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The best things to do with kids this Easter – in London and around the UK

The Easter bunny will be popping up across the UK for fun hunts and trails  (Castle Square)
The Easter bunny will be popping up across the UK for fun hunts and trails (Castle Square)

With most schools closing for at least two weeks over Easter, it’s a good opportunity to visit somewhere new in the UK.

Days out can be just as fun for parents as they are for kids, teaching you new things or testing your skills and courage – and there’s the considerable added bonus of not needing to get a flight or faff around with packing the family suitcases.

From Scotland to Cornwall, some of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions organise special events during the Easter holidays (which normally run for two weeks on either side of Easter Sunday, depending on when it falls; this year that’s 31 March). These events include egg hunts, quizzes, trails and theatre performances.

Look carefully and you’ll find that some of these events (often those run by local councils or community organisations) are free of charge. You don’t have to spend a fortune to give the kids a memorable break this Easter.

Booking online in advance and taking your own food and water will also keep costs down so that you can make memories in April without having to make cutbacks in May.

No matter where you live in the UK, you’ll be sure to find an Easter event reachable by public transport or a short drive away. Starting with London and then looking north, east, south and west, here are some of the best family-friendly activities to check out over the Easter break, including one free event for each region.

London

Egg decorating workshop, Up at The O2

Egg decorating in the sky promises to be a thrilling activity (O2)
Egg decorating in the sky promises to be a thrilling activity (O2)

Take egg decorating to new heights by icing a chocolate egg 52m up in the air, after you’ve scaled the O2 building. Suitable for children 8+ and their parents of all fitness levels, you’ll be given a full safety briefing as well as extra time on the roof to decorate your eggs and admire the 360-degree views of Greenwich. An adrenalin rush accompanied by chocolate sounds like an ideal way to enjoy a day off from school.

£40, aegeurope.com

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea, One Aldwych

Chocoholics rejoice! The One Aldwych afternoon tea will hit the spot (David Cotsworth)
Chocoholics rejoice! The One Aldwych afternoon tea will hit the spot (David Cotsworth)

Easter gives us all an excuse to indulge in chocolate and if you’re looking for a unique experience, it doesn’t get better than the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory afternoon tea at the One Aldwych hotel in central London. Highlights include fizzy lifting drinks, snozzberry jam and chocolate sludge milkshake mixed by a waterfall, inspired by the classic Roald Dahl story and its big screen adaptions. If you and your family are foodies, this is the truly (golden) ticket.

Children £50, adults £70, onealdwych.com

Sightseeing cruise on the Terrible Thames

A Terrible Thames boat trip will teach kids gruesome facts (Natalie Crouch photography)
A Terrible Thames boat trip will teach kids gruesome facts (Natalie Crouch photography)

Think you know all about London? Think again, as the team behind the Horrible Histories TV show shares all the gruesome facts about England’s capital city on board a Terrible Thames-themed boat. Departing from Tower Bridge Quay, the journey incorporates immersive theatre as it delivers its unique take on London. After closing over the winter, the first sailing date for 2024 is 23 March – just in time for the school holidays.

Children £15, adults £25, terriblethames.com

Hoppy Easter, Elephant and Castle

We’re told the Easter bunny and friends are planning a visit to Elephant and Castle on Easter Saturday, 30 March. Follow them around the square and if you manage to track them down, you’ll be rewarded with vouchers to redeem with local café Coma Y Beba for free rainbow cupcakes. There will also be face painting, workshops, performances from dance troupes and food from the local traders.

Free, castlesquarelondon.com

The Big Bakes Easter bake-off, Haggerston

Test your cooking skills against other families (The Big Bakes)
Test your cooking skills against other families (The Big Bakes)

Live The Great British Bake Off experience with your family with The Big Bakes, who have created a 12-station marquee in east London, where you and a child can compete against other families. Everyone bakes in pairs and there are 90 minutes on the clock to bake, decorate and see one winning pair crowned champions. This month’s theme is “watercolour wonder”, where you’ll be challenged to decorate a delicious cake with a cool watercolour effect – a special surprise in the middle.

£40, thebigbakes.com

Horizon of Khufu VR experience, Stratford

Journey back in time to the pyramids in East London (Emissive / Excurio)
Journey back in time to the pyramids in East London (Emissive / Excurio)

The weather during the Easter holidays can be a mixed bag, so it’s a good idea to have a rainy-day activity lined up, just in case. The Horizon of Khufu VR experience, located inside the Westfield Stratford shopping mall, is both fun and educational, taking you back in time to ancient Egypt. During the 45-minute experience you’ll be able to physically move through the Giza pyramid, the resting place of Pharoh Khufu, constructed over 4,500 years ago in the fourth dynasty. You’ll feel like you’re in Egypt, seeing one of the seven wonders of the world, but once you take off the VR headset, you can get back to the present day and enjoy a meal in one of Westfield Stratford’s many restaurants.

Children £18, adults £21, horizonkheopsexperience.com

Egg scavenger hunt, The Marylebone

This easter egg hunt is one for the grown-ups (The Marylebone)
This easter egg hunt is one for the grown-ups (The Marylebone)

The Marylebone Hotel’s 108 Brasserie is adding a luxury touch to a standard Easter egg hunt by hiding prizes grown-ups would like to win inside eggs hidden around Marylebone Village. Starting at 11am on Easter Saturday, 108 eggs will be hidden among the shops and boutiques, with each egg a golden ticket to a fabulous prize. Find a private Pilates class at Exhale, sip on victory with a bottle of 108 Brasserie’s exclusive 108 Gin, or enjoy a £100 shopping spree at the Caroline Gardener boutique, as well as an array of delicious chocolate surprises.

Free, 108brasserie.com

Eggstra special easter golf and milkshakes at Puttshack, White City and Bank

 (Puttshack)
(Puttshack)

Exercise your arms and core with a round of kid-friendly golf on a course that uses a clever tech system to track scores, eliminating the need for pen and paper. Then take a pit stop in the cafe, where you’ll find an Easter special milkshake called The Golfstopper, which is a dreamy candy mix with a sweet explosion of flavours and marshmallows, sprinkles and candy floss.

From £9.50, puttshack.com

Supertri E world triathlon championships

Inspire a new generation of triathletes (SuperTri)
Inspire a new generation of triathletes (SuperTri)

The supertri E World Triathlon Championships arrives in London on13 April. This is your teaser to this summer’s Paris Olympics – you’ll be in touching distance of triple Olympic medallist, Jonny Brownlee and fellow superstars at London’s Aquatics Centre on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Sitting poolside, you’ll watch high-speed swim-bike-run action in the pool, on exercise bikes and treadmills and hopefully leave having inspired the kids to try a new sport.

£15, supertri.com

Rest of England

Go Ape treetop adventure plus, 37 locations in the UK

It’s always good to give kids some fresh air in the holidays and Go Ape offers an adrenalin rush for all ages. Designed for children over 6 years and 1.2 metres, they take place in forests where explorers will head higher into the tree tops and put their skills to the test on crossings with wobble and exposure. Meanwhile, those over 10 can tackle zip wires and cargo nets on a course called Treetops Plus.

£26, goape.co.uk

Daylesford Farm lambing tour, Gloucestershire

Easter is a time of renewal, so what better way to spend it than witnessing new life being brought into the world at Daylesford Farm? On 13 April, the experience starts with a ride on a tractor-trailer to the barns, where you’ll see ewes give birth. Farm experts and resident shepherds will talk you through the process, enriching your knowledge of animals and the natural world. Please note that this tour (or indeed any contact with livestock) isn’t advised for anyone who is pregnant.

£10, daylesford.com

Southampton Culture Club for Kids

Combining history and craft, Southampton will host full-day workshops for children aged between six and 12 on 2-3 April. You can pack them off with lunch, drinks and a snack and they’ll learn all about spies, wartime crafts, the Titanic and more. Each day has a different theme, so do the double to max out on all things naval.

£35, southamptonmuseumsandgallery.co.uk

Easter Egg Roll, Preston

The annual Easter egg roll in Preston is a fun gathering for all the family. The traditional event takes place on Easter Monday from 11am to 4pm, with competitions each hour. These involve rolling an easter egg down the hill in Avenham Park, but there’s also an Easter bonnet competition and visits from Plucky, the giant chicken.

Free, visitpreston.com

Secret Surfers Easter Trail, Bristol

Send the kids off to spot the cartoon surfers hidden around The Wave, Bristol’s inland surfing destination. It’s a slice of the ocean in the heart of the city and a great way to connect with nature and exercise the body at the same time. If the kids solve the secret word that the cartoon surfers spell out during the trail, they can claim a prize. This trail is a free activity to encourage younger visitors to get active and explore the site – and keep them amused while parents enjoy a surf session, lake-side coffee, lunch or post-surf drink with a view. But there are surf lessons for kids too, if you want to teach them a new skill at the same time.

Trail free, surf lessons/sessions from £45 (adults) and £35 (kids), thewave.com

Read more: The best family holiday destinations in the UK

Scotland

St James Quarter hide and sheep, Edinburgh

Find the cuddly lambs to win a prize (Royal Highland Show)
Find the cuddly lambs to win a prize (Royal Highland Show)

For free Easter activities from 29 – 31 March, head to St James Quarter in Edinburgh. On level 2, guests can play the interactive game to win discounts and prizes at popular eating and drinking spots in the Quarter. At John Lewis, there’s a Play-Doh Easter trail and visits from the Easter bunny. And if you find one of 80 cuddly sheep hidden in the Quarter, you’ll win a VIP prize, like free tickets to the Royal Highland Show.

Free, stjamesquarter.com

Hill House Easter Egg Hunt, Argyll and Bute

Explore Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s unique work (Hill House)
Explore Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s unique work (Hill House)

Located 23 miles west of Glasgow, Hill House is a must-visit for architecture and design lovers. If your child enjoys art, their mind will be blown by the beauty of this house designed by famous Glaswegian artists Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh. The outside of the house is wrapped in a steel frame, which means you can walk around, seeing the walls up close before going inside to marvel at the stunning interiors. An easter trail will take place between Friday 29 March and Monday 1 April, included in the ticket price, with a chocolate treat at the end.

Children £6.50, adults £14, nts.org.uk

Easter Steam Trains, Firth of Forth

Sit down, look out the window and have chocolate brought to your seat (Bo’ness and Kinneil railway)
Sit down, look out the window and have chocolate brought to your seat (Bo’ness and Kinneil railway)

Why search for the Easter bunny when she can come to you, offering your family chocolate while you enjoy the old-fashioned luxury of steam travel? The Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway, which is a 40-minute drive from both Edinburgh and Glasgow, is running special Easter trains that do a circular route along the shores of the Firth of Forth, with views of the majestic Ochil Hills. The Easter bunny pops in to greet every passenger on board as you steam past woodlands, wildflowers and waterfalls. Brunch, light lunch and afternoon tea is also available.

Child brunch £19, adult brunch £30, bkrailway.co.uk

Outdoor Easter Fun, Edinburgh

Free to visit, Lauriston Castle offers a castle and grounds to explore (Visit Scotland)
Free to visit, Lauriston Castle offers a castle and grounds to explore (Visit Scotland)

Free to explore, Lauriston Castle is a hidden gem in Edinburgh, complete with beautiful grounds cradling the sea and stunning views over the Firth of Forth. Inside you’ll see some of the most remarkable Edwardian interiors in Scotland. Visit on March 30 for free drop-in events all day, including an Easter egg trail, games and a quiz.

Free, edinburghmuseums.org.uk

Wales

Easter with the Ardudwy Knights, Gwynedd

Travel back to the 13th century this Easter at Harlech Castle (Wikipedia)
Travel back to the 13th century this Easter at Harlech Castle (Wikipedia)

Harlech Castle, Edward I’s mighty coastal fortress, occupies a spectacular setting overlooking Cardigan Bay and the Irish sea, just inside Snowdonia National Park. Stepping inside feels like going back in time, and this will be amplified over the Easter bank holiday weekend with visitors able to meet knights of the 13th century. You’ll learn all about bows and arrows and protecting a castle, as well as about the costumes and battles.

Children £6.10, adults £8.70, cadw.gov.wales

Easter trail at St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff

St Fagans is one of Europe’s leading open-air museums, as well as one of Wales’s most popular heritage attractions. It’s a chance to see what life was like for real people in the past, including how they worked and spent their leisure time. The re-erected buildings inside the site include farmhouses, a row of ironworkers’ cottages, a medieval church, a Victorian school, a chapel and a splendid Workmen’s Institute. Pick up an Easter trail worksheet and learn as you go, earning a chocolate treat at the end.

Free, trail sheet £4, museum.wales