Just under an hour from London by train lies Royal Tunbridge Wells, a historic spa town which offers the best of Kentish town and the South East. The town centre was built in the 17th century after Dudley, Lord North, discovered a chalybeate spring which saw the town later become a spa retreat for the wealthy. Today, the town is a bustling destination with some of the most charming and ornate Georgian architecture in the UK.

If you’re visiting the town this Summer, our guide to what’s on in Tunbridge Wells will tell you everything you need to know.

 

EXPLORE THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Nestled amongst some of the most beautiful countryside in England, Tunbridge Wells is a haven for anyone who enjoys exploring in nature. During the Summer months, there are plenty of events which bring the surrounding areas to life.

One such place is Penshurst Place & Gardens, a stunning stately home with 11 acres of gardens and which was once the home of Henry VIII. The 14th century, medieval house is just a 15-minute drive north west of the town and plays host to an array of events throughout the Summer, including the Penshurst Village Summer Fête, a gin tasting evening and a parkland colour run, plus there’s plenty more for the kids to enjoy.

 

To the south east of the town lies Pashley Manor Gardens. Pashley Manor is a Tudor house which was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, with 11 acres of stunning gardens. Although the house is not open to the general public, there are a number of events which take place throughout the Summer celebrating the seasonal bloom, including the Tulip Festival in May, Rose Week in June and Dahlia Days in September.

If you’re looking for somewhere closer to the centre of town, Dunorland Park, a beautifully landscaped Victorian park with a six-acre boating lake, is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic or simply go for a stroll.

SHOPPING AND THE FARMERS MARKET

There a number of shopping destinations in and around Tunbridge Wells which, due to their unique charm, are hugely popular amongst both locals and those visiting the town.

The old High Street and nearby Chapel Place are central to the town and include an array of independent shops and high street names selling things from high-end fashion to interiors. Situated in the centre of town is Hoopers, Tunbridge Wells’ very own department store, filled with high-quality brands such as Olsen and Gant. If you’re in need of a breather after a few hours of retail therapy, there’s also a variety of independently owned cafes and delis located on and around High Street.

For more high street names, including Hobbs and l’Occitane, we recommend checking out Royal Victoria Place, a shopping centre in the centre of town.

However, when it comes to shopping experiences in Tunbridge Wells, we think there’s no place better than the Pantiles – a beautiful Georgian colonnaded walkway, serving as the centre for shopping, eating, drinking and entertainment in the borough. The ornate storefronts on this street once housed a variety of trades including apothecary and shoemaking, and now contains a plethora of independent shops and galleries. Cafes and delis located here often spill out onto the tree-lined street make it the perfect place to refresh al fresco after an afternoon of shopping.

However, it’s not just high-end shopping and independent boutiques on show at Tunbridge Wells, as there a variety of markets which trade throughout the year. On the first and third weekend of the month, you can visit the Pantiles Market, with hot food and local, seasonal produce, and on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, you’ll find the Tunbridge Wells Farmers’ Market near Camden and Victoria Road.

THEATRES, GALLERIES AND MUSEUMS

Tunbridge Wells punches well above its weight when it comes to cultural events and attractions. The Trinity Theatre & Arts Centre is a vibrant arts venue in the centre of town showcasing a diverse range of drama, music, dance, film and comedy.

There are also plenty of galleries showcasing works from local, national and international artists, including the Fairfax Gallery, the Spa Galleries and the Artique Galleries.

This Summer, there are a number of theatre events taking place, including Festival Theatre at Hever Castle. Set against the backdrop of a stunning 13th century castle – another childhood home of Anne Boleyn – this festival runs from May to the August bank holiday, where you can expect comedy musicals, jazz, soul and opera.

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Scotney Castle will also be hosting a Summer of outdoor theatre with five outdoor productions taking place across the Summer months, including Midsummer Night’s Dream and Pride & Prejudice.

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FOOD, DRINK AND LIVE MUSIC

The surrounding Kent countryside has experienced a boom of late in that local vineyards have ballooned in popularity in recent years. It has been said that the Wealden soil is similar to that in the champagne region of France and as such winemaking is increasingly popular in the area. Wine tours and tastings are available a number of vineyards, including Sandhurst and Biddenden Vineyards, as well as Chapel Down and Hush Heath wineries.

If you’re more of a foodie than a wine connoisseur, then the Rosemary Shrager Cookery School is the perfect place to spend a day. Located on the Pantiles and with over 40 courses catering to all cooking levels, you can learn a variety of cooking styles from baking to barbeque.

If you’d prefer to enjoy a relaxing drink with some live music, then there are plenty of options in Tunbridge Wells. From May until the end of September runs Jazz on the Pantiles, an annual jazz music event taking place at the bandstand which lies in the heart of this charming area. From Cuban to Swing, there’s a wide range of jazz music on show, packing out the street as locals and visitors flock to nearby bars and restaurants to enjoy the atmosphere.

There are also a variety of festivals in the area this Summer, including Unfest, a free music festival celebrating underground musical acts and local art, which runs from 23rd to 27th May, and Pub in the Park, a gourmet food and music festival running from 12th to 14th July, and the Royal Tunbridge Wells Food & Drink Festival on 22nd & 23rd September.

You certainly won’t be stuck for things to do in Tunbridge Wells this Summer. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay during your visit, Hotel du Vin is located right in the centre of town, close to the Pantiles. With stylish rooms, a fabulous French-style restaurant and heritage bar serving fine wines and well-refined cocktails, Hotel du Vin is more than a hotel. Why not book your stay today?


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