Celebrate Christmas in Kent and East Sussex with The National Trust

National Trust

If you’re looking for somewhere special to escape the crowds this Christmas and celebrate traditions old and new, look no further than the National Trust.

See Kent and East Sussex’s historic houses decked out for the festive season, with handmade decorations on display created by the conservation charity’s team of Christmas volunteers. Visit a picturesque winter market for handmade crafts, delicious local food and truly unique gifts, or stroll through frosty winter landscapes and gardens.

Keep little ones entertained with a festive trail, sample tasty winter treats in the cafes, or get in the festive spirit with Christmas crafts and take a little inspiration home with you.

After all that, warm yourself with the knowledge that each magical day out supports the National Trust’s conservation work, looking after special places for people to enjoy for the festive season and many more to come.

Take a look at our top picks from across the counties:

Bateman’s, East Sussex

  • Rewards & Fairies

2 December to 1 January (closed 24 & 25 December), 10.00am to dusk (House trail from 11.00am to 3.00pm)

This Christmas, creatures from Rudyard Kipling’s Sussex fairy tales will cast their magic around Batemans, his family home. Look out for miniature handmade decorations and glowing doors to the homes of fairies that live among the books on the author’s very own shelves. From cooking pine cones to crafty carpentry, turning books into baubles and lighting up fairy homes, there is no stone left unturned as the National Trust team and volunteers bring Kipling’s tales to life. The garden will also have a trail based on Kipling’s ‘Rewards and Fairies’ tales, where little ones can spot the homes of creatures from his imagination.

Price: Normal admission applies. £2.50 per trail, suitable for children aged 12 and under



Knole, Kent

  • Christmas deer trail

2 December to 3 January (closed 24 & 25 December), 11am to 3pm

Find the Knole deer by following the trail and help Father Christmas deliver his presents. The trail will take you on a walk through the courtyards and beautiful Knole Park. Don’t forget to claim your prize at the end.

Price: £5 per trail. Suitable for children aged 10 and under.



  • Christmas crafts and workshops

Based in Knole’s beautifully restored seventeenth century hayloft, the new learning centre provides the perfect opportunity to develop a new hobby, learn a new skill or extend your knowledge. There’ll be a programme of seasonal workshops running over the Christmas period, so you can unleash your creative side and learn to make wreaths and spangled baubles:

  • 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Dec, 10am to 1pm – Wreath making workshops
  • 16 & 17 Dec, 10.30-12.30 and 1.30-3.30 – Spangled Baubles

Price: varies, see website for details



Emmetts Garden, Kent

  • Boise family trail

2 December to 3 January (closed 24 and 25 December), 10am to 4pm

The Boise family have misplaced their Christmas presents, can you help them to find them around the garden? Pick up a trail sheet from our visitor centre and start your festive adventure. Don’t forget to send Father Christmas a Christmas card.

Price: £1 per trail, normal admission applies. Suitable for all ages, aimed at 11 and under.



Stocking fillers


Enjoy an extra sprinkling of Christmas magic:


Ightham Mote, Kent

  • Mini Christmas market

2 & 3 Dec, 10am to 3.30pm (Father Christmas 11am to 2.30pm)

Ightham Mote hosts a selection of local Christmas stalls to stock up on special festive gifts. There will be music and a chance to visit the house dressed for a late Victorian Christmas with an American twist. Children can get stuck into craft activities and tackle our seasonal trail. For those who’ve been extra good, there’s a chance to say hello to Father Christmas.

Price: Free event, normal admission applies



Quebec House, Kent

  • A Georgian Christmas

Saturday and Sunday 2 & 3, 9 & 10 16 & 17 December, 1pm to 4pm

See the house decorated for a Georgian Christmas with greenery from the garden, warm open fires and the smell of spiced hot chocolate. Taste some Christmas baking, admire our celebratory feast and find out more about what winter was like for the Wolfe family in the early eighteenth century.

Price: Free event, normal admission charges apply



Bodiam, East Sussex

  • Light & Celebration

Sat 2 Dec to Mon 1 Jan (closed 24 and 25 December) 10.30am to 5pm. Tours with historical interpreters from 21 Dec to 1 Jan, 11am to 4pm

Experience what Christmas meant to the medieval residents of Bodiam Castle in an immersive light and sound display. Discover the roots of our festive traditions, such as the importance of the twelve days of Christmas in surviving the long cold winter months. On select days, costumed actors will be on hand to guide you around the castle in a tour with a difference – be prepared to dance, sing and be merry!

Price: Free event, normal admission charges apply



Scotney Castle, Kent

  • Woodland wonderland

2 December to 4 January (closed 24 & 25 December), 10am to 4pm

A veritable ‘woodland wonderland’ comes alive at Scotney Castle, with a family Christmas trail amongst natural sculptures around the garden. Make decorations to take home and visit the tree at the castle to make your wish.

Price: £2 per trail, normal admission charges apply.



Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent

  • Clangers, Bagpuss & Co. Exhibition, organised by the V&A Museum of Childhood

11 November to 4 February, 11am to 4pm (last admission 45 mins before closing)

Escape the Christmas madness and meet Bagpuss, see the Soup Dragon and behold Noggin the Nog. Enchanting displays tell the story of these much-loved family favourites, created by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. Displays go behind the scenes of Bagpuss and other character creations, including Pogles Wood and Ivor the Engine.

Price: Free event, normal admission applies




  • The Churchill family Christmas

Saturday and Sunday 2 & 3, 9 & 10, 16 & 17 December, 11am to 3pm

See four rooms in the home of Sir Winston Churchill decorated for a post war Christmas at Chartwell. A roaring fire will welcome you into the house where charming Christmas cards hang across the walls and the Christmas trees twinkle with lights. The dining room will be set up as a Churchill style cinema with chairs to sit on and see clips of film the family would’ve watched.

Entry by timed ticket, available on the day from the visitor welcome centre

Price: Free event, normal admission charges apply www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell


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