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Planning your Christmas party

If you are (un)lucky enough to be tasked with organising your office Christmas party, first of all don’t panic. It can be scary, with time constraints – you still have your day job to do after all – and the pressure to organise something amazing that everyone will enjoy!

If it’s going to take a lot of planning, start early.

1. Set the date

Christmas is a busy time for everyone, so select a few potential dates and get people to choose their preferred option. This will also give you a rough idea of likely numbers.

2. Know your budget

Your budget will affect everything from the choice of venue to the food and entertainment, so it’s important to know your limit. There’s no point planning a grand affair if your budget will only stretch to a few drinks and nibbles. Think about whether spouses and partners will be included too as this will impact your overall spend. It’s also a good idea to keep a bit in reserve to cover the unexpected.

3. Choose your party style

Your choice will depend on many factors such as budget, number of guests, location, etc. It will also depend on how much time you have to organise everything, but there are three main options:

  • Dinner & Drinks: the simplest option is to book a table at your favourite restaurant and follow it up with a tour of your favourite pubs/clubs
  • Packaged party: lots of venues now host themed party nights. If your group is large enough it is often possible to book exclusive use; but you can just book a table or two and share the event with others
  • Bespoke party: YOU do all the hard work, from finding a suitable venue to organising catering, decorations, entertainment etc.

4. Choose the venue

Dinner and Drinks

Make sure your favourite restaurant can accommodate your group and find out if they are doing a special Christmas menu. If you love a particular menu but it’s not available in December, you may need to rethink your choice.

Packaged Party

What theme is the packaged party offering? Traditional, vintage, specific decade, fire and ice, movie theme, etc. How many people do you need for exclusive use? Are you happy to share?

Bespoke Party

Is the venue big enough and are they happy for you to decorate it? Do they have in-house caterers or is there a preferred list you’re obliged to use?

Once you’ve decided on a venue and confirmed the date, get to know the events team personally. It will make life much easier later on!

Choose the right menu for your Christmas party

5. The food

If you’ve opted for a packaged party, there will undoubtedly be a set menu to choose from. Send out the menu options to all your guests as soon as possible and ask them to make their selection (give them a deadline or you’ll still be chasing on the day of the party). Make a spreadsheet to record everyone’s orders so you can send a copy to the venue and print a copy for yourself to take on the day. You may also want to do place settings for everyone with their selections on the back - this will save you answering a hundred ‘what did I order again?’ questions on the night!

For bespoke parties, don’t be restricted to turkey (unless you’re going for a traditional theme of course!). Be creative with the catering and make your event truly memorable. Perhaps a Wild West theme with a hog roast or a Caribbean theme with a bbq. In-house caterers will be cheaper and easier if they’re available at your chosen venue, but you may prefer to use an external supplier if you want something a little more left-field.

6. Entertainment

Again, this will all be taken care of on a packaged party, but if you’re organising your own then use your party theme as a guide. There are lots of event companies that can help with ideas, whether you want a casino or magicians, comedians or acrobats. You could even host a ‘murder mystery’ that guests have to solve before dessert! When it comes to the music, consider a live band instead of a DJ - depending on your budget.

7. The invite

Once you’ve settled on a venue and confirmed the date, it’s time to send the official invitations. Include the obvious: date; venue address; start/finish time; menu options (if applicable); and rsvp deadline.

Then include the less obvious: dress code; accommodation options; phone numbers for local taxi firms; and any venue-specific details (e.g. parking arrangements, accessibility etc.).

8. Before the big day

There isn’t much more to do for a packaged party, other than making sure your menu choices have been submitted and you’ve confirmed final numbers for your group.

Bespoke parties need a little more work. The best thing to do is create a full itinerary of the evening including who, what, when and where. This can then be circulated to everyone involved in organising and running the event, from the venue team to any external suppliers and contractors. You will also need to confirm final numbers with your caterers to ensure sufficient food.

9. Party time!

Arrive early. Meet up with the events team and go through all the details one more time. For bespoke events, make sure you’re happy with the room layout and decorations and meet with all suppliers to ensure everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing and when.

10. Enjoy the party

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the organising that you forget to have a good time yourself. Once you’re happy everything is running as planned, don’t be afraid to sit back and enjoy the party.

For more details on finding the perfect Christmas party venue, please contact Conference Maidstone today. We can even help you find exclusive Christmas special offers to ensure your end-of-year celebrations are great value for money.

Booking the office Christmas party

The summer sun may be shining, but it's never too early to think about booking the office Christmas party in Maidstone, particularly with the need to book early to avoid missing out on key dates essential. When it comes to organising the office Christmas party, however, there are lots of options to choose from. But how do you know what sort is right for you?

Packaged or bespoke - what’s best?

If you’re planning an event for a small group, you may find that a local restaurant or bar will be able to accommodate you. But, if you want something a little different or you’re a larger group, then you’ll need to choose from a packaged party or a bespoke event.

Packaged Parties

These are generally organised by specialist event management companies and, increasingly, by venues themselves. Typically they will have a specific theme (fire and ice, winter wonderland, 70s or 80s, movie themed, etc.), which will be carried through the whole event. There is usually a set menu (three courses with a few options for each) and themed entertainment (e.g. bucking broncos for a Wild West theme, or a casino for a ‘James Bond’ theme).


  • • All the organising is done for you
  • • No restriction on group size - you can book a single table or exclusive use
  • • Themed decorations
  • • High-quality entertainment
  • • Fixed cost (price per head may vary depending on the night of the week, but once you’ve chosen a date, there are no ‘hidden extras’)


  • • Restricted to venue’s chosen theme - may not appeal to everyone
  • • Limited menu
  • • If your group isn’t large enough for exclusive use, you’ll be sharing the party with other people which means you won’t be able to make any company announcements/awards presentations etc.
  • • No flexibility on start/finish times
Booking the office Christmas party

Bespoke Parties

Unless you can afford to employ a specialist event management company, the chances are you will end up doing all the organising for a bespoke party yourself. You will have to find a suitable venue, organise catering and entertainment and make sure the whole place looks fabulous with decorations and any extra touches. It’s a lot of work, but can be very rewarding.


  • • You have total control of your party
  • • You choose the theme, so you can make sure it’s completely right for your group
  • • When it comes to food, you’re not restricted to a set menu so consider external catering for something really different - hog roast anyone?
  • • You can choose your entertainment so why not opt for a live band instead of a DJ (if your budget will stretch to it). You can also mix and match so if you want a bouncy castle with a casino then go for it!
  • • Freedom to start early and/or finish later (subject to local restrictions)


  • • It’s a lot of hard work! It takes time to source the perfect venue, find a caterer that meets your requirements and sort out all the entertainment.
  • • Costs can quickly escalate making it harder to achieve the party you want within your budget.
  • • Some venues may insist you use ‘preferred suppliers’ if you decide not to use their in-house facilities. This can limit your options.
  • • Sourcing suitable decorations may be quite tricky, depending on your theme. Check with the venue whether they will be putting up any decorations themselves - this may or may not assist with your plans!
  • • There are likely to be a number of different suppliers/contractors involved, which will require greater coordination and planning.

Whatever type of party you’re planning, Conference Maidstone can help you find the perfect venue. Check out our ‘Christmas Party’ venues and the ‘Special Offers’ page for details of bespoke and packaged party options.

One of Maidstone’s most popular annual events is returning to Whatman Park this May, with the Proms the Park 2016 concert providing residents and visitors to the area the opportunity to join in the celebrations of the Queen’s 90th birthday on a glorious spring evening.

Scheduled for Saturday, May 28, 2016, the Proms in the Park event offers an entire day of free entertainment that is perfect for families and fans of live music. From community events to local suppliers of food and refreshments, performances by the Hazlitt Youth Theatre to a programme of renowned classical and big band works by Maidstone Wind Symphony, the event promises to showcase the very best of Maidstone during a relaxed and enjoyable May evening.

Arranged in conjunction with Maidstone Borough Council and the Hazlitt Theatre, Proms in the Park 2016 has been scheduled to feature an earlier finishing time in comparison to previous years, thereby enabling visitors with young families to enjoy the performances without the need for late evenings in colder temperatures. As such, while there will be no fireworks display, the earlier finish provides the perfect opportunity to head into the heart of Maidstone and discover the nightlife of the area, or simply head home as the evening chills set in.

“We’re delighted to be able to return to Proms in the Park for 2016,” said Maidstone Wind Symphony music director Jonathan Crowhurst. “Following the success of last year’s performance, we hope to be able to offer a magnificent show for visitors to Whatman Park this May. In celebration of the 90th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen, we can’t wait to perform music from each decade of her life, alongside traditional Proms numbers.”

“The schedule for Proms in the Park 2016 promises to offer something for everyone,” added Natalie Moor, General Manager at Hazlitt Theatre. “We’re proud to be working alongside Maidstone Borough Council and Maidstone Wind Symphony to put on this free event for all ages. With the Hazlitt Youth Theatre also set to take to the stage, we’re certain that those in attendance will be able to enjoy a great day’s entertainment and magnificent community spirit.”


Maidstone Wind Symphony

Widely regarded as one of the United Kingdom's finest wind orchestras, Maidstone Wind Symphony was founded by Brendon Le Page in 1998, and has had musical directors including Jeremy Cooper and current director Jonathan Crowhurst.

Under the baton of Jonathan, the orchestra has greatly expanded its repertoire and championed new music for wind orchestras. Resident at All Saints Church in Maidstone, where it gives around six concerts each season. In summer 2014, the orchestra was invited to take part in the inaugural National Concert Band Symposium in Canterbury, a new organisation devoted to the promotion and development of the wind orchestra. It is also the current National Concert Band Champions having won the NCBS in 2015.

Hazlitt Youth Theatre

The Hazlitt Youth Theatre started in September 1997 as a weekly workshop for 11-18 year olds. Since then, HYT has expanded dramatically and now consists of nearly 200 members, aged 6-18 years. Each week, members attend a workshop dedicated to the learning of different aspects of the theatrical world, including acting, performing arts, improvisation, devising, text work, theatre styles, film, stage combat, mime, and a whole lot more. In recent times, members have devised and produced their own work and learnt the basics of lighting and sound design.

Maidstone Singers

The Maidstone Singers, founded in 1998, is a group of 20 accomplished singers who perform a cappella choral works dating from the 16th century to the present day. Based in Maidstone, concerts take place locally and also internationally. In recent years, performances have been given in Croatia, Slovenia, Netherlands, Poland, Italy, Malta, France, Portugal, and Spain. In 2014, the Maidstone Singers even appeared in an episode of the popular BBC series ‘Call the Midwife’.


We're delighted to announce that Helen Bailey will be joining Maidstone Wind Symphony for the finale of its performance at this year's Proms in the Park.

Helen Bailey

Middlesbrough-born soprano, Helen Bailey, is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music opera course, Trinity College of Music, and Liverpool John Moores University.

Helen enjoys a busy schedule of opera, oratorio, and recital engagements, appearing regularly as a soloist with Bromley Oecumenical Singers, Ember Choral Society, Hampton Choral Society, and Sutton Valence Choral Society. Recent highlights include Jenkins' The Armed Man with the Voices for Hospices choir at Kempton Park racecourse, Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle with Botley Choral Society, and Mozart's Mass in C minor with Ember Choral Society.

Opera roles include Pamina (The Magic Flute, Ryedale Opera), Micaela (Carmen, Meantime Opera) Véronique (Le Docteur Miracle, Popup opera), and Giovanna (cover, Giovanna d'arco, Buxton Festival Opera), Helen has also sung principal roles for Hampstead Garden Opera, Blackheath Halls Opera, British Youth Opera, and Bath Festival Opera.

This summer, Helen will return to Buxton Festival Opera to cover the title role in Beethoven's Leonore. See www.helenbailey.org for more information.


We're delighted to announce that the final performers set to appear at Ramblin' Man Fair 2016 have been named. With the stellar line up already including Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, and Black Stone Cherry, the final bands set to appear have been revealed to be:

Warren Haynes

Grammy Award-winning artist Warren Haynes has been recognised as a cornerstone of the American music landscape and revered as one of the finest guitar players in the world. Throughout his prolific career as part of three of the greatest live groups in rock history – Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule and the Dead – his artistry has led to thousands of unforgettable performances and millions of album and track sales.

The Supersuckers

One of the few outfits that can call itself 'The World’s Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band!' and actually get away with it, the Supersuckers eat Marshall stacks and cowboy hats and play high-volume Motörheading country music and Willie Nelsoning garage-punk better than virtually anyone else, ever.

Tax The Heat

2015 was intense for Bristol’s Tax The Heat. Following the release of two critically acclaimed singles 'Fed To The Lions' and 'Highway Home', the band has cemented its live reputation by supporting the likes of Cadillac 3, Reef, The Graveltones, Black Star Riders, Masters Of Reality, The Virginmarys and Thunder. The band’s unique blend of classic blues driven rock with a modern alternative twist is set to continue winning them a legion of fans throughout 2016.


Nashville-based improvisational trio SIMO will be bringing its invigorating blues, psychedelic Brit Invasion, and countrified Southern-rock manifestations to Ramblin’ Man Fair 2016.

Following the overwhelming success of the inaugural Ramblin' Man Fair 2015 in Maidstone's popular Mote Park, this fantastic celebration of classic rock is returning to the borough on July 23/24, 2016. The festival, which is anticipated to attract more than 12,000 visitors each day, will feature a vast selection of iconic bands, with none more acclaimed than the Ramblin' Man Fair 2016 headliners, Whitesnake.

The legendary rock’n’roll band founded and formed by Deep Purple singer David Coverdale is set to headline the festival as part of its 2016 'The Greatest Hits Tour', performing some of the biggest hits from Slide It In, Whitesnake and Slip Of The Tongue records. "We are truly excited and looking forward to playing at the Ramblin' Man Fair in 2016 on what will be our 'Greatest Hits World Tour' and most likely my personal 'Farewell to Arena Rock' after over 40 years of writing and performing rock music," said Coverdale. "As I write this we are finishing our incredibly successful touring cycle of 2015. Co-headlining a monster UK tour with Def Leppard, releasing our tribute to Deep Purple Mark 3 & 4, Whitesnake The Purple Album, and touring this incredible world, I look back on an amazing, memorable journey of four decades of fun performing for millions of people. Whitesnake is singularly honoured to headline The Ramblin' Man Fair, looking forward to some British fun in the sun... see you in 2016!"

In addition to the announcement that Whitesnake will headline, a number of additional acts have been announced as part of the Ramblin' Man Fair 2016 line-up.

Further Main Stage Announcements

Ginger Wildheart

Prog Stage

Procol Harum – Headliner
Uriah Heep – Special Guests
Hawkwind – Special Guests
Life Signs

Country Stage

Hayseed Dixie – Headliner

Blues Stage

Walter Trout – Special Guest
King King

Tickets are already on sale for Ramblin' Man Fair 2016, with weekend admission prices from £130, and weekend VIP from £225. For more information on Ramblin' Man Fair 2016 on the Visit Maidstone website.

Love is in the air and it’s time to spoil those you care about most with a romantic Valentine’s Day treat. But what can you plan for Valentine’s Day in Maidstone this year? A bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates is no longer enough when those around you are making grand gestures and sharing across social media. And, while a trip to Paris or New York, or even the grandest of all romantic gifts – a sparkling diamond ring – may be beyond your means, you want to do something extra special and different from the rest.

Valentine's Day in Maidstone

At Visit Maidstone, we’ve taken a look into some of the best options for Valentine’s Day in Maidstone, and provided a few suggestions to ensure your day is truly unforgettable. Take a look at the options below and get your plans for Valentine’s Day in Maidstone in order.

Wildlife Heritage Foundation

For something truly different, book your place at the Wildlife Heritage Foundation in Smarden for a Valentine’s Day dinner among the glorious Kent countryside and some of nature’s most impressive creatures. A perfect combination of fine dining, sparkling champagne, and an overnight stay in one of the intimate on-site lodges, this romantic retreat also features guided walking tours of and the chance to hand feed some of the big cats resident at the sanctuary.

Prices for this romantic Valentine’s weekend begin at £850 per lodge, and include a complimentary bottle of champagne in each lodge.

Valentine’s Weekend at Castle View Restaurant

Nothing beats a spectacular view to add to the romance of an occasion and, when it comes to heading out in the South East, few venues offer quite such a breathtaking vista as the Castle View Restaurant at Leeds Castle. Spend a romantic evening enjoying fine wine and a specially devised menu, and soak up the atmosphere from one of the region’s most auspicious attractions.

Prices for a Valentine’s Day meal at the Castle View Restaurant start at £35 per person.

Enjoy a Valentine's Day meal in Maidstone

Valentine's Day Wheel Throwing

Who can forget the iconic scene from 1990’s ‘Ghost’ with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore at the pottery wheel? Well, now’s your chance to relive that scene with your significant other… well, kind of. This Art of Mine is hosting enjoyable pottery sessions that enable you to create your very own message of love on a plaque. Who knows, maybe ‘Unchained Melody’ will even be playing in the background for some added romance.

Prices for the Valentine’s Dat Wheel Throwing at This Art of Mine are £40 per couple.

Let us know your plans

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day in Maidstone this year? Do you have something booked already, or are you just going to wing it on the day? Let us know what you have planned in the comments section below.

If you're looking for something a little different to do in Maidstone, you may well find a visit to Maidstone Museum on Saturday, January 23 offers a day out that guarantees entertainment. As part of the museum's Magic of Masks and Puppets exhibition - which runs until February 20 - a special appearance by Aslan from 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' will can be enjoyed.

Of course, it's not going to be a real lion - or even Liam Neeson, for that matter - but instead a magnificent puppet version that first appeared in the Hazlitt Theatre's production back in 2013. Crafted by the team behind the ever-popular War Horse production, the life-sized lion puppet will be operated by performers from the Hazlitt Youth Theatre from 11am until 12.30pm, and will provide a fascinating insight into the dexterity and skill required of puppeteers in modern theatre productions.

Aslan at Maidstone Museum

Speaking about the event, Maidstone Museum's Interpretation and Exhibitions Manager Lyn Palmer said: "We’re delighted to be able to bring this magnificent version of Aslan to Maidstone Museum. To be able to have the Hazlitt Youth Theatre perform with the model perfectly complements the current Magic of Masks and Puppets exhibition on show at the museum, and represents a wonderful display of modern puppetry in the world of theatre.

"We’ve had a great reception for the Magic of Masks and Puppets exhibition at the museum, so welcoming Aslan represents an added bonus for visitors on the Saturday. The history of puppetry has provided a fascinating education for everyone fortunate enough to see the display and, with this live demonstration, it promises to be equally as fun and entertaining."

Entry to the demonstration of Aslan begins at 11am on January 23, so make sure you're up and about early to avoid missing out.

Hywel Dowsell

Actor Hywel Dowsell is currently performing at the Hazlitt Theatre in Maidstone as Mrs Smee in the popular pantomime Peter Pan. Taking time out from performing, Hywel was delighted to chat with Visit Maidstone about his career and time in Maidstone.

Hi Hywel, welcome to Maidstone. Would you like to tell the Visit Maidstone readers a little bit about yourself?

Hiya! I’m Hywel Dowsell, a Welsh actor from the South Wales Valleys, and I’m currently playing Mrs Smee in Peter Pan at the Hazlitt Theatre, Maidstone.

How are you finding Maidstone?

Maidstone is a little gem. The shops, bars and local attractions are great, and the people are even greater!

How is it playing Mrs Smee?

Oh, Mrs Smee is fabulous; what a joy to play! It is my first time playing the Dame in panto and I couldn’t have wished for a better place for the debut. The cast and crew have been very supportive of me and the audiences have been so welcoming. Playing a comedy role is something of a regular occurrence to me, having played many of Shakespeare’s fools and comedy roles within musicals.

What about when you’re not on the stage? What do you like to do when not performing?

A very interesting question, and one that I get asked often. Sometimes, when I finish an acting job, I take time to have a little break, whether this be going on holiday or simply sitting at home with a good book or a box set. However, I am always keen to get stuck in with the next job. When I have the time, I’m often playing the French Horn in professional gigs or playing alongside the Central Band of the Royal British Legion.

What would you say was your proudest moment?

I’ve had a few of these in my life, but I think the most prominent one was performing for HRH Queen Elizabeth II for the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. What an honour!

And any regrets?

I don’t really have any regrets in life. Christmas is a time of reflection, so If I think of something, I’ll let you know.

What's your favourite film?

This is probably the easiest question I am ever asked: Mrs Doubtfire, without a doubt. I am a huge Robin Williams fan and his performance in this film is up there with his very best. I can also quote the whole thing, so if we ever have a night in, don’t let me choose the film, as my “joining in” becomes quite annoying… at least, so I’ve been told!

What’s your favourite food?

I am a hopeless cook and I’d never put anyone through the ordeal of eating a meal prepared by myself, so when I suggest having dinner with a friend, it normally involves a takeaway or eating out. I think my favourite place to eat is Pizza Express. Those doughballs! However, I am looking forward to my mam’s Christmas dinner in Wales this year.

Do you have any New Year resolutions?

I think it would have to be, and I say this every year, to get a little bit fitter. I often spend January at the gym and at dance classes, but that soon dies down. I spend too much time in Pizza Express!

Finally, do you have any tips for Christmas?

Spend it with your friends and family. Last Christmas I was working in Dubai. While I did have a great time, you simply can’t celebrate Christmas without your nearest and dearest. Remember what Christmas is all about and have a great time.

Ricky Groves as Captain Hook

Hywel Dowsell will be performing as Mrs Smee in Peter Pan at the Hazlitt Theatre throughout December until January 3, 2016. Find out more about the show on the Visit Maidstone website today.

Ricky Groves Currently appearing as Captain Hook in the Hazlitt Theatre’s pantomime production of children’s classic Peter Pan, Ricky Groves took time out from treading the boards to speak to Visit Maidstone and discuss his time in the region.

Hi Ricky, welcome to Maidstone. Would you like to tell the Visit Maidstone readers a little bit about yourself?

Hello, I'm Ricky Groves, best known for playing Gary Hobbs in EastEnders for nine years. I'm 47 and am currently playing Captain Hook at the Hazlitt Theatre in Maidstone.

How are you finding Maidstone?

The good thing about performing is you get to travel the country and, with panto, you stay a month or two in one place, so I'm still discovering the area. I always try to go to the local museums and shops, and am planning a trip to Leeds Castle.

How is it playing Captain Hook?

I'm normally the comic turn – playing roles such as Buttons in Cinderella – and have only played the baddie once before, Abanazar in Aladdin. It's a bit strange being booed… but I suppose it comes with the job!

What about when you’re not on the stage? What do you like to do when not performing?

I have a girlfriend who has quite a lot of horses and a farm down in Dorset, so that keeps us busy. I also love fishing and always take a fishing rod with me wherever I go. I find it very relaxing.

What would you say was your proudest moment?

Probably EastEnders, although Strictly Come Dancing is up there – I went on tour with the stage show and danced at all the big arenas like Wembley and the O2.

And any regrets?

I would have loved to play the piano. It's not too late but I'm just being lazy I suppose!

What's your favourite film?

I like all films, but my favourite has to be The Long Good Friday. Bob Hoskins plays a London gangster whose life slowly crumbles around him over the bank holiday weekend. It’s possibly his finest performance. Rest in peace, Mr Hoskins.

What’s your favourite food?

I enjoy dining out – normally Indian – but also enjoy cooking at home. I've just finished filming Celebrity Come Dine With Me Couples Christmas Special. It was lots of fun and will be shown over the festive period.

Do you have any New Year resolutions?

I want to do the Three Peaks Challenge and also see a bit more of Scotland. It's right on our doorstep and it's beautiful.

Finally, do you have any tips for Christmas?

Don't eat too much and try not to waste food. The shops are pretty much open the next day, so you won't starve! Plus, of course, to have a great time.

Peace on Earth

Ricky xxx

Ricky Groves as Captain Hook

Ricky Groves will be performing as Captain Hook in Peter Pan at the Hazlitt Theatre throughout December until January 3, 2016. Find out more about the show on the Visit Maidstone website today.

With Christmas over and the festive cheer ebbing away, New Year celebrations provide one last chance to get together with those closest to you for a big party. Welcoming in the New Year, and bidding farewell to the old, always brings out the best party atmosphere, uniting people from all backgrounds in a celebration of fresh hopes for the coming year. Whether it’s joining a rousing rendition of Robert Burns’ Auld Lang Syne, revelling in magnificent fireworks displays, or simply raising a toast to the striking of the clock at midnight, New Year’s Eve is a great night out for everyone.

New Year in Maidstone provides a host of events and activities to enjoy, with many venues across the borough providing you with a chance to bid goodbye to 2015 and welcome 2016 with a bang. From pubs and clubs to restaurants and fireworks displays, you can pick your form of celebration for Thursday, December 31, and join the crowds for a magnificent night of celebration and entertainment.

See in the New Year at Leeds Castle

New Year’s Eve events

We’re delighted to provide you with details of just a few New Year’s Eve events happening throughout Maidstone. Regardless of age and interest, you’re almost certain to find something to suit you this New Year in Maidstone. And, even if you’re not one for heading out on the town, there’s always the option of staying home with loved ones, curling up in front of the television, and watching events unfold from the comfort of home. Failing that, you can always have an early night!

Leeds Castle

Where to begin with New Year celebrations than Leeds Castle? Starting with Champagne in the castle library followed by a tour of the castle, a magnificent four-course meal followed by live music and fireworks, what better way to see in the New Year than by heading to one of the region’s most compelling and popular attractions.

Pizza Express

Head down to the Pizza Express in Maidstone this New Year’s Eve for an evening of fun and great live music. Playing a selection of classic west coast hits, live band California Dreaming will help you see-in the New Year in style, all in a venue that’s renowned for a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

Mu Mu

Looking for something with a little extra kick this New Year’s Eve? Pay a visit to the ever-popular Mu Mu on Week Street to make the most of five bars and two nightclubs from only £15 per person. Open until the small hours, Mu Mu promises a New Year’s Eve experience you’ll never forget.

Who’d A Thought It

From just £30 per person, the Who’d A Thought It in Maidstone gives you the opportunity to enjoy a champagne reception and canapes, as well as live music from a six-piece soul band. Open from 7pm-3am, there is a whole night of fun to be had this New Year’s Eve.

Auld Lang Syne lyrics

For those with a sense of tradition, we thought it would be helpful to provide lyrics to the seasonal classic, Auld Lang Syne. Written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788, and featuring passages from poems and songs from years earlier, it has become standard for English speakers everywhere to join in a rendition as soon as the clock strikes midnight and shepherds in the New Year.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?


For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.


What are your plans for New Year's Eve in Maidstone this year? Do you have traditions you always follow, or perhaps you're trying something new for 2015? Let us know what you have planned to say farewell to the past 12 months.

About the author

Michael is a member of the marketing team at Visit Maidstone and is an experienced writer. He has a passion for history and cinema, and likes nothing more than combining the two. View more by Michael.

Black Friday 2016 Maidstone

As we edge towards the end of November, one of the year’s biggest events for high-street and digital retailers approaches with it. And no, we’re not talking about Christmas; we’re referring to Black Friday. But what exactly is Black Friday and how does it affect shoppers in the UK and, in particular, in Maidstone? When – and why – does it take place, and who exactly takes part in the Black Friday event? At Visit Maidstone, we wanted to provide you with everything you need to know about Black Friday 2016 in Maidstone.

What is Black Friday?

Originating in the USA, Black Friday is traditionally held the day after the Thanksgiving celebrations, and marks the biggest day of the year for retailers. This is down to the introduction of one-day special offers – often featuring unprecedented levels of savings (think about getting a brand-new HD television for less than £100 – that’s the level of saving that can be achieved!). What’s more, Thanksgiving represents the last holiday before Christmas, with the very next day marking the run-in to the ‘most wonderful time of the year’.

Such has been the popularity of Black Friday in the USA, the tradition is gradually being adopted around the world, with corporations identifying the popularity of the day as a great way to get customers through the door and spending. As such, we can anticipate Black Friday 2016 in the UK to show a huge growth from last year, when crowds at participating stores reached impressive levels.

When is Black Friday?

As noted above, Black Friday traditionally takes place the day after Thanksgiving in the USA. This means that Black Friday 2016 will take part on November 25, 2016. Unlike regular opening hours, stores across the UK and in Maidstone may well take the opportunity to extend their offering, opening earlier than usual. In fact, it’s not unheard of for some stores – and particularly those offering online deals – to start their Black Friday sales at midnight and run for the entire 24-hour period.

Who takes part in Black Friday?

While the phenomenon of Black Friday is still in its infancy here in the UK, more and more retailers are adopting the Black Friday sales opportunities to boost profits and capitalise on the PR potential. Large stores such as Amazon and Argos are already making preparations for the day, while other leading names such as House of Fraser, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and more will undoubtedly continue to adopt the promotion.

There will undoubtedly be notable absentees from the Black Friday 2016 mania, however. 'Shopper fatigue’ is often cited as a reason for withdrawing from the event, with video footage from past events leading to negative publicity which ultimately hurt the reputation of certain companies. So, if you’re planning a shopping trip on November 25 but wish to avoid the crowds, perhaps conduct a quick search for those businesses abstaining from the Black Friday excitement.

You can find out more about shopping in Maidstone on our website today, and discover the range of shops that may well provide you with great Black Friday savings this November.

Planning a visit to Maidstone, whether for a day, a week, or even longer, means being able to carefully plan an itinerary that packs in everything you want to see and do, without missing the key attractions. Of course, one of the most important parts of planning any getaway is being able to find the best places to eat, drink, and have fun.

Across Maidstone, the range of restaurants, cafes, gastropubs, diners, and takeaways covers almost every taste and every budget. From traditional Kentish fare featuring the very best in local produce, to continental and international cuisine to ignite the tastebuds, there is the opportunity to savour a different style of meal on every night of your visit. Whether it’s vegetarian cooking or something that looks like it came straight from the menu of a Masterchef finalist, eating out in Maidstone is a great affair.

But don’t just take our word for it. Get out and about to some of the very best places to eat in Maidstone and leave us details on your favourites below.

Fortify Cafe

Address: 32 High Street, Maidstone, ME14 1JF
Cuisine: Vegetarian/vegan

One of the most popular offerings in all of Maidstone, Fortify Café may well be small in stature, but has a magnificent reputation among diners. It’s not always easy for vegetarians and vegans to find a dining selection as varied as that on offer at Fortify Café and, for those that have a wheat, gluten, or dairy intolerance, it’s harder even still. Home-cooked from fresh, local ingredients, Fortify Café really does provide a dining experience to remember.

The Mulberry Tree

Address: Hermitage Lane, Boughton Monchelsea, Maidstone, ME17 4DA
Cuisine: Contemporary British/European

Set in the village of Boughton Monchelsea on the outskirts of Maidstone, the wonderful Mulberry Tree restaurant offers exceptional cuisine in a delightful location surrounding by Kentish countryside. Having a prestigious, award-winning reputation, the contemporary cuisine fuses modern British and European styles, and makes use of fresh, organic ingredients from local suppliers. Also featuring an extensive wine list – with many offerings from local vineyards – a single meal at the Mulberry Tree will reveal precisely why the restaurant has developed such an illustrious reputation.

Mu Mu

Address: 108-110 Week Street, Maidstone, ME14 1RH
Cuisine: Modern

For something altogether different in your dining experience, a visit to Mu Mu on Week Street provides a sense of theatre to any meal. Imaginative in presentation, unique in style, and adopting a ‘molecular’ approach to the development of dishes, the food served at Mu Mu is as opulent and creative as the surroundings in which you dine. What’s more, the magnificent selection of cocktails to be enjoyed alongside your food ensures that each and every meal served promises to be an experience to remember.

The Bull at Linton

Address: Linton Hill, Linton, Maidstone, ME17 4AW
Cuisine: Traditional

If you value location as highly as you do food, few places offer such a breathtaking setting as the Bull at Linton. The views from the decked garden, gazing out across fields of traditional Kent countryside, and an authentic pub feel in a building that dates back to the 16th century, the Bull at Linton provides time-honoured pub fare that is complemented by a truly magnificent backdrop. From a Sunday carvery to light snacks, a cosy restaurant to bites at the bar, lunch or dinner at the Bull at Linton ensures a taste of Kentish life for all visitors.

Castle View Restaurant

Address: Leeds Castle, Maidstone, ME17 1PL
Cuisine: Traditional

No review of dining opportunities in Maidstone would be complete with mention of the Castle View Restaurant. Offering an exceptional dining experience in full view of the ‘Loveliest Castle in the World’, the restaurant prides itself on enabling the quality of the locally sourced produce used to shine through in every meal prepared. From the tender lamb of the South Downs, to the crisp, fresh vegetables, Kentish ice cream, and local cheeses of the surrounding regions, you can be assured that the only thing more enchanting than the castle views will be the gastronomic delights in front of you.

Do you have a favourite restaurant or place to dine in Maidstone? Perhaps you can help others enjoy a magnificent meal during their time in the region. Let us know your favourite dining experiences in the comments selection below.

About the author

Michael is a member of the marketing team at Visit Maidstone and is an experienced writer. He has a passion for history and cinema, and likes nothing more than combining the two. View more by Michael.

Autumn in the UK may not be renowned for offering fantastic weather but, as the sun shone down on a delightful October morning, hundreds of people – and a number of wagging tails – descended on Mote Park to take part in the RSPCA Big Walkies event. We ourselves had decided to enter our own dog to take part, raising money to support the fantastic work carried out by the Leybourne RSPCA Animal Centre in West Malling. It was a great cause and a great opportunity to stretch our legs and meet with other pet owners from around the local area.

Before I continue, I should probably mention that our dog is a pug. Not just any pug. Arguably the most easily distracted, untrainable and – dare I say it – stupidest pug to walk the Earth. This is an animal that once ate a whole dinner candle, spends her days barking at her reflection in any shiny surface, and has gone headfirst into patio doors on more than one occasion. (Basically, if we were quicker with a video camera, we could be making a fortune from You’ve Been Framed.)

Anyway, here we were, surrounded by dozens upon dozens of better-behaved creatures, each piquing her interest and causing her to bound right, left, and centre. It was going to be an effort to complete the three-kilometre walk, taking in the lake, passing the boat house, and shepherding her away from the ducks and swans. The potential for mayhem was all-too real and all these other dogs were putting us to shame.

Still, we made it to the check-in section nice and early, got the dog dressed in her complementary bandana, and grabbed ourselves a coffee (it was a Sunday morning, lest we forget). It was great seeing so many people from around Maidstone supporting such a worthwhile cause, and we had the chance to meet a range of varied dog breeds… some of which we’d never even seen before. Our own pug, meanwhile, wasn’t shy from introducing herself, despite the reservations of others (see the fear in the eyes below!).

As we made our way around the course, we had the chance to experience the autumnal charm of the park. Talk of the changing hues of nature may often seem fantastical and elaborate, but the spectrum of colours on display really was enchanting. It’s easy to overlook just how fortunate we are to have such a magnificent area to discover in the centre of Maidstone. And, with Mote Park hosting a diverse selection of activities – ranging from the leisure centre to music festivals – there is something for everyone… dogs included.

It did take us far too long to complete the course, mainly due to the dog having to stop and introduce herself to everyone – and I mean everyone – and it didn’t take much for us to fall to the back of the group. That said, we finally crossed the finish line and were handed a rosette and goody bag for the dog (and, as the saying goes, “All we got was this t-shirt”). It was a great day out made all the better by the sunny weather, and we hope that the money raised does much to support the RSPCA in its valuable work.

About the author

Michael is a member of the marketing team at Visit Maidstone and is an experienced writer. He has a passion for history and cinema, and likes nothing more than combining the two. View more by Michael.