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What’s on locally this Easter? We know!

Slowly, slowly things are opening up. Here’s where to take the family locally over the holidays for a very welcome change of scene.

Can you see that? It’s the chocolatey hand of Easter, beckoning. Spring colours, burnished displays of marzipan, and children pinging off the walls with sugar. Each year somehow both a joy and a curse, Easter’s hurtling towards us with certain speed. We’ve only just got the kids into school, and they’re about to be turfed right back. 

Enough to drive a woman mad? No, actually: not with our life-saving list of local things to do. Read on for how to engage those lovable rotters in Essex this Easter break. (The best bit: this list includes genuine, real-life, in-person activities. This isn’t a drill. April 12 is a-coming.) 

SOMETHING WITH ANIMALS

When in doubt – head to the zoo! Colchester Zoo is hoping to reopen on 12 Apr and should should keep the little people quiet for the afternoon as they’re transfixed by the 10,000 animals, from red pandas and wallabies to tigers. For smaller creatures, Barleylands Farm Park, near Billericay, is also a goodie with guinea pigs and rabbits to pet, lambs to fees and two outdoor playground areas to tire ’em out. Little ones can also drive a fleet of mini tractors around the farm. Finish the day with a wide-eyed visit to see the birds of prey.

SOMETHING FOR TEENS

We’ve all had enough of being locked indoors, so the brains behind Maldon Escape Rooms (re-opening 17 May) have created a live game to be played online. Teens can choose between six themes including The Supervillain’s Lair and The Dentist (I’ll pass on that one). Younger kids feeling left out? There’s also The Great Cake Caper for ages 6+.

Got a thril-seeker or adrenaline junkie desperate to burn some energy? Theme parks are opening on 12 April (yippee!) if you don’t mind travelling a little further afield to find the fun. For the world’s first 10 – yes 10! – loop rollercoaster (pictured) head to Thorpe Park with tickets starting from £35 (plus overnight accommodation is available if you want to turn it into a weekender).

SOMETHING ON THE WATER

From 29 March, Dedham Vale Boat House will be open for boat hire as well as continuing to offer its takeaway sausage rolls, baked goods, and deli items from the kiosk. It’s a family day-out that writes itself: enjoy the fresh spring air as you float down the River Stour, and throw in a lecture on John Constable (note to gen up on the Wiki page first…) as you pass the mill he made famous. Pause for a bit of nature appreciating, then it’s back up the river for sausage rolls all round.

SOMETHING NATURAL

With winding paths galore for the kids to explore, the 7.5 acres of Beth Chatto’s beautiful gardens are a lovely family day out. Bought in 1960 as desolate wasteland, the land was transformed into five garden rooms with distinct planting schemes the come to life in spring. Fun for the kids, plus inspiration for your patch at home for you. Booking essential.

SOMETHING WITH VIEWS

As spring weather (hopefully) kicks in, this is the perfect time to head out along the Thames Estuary Path and admire the arrival of the season. Read up on the plants you’re likely to see and play flower bingo with the kids: bright-yellow colt’s foot, marsh-marigold, pink-lilac cuckooflower… It’s a great one for teens taking Geography GCSE: fill your boots with meanders, estuary deposition and tidal mud flats galore. Though 29 miles in total, you can easily break the walk up, and don’t have to commit to the whole thing. Grab something to eat from the Stop the World Café in Leigh-on-Sea, and make an afternoon of it.

SOMETHING ACTIVE

Looking for something to tire them out? This should do the trick – Nuclear High Ropes, the biggest highrope treetop challenge in the whole of the county, complete with axe throwing sessions (because, why not?). A two hour highrope slot includes seven courses across three levels and ends in a giant zip wire – all totally Covid secure. Suitable for 6+.

SOMETHING HISTORICAL

Mountfitchet Castle & Museum, the only medieval castle and Norman village reconstructed on its original site in the world reopens to the public on 12 April. Take the kids and step back in time to Domesday England, wandering amongst the amazingly detailed replica buildings. As well as history, there are baby chicks to meet and a wishing tree to hang your dreams on. Kids will love the interactive archery display, and the gruesome torture rack. There’s even a free Easter Egg trail, to top off the whole visit.

SOMETHING EASTER-Y

Is it even Easter without a trip to meet the Easter Bunny? We think not. Open daily from 12 Apr, the Easter Special at Audley End Miniature Railway, in Saffron Walden, lets kids travel on a miniature railway to visit the Easter Bunny. There’s also an Easter-themed trail to wander through and places to sit if you fancy packing a picnic. Elsewhere in Chelmsford, you can catch the Easter Bunny at Marsh Farm from 12-18 April. As well as meeting the big fluffy one, kids can go on an Easter egg hunt, meet some adorable real life rabbits and chicks and do some Easter crafts. Bored of the bunnies? Head to the adventure playground or crazy golf course on site.

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