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??

Blow away the Christmas Day cobwebs at Hever Castle!

Blow away the Christmas Day cobwebs with a bracing walk at Hever Castle! Open daily, 1030 am - 4.30 pm (last entry 3.30 pm), 27 December to 1 January. During this period, you’ll only pay for Garden entry with complimentary entry to the Castle included, so it’s a great value family treat!

So wrap up, put on your wellies and get out and about amongst the topiary, the flaming dogwood stems, winter berries or have an energetic burst by walking round the lake. Then revel in the blazing castle fires while you admire the Christmas decorations one final time this year.

Tempted? Book online or purchase tickets at the gate.

Eviivo - Winner of B2B Business of the Year at 2018 Amazon Growing Business Awards

Congratulations to eviivo, our online booking company, who scooped the prestigious 2018 ECI Partners B2B Business of the Year Award at the recent Amazon Growing Business Awards ceremony.

Presented in November 2018 at The Brewery, London, this award celebrates innovation and excellence in growing B2B businesses. The Amazon Growing Business Awards are the most credible and highly valued recognition of exceptional growing businesses. Now entering their 20th year, these are the accolades that UK SMEs really want to win!

So now you know why Simply Sevenoaks selected eviivo to provide our all-in-one booking suite. Headquartered in London’s vibrant Kings Cross business zone, and neighbours to Google and Expedia, eviivo is an innovative and growing company dedicated to supporting small hotels and B&Bs online. Certainly it’s helping our members to grow their business through an explosion of online and OTA bookings. So if you’re a Sevenoaks area guest accommodation, and would like to join our successful members, just email for further information. We’d love to hear from you!

Shimmer and Sparkle on Sevenoaks High Street!

The judges have spoken in the competition for the 2018 Sevenoaks best dressed Christmas window! Amongst some scintillating entries, the winner for the best retail window is Joie de Vivre boutique on London Road, with The Chinaman as runner-up. The new category of non-retail window winner is Dulce’s Patisserie, with runner up Jo and Co at Hollybush. Congratulations to all for helping to make Sevenoaks look fabulously atmospheric and seasonal.

So not only go and admire these fantastic windows, but explore the shops themselves! Packed full of Christmas treats and surprises (both edible and non-edible), you’re certain to find Christmas gifts galore. Shop local and support our High Street.

Christmas Party Nights at The Mount Vineyard

Planning a Christmas celebration? Why not go to The Mount Vineyard in Shoreham for a Christmas Party night on Thursday 6 and Friday 14 December from 7.30 pm? Cosy, candlelit and the perfect atmosphere for that special Christmas gathering. £25pp for welcome bubbles, cheese and charcuterie and stone-baked pizza. Book now by emailing sales@themountvineyard.co.uk or call 01959 524008.

Christmas is coming . . . to Chiddingstone Castle!

Chiddingstone Castle Christmas Fair - Friday and Saturday, 23 and 24 November

This seasonal special is THE opportunity to purchase those very special and unique gifts. It’s a must for the discerning shopper! All tickets must be booked online in advance, as tickets won’t be available on the door.

Will you win our 2019 photographic competition?

Get out and about to capture those Autumn tints on camera to be our 2019 Photo Competition winner and be our front cover image for Spend Time in Sevenoaks, our popular tourism booklet.

S L O W is the name of the game for this year’s photo competition, in association with @wearecountrybike. Sevenoaks District is full of delights and we are encouraging you to allow plenty of time to enjoy them. Take time to explore. Whether it’s by bike, on foot or making  S L O W progress generally, we look forward to seeing what the photographers amongst you can come up with. Please post on Instagram and tag us and/or use #simplysevenoaks with a location for your entry.
 
The winning image will feature on the 2019 accommodation and tourist guide, “Spend Time in Sevenoaks”. Closing date for entries is 12.00 am (midnight) on Sunday 28th October 2018. The winner will be announced on Wednesday 7th November 2018. 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. 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. 

Things that go bump in the night . . . at Lullingstone Castle!

HALLOWEEN MAGIC - 28th October. 12 noon - 7pm

Lullingstone Castle celebrates Halloween magic on its last day of the season; pumpkin carving, spooky house and garden tours – perfect for all the family. Tom will give garden tours at 1pm and dusk tour at 5pm, learn about the origins of pumpkins, colours and varieties and children can spot the Halloween tricks in eerie torchlight! Fancy dress is welcome – let’s celebrate the end of our season in style! Additional £1 donation for the pumpkin carving.

Halloween Magic - 28th October. 12 noon - 7pm - £10 Adult/Children under 15 go FREE

PLEASE NOTE: event access only via Lullingstone Villa through the village (Shoreham Road entrance & car park closed for Halloween)

Afternoon Tea Week

It's Afternoon Tea Week! What better excuse than to indulge in a tea party?

Sevenoaks and the surrounding district are blessed with THE most superb offering of tea options where you can enjoy the best of Kent produce.  Why not try the Old Dairy Tearoom at Great Comp Garden for delicious home-baked goodies?  Chiddingstone village is doubly blessed with a quaint tea room at Chiddingstone Castle, and with the National Trust village offering The Tulip Tree cafe and shop being a scrumptious alternative.

For real tea aficionados The Golding Hop Tea House at Plaxtol, serves serious T2 teas and home-made cakes.  For those in search of tea with a historic view, try The Cafe on Sevenoaks famous Vine.

So get out and about this weekend in search of the perfect afternoon or even morning tea!

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. 

Spend Time in Sevenoaks - 2019 Photo Competition

S L O W is the name of the game for this year’s photo competition, in association with @wearecountrybike. Sevenoaks District is full of delights and we are encouraging you to allow plenty of time to enjoy them. Take time to explore. Whether it’s by bike, on foot or making  S L O W progress generally, we look forward to seeing what the photographers amongst you can come up with. Please post on Instagram and tag us and/or use #simplysevenoaks with a location for your entry.
 
The winning image will feature on the 2019 accommodation and tourist guide, “Spend Time in Sevenoaks”. Closing date for entries is 12.00 am (midnight) on Sunday 28th October 2018. The winner will be announced on Wednesday 7th November 2018. 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. 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. 
 

Pedal Power

Slow sightseeing from a bike is just the perfect fusion of exercise, exploration, admiration for the slowly passing countryside and satisfaction for a job well done!  All these goals are now achievable if you hire a bike from Countrybike, a local company which enables you to hire a bike via a mobile app.

Bikes are located both at selected heritage sites or they can be delivered to a specific address if ordered in advance.  Feel inspired or challenged?  Go and get on a Countrybike and pedal away! 

Feeling adventurous?

Can you imagine how it might feel to be an intrepid plant hunter?  Visit Lullingstone Castle for Plant Hunters' Weekend25th, 26th & 27th August, 11am – 5pm to find out.

Celebrating the lives of some of Britain’s most intrepid plant hunters, Tom and friends in Victorian dress will lead a guided tour of the World Garden at 1.30 and 3.30 pm - join at any time! Visitors are offered a unique glimpse into the past to experience an authentic plant hunter’s expedition camp, complete with plant presses, roaring fire, porters and canvas tents.

Roll on . . .

Bask in reflected glory at Great Comp Garden's Rolls-Royce Day on Sunday 19 August, noon to 4 pm. 

The South Eastern Section of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club will be holding a gathering of their beautiful cars for all to admire.  If you're a car enthusiast, or just want to image how it might feel to be driven in one, this is the outing for you! 

Rolls-Royce and Bentley are world famous British cars, so don's miss the opportunity to chat informally to their enthusiastic owners and followers.

The garden and tearoom are open as usual with normal admission applying.

Medieval England comes to Hever!

The Knights of Royal England return to battle it out at the annual Hever Castle Jousting Tournament. Spectators will be treated to a thrilling show as the brave knights compete for points to find this season’s champion. Witness spectacular displays of action, stunts, falls and fights in an authentic arena complete with Royal Box.

A fantastically exciting spectacle so do book now

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.

English Wine Week 26 May - 3 June

It's almost here - English Wine Week 2018.  What a great week to celebrate not only English wine but our great Kent wines! 

To celebrate why not visit a Sevenoaks district vineyard, The Mount Vineyard in Shoreham?  Savour a glass of wine in their tasting room, or combine it with a charcuterie or cheese platter or a stone baked pizza for that extra special treat.  Vineyard tours start this weekend too so have a peek at the 2018 harvest!

The highlight of the week is the Food fest, Saturday and Sunday 2nd and 3rd June.  What a lot to celebrate in just one week but the celebration goes on as The Mount Vineyard is open for most weeks of the year.