24 things to do in Essex this Easter
- Credit: Audley End Miniature Railway
From new things to try at home to secret gardens to explore, Essex Life picks 24 of the best things to do in our glorious county this Easter
1. Marks Hall Easter Family Trail
27 March to 11 April
Marks Hall is setting you a challenge, so are you up for it? Can you find all 50 wooden Easter egg clues in the arboretum? See the estate in full spring bloom as you try and complete the family trail and collect your delicious treat. Your visit to Marks Hall helps this charity pay for careful management of the arboretum, gardens, woodland walks, and species conservation programmes to ensure a more sustainable future for all. Admission: Prices vary.
Marks Hall Estate, Coggeshall, Colchester CO6 1TG; markshall.org.uk
2. Warley Place Spring Bulb Spectacular
20 March to 5 April
Spring has arrived at Essex Wildlife Trust’s Warley Place and there is something special to enjoy. With daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses, this a great place to escape into nature and get lost within the beauty. There will be volunteers on-site to answer any questions you may have about Ellen Willmott’s historic garden, its unusual plants, trees and the building’s remains. From 10.30am. Admission: Free entry, but donations are welcome.
Warley Place, 9 Dark Lane, Great Warley, Brentwood CM14 5LN; essexwt.org.uk
3. Haven House's Chasing Bunnies 10K
27 to 28 March
Move your body this Easter for Haven House Children’s Hospice, which provides care and support for children and young people who suffer from life-limiting or life-threatening conditions. This is a great opportunity to raise vital funds for such a good cause while having fun. It is open to all ages, so the whole family can do it together. 8am to 8pm. Admission: £15 per person, includes bunny ears and a medal.
4. Spring at Bridge End Gardens
March & April
Enjoy the spring season at Bridge End Gardens over the Easter holidays and observe beauty at its finest. It is open every day, but during Covid restrictions, The Victorian hedge maze and adjacent walled garden within Bridge End Garden will remain closed to the public; all other areas will be open to explore. It’s the perfect excuse to stretch your legs. Admission: Free.
Bridge End Gardens, 17-22 Castle Street, Saffron Walden CB10 1BE; visitsaffronwalden.gov.uk
5. LEAF Open Farm Sunday
Many of us are counting down the days until we can have fun days at the farm. LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) organisers of the farming industry’s annual open day, LEAF Open Farm Sunday, will be hosting a series of exciting virtual farm visits online. While awaiting clarity on Covid regulations on public gatherings and events, this is a great chance to get the farm experience you have missed. The series of virtual farm visits online is designed to extend the opportunities for more people to connect with farming throughout the year.
6. Essex Wildlife Trust School Holiday Drop-Off Days
30 March-9 April
Essex Wildlife Trust is offering drop-off days for children five upwards in small, isolated groups with social distancing led by an experienced education officer. Your little ones will make shelters, climb trees and make natural crafts within the trust’s beautiful reserves, including The Naze, Belfairs Forest School and Abbotts Hall Farm. Each session aims to build confidence, enhance self-esteem and develop the social skills of your children. Pre-booking is essential.
7. Ferringbury Manor Gardens Open Day
Keep your eyes peeled this Easter break as there are many garden openings across the county, including at Ferringbury Manor. What better way to spend a beautiful afternoon in a peaceful 10-acre garden among the River Blackwater and ponds. The gardens will be open every Thursday and Friday throughout April, so expect to see stunning tulips and other brightly attractive plants. 10am to 4pm. Admission: £5 per adult and children free.
Ferringbury Manor, Coggeshall Road, Feering CO5 9RB; ngs.org.uk
8. Explore Beth Chatto Gardens
Wander and get lost in the beautiful, award-winning gardens of Beth Chatto Gardens this Easter weekend. For those who didn’t know, these world-renowned gardens were once transformed from desolate wasteland and are now a series of stunning gardens, providing a great place to embrace peace and enjoy the tranquil surroundings alone or with a loved one. The majority of the internationally-famous gardens are open throughout the spring season. From 10am. Admission: Prices vary and pre-booking is advised.
Elmstead Market, Clacton Road, Colchester CO7 7DB; bethchatto.co.uk
9. Coastal Foraging on the Essex coast
London Wild Fruits is offering something very special this Easter Weekend. Join a foraging expert for a walk along the Essex coast, looking at the many edible plants that grow here. Explore the paradise of the coastal zone with extensive areas left undisturbed by development and a big range of coastal edible plants. 10.30am to 3.30pm. Admission: £37 (all walks will be maximum 6 participants until after 12th April).
Benfleet, Southend SS7 1NET; eventbrite.com/e/coastal-foraging
10. Woodland Easter hunt at Hedingham Castle
This Easter, Hedingham Castle is doing all that it can to make sure you and your children have fun, but remain safe too. Enjoy an exciting, Covid-secure woodland Easter hunt with a delicious prize of a chocolate egg at the end. The café will be open for light refreshments and Easter-themed cakes/bakes. 11am to 4pm. Admission: Prices vary with timed-entry tickets, available every 30 mins. Free on-site parking and dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead.
Hedingham Castle, Castle Hedingham, Halstead CO9 3DJ; hedinghamcastle.co.uk
11. Braintree Easter Themed Scarecrow Trail
This Easter holiday get your trail map and follow the Scarecrow Trail around Kings Park and Marks Farm Estate, with an exciting prize at the end. While having fun it is a great opportunity to raise funds for the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity. Times vary. Admission: Donations welcome .
12. Visit The Gibberd Garden
Visiting a garden can give your well-being a helpful refresh and The Gibberd Garden is a great example offering just that. This beautiful garden was a creation by Sir Frederick Gibberd, and for those who are not familiar with him, he had a major influence on the development of Harlow New Town. This Easter the garden is welcoming people to enjoy the stunning plants, trees and sculptures. 2pm to 5pm. Admission: Subject to booking for cars and Covid-19 restrictions in effect until April 12.
Marsh Lane, Harlow CM17 0NA; thegibberdgarden.co.uk
13. Audley End Miniature Railway Easter Trail
Looking for something fun for the Easter Holidays? Audley End Miniature Railway is hosting an array of entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. Your day will begin on the train, venturing deep into the woods to visit the Easter Bunny and his other furry friends. Once you return from your adventure, grab your activity booklet and wander into the magical Easter Trail to try and spot all of the animals, eggs and nests. Admission: Pre-booking is required.
Audley End Miniature Railway, Saffron Walden CB11 4JB; audley-end-railway.co.uk
14. Late Easter Festival at Old MacDonald's Farm & Fun Park
12-18 & 24-25 April
Nothing will stop the team at the Farm and Fun Park making sure all its visitors have as much Easter fun as possible this year. What can you expect? There will be an Easter egg hunt, magic and puppet shows, baby animal encounters, circus workshops, and much more. Plus, check out what days you can see the amazing meet and greets, including the chance to say hello to Peter Rabbit. Admission: Early booking discounts and booking is essential before the visit.
Weald Road, Brentwood CM14 5AY; omdfarm.co.uk
15. Easter at Barleylands Farm Park
To celebrate the re-opening on April 12, Barleylands Farm Park will be hosting a variety of Easter activities full of exhilarating fun for all. Come and join the Farm to see all its new spring life, including adorable baby chicks, bunnies, ducklings, lambs and kid goats. It is a great way to spend some special family time while feeding and holding the farm’s baby animals. 10am-5pm. Admission: Prices vary and tickets must be pre-booked.
Barleylands Farm Park, Barleylands Road, Billericay CM11 2UD; barleylands.co.uk
16. Hylands House Farmers’ & Craft Market
Hylands House Farmers’ & Craft Market starts up again this month and will have an excellent array of market stalls for you to explore. They will be offering handmade goods and delicious treats that have been grown, brewed, baked or crafted by a range of independent stallholders. From 10am.
Hylands Estate, London Road, Writtle, Chelmsford CM2 8WQ; hylandsestate.co.uk
17. English Heritage Easter Adventure Quests, Audley End
29 March-18 April
English Heritage sites are slowly reopening, and of their 60 sites nationwide, 24 are hosting outdoor Easter Adventure Quests - but visitors are being asked to keep it local. In Essex, Audley End House and Gardens in Saffron Walden has confirmed it will host the Covid-secure Easter hunts. The outdoor trails will have clues to help children search for dragon eggs in order to win a chocolate reward. £1.50 per child plus the normal admission price.
Off London Road, Saffron Walden, CB11 4JF; english-heritage.org.uk
18. Wild Forest's Easter Obstacle Run, Brentwood
From 29 March
For those looking to burn off their Easter eggs rather than eat any more, check out Wild Forest's Easter Obstacle Run. You can run, jog or walk the 2K route and climb 20 obstacles at the award-winning Nuclear Races Obstacle Course, as fast or slow as you like. The event starts from 29 March 2021 and costs £22pp. Plus, each bubble will be allocated a firepit to enjoy hot chocolate and toast marshmallows (supply your own) at the end of the course. There's also an easier version for kids aged 6+ priced £16.
19. Explore Essex's Virtual Easter Egg Hunt
Explore Essex, unable to host its Chocolate Festival this year, however, has created a Virtual Easter Egg Hunt. Hop over to the EE website for a colouring and design template to create your own egg and then pop it in your window ready to be spotted by families during their daily exercise outing. Alternatively, use chalks to draw an Easter egg on your driveway, or get creative with seasonal installations in your window or front garden. Take a photo and upload it to @exploressex on Facebook to be part of the conversation.
20. Bring on the Bollywood
26 March to 6 April
Are you thinking about what to watch this Easter? The Mercury Theatre is offering a lovely opportunity to stream a free digital recording of the Bollywood dance-theatre extravaganza that toured nationally in 2017. Bring on the Bollywood, brings a festival of colour and Bollywood magic. Mercury Theatre states, ‘be inspired by classic Indian cinema and revel in the shared dramatic heritage between the UK and India, as well as contemporary British-Asian influences.’ 10am. Admission: Free.
21. Virtual Easter Egg Hunt Competition
Until 4 April
Award-winning Essex and London-based Vie Aesthetics has organised an exciting virtual Easter Egg Hunt with 12 luxurious prizes to be won. The exclusive prizes include pampering facials, memberships, Vie Aesthetics vouchers and the ultimate Easter Hamper worth £200. To take part, visit Vie Aesthetics virtual garden (website) and find the 12 eggs the Easter Bunny has placed. Winners will be announced on Easter Monday. Admission: Free.
22. Colchester Zoo's at-home activities
Looking for fun and games to enjoy at home? Colchester Zoo has lots of entertainment for you to get stuck into, including Colchester Zoo Top Trumps, Colchester Zoo Monopoly and the Colour My Zoo colouring book with French vocabulary. Unfortunately, the zoo will not be open during the Easter break but these zoo products are a great way to support the zoo during this uncertain time, and it helps towards the care of the animals.
23. Redwings Online Fun
Want new ways to keep the children entertained at home? Redwings, the largest horse sanctuary in the UK, has launched its Young Reds At Home Academy, which provides free downloadable activities for young children, including quizzes, games, colouring sheets and even videos, all about the horses and donkeys and how they take care of them. The Redwings Ada Cole in Roydon look forward to seeing you soon! Donation welcome.
24. Church at Home
From 28 March
Chelmsford Cathedral is hosting special services on Holy Week and Easter so you can join them online. It states, ‘In response to both government guidance and our desire to exercise our responsibility in the community in the best way possible, we have made the decision to move all our worship online. But if circumstances do change it could be delivered in the Cathedral building with people gathering.’