Blooming Marvellous at Hever!

Hever Castle’s tulips are impatient to be seen and admired. To help you see the very best of their fabulous displays, a dedicated page has been established so that visitors can see where the best of the blooms are on display.

The formal tulip festival, with garden tours (11.30 am each day with the head gardener) and associated activities, runs from 24 - 30 April. The castle will also be adorned with majestic floral displays by the in-house florist Pamela Brise.

But why not get a sneak tulip preview now and feel inspired by these gloriously colourful and surprisingly exotic bulbs?

Spring has sprung at Lullingstone Castle

Lullingstone Castle and its famous World Garden are now open for the 2019 season! This is a true harbinger of spring so make sure you get out this weekend to visit and savour one of our great Sevenoaks district gems.

The team of volunteers have been preparing new garden features for 2019, so visit soon to admire and be inspired. The Easter programme will be as egg-citing as ever so keep up to date with Lullingstone events via their website and Facebook page.

This season there’s also a great offer on a family passport. Why not sign up so Lullingstone will feel just like your very own garden?

Hever Festival Theatre 2019 is brimming with events . . .

Festival Theatre Director, Ailsa Molyneux said of this year’s Festival:

“The 2019 Festival is brimming with events. This year’s extended selection will appeal to both our existing patrons and those who will be new to the truly magical experience of visiting our theatre in the award winning Hever Castle Gardens.”

Hever Festival Theatre, the open air theatre set in the stunning grounds of Hever Castle, is back for 2019…and it’s bigger, better and longer than ever (4 May to 30 August) with highlights that include Britain’s Got Talent winner Lee Ridley aka Lost Voice Guy, national treasure, broadcaster and journalist Jeremy Vine, and icons of jazz Mica Paris, Courtney Pine (with special guest Omar) and Miloš Karadaglić performing as part of the Rye International Jazz and Blues Festival.

The Festival offers one of Sevenoaks’ districts best summer experiences. So book now!

Chiddingstone Literary Festival 2019

Chiddingstone Castle’s Literary Festival is now a firm and extremely welcome feature in Sevenoaks district’s annual calendar. This year’s Literary Festival will take place over four days across the early May Bank Holiday weekend from Saturday 4th - Tuesday 7th May.

This is “Chidd Lit’s” most ambitious programme yet, spilling over with riches and diversity and carefully curated to ensure there is something for everyone, of all ages and interests. Highlights for adults include Joanne Harris, Gogglebox’s Giles and Mary, Oz Clarke, Sir Anthony Seldon, Dr Giles Yeo, Sabrina Ghayour, Jackie Kay, Anna Pasternak, Tracy Borman, Giles Milton, John Crace and many more. There’s a Poetry Writing workshop with Emma Harding, Creative Writing and How to get Published workshops with Sarah Salway and Life Drawing with Eddie Armer.

The children’s programme includes bestselling authors A F Harrold, Emily Gravett and Guy Parker-Rees, a performance of The Little Mermaid from Pericles Theatre Company, children’s film animation workshops with Press Play Films, Wallace and Gromit clay modelling with Aardman Animations, screenings of the Wallace & Gromit films and Story Writing workshops with Storymakers.

Booking opens on March 1 and is available online.

Online booking support is available on T: 0800 033 7564. Special packages are available for multiple ticket purchases.

If you want to make a weekend of it, you can find a range of bed and breakfast and self-catering accommodation to book at Simply Sevenoaks.

Mr & Mrs Smith's latest travel trend prediction

Simply Sevenoaks are delighted to say that Mr and Mrs Smith’s prediction for the last travel trend, ‘the private house hotel’ has already arrived in Sevenoaks!

Mr and Mrs Smith, the boutique and luxury hotel gurus, in a recent ES Magazine article opined that the next big trend in travel will be greater personalisation and, in their words, the rise of the ‘private house hotel’. As James Lohan (aka Mr Smith) said, ‘You’re greeted by a host, you can walk in the kitchen . . . It’s not, ‘Breakfast is served 8-10 am, sir; it’s, ‘When do you feel like eating today?’

Now this sounds an exact description of our many welcoming Simply Sevenoaks B & Bs! So we’re delighted to tell Mr & Mrs Smith that the ‘private house hotel’ has already arrived and is thriving in Sevenoaks! Visit www.simplysevenoaks.co.uk to book your choice of a ‘private house hotel’. The offering is amazing and each one is a ‘private hotel’ with a difference!

Tourism booms in Kent!

Kent’s tourism economy flourishes as visitor numbers rise to 65 million.

Kent’s visitor economy has increased 7% and topped £3.8 billion for the first time ever, after welcoming a record 65 million visitors in 2017.

Independent research commissioned by Visit Kent has revealed that 64,970,000 visitors came to The Garden of England in 2017, and the county remains the third most visited destination outside of London for foreign visitors.

Overseas overnight visits to the county increased by 4% with an 8% increase in the number of nights stayed, and a 10% increase in the resulting value.

Across the county, visitor spending figures in Kent continue to rise compared to 2015, with the highest ever numbers reported for spending in the county from both day and overnight visits.

Tourism jobs have also increased by 6.8% to 76,828, and now account for 11% of total employment across the county.

Chief executive of Visit Kent, Deirdre Wells OBE said: “Tourism is the UK’s fastest growing service sector and these figures demonstrate the contribution which our vital industry makes to the economy of Kent. With our stunning countryside, world-class heritage, and delicious locally sourced food and drink, it is no surprise that visitors’ numbers are increasing. The collective efforts of tourism businesses across the county have paid dividends and this partnership will be critical in ensuring that this growth continues during a challenging year ahead.”

Other district highlights included a 10.1% increase in the value of day trips in Tonbridge and Malling, and a 9% rise in the number of day trips to Sevenoaks. Since 2006, the value of Kent’s tourism industry has risen by 33%.

Leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter, said “The results from the 2017 survey commissioned by Visit Kent clearly show that the visitor economy is increasingly important to the county’s future prosperity”.

Deirdre added: “These figures demonstrate that, wherever you are based in Kent, tourism can bring growth, prosperity and jobs to your community. Our challenge going forward will be to turn more of our day visits into overnight stays and short breaks, bringing even further growth to the county.”

Simply Sevenoaks couldn’t agree more. So who’s up for the challenge in 2019??

Relax and Chill

You know when August has arrived because it's the month for the Bandstand concerts on Sevenoaks Vine.  Recently honoured with a Green Flag Award, this green oasis is THE place to relax and chill on a Sunday afternoon (3 - 5 pm) or a Thursday evening (6 - 8 pm).  So pack a picnic, take your rug and chairs, and hasten to the Vine to be soothed, inspired and uplifted by music from our talented local bands. 

Sevenoaks High Street gets the thumbs-up!

Sevenoaks Chronicle front page this week celebrates the success of Sevenoaks High Street.  Bucking the trend of national High Street gloom and doom, Sevenoaks High Street is thriving with a 99% occupancy rate.  

And how?  By appealing to a wide cross-section of the resident population states retail expert, Rebecca Riches, of Ightham-based Hub Marketing Consultancy.  Millennials like the coffee culture and the range of eateries, from casual independents to brand-name chains.  Local shoppers love the mix of quirky independents, leavened with a few high profile names such as M&S.  Local weekly markets also add colour and variety to the retail mix.

Congratulations to Sevenoaks Town Council for working hard on maintaining our High Street.  Retail tourism is important too, so whether visiting friends and relatives or touring historic houses and gardens, a lively and buzzing High Street is an important and economically rewarding lure.

Faber and Faber - stories from a great publishing house

Sevenoaks Bookshop has a summer treat, quite literally, in store. On Tuesday 19 June, 7.30 pm, Toby Faber, grandson of the founder of Faber and Faber, the great British publishing house, will be sharing stories and anecdotes from the Faber archive in a celebration of independent publishing and bookselling. 

Publisher to so many literary giants including Sylvia Plath and TS Eliot, "Faber and Faber: still independent at 90" is a fascinating book and a guaranteed good read.

Tickets £8.50 to include refreshments.

Art in June Open Studios 8 - 24 June

This is the time to be inspired, to treat yourself or find that special gift!  Visit the studios of the many talented artists and craftspeople in the Sevenoaks district in Kent.  Open 8 - 24 June, but check for opening hours in the yellow booklet or at www.artinjune.org

Admire painting, ceramics, jewellery and textiles during this fantastic Open Studios fortnight.

Photo: Margate by Lynda Beazleigh

So much better than . . .

. . . a hotel said recent enthusiastic visitors to a Simply Sevenoaks B&B!   What a fantastic accolade of approval, and how true we say!

So come and stay this May Bank Holiday in one of our welcoming guest accommodations and experience for yourself just how much better than a hotel our brilliant B&Bs and self-catering cottages are.  

Relaxed and stylish rooms with individual decor; mouth-watering breakfasts using locally sourced produce; and every little thoughtful extra to make your stay special together with the warmest of welcomes from your hosts is what you'll find if you book a Simply Sevenoaks accommodation.

Don't just feel tempted, be tempted and book now!

 

Festival Fever hits Sevenoaks

Festival fever has hit Sevenoaks with a vengeance!  Whether you're a fan of books, drama or music there's something on offer for you!

Bank Holiday weekend, May 6/7 is the date for the 2018 Chiddingstone Literary Festival, a literary feast with Ian Rankin, Adam Kay, Diana Henry and so many more - all set within the intriguing setting of this quirky Kent country house. 

Celebrating its 35th anniversary season is Hever Festival Theatre. Booking is now open for an eclectic range of music and drama.  There's definitely a treat in store for all the family here. Take a picnic and make it a real occasion.

Sevenoaks itself launches its 2018 Festival Programme on Saturday 23 June. Don't miss out on this annual cornucopia of delights and book now!

 

Race your Pancake for Charity!

Why not join this seasonal fun event, all in aid of charity?  Run fast with your pancake, to benefit Breast Cancer Care.  Tuesday 13th February 9.30 am - noon, on Sevenoaks Vine Gardens.  £1 per entry.

Confirm your entry or find out more information by emailing osl@sevenoakstown.gov.uk.

Wishing you Happy Christmas!

SimplySevenoaks and all our SDAF members say "Happy Christmas".

We hope that when you're looking for guest accommodation in Sevenoaks district for 2018, that you'll visit our website www.simplysevenoaks.co.uk where you'll find a fantastic offering of welcoming guest accommodation, be it bed and breakfast or self-catering.

We look forward to greeting you in 2018!

Shop local this Christmas!

Are you struggling to do your Christmas shopping?  Is it a headache?  A nightmare?  Or just plainly (or painfully) stressful?

If so shop local in Sevenoaks!  We have some fantastic shops where you'll be bound to find that very individual gift!

Consider The Chinaman for special Christmas decorations; Sevenoaks Bookshop for a good Christmas read; The Danish Shop for chic interiors; Lovell & Vie at Hollybush for indulgent lingerie; Chic et tralala - well the name says it all for this desirable interiors shop!  Or for gifts with a difference try Lark, at London Road.  Or treat yourself to an early gift from Grace Accessories in central Sevenoaks; buy your loved one a diamond from Francis Jones; a mouthwatering selection of chocolates from The Chocolate Shop and then sneak to The Compact Disc for a CD of carols to put you in the Christmas mood!

And where is all this to be found? In SimplySevenoaks of course!

Happy gift hunting for a happy Christmas!

Snap to win the SimplySevenoaks Photo Competition!

SDAF ‘Spend Time in Sevenoaks 2018’ photographic competition

‘Kent’s Hidden Gems!’
#simply7oaks

Oh happy snappers . . .
Sevenoaks District Accommodation Forum (SDAF) is offering you a fabulous opportunity! Enter our annual photo competition for the chance to have your winning image feature on the cover of our 2018 accommodation and tourist guide, “Spend time in Sevenoaks”.

We want a truly heart-stopping front cover image which screams ‘wow – where’s that?’ to tourists and locals alike! Can you take a stunning photo of a hidden Kent gem – be it countryside, Kent produce, vineyards, lavender fields, historic gardens and houses, or a heart-racing surprise moment in Kent?

If you’re ready for the challenge, post your photograph on Facebook (@simply7oaks) using the hashtag #simply7oaks for your chance to be our image of 2018. Alternatively email to: info@doubledance.co.uk. Please include a location/title for your entry.

In addition to your image being our 2018 guide front cover, the lucky winner will receive a celebratory bottle of bubbles from The Mount Vineyard, Shoreham.

Help us say ‘Wow – this is Kent!’

• Closing date for entries is 12.00 am (midnight) on Friday 8th December 2017.

• The winner will be announced on Wednesday 20th December 2017.

• All entries must be available as an A5 portrait, with a resolution of 300 dpi.

• Entries must be an image of Sevenoaks and its District (ie 20 mile radius from central Sevenoaks).

• The decision of SDAF is final and no correspondence or discussion shall be entered into.

• Details on how to claim the prize and full prize terms and conditions will be given in the letter of notification.

• Copyright will remain with the photographer. However by entering this competition the photographer/entrant agrees to SDAF and its members using the images for exhibitions, publications (print or digital) or for promotional use.

Sevenoaks Literary Festival

Be inspired by the 2017 Sevenoaks Literary Festival.  Featuring writers such as Alan Johnson, Michael Rosen, Hilary Spurling and David Crystal talking on biography, music, history and crime, there's something for everyone.

Take tea with Sinclair Mckay, author of The Mile End Murder, or have lunch with Gloria Hunniford talking about her new book, My Life.  Revealing and revelatory so not to be missed!

Tickets from Sevenoaks Bookshop T: 01732 452055.

Simply Sevenoaks 2018 photo competition

‘KENT’S HIDDEN GEMS!’

Oh happy snappers . . .

Sevenoaks District Accommodation Forum (SDAF) is offering you a fabulous opportunity! Enter our annual photo competition for the chance to have your winning image feature on the cover of our 2018 accommodation and tourist guide, “Spend time in Sevenoaks”. 

We want a truly heart-stopping front cover image which screams ‘wow – where’s that?’ to tourists and locals alike!  Can you take a stunning photo of a hidden Kent gem – be it countryside, Kent produce, vineyards, lavender fields, historic gardens and houses, or a heart-racing surprise moment in Kent?

If you’re ready for the challenge, post your photograph on Facebook (@simply7oaks) using the hashtag #simply7oaks for your chance to be our image of 2018.  Alternatively email to: info@doubledance.co.uk. Please include a location/title for your entry.

In addition to your image being our 2018 guide front cover, the lucky winner will receive a celebratory bottle of bubbles from The Mount Vineyard, Shoreham.

Help us say ‘Wow – this is Kent!’

  • Closing date for entries is 12.00 am (midnight) on Sunday 29th October 2017.
  • The winner will be announced on Wednesday 8th November 2017.
  • All entries must be available as an A5 portrait, with a resolution of 300 dpi.
  • Entries must be an image of Sevenoaks and its District (ie 20 mile radius from central Sevenoaks).
  • The decision of SDAF is final and no correspondence or discussion shall be entered into.
  • Details on how to claim the prize and full prize terms and conditions will be given in the letter of notification.
  • Copyright will remain with the photographer. However by entering this competition the photographer/entrant agrees to SDAF and its members using the images for exhibitions, publications (print or digital) or for promotional use.

Good luck and start posting!

© Mary Allwood for our 2016 cover photo

Sevenoaks International Art Fair 2 - 4 June

Do you have a space on your wall you'd like to fill?  If so, this is your opportunity to find the perfect picture for that needy location!

Sevenoaks International Art Fair will be at the New Beacon Centre, New Beacon School, TN13 - 2PB from  Friday 2nd June - Sunday 4th June.  This showcase of UK and international galleries and artists, has moved to this new venue for 2017.  

In addition to great art, will be fabulous food from afternoon tea to Tonbridge Old Firestation and Hush Heath winery providing refreshments and full dining on Friday and Saturday night with a TOF pop up restaurant and chef Sam Bowser.

This is clearly THE Sevenoaks event of the summer season, and not to be missed!

Jane Austen in Kent

"Kent is the only place for Happiness.  Everybody is rich there" - Jane Austen, 19 December 1798

2017 is the year of Jane Austen's bi-centenary, so it's appropriate that we celebrate this but also Jane's extensive family connections with Kent, and the Sevenoaks district.

Did you know that the family roots were in Kent, with the early Austen family living in Horsmonden as cloth makers?  Jane's great grandmother lived in Bordyke, Tonbridge and later worked at Sevenoaks School, as a housekeeper.  Her sons were educated at the school, with Francis becoming a wealthy lawyer living in The Red House on Sevenoaks High Street.  Francis' second wife was Jane's godmother, hence Jane's own visit to Sevenoaks in 1788, aged 12.

Jane's family ties encouraged numerous Kent visits to Goodnestone Park, Godmersham and Chilham.  Family members also lived in Seal, near Sevenoaks.  Jane's books make frequent mention of Kent, with the notorious planned elopement of Georgiana Darcy potentially taking place in Ramsgate.

So why not make a tour of literary Kent?  The Historic Houses Association launched a literary trail section on their website this year.  So log on and see what literary inspiration you can find!

If you need accommodation, www.simplysevenoaks.co.uk can inspire with fantastic B&B and self-catering options.