Easter Muddy Guide Week One: 4 -12 April
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I’ve changed the format this time around – less of me writing witty, beautifully crafted paragraphs (what do you mean you haven’t noticed?), more practical help on a day-by-day basis. This Muddy guide will run until next Sunday. Anything I add over the next week will be highlighted as New. Let me know how it all works for you!
Right then. Hipflasks and cocodamol at the ready? Then here we go.
Easter Muddy Guide Friday 4 April – Sunday 12 April
On all week
Ashmolean Museum: Easter Bunny Trail, Find the rabbits hidden along the trail and then collect a certificate when you finish. Basildon Park: Eggtastic Fun. Look for Eggs in the house and win a prize by solving the Easter trail. Hours: Monday to Sunday 10am-5pm Waterperry Gardens: Bunny Hunt; Join the big Easter Bunny Hint to find bunnies hidden around the gardens. Find 10 bunnies and win a prize. Mead Open Farm: Easter Bunny Bonanza; Meet the Easter Bunny, real Easter Chicks, visit the Lamb nursery, bottle feed lambs, and earn a treat from “Hoppy’s Hamlet”.Odds Farm Park: Easter Family Fun; Follow the Easter Bunny Trail and get a treat, Bottle feed lambs, and meet the new Easter babies on the farm. Hughenden: Easter Egg Trail; Join the biggest ever egg hunt in Hughenden gardens and make Easter fun crafts from 11am-4pm.
Warwick Castle (from 5 April). 1100 year old celebrations this year1 New shows for Easter include the Treuchet Fireball Spectacular with the largest working siege machine in the world, the Flight of the Eagles with the UK’s only free-flying Andean Condor, the return of the Horrible Histories Foul Fayres and every other attraction ‘enhanced’.
Charlie’s Chocolate Adventure, Kew Gardens: (starting Sat 5 – 21 April) In association with the Roald Dahl Museum, there’s loads of chocolate-inspired activities going on, including making a Willy Wonka – inspired chocolate bar, listening to disgusting poetry, facepainting and going on the Kew landtrain. A dead cert.
Harry Potter, Feathers and Flight, at WB Studio Tour Watford (4 – 27 April). A selection of owls, ravens, special effects equipment and feathered animatronics will fill the attraction as part of WB’s first ever Feathers and Flight feature. Pose for a photo with Hedwig, watch how the birds are taught to ‘act’, learn how the animatronics team made the fake birds so realistic, see the broomsticks and so on, and so on.
Whipsnade Zoo (5 April onwards): A new interactive kids Hullabazoo Farm opens, with little ones able to meet and greet miniature donkeys, pygmy goats, Gloucester old spot pigs and piglets, sheep and lambs, bunnies, guinea pigs, ferrets, and newly-hatched chicks. The zoo has a new baby hippo, baby giraffe and tiger cubs, plus penguin feeding.
Blenheim Palace: (7-11 April) Active Adventure Kids Camp; Specialist outdoor pursuits during school holidays in an utterly bucolic landscape. Ages 7 -16, 9am – 5pm.
Longleast Safari and Adventure Park: (starting 12 – 21 april) Deadly 360’s Steve Backshall is back at Longleat for daily live shows, doing a spot of juggling and other party tricks with some of the world’s deadliest creatures.
Longridge: Family Activity Days; Day includes 3 activities which start at 10:30 and finish at 16:00, suited for ages 8 and upwards but a parent must participate. For those who don’t want to join in the activities themselves these activities are also available to sign children up for through School Holiday Activity Days.
DAY BY DAY
Saturday 5 April
Jane’s Cream Teas, Kirtlington reopens. Delightfully quirky, English teas by the river. See my review. Tour the set of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and see the ostrich feathers and dressing lights up close. Oxford Playhouse: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; a magical puppet show Ages 4+. Tring National History Museum: The Extraordinary Egg; Join Egg curator Douglas Russell as he cracks open an enormous ostrich egg, revealing the amazing features that allow it to protect life so perfectly (workshops 10.15 – 11; 11.15 – 12pm). For ages 8+. Advanced Booking Required.
Ultimate Picture Palace: Frozen; showing of the Oscar winning Disney film. 2pm. Story Museum: Story Explorer Weekend; Crafts, face-painting, stories, music and dressing up as Oxford’s much lauded Story Museum re-opens. Pitt Rivers Museum: Pitt Stop: Book Bonanza; Kids can create their own book and story. (be prepared for pooh, wees and farts then). 1-4pm. Who Stole the Tarts? musical, theatrical, visually decadent party at the stunning private estate of Aynhoe. Leave the kids at home for this one!
Sunday, 6 April
Cornerstone Arts: Comedy Club 4 Kids; Comedy entertainment for everyone over 6 years old, with big names in comedy (well, biggish) entertaining the whole family, Show starts at 2pm and workshop at 11:15 am – 1 pm. Phoenix Picturehouse: National Theatre Live: War Horse. Broadcast live from the West End at 4pm. Roald Dahl Museum: Hello Your Majester; Create a postcard showing the historic moment when the BFG meets the Queen. Available all day and for all ages. Jane’s Cream Teas open (see Sat above)
Monday 7 April
Claydon House Newly reopened a few weeks back after its winter rest, Florence Nightingale’s house in north Bucks (above) is a gorgeous country gem, and very accessible for children. As they say, ‘no ropes here’. You can even bounce on the beds! Open for the summer season but closed on Wed/Thurs). Pitt Rivers Museum: Land of the Rising Sun; Make fans, samurai masks, and explore Japanese objects from the collection (until 9 April). Boots on, nibbles packed and into the outdoors – the gorgeous walks around Black Park, Ashridge Estate, Wendover Woods.
Tuesday, 8 April
Harcourt Arboretum: Spring into Easter 1; Springtime crafts and native tree trail to find signs of Spring at this lovely south Oxfordshire spot. From 1 – 4pm. Roald Dahl Museum: Revolting Rhymes with James Carter; Hear guitarist James Carter tell some of his own mischievous poems and then write your own! Workshop times: 12:30 pm and 14:00 pm. For ages 5+. Tring National History Museum: Venomous Vipers; Get close to real snake skin and skeletons and make your own snake from craft materials. Suitable for all ages. Workshops available on 8 April and 10 April. Willen Lake: Woodland Play; Get out and polay in the woods – den building, crafts, and games with MK Play Association. 8 April and 15 April 10.3o-2pm.
Beale Park: Creepy-Crawly Encounter this Easter; Get up close and personal with some of the residents of ‘Bertie’s Bugs and Beasts’. 1.30-3.30pm. Also available on Tues 15 April. Dial M for Murder. James Herriot in blood splatter shock! Yes, All Creatures actor Christopher Timothy takes on this Hitchcock classic at the Aylesbury Waterside. Greys Court (NT), Great Tree Climbing event. Two highly skilled instructors can help all ages reach new heights in a fantastic tree within Greys Court. They will teach you how to enter a tree’s canopy using ropes, knots and karabiners, whilst being securely attached in a harness at all times. Horsewyse Easter Activity Day: the first of four Activity Days during Easter at this unique child-centred equestrian centre, providing lessons, hacking and fun activities for kids aged 5 – 12 including learning Polocrosse skills, shooting and team games.
Weds 9 April:
Waddesdon Manor: Be Our Guest!; Take part in a special house tour for children. Be a guest of Baron Ferdinand and discover what life was like at a 19th century house party. For ages 8 – 12 , No adults! Program runs from 10.45 – 12pm. Advanced booking required. Roald Dahl Museum: Mark Lowery talks pants!; Mark Lowery, shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2013, comes to the Museum to tell stories and generate giggles. Show times: 12.30pm, 2.30pm, for Ages 9+. Tring National History Museum: Den Building at Ashridge; Help to design and build an outdoor den using materials scavenged from the woods. Workshop from 10.30-11.30am Ages 5+. Advanced booking required.
Wycombe Swan: Stars of Strictly Come Dancing; Pasha Kovalev & Katya Virshilas, perform a new live show. ‘Sensational’ according to them, but judge for yourselves! 7.30pm. Sulgrave Manor: Tea and Telemann; Enjoy beautiful baroque music with afternoon tea in historical surroundings. Bletchley Park: Family Fun Wednesdays; Every Wednesday during the holiday come to Bletchley for a special day out where the whole family can enjoy craft and spy workshops, children’s guided tours, trails, quizzes, and handling collections. And one for the grown-ups: a Stella McCartney sample sale at The Music Rooms, 26 South Molton Lane, Mayfair, London, W1K 5LF. 12pm-8pm (last entry 7pm) and 10 April 2014 9am-6pm (last entry 5pm).
Thursday 10 April:
Chipping Norton Theatre: Easter Holiday Orange Hat; Join Peggotty the Hen and other puppet friends as they embark on an interactive performance. Led by professional actor and singer Paula Stephens. Spin Jazz: Julian Costello Quartet playing at one of the best jazz venues in the UK in central Oxford. Southbank Centre: Opening Gala of the utterly brilliant Udderbelly Festival. The Magic Circus, workshop and performance at The Mill, Banbury – all the circus performers and animals have disappeared, leaving only the ringmaster, a clown and a lot of kids to entertain! Horsewyse Easter Activity Day. The second of four Activity Days at this unique child-centred equestrian centre (see Tues 8 April for more details).
Friday, 11 April:
River and Rowing Museum: A Great Big Art Extravaganza’ Join Mr. Toad in an art extravaganza with lots of activities with a Wind in the Willows theme. Then hang your work in Mr. Toad’s Gallery. Waddesdon Manor: Children’s RSPB Wildlife Day; Find out all about birds and their amazing nests at the Aviary Grotto. Find out how they build their nests by building your very own. Mummy & Me Cookery Class, Sanctum Beaconsfield, suitable for 2-5 year olds, making Bunny Buns and sugar paste carrots, plus some stories at the end.
Saturday 12 April
Sean Lynch sculpture exhibition at Modern Art Oxford. Looks interesting for adults and kids for an hour, plus there’s a great cafe space there! Chiltern Outdoor Museum is showing off its lambs, and showing the lambing traditions of the Victorian Chilterns. More interesting than it sounds on paper I reckon! Heritage Motor Centre starts its Easter programme today with Lego Technic Tuesdays, Wheelie Lego Wednesday, Shaun the Sheep themed Family Crafts on Thursdays and, to keep the under 5s entertained, Mini Movers on the last Friday of the holidays. Go for a day trip to Bowood House for the falconry displays (also Sunday) feed the lambs and see the chicks hatch in the Farm, visit the house itself with items such as Queen Victoria’s wedding chair to Napoleon’s death mask and an extensive art collection, or enjoy the 100 acre Capability Brown-designed grounds. Fairytale Academy Easter Workshop, Sanctum Beaconsfield, from 2.5 – 5 year olds. Easter bonnet decoration, animal masks, dressing up Fairytale experience and general cuteness. Kingston Blount Point to Point, first race 2pm. Just drive up with your picnic, and settle down for three hours of this popular country horse racing event.
Sunday 13 April
Highclere Castle reopens! But with all pre-booked tickets sold out already thanks to Downton Abbey, you’ll have to take a punt on the day. I’m told early morning at 10am or after 2.30pm are the best times, and the sunnier the day the better your chances!
Anything brilliant I’ve left off? Get in touch at [email protected]co.uk or leave a comment below!
Additional research: Katharine Dick