Join the culture club for 2023

Eileen Leahy looks ahead to what some of our favourite cultural venues have to offer their audiences for the New Year. And the good news is there’s something for everyone to enjoy, including terrific tribute acts, side splitting stand-up and spellbinding dramas…


We’re very fortunate to have so many theatres on our doorstep that are dedicated to putting on great performances all year round. And 2023 looks set to be another fantastic year with shows that will appeal to a broad range of tastes – and ages.

From brilliant comedy to fun tribute acts and interactive children’s performances, over the next few months each of our cultural gems including the Assembly Hall and the EM Forster Theatre have a Spring ’23 seasonal schedule to pique your interest.

But given how funding for the arts is becoming more and more scarce, it’s never been more important to show your support for our local cultural landscape. So if you enjoyed a trip to one of our theatres over the Christmas period or loved an exhibition at The Amelia or an independent gallery then why stop there? With your continued support we can ensure that our arts scene thrives… Here are just a few highlights to look out for in the early part of 2023



Following another successful Christmas pantomime – this year’s was Jack & The Beanstalk and starred Cliff Parisi – the Assembly Hall is gearing up for a new season of entertainment.

And for the early part of the year at least it’s certainly looking very musical…

As well as a slew of tribute acts including Trextasy (Jan 21) and A Tribute to George Michael (March 4) there will be two concerts by the Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra (RTWSO).

These include acclaimed conductor Neil Thomson, who enjoys a long-standing relationship with RTWSO and is an expert on Brazilian music due to his current relationship with the Goiás Philharmonic in Brazil. On February 5 he will bring a little sonic sunshine to cheer up the audiences courtesy of the Suite Pernambucana by Guerra-Peixe while Isata Kanneh-Mason, will perform Prokofiev 3. The concert ends with Beethoven’s cheerful and somewhat light-hearted 8th Symphony.

On March 5, RTWSO will perform another concert, this time featuring clarinettist Katherine Lacy. Having held principal positions with a number of UK orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Katherine is also in great demand as a soloist and makes her second appearance with the RTWSO, this time playing the Copland concerto.

Other musical must-sees include 80s Live (Jan 20) which is a great way to see out the end of the month thanks to a slew of legendary hits are performed, including Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Soft Cell’s Tainted Love, The B52’s Love Shack, Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up and Duran Duran’s Rio – to name but a few!

February 24 sees the Magic of Motown arriving in town. This award-winning show is now in its 17th year and features the songs of Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Supremes, The Four Tops, Martha Reeves, The Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson, and many, many more. If anything can light up the darkness of February than this one can!

As we head further into spring there’s lots more to enjoy at The Assembly Hall including Julia Donaldson’s Room on the Broom, which runs from Thursday March 9 to Friday 10 as well as Jumping the Shark which is on from Thursday March 23 to Saturday March 25.

Opera fans will be pleased to hear that the DNIPRO Opera (courtesy of the Ukrainian National Opera) will be performing their version of Carmen on March 12, while Strictly fans will enjoy the Nadiya & Kai Once Upon A Time dance show happening on March 28.

Tickets and more info at



The popular venue, which is located at Tonbridge School, has just hosted another successful panto run, courtesy of Wicked Productions who put on their version of Beauty And the Beast. The theatrical troupe will return to the theatre in a few months’ time with their new Easter show The Little Mermaid. Running over the weekend of March 24 to 26, it promises to be ‘shrimply’ wonderful!

But before that the theatre will host a number of other must-see events. They include the following:


NT LIVE: The Crucible: January 26 at 7.00pm

This classic play by Arthur Miller is directed by Lyndsey Turner and stars Erin Doherty and Brendan Cowell. Raised to be seen but not heard, a group of young women in Salem suddenly find their words have an almighty power. As a climate of fear, vendetta and accusation spreads through the community, no one is safe from trial. Captured live from the Olivier stage at the National Theatre. Tickets cost £15, £13 students. Cert 12


TONBRIDGE COMEDY NIGHTS: January 27, February 10 and March 17 at 7.30pm.

These popular comedy nights sell out quickly so don’t miss out! Throughout the season the venue will welcome comedians such as Dan Antopolski, Mike Gunn, Paul Pirie and Laura Lexx with many more to be confirmed. Tickets: £14. Age 16+


AN EVENING WITHOUT KATE BUSH: February 3 at 7.30pm

This is your chance to ‘howl with the Hounds of Love’. Whether you’ve been a Kate Bush fan for decades or recently discovered her music via the ‘Stranger Things’ phenomenon, there has never been a better time to celebrate the musical legend courtesy of your hosts Sarah-Louise Young and co-creator Russell Lucas. Tickets: £17. Age 12+


JACQUI DANKWORTH – JAZZ SIRENS Feburary 23 at 7.30pm

Given her musical pedigree – daughter of Dame Cleo Laine and Sir John Dankworth – it is no surprise that Jacqui is firmly positioned as one of the UK’s foremost jazz vocalists. In this very special and intimate evening, Jacqui turns her attention to the most iconic vocalists of the twentieth century including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone and Peggy Lee. Tickets: £23, £18 students


TEECHERS LEAVERS ’22: February 27 and 28 at 7.30pm

Hilarious, high energy and full-blooded, Teechers Leavers ‘22 brings to life an array of terrifying teachers and hopeless pupils through the eyes of Salty, Gail and Hobby – three Year 11 students facing a scary world, armed only with imagination and a joy of theatre. It’s 2022 at Whitewall, a struggling academy that’s failed its Ofsted. Enter Miss Nixon, a new drama teacher with fire in her belly…Unplug, switch off and buckle up for breathtaking, breakneck comedy about education for the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ and a generation left behind. Tickets: £17, £15 students. Age 11+. Contains strong language



Join this much-loved children’s writer and illustrator in a family-friendly, fun filled draw-along for all ages. Nick has illustrated close to 300 books including his much-loved ‘You Choose’, ‘Shark in the Park’ and ‘Pants’ series. He’s worked with authors including Julia Donaldson, Michael Rosen and Kes Gray, and he’s also the illustrator of Dame Jacqueline Wilson’s phenomenally popular children’s novels. Bring pencils, paper and something to lean on. Running time 75mins with no interval. Tickets: £13. Ages 4 and above.

Tickets and more info at

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