Duncan Evans gives a preview of the biggest event in the UK’s militaria calendar at Hop Farm.
If the weather is anything like last year, you’ll need your tropical fatigues and sun hat for the annual festival of militaria and vintage lifestyle at Hop Farm in Kent. You can look forward to a vast array of dealers, the action-filled arena, living history camps with hundreds of pieces of hardware and Trentham Village – the Home Front area. Don’t forget the entertainment and food tents, plus camping, with the fun going on into the night.
There are hundreds of trade stalls – more than at any other event in the UK – selling badges and uniforms, deactivated weapons, ordnance, ephemera, clothing and even vehicles and parts.
The living history camps are your place to see the weapons, uniforms and vehicles belonging to particular divisions or eras of conflict. These are used to recreate scenes from WWI to modern day conflicts. Rolling Thunder is the acclaimed Vietnam War group so expect to see choppers and GIs, or German battlegroups, British soldiers in trenches and modern tanks and artillery. For life on the Home Front and a chance to see some of those vintage fashions in action, check out Trentham Village with its recreation of village shops of the 1940s, demonstrating the social backdrop that the war was fought against.
Throughout the entire week there’s a series of re-enactments and action set pieces at the Arena. Here are some of the things to look forward to. The itinerary wasn’t set at the time of writing but you can look forward to heavy armour, artillery, Land Rovers, American vehicles and armour, Vietnam battle, motorcycle ride out, ambulances, the Wehrmacht, a WWII skirmish as the Allies drive the Germans back, wheeled armour and war in the desert. On the Saturday there is usually a tribute to the fallen, veterans parade and a final big battle.
Other features to look out for are the Victory marquee with day and evening entertainment (camping ticket required), an Author’s Pavilion, where you can hear them speak about latest releases and flyovers from historic aircraft.
Dates: 23-27 July
Location: Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent TN12 6PY
Opening times: 9am-6pm daily
Advance tickets: Adult - £18, with night camping - £38, per day. Children under 16 free with paying adult