Beyond the two mentioned, numerous other Kent Christmas markets are worth visiting as well.
Each of these additional markets presents its own unique allure and variety, ensuring your Christmas in Kent is filled with diverse experiences and interesting discoveries.
3. Rochester Dickensian Christmas Festival
Embrace the spirit of a Victorian Christmas at the Rochester Dickensian Christmas Festival.
The event resurrects the era with distinctive street entertainment, readings, songs, and dance, bringing Charles Dickens’ literary world to life. You’ll encounter remarkable Dickens characters, adding to the vivid exploration of the great writer’s life.
Rochester Dickensian Christmas Festival dates: 2nd and 3rd December 2023.
Opening times: 10am to 6pm.
Admission: Free entry.
4. Folkestone Festive Marketplace
Expect the highlight of the season at the Folkestone Festive Marketplace, running at the renowned Folkestone Harbour Arm.
This year, it’s returning with many festivities, including extended opening hours, independent market stalls, and a chance to meet Father Christmas, ensuring a vibrant holiday atmosphere.
In addition, enjoy the variety of food and drink options, diverse entertainment, and the screening of beloved Christmas classics in The Goods Yard.
Folkestone Festive Marketplace dates: 17th November to 24th December 2023.
Opening times: Friday: 4pm to 9pm. Saturday and Sunday: 11am to 6pm.
Admission: Free entry.
5. Faversham Christmas Market
Embrace the warmth of the holiday spirit at the Faversham Christmas Market, held in the heart of the historic market town within the Alexander Centre.
As you traverse the medieval setting, encounter an extensive assortment of unique gifts from local traders, including fashion, artwork, artisan crafts, and more, adding a distinctive touch to your Christmas shopping experience.
The market’s extension into Preston Street on Saturdays showcases local food and drink producers, augmenting the festive atmosphere with tasty culinary experiences.
Faversham Christmas Market dates: 4th, 25th and 26th November. 9th and 10th December 2023.
Opening times: 10am to 3pm.
Admission: Free entry.
6. Christmas at the Castle
Prepare to be enveloped in historical grandeur and holiday cheer at the Whitstable Castle Gardens.
Christmas at the Castle spans two days filled with traditional festivities, where you can explore stalls within and outside the castle featuring a good range of Christmas gifts and holly wreaths.
Relish light lunches, mulled wine, and mince pies at The Orangery Tearooms, and join in the enchantment of a magical Santa’s Grotto, making your experience not just a shopping trip but a step into the warmth of the season.
Christmas at the Castle dates: 2nd and 3rd December 2023.
Opening times: 10am to 4pm.
Admission: Free entry.
7. Tonbridge Castle Artisan Market
Embark on a winter’s outing to Tonbridge Castle, where the final artisan market for 2023 will unfold.
The castle’s charm provides a magical backdrop as you explore various local traders and market stalls, presenting everything from delicious food and drink to unique gifts and essential household items.
Round off your day with a peaceful stroll along the river, and relish the ambience of the town’s diverse shops, making your Christmas market outing a complete experience.
Tonbridge Castle Market dates: 19th November 2023.
Opening times: 10am to 4pm.
Admission: Free entry.
8. Ramsgate Handmade and Vintage Fair
Embrace the festive magic at Ramsgate Handmade and Vintage Fair, where a unique Christmas twist awaits you. As you explore the fair, the switch-on of the town’s Christmas lights and the arrival of the Land Train add to the atmosphere.
Indulge in the warmth of mulled wine, meet Santa, and explore numerous festive stalls filled with unique gifts and decorations, making your visit to Ramsgate not just a shopping trip but a festive experience to cherish.
Ramsgate Christmas Fair dates: 26th November 2023.
Opening times: 11am to 4pm.
Admission: Free entry.
9. Tenterden Christmas Market
Indulge in the Tenterden Christmas Market’s festive atmosphere, coinciding with the Christmas tree lights switch-on.
Browse through a diverse range of stalls, from international street cuisine and artisan grocery foods to handmade crafts, clothing, jewellery, and accessories. This gives an excellent selection for all your gift needs.
Enjoy the vibrant ambience enhanced by music and street performers while discovering unique gifts and delicious treats, all nestled within one of Kent’s most picturesque towns.
Tenterden Christmas Market dates: 24th to 26th November 2023.
Opening times: Friday: 12pm to 8pm. Saturday: 9am to 7pm. Sunday: 10am to 5pm.
Admission: Free, no tickets required.
10. Christmas World at Dreamland
Navigate the vibrant paths of Christmas World at Dreamland in Margate, a hub of festive joy filled with enthralling activities and entertainment.
Engage in snowball fights, take a sleigh ride, or enjoy a magical grotto experience with Santa.
For a more adult-oriented adventure, explore Steins By The Sea nights while everyone can savour great food and drink options amidst a festive atmosphere.
Christmas World dates: 15th to 22nd December 2023.
Opening times: 11am to 6pm.
Admission: Free entry, but Santa’s Grotto and Steins by the Sea are ticketed.
Prices: Santa’s Grotto: £19.95. Steins by the Sea: From £16.80.
Tickets: Book tickets online.
That concludes my list of the top 10 Kent Christmas market destinations for 2023.
Read my best European Christmas markets guide to discover top destinations for a European Christmas holiday in 2023, providing you with valuable information and insights for planning an enjoyable visit to various Christmas markets or creating a thoughtful itinerary.
Of if you’d prefer to stay closer to home, my Christmas Markets UK 2023 guide might be useful.
Christmas in Kent
Explore Kent’s Christmas markets’ distinctive flavours and treasures with this guide to regional specialties.
Kentish Huffkin: Originating from Kent, the Kentish Huffkin is a traditional bread roll with a distinctive indentation in the middle. Enjoy it with local cheeses and cold cuts to get a real taste of Kent. It’s not just a bread but a symbol of Kent’s rich culinary history.
Whitstable Oysters: Whitstable Oysters are a unique treat for seafood lovers visiting Kent Christmas markets. Grown in the nutrient-rich waters of Whitstable, these oysters carry a distinctive, fresh flavour, providing a true taste of the sea.
Romney Marsh Lamb: Savour the exceptional Romney Marsh Lamb, a tender and flavourful meat from sheep that graze on the Romney Marsh. This particular breed and its special diet in the region lend the meat a unique taste and texture.
Kentish Ale: The county is famous for its outstanding ales. When visiting the Christmas markets, be sure to sample some local Kentish Ale brewed right in the heart of Kent, promising an authentic and rich hop flavour.
Cherry Juice: Kent is known as the ‘Garden of England’, largely due to its abundant cherry orchards. Refresh yourself with a glass of cold cherry juice pressed from cherries grown exclusively in Kent’s lush orchards.
Ashmore Cheese: Crafted in the region, Ashmore cheese stands out with its rich and full-bodied flavour. Made from local cows’ milk, it embodies the essence of Kent’s pastoral landscapes.
Biddenden Vineyards Cider: Relish the crisp and refreshing Biddenden Vineyards Cider from apples grown in the renowned Biddenden Vineyards. This cider is a traditional representation of Kent’s long-standing apple cultivation tradition.
Tunbridge Ware: As a special souvenir, pick up some Tunbridge Ware, intricate marquetry designs that have been crafted in Tunbridge Wells since the 17th century. These unique items include jewellery boxes, paperweights, and other finely made products.
Shepherd Neame Christmas Ale: A seasonal speciality, the Shepherd Neame Christmas Ale is a festive brew from Britain’s oldest brewer based in Faversham, Kent. Rich and warming, this ale is a perfect companion to the chilly weather of a Kentish Christmas market.
These specialities define Kent’s culinary and craft heritage, making your Christmas market visit an authentic and rich experience.
Responsible Travel in Kent
Consider these ideas to enhance your commitment to responsible travel in Kent this Christmas.
Choose Eco-Friendly Accommodation: Opt for a hotel dedicated to sustainability, particularly those that rely on renewable energy. In Kent, numerous hotels and bed and breakfast places are making significant strides in reducing their carbon footprint. Your stay contributes to the local economy without causing harm to the planet.
Minimise Food Waste: While experiencing the culinary specialties at Kent’s Christmas markets, be mindful of the amount you order. Select portions that you can comfortably finish to prevent unnecessary waste. Numerous stalls are also amenable to customers using their own reusable containers for food, further reducing waste.
Ethical Consumption: When shopping, prioritise buying items that you truly need or will use regularly. Kent offers a range of handmade and locally produced items at its Christmas markets. Supporting local artisans is not only ethical but also bolsters the local economy.
Sustainable Diets: Make the choice for plant-based or locally sourced foods when eating in Kent. The region is renowned for its fresh produce, like the juicy apples from its abundant orchards. Opting for a meal rich in local vegetables and fruits minimises carbon emissions associated with food transport.
Embrace Sustainable Transport: Navigate the beautiful locales of Kent using its extensive public transport network, or better yet, explore the scenic paths on a bike or foot. The county’s well-maintained walking and cycling routes, like the Viking Coastal Trail, provide a green and healthful way to explore the region’s picturesque landscapes and historic sites.
Each of these steps will help ensure that your Christmas visit to Kent is enjoyable, respectful to the environment, and beneficial for the local community.
For further in-depth information on Kent, consider exploring Visit Kent. Serving as the country’s official website, it provides extensive details on the best places to visit in winter, comprehensive destination guides, and practical trip planning tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit to the region.
Your insights are valuable. Please share your experience at the Kent Xmas markets by leaving a review or comment, helping future visitors to make informed decisions and enhancing the overall travel experience for everyone.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research.