Keep the kids sweet without a bottomless supply of chocolate with these fantastic fun-filled ideas for everyone.
Easter (Friday 25th to Monday 28th March 2016) is made for children, and with bunnies, egg hunts and loads of events taking place throughout Essex, there’s plenty to see and do.
Go wild in the country at Lee Valley Regional Park’s Easter Country Fair (Sunday 27th to Monday 28th March). This two-day event features medieval jousting and swordplay displays, birds of prey flying demonstrations, stalls selling arts and crafts, plus a Goat Show. This is your chance to bottle feed cuddly lambs and kids.
Make a weekend of it and camp at Lee Valley Caravan Park, Dobbs Weir. From there you can explore the rest of Lee Valley and for the intrepid, try your hand at white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking at the nearby watersports centre that featured in the 2012 London Olympics. For more information click on www.visitleevalley.org.uk
Lovers of Essex’s great outdoors will also love Hanningfield Reservoir. The surrounding woodland plays host to an abundance of fascinating flora and fauna, with none cuter than its population of native British owls.
Nigel King of the Imperial Bird of Prey Academy will be sharing his expertise and wealth of knowledge during his captivating Owl Evening (30th March). Nigel has a reputation for sparking people’s enthusiasm and interest in wildlife and this interactive event will give visitors a chance to get up close and personal with these magnificent birds. Booking is essential, so visit www.essexwt.org.uk/reserves/hanningfield-reservoir, or call 01268 711 001.
Over at the world famous Beth Chatto Gardens in Elmstead Market, little ones can take part in a traditional Easter egg hunt (Friday 25th March to Sunday 10th April). There’s a reward for bold explorers who complete the challenge. Children go from just £1.50 each on the day but are free if you book online. Adult tickets are priced at £6.95 per person. More information about this and other events throughout the year can be found at www.bethchatto.co.uk/events, or by calling 01206 822 007.
Southend’s historic Belfairs Woods is a hive of activity most days, but on Good Friday there’s extra fun and adventures to be had. Starting out from the award-winning woodland centre Forest Friday is an event for little ones aged eight or under. Packed with stories, crafts and activities with an Easter theme, this is a great opportunity to let the kids go wild in the country. Spaces are bound to be snapped up quickly, so do book in advance by calling 01702 477 467.
Picturing the Victorians (Wednesday 30th March) at the Holly Trees Museum, located in Castle Park, Colchester, has to be one of the most unusual events happening during the holiday. In a rare and truly hands-on experience, visitors can handle some of the earliest cameras and learn how they worked. There’s also a display of photographs by Colchester’s pioneering 19th century photographers. You can also dress up and have your portrait taken by the museum’s resident Victorian Photographer. Sessions run at 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2pm and 3pm. Book via 01206 282 941.www.cimuseums.org.uk
Located in the heart of beautiful Constable Country, Dedham Vale Vineyard’s Easter Egg Hunt (Friday 25th March) will keep the children happily entertained, whilst the grown-ups sniff out something delicious themselves. Of course, no visit is complete without taking a bottle or two of Dedham Vale’s award winning wines home with you. For more details click on www.dedhamvalevineyard.com
It almost goes without saying that springtime and Easter are synonymous with new life, so where better to celebrate the festivities than down on the farm? Join in ‘egg-stra’ activities at Barleylands, including lamb bottle feeding, biscuit decorating, an Easter Egg Hunt hosted by the Easter Bunny, and meet babies galore from cute chicks, piglets, and bunnies to snakes and lizards in the huge Reptile House! You Chelmsford City Racecoursemight be lucky enough to see lambs being born too! More at www.barleylands.co.uk.
For those whom find the prospect of a mere chocolate egg not quite enough to stiffen the sinews and quicken the blood, there’s always the thrill of a race. Coral Romford Greyhound Stadium is holding a meeting on Easter Bank Holiday Monday, while Chelmsford City Racecourse is hosting an evening race meeting on Thursday 31st March.