Christmas Inspiration Advent Calendar
There's so much to see, do and enjoy in Medway in the build up to Christmas. Our advent calendar opens a daily window to Medway's unmissable festive treats.
Day 3: Little Fox's Christmas Garden
It’s Christmas Eve, and in the cosy old bookshop Little Fox is helping Big Fox put up lots of decorations. Suddenly, they receive an urgent message. An evil queen has cast a terrible spell, and Christmas may be gone forever!
So begins a journey into an enchanted garden and an amazing fantastical land, with faraway fairies, mumbling moles and, of course, the Evil Queen herself! With interactive games, songs, dances, a thrilling storyline and larger than life characters, this show is designed to fuel the imaginations of small children and gently stimulate their senses. It’s the perfect introduction to theatre for young audiences.
Day 4: Dickensian Christmas Festival
Today is the start of Dickensian Christmas Festival weekend in Rochester. And after a year's break due to the pandemic, we can't wait to welcome back the thousands of visitors who come to get festive and celebrate all things Dickens.
From parades, carol singing, music and street performers to food and drink, fake snow and of course the Rochester Christmas Market, it is sure to be a magical weekend guaranteed to infuse you with festive joy.
Day 5: Charity Christmas event at The Vines, Rochester
If you're heading to Rochester for the Dickensian Christmas Festival, be sure to swing by The Vines which is hosting a special charity event, with food, drink, music and fun for all the family.
With money collected going to Parkinson’s UK – the boutique hotel and wedding venue is opening its gates to the public.
The fabulous Kent Police Male Voice Choir is performing today, belting out some Christmas classics and much more.
While you’re listening to some amazing singing and music, the talented chefs will be cooking up a treat while the Norwegian-style tee-pee – usually reserved for weddings – will be transformed for the children in the rear garden – with plenty of activities to keep them occupied while you're there. Find out more.
Day 6: Deck the Halls and meet Santa 'Paws'
For many, a visit to Dobbies Garden Centre is a Christmas pilgrimage.
Maybe you're just wanting to admire the decorative displays before treating yourself to a warming hot chocolate, or Christmas lunch/afternoon tea. Or maybe you're wanting to visit Santa in his grotto or even join him for breakfast. Either way, Dobbies in Gillingham has it covered.
And let's not forget about our four-legged friends. You can give your canine companion their own festive experience with a trip to visit Santa Paws. Your furry friend can enjoy a selfie with Santa and get a special treat to take away.
Booking essential. Find out more.
Day 7: Mince Pie Mayhem at Rochester Castle
Who doesn't like a festive children's trail? Take a visit to Rochester Castle where the mince pie mayhem trail will reveal stories about what Christmas was like in a medieval castle.
The trail runs until the end of December, and costs £1 per child on top of the normal admission price. Rochester Castle is open Tuesday to Sunday every week, from 10am until 4pm.
Day 8: Magical shopfronts and festive teas
There is something magical about strolling through the cobbled streets that inspired the great Charles Dickens and marvelling at Christmas lights and show window displays. There are some absolute beauties this year too!
And it would rude not to treat yourself while you're there, and many eateries - including the resplendent Cafe Nucleus - are serving up festive afternoon teas.
Day 9: Beauty and the Beast
It's Panto launch day! ("Oh no it isn't, oh yes it is!")
This year's Christmas offering at Chatham's Central Theatre is Beauty and the Beast, featuring Todd Carty (Mark Fowler, EastEnders), Matt Lapinskas (Anthony Moon, EastEnders) and Jennie Dale (Captain Captain, Swashbuckle).
The family panto full of Oo-La-La-ughs!
A baddie wanting boos, goodies with some gags, a heroine in hot water... but what has happened to the handsome Prince? Join us for a spectacular adventure as Dame Derriere and son, Potty Pierre, cause chaos at the chateau.
Day 10: Going, going, gone
This weekend is your last chance to visit Rochester's Christmas market before it closes on Sunday.
The market in the Castle Gardens has been named one of the top 10 Christmas markets in the country and boasts a wide range of food, drink, crafts and gift stalls, plus a funfair and live music.
The market is open today (Friday, 10 December) from 12pm (noon) until 8pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am-6pm.
Day 11: Winter Walkabouts
If you're out and about in Chatham Christmas shopping today, keep an eye out for some special entertainment.
Every Saturday until Christmas, the Pentagon Shopping Centre is hosting a series of world-renowned street artists and performers.
The winter walkabout street artists will be spreading their festive cheer at 11:30am-1pm and 2.30pm.
If you bump into them, be sure to snap and selfie and #ChathamWinterWalkabouts
Day 12: History Walking Tour
Luke Honeythunder (aka Shane Waterman of Rochester History Guided Tours!) will take you on a voyage of discovery of the links between Rochester, Dickens and the most wonderful time of the year.
Day 13: Four Calling Birds (well, probably a lot more than four)
In the midst of the hectic build up to the big day, why not take time to reconnect with nature and escape to the peace of Medway's nature-rich countryside for a while?
Did you know that Medway and its estuary marshlands are home to some protected habitats for a whole host of birds? Why not visit one of the two RSPB reserves at Northward Hill or Cliffe Pools? We can't promise three French hens, two turtle doves or a partridge in a pear tree, but you're likely to hear many a calling bird. Check out the reserve websites in advance to find out which species visit in the winter.
For advice on how to avoid disturbing wildlife when you and your dog are enjoying the coast visit the Birdwise North Kent website.
Day 14: Santa's Elves
Some of Santa's cheeky elves are hiding at Rochester's Guildhall Museum and getting up to mischief.
If you're looking for a fun way to keep little ones entertained, the museum has a picture trail for you to see what they’ve been up to inside the museum. Two of the elves have stayed behind and children can enter a competition to name them for the chance to win free entry to one of Medway’s castles or houses. The elf trail costs £1 per child.
Day 15: Post your letter to Santa
Have you got your wish list to the big man already? If not, you can post your letters in a special box at Capstone Park.
The festive post box is in position at the visitor centre and ready to take your letters right up until 20 December. Make sure you provide a self-addressed envelope to be sure of getting a personal reply.
While you're visiting, why not take a stroll around the 114 hectares of former farmland on the North Downs, have a play in the playground, or sit by the lake and enjoy a bite to eat or drink from the cafe.
Day 16: Christmas Movie Time
Escape to a nostalgic world of fiction with a trip to the cinema this Christmas. The Odeon at Chatham Maritime and the Cineworld at Medway Valley are both showing some Christmas classics alongside the latest blockbuster releases.
So grab your popcorn and enjoy Home Alone, Elf, It's A Wonderful Life, Die Hard (let's not argue about whether it's a Christmas film or not!), The Muppet Christmas Carol and more at Medway's two cinemas.
Day 17: Christmas skate at Planet Ice
Recreate the magic of skating in New York or London, but a little closer to home with a Christmas skate at Medway's own ice rink.
Planet Ice in Gillingham is hosting a Christmas skate this evening, but if you can't make it tonight the venue hosts regular public skate sessions all year round. After all, ice skating is for life, not just for Christmas!
Day 18: Markets galore in Rochester
Whether you're after some special treats for your festive food platter or some last-minute gift inspiration, the markets in Rochester this weekend have you covered.
The Christmas market may be over in the Castle Gardens, but the Rochester City Artisan Market is back today (Saturday) from 10am-3.30pm and the Rochester Farmers' Market is on Sunday 9am-1pm.
Day 19: Run, run as fast as you can...
Before the full-on indulgence of Christmas week and all the trimmings, why not get your trainers on and enjoy Medway's riverside views?
The Chatham Maritime 5K Christmas Dash setting off from Dock Square at 1pm. The organise promise music (yes Christmas music), mince pies, cake (essential runners' food), and lots of laughs. Dress up and have fun - there will be a prize for the best dressed runners!
Day 21: Roll up, roll up
Get your skates on! Strood Sports Centre brings you a roller disco this Christmas! Today is the first of two discos (the second is on Wednesday). 5.30pm-7pm and 7pm-8.30pm both days.
Only £4 per roller for 1.5 hours, with a drink and chocolate treat! Bring your own skates.
Ring or visit Strood Sports Centre reception on 01634 333948 to book.
Day 21: Walking in a winter wonderland
Something wonderful has happened at Riverside Country Park! A winter wonderland has appeared through a set of magical doors in the education room.
Santa will be arriving today and staying until Thursday (23rd). Book your 15-minute slot to meet the main man, receive a small gift for your child and explore the magical winter wonderland.
Booking essential. £8 per child. Call 01634 337432.
Day 22: Deck the halls
The whole family can create a rustic home decoration today at Capstone Farm Country Park. Perhaps you'll feel inspired to make a festive table centrepiece or a decoration for the tree. There are sessions running 10am-12noon and 1-3pm and cost £5 per person. Call 01634 338191 to book, or for more information.
Day 23: Dreaming of a white Christmas
OK, so we can't promise you a white Christmas, but who needs real snow when we have an artificial ski slope and the UK's longest toboggan run right here in Medway?
Take to the slopes, ride the snow tubes or enjoy the thrills and spills of the Cresta run at the Chatham Snowsports Centre at Capstone Farm Country Park. All equipment can be provided.
Day 24 - Christmas Eve is upon us at last
It's Christmas Eve and excitement (and stress!) levels are high. What better way to see in Christmas than by focussing on the reason we celebrate? Rochester Cathedral is holding three services on Christmas Eve, including a Children's Nativity Service, a Carol Serice and a Christmas Night Eucharist.
Plus there's also a Christmas Day Holy Communion and a Eucharist of Christmas Morning Service on Christmas Day itself. See details of all Christmas services.