11 great things to do in Essex in April

Hyde Hall Garden is now open! Hill Top Building viewed from the Dry Garden at

The new Hill Top Building viewed from the Dry Garden at Hyde Hall - Credit: RHS / Tim Sandall

As we journey along the roadmap out of lockdown and local attractions start to open up, Essex Life picks out some of the best things to do in the county of this month

1. Farmers’ & Craft Market at Hylands Estate 
18 April 

Hylands House Farmers’ & Craft Market will be starting 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. 
London Road, Writtle, Chelmsford CM2 8WQ; hylandsestate.co.uk 

2. Colchester Zoo 

Colchester Zoo - home to 200 species from Komodo Dragons to white rhino, giraffes and zebra - is back! New guidance is in place to help keep everybody space, including limited capacity (book ahead), face masks required in indoor areas, orange signs to warn of high traffic areas, and reminders to wash or santise your hands regularly. Keeper talks are also on hold for now and a small number of indoor areas are closed off. Admission prices vary. 
Maldon Road, Heckfordbridge, Colchester CO3 0SL; colchester-zoo.com 

3. RHS Garden at Hyde Hall, Chelmsford
The RHS Garden at Hyde Hall has reopened. The Woodland Garden looks best in spring when it is filled with pink, red, mauve and white camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons. The upper woodlands are also filled with daffodils, violets, bluebells and wild primroses. Head for the Hilltop Garden, too, for colourful island beds and mature shrubs mixed with perennials and grasses. Pre-booking required for the gardens, but not the Garden Centre. 10am-6pm daily. Kids from £6.10, adults from £12.15.
Creephedge Lane, Chelmsford CM3 8ET; rhs.org.uk

Spring colour in bloom at RHS Hyde Hall in Essex

Spring colour in bloom at RHS Hyde Hall - Credit: RHS / Georgi Mabee

4. Bridge End Gardens 
Throughout April  

Enjoy the spring season at Bridge End Gardens. 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.
17-22 Castle Street, Saffron Walden CB10 1BE; visitsaffronwalden.gov.uk

5. The Gibberd Garden 
Until September 

Visiting a garden can give your wellbeing a helpful refresh and The Gibberd Garden is a great spot to do just that. Now open Wednesdays and Sundays from 2pm-5pm until September. 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.  
Marsh Lane, Harlow CM17 0NA; thegibberdgarden.co.uk 

6. Audley End Miniature Railway Easter Special  
12-25 April 

Easter is a long runner at Audley End Miniature Railway, which 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. Pre-booking is required. 
Saffron Walden CB11 4JB; audley-end-railway.co.uk 

7. Late Easter Festival at Old MacDonald's Farm & Fun Park 
12-18 April & 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. Booking is essential. 
Weald Road, Brentwood CM14 5AY; omdfarm.co.uk 

8. English Heritage Easter Adventure Quests, Audley End 
Until 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 

9. 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. 
Parsonage Farm, Ongar Road, Kelvedon Hatch, Brentwood CM15 0LA; wild-forest.co.uk

10. Spring days at Barleylands Farm Park  
12-30 April 

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 to 5pm. Prices vary and tickets must be pre-booked.  
Barleylands Road, Billericay CM11 2UD; barleylands.co.uk  

11. Redwings Online Fun 
Throughout April 

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.



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