Thousands enjoy last of summer’s sunshine in fun community events

Pam Mills

Picture credit: Rob Curd of Got the Shot

The Pantiles Food Festival this Friday, Saturday and Sunday [September 7, 8 and 9] kicks off four weekends’-worth of events around town, and follows The Pantiles Gin & Jazz Festival.

There is also the 21st annual Dragon Boat Festival at Bewl Water this Saturday, which is expected to raise more than £100,000 for charities.

Royal Tunbridge Wells Food Month
TWO festivals in three weeks will be held in September to mark Food Month in Tunbridge Wells. West Kent’s arable land has led to the region historically playing a large role in UK food production with its fertile farms and orchards. More recently Tunbridge Wells has become known for its independent restaurants and highly skilled chefs.
Food Month seeks to pay homage to this and it kicks off with The Pantiles Food Festival, which has now been running for six years.
Organiser Julian Leefe-Griffiths, who is also Managing Director of the Tunbridge Wells Hotel, said: “We have got some great weather forecast, and we have stallholders selling everything from bread and cheese to wine and gin.
“We are expecting to get around 3,000 to 5,000 people, hopefully more if the weather is good.” There will also be cookery demonstrations from chefs including Will Devlin, of The Small Holding in Kilndown and Patrick Hill from Thackerays in Tunbridge Wells.
Trading will be held on Friday from 12pm to 5pm, Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from 10am to 4pm.
Food Month also takes in:
n The town Farmers’ Market on Saturday, September 8 and Saturday, September 22,
n Tunbridge Wells Beer Weekend, across the town from Thursday, September 13 to Sunday, September 16, and,
n The Royal Tunbridge Wells Food and Drink Festival in Calverley Grounds on Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23.
For more information, see

Dragon Boat Festival at Bewl Water
ORGANISED by the Funraisers, the 21st annual Dragon Boat Festival will again be hosted at Bewl Water to raise money for charity.
Last year saw £107,000 generated and distributed to 50 worthy causes. Since the event started in 1998, more than £2.7million has been raised in total. Taking place this Saturday, the first race of the day commences at 10am with the last at 4pm with the ten-boat grand final.
Teams of 16 paddlers set out on the water in Chinese-style Dragon Boats for the 250m course.
All abilities are welcome to participate, you do not have to be skilled- it is all about teamwork and having fun whilst raising money for charity.
For more information, visit

Gin & Jazz Festival on The Pantiles
THE Pantiles has already hosted one large event this month, with around 4,000 enjoying the Gin & Jazz Festival last weekend.
After the first edition proved successful in June, this second running also drew a crowd with 36 drink producers showing off their brands, including one from Peru, another from Denmark and one from Japan.
Julian Leefe-Griffiths also organised this festival alongside colleague and Jazz on The Pantiles collaborator Lionel Shell.
“We will definitely do it again next year,” said Mr Leefe-Griffiths. “We would also like to do a Brazilian rum festival next July.
“At The Pantiles, we have got good numbers and the running of events like these has been smooth because of the fantastic support from businesses.“I hope the town sees the change on The Pantiles and how it can be a social and entertainment destination. I am so proud of everything we have achieved.”

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