Tunbridge Wells gets set for a bumper summer season of fun

LOCAL & LIVE, Photo: Sarah Mott

As Tunbridge Wells continues to revel in gloriously sunny days, visitors from all walks of life are returning in droves to attend a series of fun-filled events that have once more brought the summer spirit back to the town.

While the Thursday night Jazz On The Pantiles is gaining momentum, last week saw thousands of patrons in attendance at the Annual Gin and Jazz Festival on The Pantiles.

According to analysis by Kent County Council, tourism contributes more than £2.6billion to the economy in Kent, and Tunbridge Wells remains the third-most-visited district in Kent for day trips. There are currently more than 525 tourism enterprises registered in the town.

With numerous key events and festivals still to come on the Tunbridge Wells calendar, this summer season is set to provide a much-needed economic boost to the town.

Alex Green, CEO of RTW Together says: “We are delighted that the work we have done to promote Tunbridge Wells to a wider audience is already starting to pay off.

“We are seeing increased footfall in the town and businesses reporting that it’s not only our fantastic local residents supporting their local businesses, but many are coming from London and other areas of Kent and Sussex, as well as overseas tourists.

“The summer programme of events and activities across the town will help to ensure residents and tourists alike have a great Summer in Tunbridge Wells. There really is something for everyone.

“We are so lucky to also be situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so along with our heritage, hospitality, entertainment and shopping, we have great walks, forests, beauty spots and days out at historic houses and castles to enjoy.”

The Times has put together a taster of the many summer events on offer for the whole family to


Tunbridge Wells Poetry Festival, June 1-18

This year’s poetry festival takes place from June 1-18 and features a range of events for lovers of the spoken and written word. Multi-award-winning poet and performer Harry Baker brings his one-man show, ‘Unashamed’ to the festival on June 18. Don’t miss him at the Tunbridge Wells Forum. For more information, visit: twpoetryfestival.com


Aqua Park, Bewl Water, June to September

The perfect summer activity for children aged six and upwards. The cost is £23 for a 50-minute session. Visit aquapark.bewlwater.co.uk


The Amelia, Microworld, open until September 3

Created by Genetic Moo, Microworlds are digital ecosystems in which members of the public are invited to become a part of the artwork. Get ready to enter a world filled with digital creatures. Explore and discover a range of creatures and see how they respond to you and your movements, and to each other. To date, more than 1,000 people have visited Microworld at The Amelia.

More information from: theamelia.co.uk


Vineyard and Steam Tours, Spa Valley Railway, June 11, July 1-2, August 19-20, September 2-3

The 2023 Vineyard and Steam Tours are now open for bookings. The experience will include Wine Tastings at Wildwood Vineyard in Eridge and a steam train ride on the historic Spa Valley Railway in Tunbridge Wells.

Wildwood Vineyard is just a seven-minute walk from Eridge Station. On arrival, enjoy a tour and wine tasting. Afterwards, walk back to Eridge Station to take the return steam train.

Advanced booking is essential. Visit: www.wildwoodvineyard.co.uk/tours-tastings Tickets must also be booked in advance to travel on the 11am train from Tunbridge Wells West to Eridge and the 2.45pm train from Eridge to Tunbridge Wells West.

For more information and to book, visit: spavalleyrailway.co.uk


Father’s day out, Bewl Water, June 18

Embark on a nostalgic journey at Bewl Water’s Pre-War and Classic Transport Rally and Picnic, presented by Austin 7’s. Wander through an array of pre-1978 cars, commercials, and motorbikes while chatting with fellow enthusiasts.

Discover hidden treasures and spare parts in the auto jumble before enjoying a leisurely family stroll around the 800-acre reservoir. The dog-friendly Waterfront Café and Ice Cream Parlour has a range of snacks and lunch items on offer. Admission to the rally is free.


Black Deer Festival, Eridge Park, June 16-18

The award-winning Black Deer Festival is back even stronger this year, with a powerful line-up of artists announced for this year’s festival, which takes place at Eridge Park,Kent on June 16-18.

Friday June 16 will see Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats performing, as well as Americana pioneers Midlake, Grammy award-winning Lucinda Williams, Far From Saints, plus Kurt Vile & The Violators, Bonny Light Horseman, This Is The Kit and more.

On Saturday June 17, Black Deer welcomes The Pretenders, Bonnie Raitt – winner of the  ‘Song of the Year’ at the 65th Grammy Awards – as well as The Teskey Brothers, Calexico, Allison Russell, Amythyst Kiah, Robert Vincent and Katherine Priddy.

Closing out the festival on Sunday June 18 are Bear’s Den, Steve Earle, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Drake White, Elles Bailey, Amanda Shires, Bella White and many more.

  • See the article with Black Deer founders Deborah Shilling and Gill Tee in this month’s
    SO Magazine.


The Soapbox Stars Kart Race, Dunorlan Park, June 24

Join in the fun at the annual soapbox cart raise, as racers raise serious amounts of cash for local charities, while bringing together communities and businesses for a hilarious day out. This year, the race will continue to support the Hospice in the Weald and Nourish Community Foodbank stations will be located at the entrances to the park. Tickets are only available in advance. Visit: twsoapboxrace.com


Pub in the Park, July 7-9, Dunorlan Park

The national food and music festival is on its way to Tunbridge Wells, bringing together award-winning restaurants with live music, chef’s demonstrations and children’s entertainment. Pubs and restaurants included will be the Hand and Flowers, Birchwood, Tapas Brindisa, Sankey’s, Atul Kochhar Restaurants and the Kentish Hare. To book your tickets, visit: www.pubinthepark.com


Changeling Theatre, July 21, Penshurst Place

Changeling Theatre produces high-quality, entertaining theatre in non-traditional locations for community audiences across southeast England. Join them for open-air theatre at its best with a production of ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’. The tour will also take in venues like Scotney Castle, Riverhill Himalaya Gardens and Biddenden Vineyards. For more information, visit: changeling-theatre.com


Local and Live, August 25-28, Calverley Grounds

The four-day free festival for music fans of all ages will take place over the bank holiday weekend. Once again, the event will be centred around the main stage in Calverley Grounds taking advantage of the natural amphitheatre in the park. It will be bolstered by a food village offering produce from exclusively local traders.

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