Easter Hols Survival Guide
Get sugar-hyped children up and about this Easter with my bumper guide to what’s on from Clangers to crafts, horseracing to film-making and, of course, plenty of egg hunts. Looking for more grown-up ideas? See my regular What’s, on here.
Alice in Wonderland Whole Day Spectacular, Groombridge Place, 25 March – 10 April
Groombridge Place will be transformed into Wonderland, with a troupe of actors in full costume helping create the fun. Discover the Mad Hatter and friends playing croquet, take part in crafts and face painting and watch performances of key scenes from the book throughout the day. Adult tickets cost £14.95, children 3-12 cost £10.95, under-threes free.
Town trail, craft workshop and fossil hunts, Littlehampton Museum, 26 March – 9 April
Pick up a free town trail from the museum reception throughout the holidays and get exploring local history, or, on Easter Sunday, drop in and join the free workshop between 2.00pm and 4.00pm to make cards and decorations. From 30 March, join the hugely popular free fossil walks on West Beach led by geologists – places fill up fast so book ahead.
Family Easter Trail, Chichester, until 10 April
Fantastic Sussex chocolate is up for grabs at a charity egg hunt running in Chichester city centre throughout the school holidays. Simply pick up a child-friendly clue sheet from Montezuma’s on East Street at any time until 10 April, handing over a £4 entry fee which benefits Children on the Edge. The charity helps youngsters in poor communities of several countries I’ve visited on my travels like Moldova, Haiti, Thailand and India and Montezuma’s makes my favourite chocolate so this one gets a big Muddy thumbs up.
Amazing Magnolias & Easter Eggsplorer, Borde Hill Garden, 25 March – 10 April
Follow the Easter trail to win some chocolate treats, then gets the kids to burn off the sugar high on the zipwire in the adventure playground and join in with that day’s activites which could be comedy, ballooning or petting visiting animals. This is also Magnolia season, so up to a hundred trees are forming a blooming beautiful backdrop. Easter activities run between 11.00am and 3.00pm.
Clangers, Bagpuss & Co. V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London 19 March – 9 Oct
I can’t tell you how much I love the Small Films stop frame animation series created by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. Actually, I can – I once wrote a dissertation on them. So the thought of an all-day binge on The Clangers, Bagpuss, Noggin the Nog, Pogles’ Wood and Ivor the Engine makes me want to grab a beanbag and a flask of vodka-spiked Ribena. The Small Film marathon takes place over Easter weekend with back-to-back screenings 14.00 – 16.00. It’s part of a wider exhibition running till the autumn with original puppets, sets and film equipment from the shows – squeal! There are also various Easter sessions to make and animate your own puppets (book ahead).
Giant Duck Hunt, WWT, Arundel, 24 March – 10 April
There’s a spot of twitching with a difference at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust – hunt down all 16 giant rubber ducks on a trail to win a treat. Also over Easter, every morming between 10.30am and 11.00am you can catch the EGGciting EGGsperiments science show in the Sandpiper Theatre. Afterwards, join the fun pond dipping and taking boat safaris. All activities are included in the admission price. wwt.org.uk
Extra kids’ classes, The Source, Hastings, various dates
I checked out this stonking new skatepark the other weekend and will be writing about it soon. In the meantime it’s worth knowing there are four sessions a week for under-11s and more have been added for the holidays, plus, it’s all indoors (with a café in the viewing area a good spot for adults) so the weather can’t spoil anyone’s fun.
National Trust Cadbury’s egg hunts, various locations and dates
The National Trust has teamed up with Cadbury’s again for Easter egg hunts at its properties with clues leading to a chocolate prize. At Nymans, hunt for hidden birds among the spring flowers to gain your prize (24 March – 3 April). Besides the egg hunt, at Woolbeding Parkland you’ll find a spring nature trail, egg decorating, rolling, egg and spoon racing and even an egg shy (27 March). The hunt at Slindon Estate crosses field full of lambs near Arundel and enters ancient woods (26 March). There are more hunts at Devil’s Dyke, Birling Gap, the Monk’s House, Alfriston Clergy House, Sheffield Park & garden, Bateman’s, Bodiam castle, and Standen House & Garden.
TYTC Youth Comedy Masterclass, Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, 1 April
Sample joke from six-year-old nephew this Easter: “What do you get if you cross an Easter egg with Christmas? A crack egg” – funnier than he realised. If you have a latent comic talent in your family and they’re 10+ sign them up for this workshop run by proffesional comedy double act Sarah and Lizzie Daykin. They’ll have them doing improv, writing sketches together and building characters. The workshop runs 10.00am – 4.00pm and costs £50.
Kids’ Filmmaking Club, Duke of York’s Picturehouse, Brighton, 4- 8 April
Brighton’s famous Duke of York’s cinema will be inspiring budding filmmakers this coming week with a club to help them make their own short films in groups. It costs £45 and is for ages 8 to 12. It runs from 9.00am -10am Mon-Thurs and 9.00am – 11.30am on the Friday when the results will be entered into a mini film festival.
Easter Biscuit workshops, The Courtyard Café, Rotherfield, 25 March
Decorate six biscuits to take home during a half hour craft session at the Courtyard café. Two time slots are available, book on 01892 852333. £5 per child.
Into the Hoods: Remixed/Need a Little Help, Brighton Dome, 25-26 March, 1-2 April
Two very different children’s shows at the Dome this Easter Into the Hoods is a hip-hop reimagining of fairytales with street dance, rap and DJ Spinderella (Tickets from £7, family tickets £22. The following week thought-provoking play Need a Little Help takes the serious theme of children as carers and gives it a twist. Joe and Ella do everything together until Joe gets all tangled up and Ella has to manage alone. Billed as ‘moving and uplifting’ it invites the audience to help the performers look after each other. (£10, family tickets £22.50).
Easter Eggstravaganza Raceday, Fontwell Park, Arundel, 1 April
Fontwell Park racecourse has free entry and free entertainment for under-18s this Friday. Besides the horse racing, there’s an egg hunt with a top prize of a family pass to Legoland Windsor, a fun fair, bouncy castles, face painting and a petting zoo. Adult entry costs from £12 for paddock admission in advance, £19 on the day.
Children’s puppet making, Brighton Puppetry School, Sat 26
A proper little puppet should emerge from this day-long adult and child session where you’ll be guided through sculpting a head and hands, stitching a body and adding clothes, hair and decoration. The workshop coasts £55 and there are a host of others coming up, covering making and performing.
The Railway Children, play screening, various cinemas, 28 March
Few book endings make me blub more than the last paragraphs of The Railway Children. Take your tissues and your children along to the special screening of a live recording of the award-winning play from York Theatre Royal. It includes the original locomotive from the 1970s film (just don’t get carried away and wave your knickers at it). Stick you postcode in the website to find your nearest participating cinema (Brighton, Bognor, Burgess Hill, Crawley, East Grinstead, Eastbourne, Hawkhurst and Rye and Uckfield are among options).
Egg hunts, Washbrook Farm, Hurstpierpoint, 27 and 28 March
This farm, which has a large indoor play area and toddlers’ pedal tractors, is running an egg hunt on Easter Sun and Monday and has activities throughout the holidays, for no additional charge after admission.
Craft workshops, Made, Brighton, 28 March – 4 April
There are oodles of good craft activities over the hols at Made in Brighton. There’s chocolate egg making for over-sixes on Good Friday and over-fours can make their own chick, egg or lamb bucket on 28 March then use them to collect chocolate eggs. Pirate and princess hat and accessories making is on for the over-fours on 30 March, then paper bead jewellery and fabric yoyo flower making for over-sevens on 4 April.
The Amazing Bubbleman, The Capitol, Horsham 27 March
I remember being gobsmacked watching a similar act to this on Paul Daniel’s magic show back in the day. Bubbles stuck to other bubbles, rotating like merry–go-rounds, filled with smoke… you get the picture. Tickets costs £13 and there’s a show morning and afternoon.
Newhaven’s First World War, Newhaven Fort, March 26
The story of WW1’s impact locally will be told at the fort this Easter Saturday through tours, talks, quiz trails, craft activities and music.
Flatpack, Komedia, Brighton, 1-3 April
A slapstick show for the IKEA generation, inspired by the silent movies of Buster Keaton. Sounds like the kind of silliness that is right up kid street. A pair of hapless newly-weds are given a flatpack first home as a wedding gift but the instructions get muddled… you get the drift. It’s aimed at ages 3+ and there’s a carpet at the front for the little ‘uns. Tickets cost £8.50, a family of four £26 and it’s on 11am each day.
Family Racedays, Plumpton racecourse, 27-28 March
Watch the horseracing and keep the kids happy with the fun fair, face painting and an egg giveaway as Plumpton reopens for the season. The are family race days on both Easter Sunday and Monday. Tickets start from £10 and accompanied under-18s go free. There’s also the option of a return coach to Brighton for £5.
Egg hunt, Battle Abbey, Battle, 25-28 March
There’s an egg hunt with a difference at Battle Abbey this Easter. Crack the clues set by the Abbey monks to claim a chocolate reward. Entry and the activity costs £8.30 adults, £5 children 5-15.
Mini Scalextric Championship, Goring-by-Sea, March 30
You may not be able to pronounce it, but I bet you’ve played it (my tip for a rainy winter night is throw in a bottle of wine and a competitive partner…) If you’re in the Goring area you can watch slot racing masters at work at this evening race-off. It’s in The Barn, English Martyrs Church Hall between 7.00pm and 9.30pm. £3 adults, £2 under-16s.
Zyplo Performance film schools, Heathfield and Brighton, 29 March – 4 April
Fancy attending a film premiere? OK, you may not be rubbing shoulders with George Clooney or Daniel Craig on the big night but you may make a young person very happy by signing them up to write, direct and star in their own 10-minute film, complete with special effects, which is then premiered at a real cinema. Zyplo Performance is running four-day courses in the Easter holidays for 6 – 14-year-olds, between 9.00am – 4.00pm each day: Heathfield, starting 29 March or 4 April; Brighton starting 4 April. Attendance costs £150, two or more sibling spaces are £135 each. Book ahead.
Easter Drama School, Lewes Little Theatre, 29 Mar – 8 April
Throughout the Easter holidays budding thesbians can tread the boards in Lewes, with actor-led games and professional excercises that’ll have them giving Benedict Cumberbatch a run for his money in no time. Participants must be 8-20-years-old. Workshops run 10.00am – noon with tickets for one week £40, or both weeks £80.
Woods for Learning, Horsham, 29 March – 7 April
If you go down to the Woods today… well, from 29 March anyway, you’ll find kids having all sorts of den-building, campfire-cooking fun. The holiday clubs run 10.00am – 3.00pm and cost £27 a day, with discounts for siblings and multiple days. For ages 5+ unless accompanied. These tend to sell out early, so get booking…