Historic streets alive with twinkling lights and fragrant aromas wafting through the air — Christmas has arrived in Tunbridge Wells, and with it comes an enchanting atmosphere that is simply irresistible.
In this festive guide, we’re taking you on a magical journey through the winter wonderland that is Tunbridge Wells during Christmas time. From bustling Christmas markets brimming with handcrafted treasures to cosy events celebrating the season, there’s something for everyone to experience and enjoy.
Christmas Markets in Tunbridge Wells
At Christmas, the historic Pantiles bursts with festive cheer as an array of decorated market stalls adorn the iconic colonnaded walkway. They offer a variety of treasures and unique gifts, including handmade crafts, jewellery, locally produced artisanal foods, and delicious treats.
This year, the Pantiles Christmas market in Tunbridge Wells will run every Saturday and Sunday from the 18th of November to the 24th of December. Stalls will be open from 10am to 4pm, except for the last day of the market (the 24th of December) when it will shut at 2pm.
But the Pantiles isn’t the only destination for Christmas shopping in Tunbridge Wells. A wide collection of charming boutiques and galleries line the high street and Chapel Place, and if you’re looking for big brand names, check out Royal Victoria Place and Calverley Road.
Tunbridge Wells Indies Christmas Makers Market
(and Forum Merch Sale)
Legendary venue, the Tunbridge Wells Forum, is hosting an Indies Christmas Makers Market this year on Saturday 25th November, from noon to 3pm. All the stalls will be occupied by talented makers from the Tunbridge Wells community – they’ll offer unique and wonderful local products. Forum goodies and merch will also be on sale for fans of the iconic music venue!
Enchanting Events in Tunbridge Wells
From ice skating to pantos – below is our guide to the most magical events this Christmas in Tunbridge Wells!
If you’re looking for a magical Santa experience this Christmas, head to Calverley Grounds. Here, your little ones will begin their journey in a festive post office where they can write their letter to Father Christmas.
Next, the whole family will sit in a magical sleigh and – with the help of virtual reality – take you on an enchanting flight over snow-capped trees and mountains all the way to Santa’s grotto.
Grab your cosiest scarf, hat, and gloves and get set for a winter wonderland experience at SKATE in Calverley Grounds this Christmas. Set against a backdrop of twinkling lights, the ice rink offers a chance for people of all ages and all abilities to enjoy the magic of ice skating at Christmas. Festive snacks, treats, and hot and cold drinks are available from nearby stalls, and in the evening, you can even try out some Bavarian Curling!
(Assembly Hall Theatre and Trinity Theatre)
There are two pantos to choose from this year:
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast at the Assembly Hall Theatre will be from the 9th of December to the 31st of December. “In our pretty French town, Bookish Belle is ready to start a new chapter,” the intro reads. The show promises shimmering sets, outrageous costumes, and magic and mayhem!
Cinderella will run at Trinity Theatre from the 9th to the 31st of December, with a BSL-interpreted run on Wednesday the 27th at 6pm.
If you’re looking for the ultimate rags-to-riches story told in Christmassy Pantomime glory, look no further than this year’s performance at Trinity Theatre, which the organisers promise will be full of festive joy!
For a heartwarming performance by the Royal Tunbridge Wells Choral Society, check out their Christmas concert, Night of Wonder, set to take place on Saturday 9th of December at St Mary’s Church in Goudhurst.
If you’re looking for something to get you into the Christmas spirit, carols by candlelight might do the trick! This Christmas concert with Corra Sound and Emma Johnson will occur at St. Mary’s Church in Lamberhurst on Sunday, 10th of December, from 7:30pm.
6. Christmas Choirs on the Pantiles
With its twinkling lights and Georgian charm, it’s no wonder the Pantiles has been used as a set for Christmas adverts. On Saturday, the 9th of December, you can soak in the magic of the historic heart of Tunbridge Wells and enjoy performances throughout the day on the bandstand by The Pickering Trust Choir and The Crowborough Choir.
Closer to Christmas day, the Southborough Singers will perform on the Pantiles bandstand on Saturday 23rd of December!
Festive Activities for All Ages
Imagine all the beautiful, dazzling colours of fireworks, only without the noise and pollution! Christmas at Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest is a truly magical experience for people of all ages.
Explore nature as you’ve never seen it before, adorned with softly lit doves and glittering tunnels of light, and walk beneath Bedgebury’s Liquid Sky display as it casts a rainbow of colours on the sky and nature around you. It’s even better with a spiced winter warmer, a hot chocolate, or toasted marshmallows – all of which you can pick up at the Bedgebury Café.
Spa Valley Railway is recreating Chris Van Allsberg’s famous story, The Polar Express, in an interactive theatrical extravaganza guaranteed to wow the little ones! As the magical story unfolds, Santa himself will walk through your carriage and give every child their own silver sleigh bell. Can you hear the bell ring?
Join Little Owl this Christmas at The Amelia Scott as he embarks on an adventure to discover the true meaning of Christmas! The Amelia is hosting its first family Christmas show, an enchanting puppetry production with original songs and animation.
This show is ideal for very young children through to early school years, and ticket prices include a gift and a downloadable activity pack to keep your little one entertained long after you’ve left the show.
Celebrate with Festive Food and Drink
Christmas wouldn’t be without indulgent meals (and drinks!), which taste even better when shared with friends and loved ones.
Whether you’re celebrating in a small group or throwing a large party, we’ve got some delicious ideas for festive food and drinks in Tunbridge Wells.
Christmas Dinner at The George
If you’re looking for a pub Christmas dinner in Tunbridge Wells this year, you’ll be pleased to know our delicious festive set menu is back! Featuring a selection of starters, mains (including a traditional roast turkey option as well as sea bass, and – for a vegan option – roast butternut squash and sage polenta) and indulgent desserts.
We’ll be serving our festive set menu until the middle of January, but you’ll need to book two weeks in advance.
If you’re throwing a party, our winter buffet menu offers a range of seasonal snacks and foods. Get in touch today to reserve your festive meal!
Lunch on The Pantiles
With its beautiful lights, festive market, and choirs on the bandstand, the Pantiles makes for the perfect spot for lunch, be it a romantic meal for two or a well-deserved break from all that shopping!
The Ragged Trousers is famous for its combined French-inspired Brasserie and pub vibes and is a favourite place for locals and visitors alike for lunch in Tunbridge Wells. By night, the Ragged transforms into a vibrant bar with a kaleidoscopic range of wines, beers, ciders, and spirits!
Celebrate Christmas with cocktails at one of the cosiest places in Tunbridge Wells! The Gin Box Cocktail Bar and Fonthill Taproom serve up a variety of vibrant cocktails, mocktails, and seltzers. Sit beneath a starlit sky and share a martini with your friends, or venture upstairs and enjoy comfy seating and a cosy, natural décor.
Night Out at The Sussex Arms
The Sussex Arms is a traditional pub in Tunbridge Wells with open fires, a heated patio, and its very own live music venue. If you’re going out for drinks, you’ll be pleased to know it’s open until midnight on Thursdays and 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.
If you’re looking for live music in Tunbridge Wells, the Forum Basement (inside the Sussex) will host gigs through December and January – keep an eye on their gig listing for updates!
Whether you’re gathering with friends and loved ones this year or staying home and watching a movie, we wish you a safe and happy festive season!