25 ideas for children's parties in Kent
PUBLISHED: 10:04 06 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:04 06 March 2018
Do something different this year and make your child's special celebration the talk of the playground. From cupcake making in Cranbrook to survival skills in Ashford, these party ideas are guaranteed to make memories that will last a lifetime
1. Chocolate making
Head to Tunbridge Wells for a party perfect for chocolate lovers. Suitable for children aged four and over, these events are held in Temper Temper’s chocolate workshop and last two hours, with age-appropriate activities including making chocolate teddy bears and Florentines and even creating a chocolate basket to carry the goodies home in. They provide drinks and snacks and, best of all, there’s a big bag of chocolate treats for each child to take home, so there’s no need for party bags.
2. Country sports
Popular with both boys and girls, country sports like archery and falconry are available at several venues across Kent. Aimed mainly at older children, these are ideal for those with a love of the outdoors. Joe’s Bows, based near Faversham, provide a mobile party service, either bringing their experiences to a venue near you or to Shorne Woods Country Park, with whom they work in conjunction. As well as field target parties, they can arrange owl-encounter experiences.
3. Get baking
Another established favourite, baking parties can involve anything from cupcakes and cookies to pizza. Venues across Kent offer these options, with Bake and Crafthouse in Cranbrook being one of our favourites. Based in a converted brewery, they offer two-hour children’s parties and a variety of packages to choose from. The guests get to take their tasty treats home with them as well as pick up a taste for cookery.
4. Pottery painting
Mudpie in Sandgate, near Folkestone, is just one of many venues offering pottery painting parties across the county. A popular choice for creative children aged five and upwards, each guest chooses a plain piece of pottery and decorates it while enjoying a special celebration tea. At the end of the event the pieces are left for firing and can usually be picked up within a week. Or get even messier with a clay modelling party.
5. Pop star recording
Turn each one of your guests into a pop star for the day with one of these popular recording parties. There are dozens of venues offering this service, like Right Track Music in Ashford. This music shop provides a recording studio for a small party of up to five children and lays on professional backing tracks for up to three songs. Each child gets a CD of their performances to take home and treasure.
6. Den building
For outdoorsy children, nothing can beat den building in the woods. Several of Kent County Council’s country parks offer ranger-led parties with activities like mini beast safaris, geocaching and den building. Parties can be held year-round, in any weather, and are available at Shorne Woods near Gravesend, Manor Park in West Malling, Lullingstone Country Park, Trosley Country Park in Vigo Village and Brockhill Country Park near Hythe.
7. Scalextric racing
Who doesn’t like racing Scalextric? At Chequered Flag in Gillingham, groups of children aged four and over can race cars at Kent’s biggest multi-lane Scalextric track. With gradual power settings to suit all abilities and a promise that their cars rarely crash, the fun begins with the starting lights and ends with a trophy presentation on a podium.
8. Ski slope
For something really unusual, Chatham Ski Centre in Gillingham is one of only a handful of dry ski slopes in the south east. Skiing and snowboarding are available but most of the party packages include snow tubing - where children slide down the slope on a big rubber ring - or tobogganing. The centre has what’s thought to be the longest toboggan track in the UK. There’s food on hand too, with a choice of menus for younger or older groups of children.
9. Bouncy fun
A huge number of trampoline centres have opened in Kent over the last few years so there is bound to be one near you. Centres like Jump In in Tonbridge offer all you need to throw a bouncing party, including the party food. Activities range from time loose on the trampolines to party games like dodgeball and there are a range of themes available.
10. Survival skills
At their ancient woodland site in Westwell, near Ashford, Jack Raven Bushcraft are one of a handful of providers offering bushcraft parties in the county. The fun experience days can include learning survival skills like fire lighting, carving, bow making and animal tracking, the schedule is flexible and food is provided in the form sausages and marshmallows cooked over a fire by the children themselves.
11. Go karting
Buckmore Park in Chatham runs karting parties for children aged between four and fifteen, with a range of cars and circuits to suit each age range. Safety wear is provided and a series of fun, timed races take place after some instruction. Parties include a dedicated host, a trophy for the birthday girl or boy, medals for the guests and an optional meal package.
12. Pony riding
Pony parties are an old favourite and are available at most local riding stables. But at Callum Park in Sittingbourne they are taken to a whole new level. Children aged four and over can join in and there are packages to suit different budgets, all with riding time and rosettes for the participants. No experience is necessary and the centre’s indoor riding complex means the weather can’t ruin the day.
13. Muddy cycling
Quench, who run the cycling centre at Bedgebury Pinetum, offer fun cycling parties exploring the forest’s off-road mountain bike trails. Professional guides assess the skill level of the party guests and tailor the route to suit, tackling bumps, bridges and the occasional jump. Suitable for children eight and over, the weather never stops play - in fact the wetter and muddier the better.
14. Roller skating
Roller skating is all the rage again so get your skates on and head to Dreamland in Margate, which offers children’s parties at its fabulous retro roller disco. Their decorated party booths cater for between six and eight children, and food is available from the Roller Diner. If that’s not enough for the children, there’s always the option of a few fairground rides afterward or time in the amusement arcade.
15. Pirate ship
The Historic Dockyard in Chatham offers pirate parties on board the magnificent Victorian naval sloop, HMS Gannet. The fun begins with the celebrating child being named First Mate and raising the Jolly Roger, then the two-hour party includes games, activities and songs - with your very own pirate to host the occasion. The experience is topped off with a picnic in the captain’s cabin.
16. History hunt
Many of our county’s museums run children’s parties. Maidstone Museum, for example, caters for children aged between four and 11, offering a range of themes inspired by the museum’s collections - including dinosaurs and ancient Egyptians. Guests will be treated to themed activities, a treasure hunt around the museum and an optional party feast. www.museum.maidstone.gov.uk
17. Make a bear
Building teddy bears is a popular party choice for smaller children’s parties and there are plenty of venues offering this option, like Ellie and Mellie in Burmarsh. The children choose their bears, stuff them, dress them and name them, and best of all each guest gets to take their creation home with them forever.
18. Dig it
There’s nowhere quite like Diggerland. At this theme park in Strood, children get to grips with construction machinery including diggers and dump trucks. Parties involve two hours of driving and operating time and the party food is all laid on. After the celebration, guests are welcome to go back into the park for more fun.
19. Get cooking
It’s something offered by providers all over Kent but the great thing about cookery parties is that they’re often mobile and come to a venue of your choice, like a local village hall. Based in Horsmonden, Cookies Kitchen offers either a two-hour cooking party for children over five or a three-hour dinner party option for children over 12. Older children will love making a three-course meal themselves and sitting down at the end to share it with friends.
20. Painless paintballing
Adult paintballing can get pretty rough so go for a child-friendly option like RW Paintball in Canterbury and Longfield. Suitable for children between eight and 11, their low impact paintball games are a series of missions set across several woodland zones. No impact laser tag parties are also available for children eight years and over.
21. Animal encounters
Parties where children can get hands on with animals are always popular and most of our county’s zoos and farm attractions offer them. While younger children might be happier feeding farm animals, Port Lympne and Howletts Wild Animal Parks offer top of the range junior ranger experiences for small groups of older children. It’s not exactly a party but it’s an incredible treat for a group of young animal lovers.
22. Go bowling
It’s been a family favourite for decades and a bowling party always guarantees lots of fun. There are bowling centres like MFA Bowling in Whitstable all over the county. Here you can choose from two packages, one suitable for under-12s or one for youngsters under 17. All include a game and a choice of meals.
23. Pool party
Another tried and tested favourite is a pool party, with almost all our local swimming pools offering them. Larkfield Leisure Centre is a popular choice, with a range of options including private hire of the pool and hire of a giant inflatable with water toys. After the children have dried off, there’s a choice of hot or cold party food. www.larkfieldleisure.co.uk
24. Party bus
If all else fails and you want a party brought to your door, you could hire a party bus. There are several available in Kent, with most aimed at very small children and featuring a soft play area. But for older children, there’s a bus that will bring a video gaming party to you. Games On Wheels, based in Canterbury, can host gaming parties for up to 16 players and offer more than 20 interactive multi-player games.
25. Tree climbing
Go! Ape has two venues in Kent - at Bedgebury Pinetum and at Leeds Castle - where youngsters can celebrate with a treetop adventure. Suitable for children between four and 12 years old, there’s a safety briefing before the kids are let loose for an hour exploring the canopy of the trees, followed by an optional hour in a forest shelter where parents can provide a picnic.