Culture Hub (May)

Co-founder of Pickering - Polly Taylor

Our edit of the most entertaining events happening this May

All that Jazz – and more!

The start of this month sees the welcome return of Jazz on The Pantiles – and plenty more! Held every Thursday of the month up until September this is a great opportunity to catch some live music and also meet up with friends and family to enjoy a great meal in one of the nearby restaurants on The Pantiles including the Tunbridge Wells Hotel.  On the weekend of May 14 & 15 there will be the Pantiles Food Festival while at the end of the month there will be another chance to experience the Gin and Jazz Festival too. Now in its fourth year this runs over the weekend of May 28 & 29. For more info and to book tickets visit


Meet Peppa Pig and pals

Over the weekend of May 7 and 8 the Spa Valley Railway will be hosting sessions with children’s favourite cartoon pig Peppa and her pals at Groombridge Station. Take a steam train ride from Tunbridge Wells West travelling to Groombridge where you can alight to see Peppa Pig as the steam locomotive changes ends of the train. Please note, there will be no service to Eridge due to engineering works taking place on the ma and all trains will run from Tunbridge Wells West to Groombridge and return only. Tickets cost £13 for adutlts and £6 for children. To book and for more info visit


The idea for Peppa Pig came to animators Neville Astley and Mark Baker in 2000. At the time they had no work – or money – and had to borrow some to make Peppa happen. It was originally due to air on CBeebies but went to Channel 5 instead.

In bloom…

Up until the end of May, the National Trust is running its second annual #BlossomWatch. It is the heritage organisation’s campaign to encourage people to get out and enjoy and celebrate spring blossom, with the aim of embedding an annual cultural event similar to Japan’s ‘hanami’ in the UK. If you take any beautiful pictures of blossom please do share them on social media with the hashtag #BlossomWatch for the NT to see. The blossom can be anywhere, not necessarily at their venues.


Dates for your diary

Staying with the National Trust, a number of its venues have a number of events on this month and they include the International Garden Photographer of the Year exhibition at Emmetts Garden which will be held there for the first time. And as May is National Walking Month, the NT has got two new walks to try. The ‘Spring Colour Walk’ links Chartwell and Emmetts Garden taking in blossom and bluebells, and a new accessible path takes visitors to the moat at Sissinghurst. Towards the end of the month Bodiam Castle will be hosting storytelling sessions from May 29 over the half term. Be enchanted by tales of dragons, knights, and castles. Running throughout the day and 15-20 minutes in length, these tales are suitable for young children and perfect short drop-in sessions for families.


Bodiam Castle was constructed in the 14th century to defend the area against a possible invasion by France during the Hundred Years’ War.


Festival Fever

Now is the perfect time to wander around the spectacular gardens of Hever Castle – or even play a round of golf on the Princes Course, which wraps around the estate that was once home to Anne Boleyn. This jewel in the Kentish crown also launches its summer programme at the Hever Festival Theatre at the end of this month too! On Sunday May 29 at 8.00pm novelist Alison Weir will be kicking things off by talking about her latest book Elizabeth of York: The Last White Rose. The Three Inch Fools will perform their version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on May 31st (pictured) Visit and for more info.


Over the past 38 years Hever Festival Theatre has cancelled less than only 10 performances due to adverse weather conditions. The reason? The vast majority of their alfresco venue’s seats are covered so they always try to go ahead with a performance


A Hole lotta love

Named Kent’s Garden of the Year in 2016, Hole Park has been owned by the Barham Family for the past four generations, the gardens are steeped in history and especially beautiful at this time of year. In spring, the grounds boast a cocktail of colour from bluebells, daffodils and camellias to wisteria and magnolia. Set in over 200 acres of parkland and near Rolvenden and Cranbrook, the gardens are open every day. To book tickets, visit


Splash Out

Located on the border of Kent and East Sussex, Bewl Water is the largest reservoir in the South East, boasting 770 acres of water. Enjoy a takeaway coffee from The Waterfront Café while watching your little ones explore the Adventure Playground or why not have a go splashing around on the Aqua Park or cruising around the mountain bike trails? If you’re looking for something more relaxing, fishing is now open, and the water has a history of large trout and pike as well as perch. Any fishing method is welcome, and fly fishing can be done from Bewl’s fleet of 54 motorised fishing boats. For more information and to make a booking, visit


Pure gold

On May 8 it’s your chance to catch the former lead singer of Spandau Ballet perform live and solo at the Assembly Hall. Tony Hadley will be celebrating 40 years in the music industry and will perform alongside ‘The Fabulous TH Band’. From his beginnings at the forefront of the New Romantic movement, Tony earned himself the accolade of being one of pop’s greatest vocalists. Spandau Ballet had numerous chart-topping singles and albums all over the world, including the epic “Through the Barricades”, the international number one “True”, and the unofficial London Olympics theme “Gold”. For tickets visit


Shape of things to come

On Sunday May 15 at 2.30pm Trinity theatre will host the Northern Ballet’s performance of Merlin. It will take you on a sweeping epic adventure of heartbreak, hope and more than a little magic. Choreographed by Olivier Award-winning Drew McOnie, expect an enchanting spectacle. Don’t miss the legend reawakened through Northern Ballet’s blend of classical ballet and unrivalled storytelling. Trinity has lots of other incredible events happening during May including a performance by RTW Male Orpheus Choir (May 14) and a Q&A with author Esther Freud (May 18). See for more info


That’s the spirit!

The Spa Valley Railway kicks off its summer gin tasting experiences on May 14. It’s an opportunity for lovers of the classic spirit to enjoy savouring three different varieties from local distilleries including Anno while passing through the beautiful High Weald countryside on a vintage steam locomotive.

Visitors will receive their very own branded Spa Valley Railway balloon gin glass and to keep hunger at bay a delightful selection of canapés will be served too. The train leaves at 14.45pm and the price of a ticket is £35 per adult. The event runs monthly throughout the summer.

For more information visit

On the money

A series of live performances of David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy will be taking place at the Assembly Hall over the half term period from May 23 – 27. The story is about 12-year-old Joe Spud, who lives with his billionaire dad, who made money out of revolutionary Bumfresh toilet paper. The Spuds have everything they could ever want but Joe is depressed as he doesn’t have any friends. He leaves a wealthy children’s school to join a local comprehensive and there he meets another 12-year-old, Bob, with whom he becomes friends…

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