South East Bus Festival

Part of the Heritage Transport Show at Kent Showground

The 2018 South East Bus Festival will take place on Saturday 7th April.

139 buses and coaches attended last year's South East Bus Festival, 77 of which had not been to the six previous events! The organisers are hoping for another great turnout in 2018 and already have 114 vehicles entered.

The annual South East Bus Festival will take place at Kent Showground on Saturday, 7th April 2018

As in previous years, the event will bring together a huge number of buses and coaches, old and new, from across the South East and beyond, and is organised by the same team that has brought you six previous events since 2011.

In 2017 there were 139 buses and coaches on display, around forty of which gave rides around the showground during the course of the day.

Once again, the bus festival will run as part of Kent Showground's Heritage Transport Show with around 700 cars, commercials, tractors and motorbikes on display, ensuring a great day out for people with interests in all types of motor vehicles.

The event will offer the same mix of attractions as in previous years, including a frequent (every five minutes) free bus service around the vast showground site, lots of sales-stands and displays of model buses inside the huge exhibition hall, talks by guest speakers and slide shows.

Arriva is pleased to help publicise the South East Bus Festival and there will be a good turnout of Arriva buses on the showground.

To find out more about what will be happening on the day, or to enter your bus or coach, please see the tabs below.

The gates will open to the public at 10am and the event closes at 4pm.

The showground is located on the A249 at Detling, near Maidstone, Kent.

Keep up to date with Facebook

To keep up to date with news about the South East Bus Festival visit the event's Facebook page.

As well as postings giving useful information, details of vehicle entries are published as they are received, so take a look at the page and 'like' it to receive updates on your wall.

You'll find it at /southeastbusfestival.

For more information about the 2018 South East Bus Festival, please click the tabs below:

It's easy to get to the South East Bus Festival, whether travelling by car or public transport.

By road:
Kent Showground is located alongside the A249 between the M20 (Junction 7) and M2 (Junction 5) motorways, to the east of Maidstone, and has a very large car parking area. Parking is free and there is an area for Blue Badge holders close to the pedestrian entrance from the car park into the event. If you need to park in that area please tell the marshals who will be directing cars through the car park.

The buses giving free rides around the site can be used to get from the main entrance to the vehicle displays, the main exhibition hall and the Heritage Transport Show.

A map of the area will help you plan your journey.

For those using SatNav, the showground's Post Code is ME14 3JF.

By bus:
Arriva runs a half-hourly service from Maidstone town centre (Chequers Bus Station, Stop H4) which stops outside the main entrance to Kent Showground. This is provided by Services 333 (Faversham) and 334 (Sheerness).

From Sittingbourne, Services 333 and 334 towards Maidstone pick up at the rear of the Forum Centre on St. Michael's Road, opposite the rail station.

Service 333 also gives an hourly link to and from Oare, Faversham, Ospringe, Teynham and Bapchild whilst the 334 runs hourly to and from Sheerness, Minster, Halfway, Queenborough Corner and Iwade.

If travelling from outside the Maidstone area you will find that an Arriva South East Day Saver ticket will offer good value for money.

As using the bus service to and from the show involves crossing a very busy dual carriageway for those arriving from the Sittingbourne direction or travelling back to Maidstone, a free shuttle bus will meet all Maidstone-bound Service 333/334 buses so that passengers can get to and from the show safely. They will make the connection at the Roydens Prestige Cars showroom bus stop on the A249 as that is the safest place for the shuttle bus to wait.

If you should miss this stop and get off at the bus stop opposite the showground, please wait for the shuttle bus which will be following the bus you got off and it will pick you up. Please, however, endeavour to make the connection at the Roydens Prestige Cars bus stop so that the shuttle bus doesn't have to make an additional stop on this busy stretch of road and please do not attempt to cross the dual carriageway on foot!

Shuttle buses will leave the showground (just outside the main pedestrian entrance) at 1010 hours and then every thirty minutes at 10 and 40 minutes past each hour until 1640. There will be a final departure at 1710.

Admission to the event costs £10, except that those under 14 years of age are admitted free. To save time on arrival, please have your admission ready for collection or your advance-purchase tickets ready for inspection.

By train:
The nearest rail stations are at Maidstone and Sittingbourne.

Upon arrival at Maidstone East station you will need to take a bus (Arriva Service 155) to Maidstone Bus Station from the bus stop at County Hall, located around the corner from the station entrance or walk down Week Street and along King Street to the bus station (approximately six or seven minutes' walk). When you reach the bus station take Arriva Service 333 or 334 from Stop H4 to the showground. They run half-hourly.

If you arrive at Maidstone West station, take Arriva Services 3, 7, 8, 58, 71 or 72 which run frequently to  Chequers Bus Station. They depart from the bus stop at the bottom of Rocky Hill which is across the road from the station. You can then transfer to the half-hourly Service 333 and 334 buses to the showground.

Train times can be found on Southeastern Railway's website .

For those travelling from the Kent Coast to Sittingbourne you can catch the 333 or 334 from the rear of the Forum Shopping Centre, located across the road from Sittingbourne Rail Station.

A near-normal train service is scheduled to run on Kent mainline and HS1 (to Ashford) services on this date; except that the lines between Slade Green/Crayford and Dartford and between Ashford International and Dover Priory will all be closed with replacement bus services in operation.  This is expected to add 30 to 40 minutes to through journeys between those stations and vice versa.

Because of possible industrial action on Southern Railway, rail passengers from the Brighton, Hastings and Rye areas should check Southern Railway's website before setting out:

For specific rail journey information visit or telephone National Rail Enquiries on 08457 484950.

To save time on arrival at the bus festival, please have your admission monies ready for collection, or your advance purchase admission ticket(s) ready for inspection:  Details of admiission charges can be viewed at

By FREE vintage bus from Canterbury
A free feeder service to the South East Bus Festival using a preserved bus will run from Canterbury Bus Station at 0845 hours and will return from  the event at 1600.  These times must be adhered to and the bus will not wait for latecomers on either journey and no responsibility can be taken in the event of vehicle breakdown etc..

There is no need to book in advance to travel on this service.

The organisers of the service request that the rules of the bus station in Canterbury are adhered to and that people do not trespass on the roadway (e.g. for photographs).  Some photographers still take risks and are reminded that the carriageway in the bus station is narrow and any trespass can pose serious problems for bus and coach drivers negotiating the exit. Thanks are due, as always, to Stagecoach East Kent for kindly allowing the use of their bus station.


By FREE vintage bus from Ashford:
A free vintage bus service will run from Ashford to the South East Bus Festival, returning after the event.

The outward journey runs from Ashford International station (domestic side) at 0925 hrs, connecting with the 0732 hrs “Marshlink” train from Brighton via Eastbourne and Hastings and the 0837 hrs HS1 train from London St. Pancras International. It will run via the A20 to Bearsted and Weavering Heath/Nottcuts to the showground, picking up at all recognised bus stops on line of route (a raised-arm signal to the driver in good time is essential, please).

The return journey will leave the showground at Detling at 1600 hrs and will run to Ashford International station (estimated arrival at 1720 hrs) via the A249 (northbound), A2, Sittingbourne Station, the A2 Faversham (top of The Mall) and the A251 to Ashford, setting-down at all recognised bus stops on line of route.  Connections are expected to be made at Ashford with the 1733 hrs “Marshlink” train to Brighton and the 1743hrs HS1  to St. Pancras International.

Note the different outward and return routes due to it being quicker to return via Sittingbourne as a result of the nature of the A249 dual carriageway.

Ideally, seats should be reserved on these free services (please state whether booking outward and/or return journey(s)) by emailing David Ferguson at [email protected] Please make sure you include a mobile phone contact number in your email.

By Go-Ahead London Service 36X from London

Go-Ahead London will run a bus from London Victoria direct to the South East Bus Festival and back again afterwards.

They will use Routemaster RM9 and the service will run as 36X, starting at Victoria Station (Stop U) and then picking up at Oval, Camberwell, Peckham, New Cross, Lewisham, Lee Green and Elthm Road.

The bus will return from the showground at 1610 hours and you can see the timetable and fares here.

The 2018 South East Bus Festival will take place on Saturday 7th April, between 10am and 4pm. Put it in your diary!