Kent Big Weekend is on track for a record breaking 10th birthday, as more businesses sign up to offer more tickets and experiences than ever before.

More than 26,000 tickets to have been donated by 115 big and small attractions for the 2016 event, offering Kent residents of all ages the chance to experience different days out for free.

Organised by Visit Kent, Kent Big Weekend sees attractions across the county opening their doors to lucky ticket holders on 12th and 13th March, as part of a county-wide celebration of Kent’s fantastic tourism industry during English Tourism Week.

Last year more than 105,000 people applied for 20,156 free tickets via the Big Weekend website, but this year looks to be the best event yet with thousands more tickets up for grabs from January. And as it is the event’s 10th birthday, some extra special prizes and activities are planned for lucky ticket holders, including a handful of special Golden Tickets hidden at certain attractions over the weekend.

Visit Kent chief executive Sandra Matthews-Marsh MBE said: “We are looking forward to a spectacular birthday party in 2016! More businesses than ever before have signed up to be part of the Big Weekend, and we have an amazing catalogue of tickets, experiences and activities for people to enjoy.

“Every year, we see thousands of people getting out and about in Kent, discovering parts of the county they never knew existed. We want everyone to keep spreading the word about just how much we have to offer, and we have some great ideas to help our ticket holders to get into the spirit of the event in 2016.

“Keep an eye on our website, and make sure you register in January!”

A huge range of activities, courses, and experiences will be available to try on Kent’s biggest weekend of the year. Some of the county’s biggest attractions have signed up to this year’s event, including Port Lympne Reserve and Howletts Wild Animal Park, Canterbury Cathedral, Hever Castle, Leeds Castle, Ashford Designer Outlet, Aylesford Pottery, The Canterbury Tales, Quex Park, Penshurst Place & Gardens, Rochester Castle, Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, Dover Castle, Tonbridge Castle, Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway, Brogdale Collections, Dreamland Margate, Turner Contemporary, The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Buckmore Park Karting Ltd, Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, Lullingstone Roman Villa, several National Trust properties and three vineyards.

More than 4,000 additional tickets have also been donated by attractions to the event’s chosen charity, The Family Holidays Association – double the amount donated last year.

Registration for the fun-filled weekend opens on 19th January, when Kent residents can apply for as many tickets as they like at Two tickets per household will be allocated by ballot to the lucky winners, although some family tickets will be available as well.

Kent Big Weekend was set up to promote Kent’s incredible attractions and sights, and to encourage residents to discover how much there is to see and down in their home county. A 2015 survey showed that around 63% of participants stated that they would visit their allocated attraction again, 76% would recommend the attraction to family and friends, and 84% would visit more places in Kent as a result of Big Weekend.

The event is also part of the national English Tourism Week celebrations, organised by VisitEngland to highlight the importance of tourism as one of the fastest growing sectors in the national economy.