Top 10 things to do with kids this Easter
Release the little people! Your bumper Muddy Guide to the best things to do with the kids over the hols
This information calls for a deployment of egg-xcelent (boom!) Easter puns – how many can I get in before you crack? (boom boom!). OK enough already, it’s not a funny yoke (boom boom boom!). Seriously that’s it, I’m egg-xhausted (boom boom boom boom!). Honestly I’m a shell of a woman (*computer crashes in shame*) …
1. THE BEST EASTER EGG TRAILS
Every venue across Bucks & Oxon is going chocolate crazy but here are my top tips:
The Easter Trail (30 Mar – 1 April) at Stonor House (pictured), zipping around the stunning 850 year old gardens and into the Wonder Woods (£7 per egg); Oxford Castle‘s chocolate workshops (30 Mar – 1 April) where kids can ice and decorate their own Easter egg. Highclere Castle‘s Easter Egg trail (Sun 1 April), through ‘Downton’s’ exquisite gardens and woodland in aid of the NSPCC; Blenheim Palace‘s ‘oversized Easter Egg Hunt throughout the park and pleasure gardens, with 8ft giant decorated eggs to find (not sure of the catch, it sounds well easy!) with bouncy castle, trampolines, victorian fairground and all that jazz on too; and Waddesdon Manor‘s Easter Egg Hunt, starting and finishing at the North Front – just a great excuse to enjoy the grounds.
2. HOP ACROSS TO THE WESTGATE CENTRE, OXFORD
Surprisingly plenty to amuse small people at the Westgate Centre once you’ve had your hour (pre-whine) to bomb & Other Stories, Cos, Mint Velvet and John Lewis! Firstly, head to Godiva chocolates for emergency rations, take them on a Gromit map trail (of Wallace and Gromit fame) around the shopping centre and keep your ears open for a pop up performance by the National Youth choir on Sun 8 April.
Over at the Curzon Cinema (have you been yet? OMG! Reclining chairs! Wine you can take in with you!) from Thurs 29 Mar, there’s Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg’s much-anticipated adaptation of Ernest Cline’s hugely popular 2011 sci-fi novel (it’s a 12A so kids under 12 can go in with an adult), plus there are Kids Club performances of new Pixar animation Coco on Sat and Sun mornings of 7-8 April and 13-14 April. I haven’t even started on the rooftop restaurants – take your pick of Pizza Pilgrims, Dirty Bones, The Breakfast Club a whole host of other family-friendly options. Westgate customers steel yourselves – the Muddy family is on its way (*cue hysterical running for exits*)
3. BIRDS OF PREY FAMILY FUN DAY, RIVER & ROWING MUSEUM, HENLEY, 5 APRIL
Free with entry into the museum, here’s an awesome chance to meet the magnificent birds from Millets Farm Falconry with the Birds of Prey Family Fun Day and get up close to hawks, eagles and owls. There’ll also be the chance for kids to get arts and crafty too. Also worth keeping an eye out for the Easter Egg Hunt (daily, 29 March – 15 April), and Easter afternoon tea (Mon 2 April 2-4 with Muddy favourite Time For Tea Vintage, £27.50 adults, £9.50 kids). Grown ups can escape for some peace in the small Barbara Hepworth or permanent John Piper exhibitions.
4. BROUGHTON CASTLE OPENS, BANBURY, 1 APRIL
The beautiful Broughton Castle, a moated and fortified manor house near Banbury that’s belonged to the Fiennes family since 1447 opens again from 1 April. It found fame in the TV adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies and is one of my favourite local castles – small enough to get around without boring young children, and there’s a lovely garden for them to bomb about in. Open on Wednesdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays from Sun 1 April- 30 Sept from 2-5pm.
Other heritage buildings I really rate in the area that maybe don’t get the headlines of the big beast venues are Chastleton House in North Oxfordshire (stunning), Greys Court near Henley, Claydon House near Buckingham and Upton House on the Bucks/Northants border.
5. LOVE ON THE ROCKS… WADDESDON MANOR, THROUGHOUT EASTER
…Ain’t no surprise! As if the house opening for Easter isn’t enough of a draw, those clever sausages at the National Trust’s jewel-in-the-crown, north of Aylesbury Bucks, have come up with a crowd-pleasing idea where kids paint a rock, then can either take it home or leave it for someone else to find. Then they can search the grounds finding someone else’s rock to take home instead. Cue hours of kids bombing around the grounds while you have fun with your Neil Diamond sideburns.
6. OPERATION EARTH, NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, OXFORD, WEDS 4 & FRI 13 APRIL
A family science show exploring the amazing stories and science of the environment. Earthy is feeling a little under the weather and is going to the doctors for a check-up – cue investigations into what’s bothering Earthy’s land, air and oceans to find solutions. Sweeeet.
Weds 4 April: 2pm & 3; Fri 13 April: 2pm & 3pm. Tokens for the show are available at the front desk on the day of each show (you must have a token to attend). To book in advance contact email@example.com
7. COOKERY FOR FAMILIES, DAYLESFORD FARM, KINGHAM, OXON, 5 & 11 APRIL
Easter egg eating – that’s one family activity I’m more than happy to take part in. Daylesford Farm, always achingly in excellent taste, has an impressive array of cookery courses, including making Easter Eggs (29 March), Family Cookery (1 April) and two dates for Budding Chefs 5 & 11 April, £50 per course) where kids 5-12 years will cook their own meals, eat together and leave with a recipe pack (hopefully including Sunday lunch and midweek supper for four).
Alternatively in central Oxford check out Yo Sushi Mini Ninja School, where kids 5-12 years can learn to roll like a pro, making three kinds of sushi and gain a Mini Ninja certificate in an hour-long course. £15, 11am-12pm.
8. THEATRE FOR KIDS
The Cornerstone Theatre in Didcot manages to combine a strong community feel with some excellent family programming. They’re running a special Easter Family Festival (Sun 8 April – Sun 15 April) for all ages from 3+, including The Nose That Nobody Picked (surely the best title for a kids play ever) for ages 5-11 years, the Pantaloons The War of the Worlds on Thursday 12 April for 12+ with musical instruments and puppetry and Innocence, a beautiful piece of interactive dance performance theatre for children 3 years over and their adults.
Other family theatricals worthy of your consideration include my modern clown crush Tweedy, of Gifford’s Circus fame, at Chipping Norton theatre (Sat 6 April) with a new family theatre show Symphony – he’s absolutely brilliant, and it’s bound to be very funny. There’s Peppa Pig’s Adventure at MK Theatre (Fri 28 – Sat 29 Mar) in North Bucks, George’s Marvelous Medicine at the Oxford Playhouse (Tues 10 – Sat 14 April), the brilliantly named Pub Quiz for Kids with Patrick Monahan, a runaway hit at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre (Sat 31 Mar)
9. EASTER CODES AND CRAFTS, BLETCHLEY PARK, BUCKS, FRI 3 MAR – MON 2 APRIL 2018
Under-rated Bletchley Park in North Bucks has an Easter Codes and Crafts day aimed at kids 5-14 to celebrate the opening of Hut 11A. From 11am-3.30pm, families can solve codes, build 3D puzzles and create Easter crafts to take away, all for a princely £2 per child.
10. A GENTLE DAY OUT, THE EARTH TRUST, LITTLE WITTENHAM
If the weather holds, the Earth Trust is a really lovely gentle day out for young children and families. Head to Little Wittenham close to Goring in South Oxfordshire for Tree Climbing with The Great Big Tree Climbing Company (Mon 9 April), a Night Safari to discover Wallingford Castle Meadow’s wildlife or a Family Bushcraft day where you can explore the woods, make shelters, learn how to make a fire and use a knife safely (*gulp*).
You want more? I’ll give you more!
Easter Sunday joust, Sudeley Castle, 1 April
The Cavalry of Heroes return to Sudeley Castle along with King Henry VIII and the ladies of his court for this annual event. Expect falconry flight displays (11am, 2pm) along with the jousting (11.30am, 2.30pm) and some serious chain-mailage. Alternatively head up to Warwick Castle as they celebrate the 950th anniversary of William the Conqueror’s motte and bailey castle on the site with the usual fun silliness of the The Mighty Trebuchet, Flight of the Eagles and The Bowman Show.
A big day out with Peter Rabbit™, Kew Gardens, 30 Mar – 15 April
There are still a few days to see the orchid festival at Kew (it ends 2 April) but it also overlaps with the start of a new trail based on Peter Rabbit and other famous Beatrix Potter characters. More permanent pleasures include the tree top walk, the 17 metre tall Hive sensory experience, a 14,000 tree arboretum and the Palm House.
Predators Exhibition, Longleat, Wiltshire, 24 Mar – 3 Sept
A brand new show for Longleat with 14 killer animatronic carnivores will be stalking the park including lions and tigers. Sounds like it will thrill little ones.
The Making of Harry Potter, Watford, Fri 30 Mar – Sun 23 Sept
This WB Studio Tour company never runs out of new reasons to get families back to this paean to the boy wizard. A new special feature dedicated entirely to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth installment of the magical film series, revealing secrets behind the characters, costumes and props that made it so special.
Tree Climbing, Cliveden, 3, 4, 12 April
The Big Tree Climbing Company will help kids scale the Cliveden canopies over Easter – an hour activity for 6+, bookable here and promising gorgeous views with a zip line back down to the bottom. Wheeee!
Did you find this useful? Then check out our Easter Guide for Teens!