As the days grow longer and the sun shines brighter, there’s no better time to explore the rich tapestry of history that South East England has to offer. This vibrant region, steeped in heritage, has a wealth of attractions and events that will transport you back in time, offering unique insights into the lives of those who came before us.
South East England is a treasure trove of historical gems, fascinating stories, and unforgettable experiences. Join us as we delve into a world of medieval castles, Tudor palaces, Roman ruins, and Victorian splendour, uncovering a plethora of captivating events and attractions that await you this spring and summer.
Whether you’re a history buff, a family searching for adventure, or simply curious about the past, our guide will inspire you to embark on a journey through time, right here in the enchanting South East.
And while you’re here, don’t forget to browse our full range of Private Day Tours in South East England.
Historical Events and Activities at Hever Castle
Hever Castle is one of Kent’s most fascinating historical sites. The childhood home of Anne Boleyn, this picturesque castle makes for a wonderful day out. Our Private Hever Castle Tour explores the castle’s Tudor history and connections to King Henry VIII. (We can also cover the site with another historical destination on one of our Tailor-Made Tours of South East England.)
But in addition to being a place of immense historical significance, Hever Castle and its grounds host an array of events throughout the year. As many travellers are making plans for their spring and summer holidays, we thought we’d list some highlights from Hever Castle’s calendar.
◆ Catherine & Anne: Queens, Rivals, Mothers (March 1 – November 10)
Discover the unexpected similarities between Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle’s new exhibition, running from February 8th to November 10th, 2023. For the first time in 500 years, two prayer books belonging to these two queens will be reunited and displayed together.
Additional exhibits include a panel portrait of Catherine of Aragon, replicas of coronation robes and crowns, and more. Admission is included with the Castle entry.
◆ Afternoon Tea at Hever Castle (April 15 – September 24)
Enhance your visit to Hever Castle with a delightful afternoon tea in the Anne Boleyn Wing. Indulge in finger sandwiches, homemade scones with clotted cream and jam, and homemade sausage rolls, all while enjoying the beautiful views of the Castle and its surroundings.
◆ King’s Coronation (May 6 – May 8)
Celebrate the King’s Coronation at Hever Castle. Bring a picnic, enjoy food from the Moat Café, and let your little ones participate in crown or shield decorating workshops. Don’t miss the chance to explore the Catherine & Anne exhibition during your visit.
◆ 19th May 1536 (May 19)
Pay tribute to Anne Boleyn on the anniversary of her execution at Hever Castle, her childhood home. For one day only, visitors can view Anne’s 1527 Book of Hours turned to the page with her heartfelt inscription. This unique opportunity is not to be missed for fans of Tudor history.
◆ Hever’s Home Front 2023 (June 24 – June 25)
Experience life during the Second World War at Hever Castle’s Home Front event. Enjoy swing dancing, live music, vintage stalls, and refreshments. Meet reenactors from the US Army, admire a replica Spitfire, and learn about 1940s rationing with Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine.
◆ Jousting Events – Select Dates 2023 (July 15 – August 28)
Witness the Knights of Royal England compete in the annual Summer Jousting Tournaments at Hever Castle. Join Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the knights in a procession to the jousting arena, and cheer for your favourite knight as they battle for the season’s ultimate championship. Check the jousting leaderboard for updates throughout the season.
◆ Hever in History 2023 (August 26 – August 28)
Explore the rich past of Hever Castle during the August Bank Holiday weekend. Travel through time with encampments and re-enactments spanning from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century.
Stay tuned for more details, and visit Hever Castle’s event page for the latest information.
Historical Events and Activities at Leeds Castle
Often called the loveliest castle in the world on account of its stunning grounds and cinematic architecture, Leeds Castle is a must-see historical site for anyone exploring South East England. We offer a Private Tour to Leeds Castle, and visitors always fall in love with this picturesque site.
Below, we’ve listed some of the castle’s upcoming historical events and activities.
◆ Coronation Garden Party (May 6 – May 8, 2023)
Celebrate the coronation of King Charles III at Leeds Castle, the royal home of seven former queens of England. Enjoy a regal garden party on the Pavilion Lawn with classic games like giant Jenga, croquet, and quoits. Bring a picnic or savour delicious treats from on-site food outlets, all while listening to live music.
Let your children embrace their creativity with a free crown-making workshop and dress-up station. Snap a memorable photo in front of the floral arch to commemorate the coronation weekend. Explore the new Beach at Leeds Castle, visit the Birds of Prey Centre, and learn about the castle’s medieval queens in the “Queen’s With Means” cinematic experience. Immerse yourself in the 1930s Castle and the glamorous history of Lady Baillie’s country house retreat.
This event is included with your admission ticket; book online for the best price.
◆ King Charles III’s Coronation House Party (May 7, 2023)
Celebrate the coronation at King Charles III’s Coronation House Party. Residential guests will enjoy a Pimms in the garden and a delicious afternoon tea buffet in the Maiden’s Tower. Later, all guests can participate in games on the lawn (weather permitting), including classic garden games and unique activities.
The festivities continue with a glass of sparkling wine and a delightful three-course dinner in the Salon, accompanied by live music from the Redfords. Residential guests will retire to their rooms after the party and enjoy a hearty breakfast in the Castle Dining Room the following morning.
- Glass of Pimms in the Maiden’s Tower Garden (residential guests only)
- Afternoon tea buffet in the Maiden’s Tower (residential guests only)
- Glass of sparkling wine
- Lawn games (weather dependent)
- Celebratory dinner in The Salon (drinks with dinner are an additional cost)
- Evening dancing with live band entertainment
- Breakfast for residential guests
- Dinner Package only (excluding accommodation): £145 per person
- Castle State & Maiden’s Tower Bedrooms + Dinner for two: £685 for two guests
- Castle Classic Bedrooms + Dinner for two: £635 for two guests
◆ The Queen’s Joust (May 27-29, 2023)
Experience a thrilling bank holiday weekend with exhilarating displays of combat, elegant equestrian performances, and medieval living and feasting at The Queen’s Joust. Witness the powerful clash of lances, cheer for your favourite knight, and see England and France compete for the coveted cup and the queen’s favour.
In this unique jousting event, the queen’s choice matters most. A knight’s armour and demeanour may be just as important as their skill in combat. The ultimate winner must earn the queen’s approval, regardless of their performance in the joust.
◆ Open Air Cinema: Elvis (July 27, 2023)
Don’t miss Baz Luhrmann’s sensational film “Elvis,” exploring the life and music of the King of Rock N’ Roll. Enjoy glittering outfits, stellar acting, and iconic tunes in this pop-biopic masterpiece. Gates open at 7:30 pm, and the film begins at 9:00 pm. Experience a fantastic evening under the stars at this open-air cinema event.
Historical Events and Activities at Dover Castle
As one of the best-preserved castles in all of England, Dover Castle has a lot to recommend it. Often referred to as the key to England, this 11th-century fortification has played a crucial role in many chapters of English history, from the Napoleonic Wars to WW2.
Those wishing to uncover the mysteries of this captivating location should join us for our Private Tour of Dover Castle – see the Roman lighthouse (one of only two in the world), explore the inside of Dover Castle, and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding countryside.
Below are listed some upcoming events at Dover Castle.
◆ WWII Weekend at Dover Castle (May 27-29, 2023)
Experience the 1940s atmosphere at the WWII Weekend, a bank holiday spectacular at Dover Castle. Witness a thrilling battle between the allied and German forces, featuring pyrotechnics and vintage army vehicles. Enjoy life on the Home Front, visit a 1940s beauty parlour, and let the kids participate in hands-on activities, including the Sergeant’s infamous assault course. The event runs from 10 am to 4 pm and is suitable for all guests.
◆ Medieval Season at Dover Castle (July 22 – Aug 4, Aug 7-25, & Aug 29 – Sep 3, 2023)
Discover medieval life at Dover Castle during the summer holidays with various weekly activities, including jester workshops, archery, storytelling, squire training, and courtly etiquette lessons. Check the Dover Castle Facebook page for weekly activity updates.
The event runs 10 am – 5 pm and is suitable for Children.
◆ Clash of Knights at Dover Castle (August 26-28, 2023)
Witness knights in action as they battle for victory using clubs and shields at this Clash of Knights event. Enjoy the medieval encampment, with food, banners, and music from the Middle Ages. Young aspiring knights can participate in drills and experience the thrill of battle.
Event takes place 10 am – 5 pm and is suitable for guests of all ages.
This ends our list of some of the most exciting historical events in South East England this Spring/Summer season.
The information we have shared is accurate at the time of publication. Please always check the events directly with the venue(s) in case of any changes. Did we leave anything out? Do you have any questions regarding our tours? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.