Muddy Herts Easter Hols Survival Guide 2016
The Easter hols are upon us! And whether your kids are off school for a fortnight from the long weekend – or have that weird few-days-back-and-then-off-again thing going on, here are plenty of ideas to keep your little bunnies hopping and your chicks cheeping day after day….
Running out of ideas? Never fear! Here are a few last-minute goodies to tempt your littlies away from the telly…
The Art Shed in Ware have a couple of crafty offerings still to go this week. On Tuesday (12 Apr), sign ‘em up for their Garden Bells clay workshop (10am-3.30pm), or there’s a 3-hour workshop making bunting from fused glass on Thursday (14 Apr, 10am-1pm).
Rainy days make for good theatre days. Enjoy The Sorcerer’s Apprentice at the Sandpit Theatre in St Albans on Friday (15 Apr, 11.30am & 2.30pm). It’s aimed at very little ones – 3-7yo – and sounds positively magical. Or you can see The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark at the Radlett Centre (15 April, 11.30am & 1.30pm), based on the classic by Jill Tomlinson about Plop, the baby Barn Owl who has to learn to love the dark.
Better weather and you can get out and about – and almost certainly muddy at the Rye Meads Spring Funday in Stansted Abbots (16 Apr, 10am-4pm). Pond dipping, games, trails, crafts, cake (hoorah!) and loads more.
25 Mar – Good Friday
The Easter Eggstravaganza at Willows Activity Farm (19-28 Mar) is choc-o-bloc (sorry…) with the Easter Bunny, Easter Egg and Bunny Hunts, shows, adventure play and farmyard fun. And all the usual animals, too, and probably still some lambing.
Enjoy the Easter Trail up at Frithsden Vineyard (25-28 Mar, 11-5pm), newly-reopened for the season. There’s a barbeque lunch, teas, coffees and home baked cakes and it’s free to get in. Need I say more? It’s at a vineyard.
Get outside and enjoy Easter in the Gardens & Park at Knebworth House (25-26 Mar). The Maze and Dinosaur Trail will be open, as well as the tea room – and there’ll be a vintage bus taking you between the playground and the gardens, as well as an Easter Quiz Trail. There’s an Easter Egg Trail at the Ashridge Estate, Berkhamsted, too (25-26 Mar, 10am-4pm), so pop your wellies on and follow the trail through the ancient woodland – before claiming your Cadbury’s egg back at the visitors centre.
Or you could get theatrical with a new musical version of Alice In Wonderland at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage (24-28 Mar). All the usual suspects on stage – the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the Red Queen and, of course, Alice herself. Or head into the woods with Little Red Riding Hood at the Bull Theatre, Barnet (25 Mar-3 Apr). Will Little Red foil the Big Bad Wolf’s plans? Will Grandma make it to the end of the show in one piece?
Feeling more scientific? How about checking out the amazing chocolate show at the Cambridge Science Centre (25 Mar, 10am-5pm) and find out about the science behind why chocolate taste so delish?
If you’re heading into London, check out the Easter hols goings-on at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. Always worth a visit, there are loads of extra bits to keep the kids – and you, more importantly – entertained this Easter. Create your own characters from recycled bits and bobs – think, Clangers, Bagpuss, and the like – in puppet workshops (28 Mar-1 April, 4-8 April, 11am-4pm). There’s a ‘small films marathon’ over the Easter weekend (25-27 Mar), with – get this! – back-to-back screenings of Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate’s animated classics including the Clangers, Bagpuss, Noggin the Nog and Ivor the Engine. Their exhibition featuring Postgate and Firmin started on 19 Mar, and it’s going on until 9 Oct, but the holiday bits sound brilliant.
Join Pongo’s Party! at Hertford Theatre (2pm) as Pongo the Pig celebrates his birthday with his farmyard friends. Featuring the voice – but not the actual person – of Justin from CBeebies, and there’ll be a great big game of pass the parcel as well as Makaton signing so that everyone can enjoy the party.
Get going on a free (hoorah!) Easter Egg Hunt at Lowewood Museum, Hoddesdon (10am-3pm). Or, you can head out to the Woodland Trust Easter Egg Hunt at Wick Wood, St Albans (10am-12pm) and, for just 50p, get on the look-out for 5 tokens hidden in the woods.
I love a bit of jousting — and it’s all going on at Knebworth House this weekend (26-27 Mar) with the Knights of Arkley doing their thing with the house as a backdrop.
It’s all going on at Verulamium Museum for Easter weekend, with an egg hunt and some Easter-themed craft activities – including making a special Easter headdress (2pm – 4pm). There’s also a ‘Death and Burial’ gallery talk (33.30pm), which sounds interesting but not quite as chocolatey… There’ll also be a ‘Gods and Goddesses’ gallery talk on the Sunday (3-3.30pm).
More eggs – it is Easter, after all – with the ‘That’s Not My Egg’ Gallery Trail at the Natural History Museum, Tring (26 Mar-17 Apr). Get your trail sheet and explore the galleries in search of the kiwi’s lost egg. And yes, there’s a chocolaty prize.
Or there’s the excitement of Rapunzel Rocks at Harlow Playhouse (26-31 Mar). You’ll recognise the fairytale – long hair, tall tower, handsome prince, you know the drill – but it’s got new twists and lots of music to get your toes tapping (but not, we hope, tangled).
27 Mar – Easter Sunday
Enjoy a bit of peace and quiet at the beautiful Benington Lordship Gardens this weekend (27-28 Mar, 12-4pm). The snowdrops might have faded a little, but look out for the scillabithynica – bit like a bluebell but much prettier – and the daffodils. Or there will still be Easter activities going on at the Ashridge Estate, even without the egg hunt going on – the trail will be quieter, and there are crafts to be doing in the visitors centre (10am-4pm).
You could check out the Stockwood Country Fair at the Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton (27-28 Mar, 11am-4pm). Lots of rural bits and pieces – crafts stalls, a petting farm, archery, birds of prey, pony rides, farmers market, and loads more. Lots of free parking on site, and it’s a neat (free!) museum if you want to step inside for a peek.
28 Mar – Easter Monday
There are some great taster sessions going on at Green Park on Easter Monday. For just £3 a go, your adventurous type can try out climbing, indoor kayaking, outdoor archery or the postman’s walk (which is, I can assure you, about being up high – not about delivering letters). There are full-day activities, too (29 Mar-1 Apr, 4-7 Apr), for just £30 a pop.
The Wyllots Theatre in Potters Bar is screening The Railway Children (28 Mar) – not the film you’ll remember from growing up, but the 2015 Olivier Award-winning production that was produced at the National Railway Museum in York. Or you can catch this at the Empire Cinema, Hemel Hempstead, Vue Watford, the Odeon Hatfield, Cineworld Luton, Vue Harrow, or the Garden City Cinema, Welwyn.
I’ve heard on the Tring grapevine that the Easter Open Day at Heritage Park in Pitstone (11am-5pm) is worth a visit, even if you’ve been there before, with new and refurbished exhibits covering all sort from lace making to Lancaster bombers.
Forget chocolate eggs (no, wait, what am I saying?) and get to grips with real eggs at the Natural History Museum at Tring’s ‘Whose Egg Is This?’ egg-handling workshop (29 & 31 Mar, 12 & 14 Apr).
There are Mad Science Camps running across Herts this holidays (29 Mar-15 Apr). My littlest did one at half term and loved it. Came home, age 5, telling me she was a scientist and knew how everything worked. They’ve got camps in Aldenham, Letchworth, Harpenden, Wigginton, St Albans, Hitchin, Bushey – which covers the county pretty well!
There are Colourful Camouflage craft workshops at the Natural History Museum at Tring (30 Mar, 13 Apr), where you can create a colourful creature and see how it fares in different environments.
Get yourself an Explosive Easter Holidays at the Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey (28 Mar-12 Apr). All sorts of ‘eggplosive’ (sorry…) fun with Professor Nitrate in his Mad Lab, science shows, pyrotechnics, rocket making and launching, and – of course – an egg hunt. Sounds egg-citing! (Sorry….)
Don’t be an April fool – be a real boy with Pinocchio by Ballet Theatre UK at the Rhodes Arts Theatre, Bishop’s Stortford. Lovely classical score, iconic characters, and a story you’ll know and love.
Check out Shhh! – a dance production about a library (I’m having trouble picturing this one…) which will apparently appeal both to bookworms and dance fans. Turn up a bit earlier and join in an hour-long family dance workshop to get you warmed up. Or get all mystical with King Arthur and the Inglewood at the Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead (11am & 2.30pm) – as beautifully-crafted puppets wander through an enchanted forest. The 11am performance is a ‘relaxed’ performance, adapted to be accessible for those with special educational needs and autism.
If you missed The Railway Children earlier in the hols, you can catch it at Spotlight Theatre in Broxbourne. Or join the award-winning performing arts school Dance Design Theatre Arts for their spring spectacular show (2 & 7pm) at Hertford Theatre. Enjoy heaps of singing, dancing and acting from the stars of tomorrow.
Opinion is deeply divided in our house about Alvin and the Chipmunks, so it’ll be me (and not Mr C), taking our little rodents to see Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip at Watford Palace Theatre (11am). You can also catch it at Hertford Theatre (6-7 Apr) if you’d prefer.
Cookery Eatery are running their utterly fab Cookery Capers camps again (4, 6-7, 12-14 Apr) at Hitchin Boys School and St Christopher’s in Letchworth. My eldest attended one of these and – I kid you not – it’s totally transformed his attitude to food and broadened his palate. They get booked up, though, so sign up now!
Get up close and personal with Grendel, the wicked giant in the story of Beowulf, at Verulamium Museum, St Albans (10.30am & 4pm). Listen to the heroic tale of warriors, giants and dragons – then they make their own Grendel mask to take home and scare the bejeesus out of the neighbours. You’ll need to book in advance for this one.
Hunt for clues that will lead you to the eggs in Tring Park (10.30am & 2.30pm) with the lovely folk at the Natural History Museum, Tring. It’s free – hoorah! – but you’ll need to book in advance.
Join Ashley and Pudsey – y’know, from Britain’s Got Talent? – in their new show Mission Impudseyble at the Alban Arena (4-5 Apr). ‘Secret agent’ Pudsey is facing his arch nemesis – Dr Feline and his acrobatic cat burglars – with an array of gadgets, gismos and… er… jet packs. (Really…?)
Book ‘em in! The Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage, has a week-long Oliver-themed drama camp – perfect for your more theatrical 6-12 year olds. And then you get to go and see what they’re produced on the Friday afternoon. Right, which song shall I start with…? Gotta pick a pocket or twooooo….
There are Easter workshops for crafty kids at the Art Shed in Ware – make your own pottery beach hut (5 Apr, 10am-3.30pm) or ‘Eggs with Legs’ or pottery Easter baskets (7 Apr, 10am-3.30pm). Or, for some animal-themed crafty bits, head to Hertford Museum (5-7 & 12-14 Apr) and get inspired by some of the more exotic animals in the collection there.
Or get baking, maybe? Bake a spiced bun (hot? cross?) using Mill Green flour at the Mill Green Museum & Mill, Hatfield. Or bake a bread roll the next day (6 Apr).
It’s all getting a bit Saxon – rather than Roman – at the Verulamium Museum in St Albans. Find out what the Saxons did for fun, given that they didn’t have computer games (*gasp*). You’ll need to book in advance for this one. Or does King Arthur appeal more? Find out all about the legend and make a model of the magical sword in the stone the next day (6 Apr).
You can make an Orca Sock Puppet at the Natural History Museum, Tring, that you can then swim round the galleries with, looking for any of his mates. There are workshops throughout the day.
Head down the rabbit hole for the Alice in Wonderland Film & Fun Day at the Ark Theatre, Borehamwood, (10.30am-3pm). Pop your mad hat on (you do have a mad hat, right?) and pull up a chair for tea with Alice. Expect drama, games, arts and crafts, film and popcorn.
Head over to Hertford Theatre to marvel at The Amazing Bubble Man – a show that’s sold out for the last 8 years at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It’s spell-binding, by the sound of it, and brings together and science of bubbles with comedy and artistry.
Get out in the sunshine (fingers crossed) at the Easter Country Fair, River Lee Country Park (5-6 Apr). Birds of Prey flying displays, a goat (yes, goat) show, terrier racing, equestrian acrobatics (what?), motorcycle stunt riding, fighting knights, and all sorts. You can even camp nearby and make a proper weekend of it.
Got a telly-mad teen? This workshop looks brilliant. Teens on Screen, at 21st Century Studios, London Colney (5 & 7 Apr, 10am-4pm) has your teen gaining skills and confidence from professional TV presenters – writing scripts, delivering to camera, co-presenting, using an autocue or green screen, and so on. Spaces are limited so book now if you want to be sure of a place.
We’re off to see the wizard… tra la la… Join Dorothy and Toto as they dance their way through Oz and back to Kansas – via the Hawthorne Theatre in Welwyn Garden City. Sing along with the scarecrow (if I only had a brain…), the tin man and the cowardly lion (I’ll spare you my impersonation).
Get arty and crafty with grain at the Mill Green Museum & Mill, Hatfield. There are drop-in workshops all day, and it’s a neat little museum to look round while you’re there. Or you can get up to some ‘Crafty Capers’ at Verulamium Museum, St Albans (7-8 Apr, 2-4pm) – make a ‘Penguin Pal’ at the Natural History Museum, Tring, and check out their Antarctic exhibition while you’re there – or make a police or fire helmet at the Lowewood Museum, Broxbourne.
Or, The Old Town Hall in Hemel Hempstead is holding an arts half-day (7-8 Apr, 10am-1pm), with dance, craft-making and storytelling – all in one place, all for one price. This one, you have to stay with them – it’s for 5-8 years olds and their grown-ups.
Today is ‘Disney Day’ at Watersmeet Theatre, Rickmansworth, with three films being screened throughout the day – Lady and the Tramp, Beauty & the Beast, and Wreck it Ralph. The films are free – yes, really – but you do have to play a £1 per ticket booking fee. Bargain, though.
Or get them making their own animated classics. Book them in for the ‘Wild Animation’ workshop at St Albans Girls School (10am-3.30pm) for a hands-on intro to making animation, from the earliest history right up to Aardman and Pixar (7-12 years old).
Great chance to introduce your little ones to classic ballet – or fuel the fire with any already dance-mad offspring. Book in for Coppelia at Harlow Playhouse (7-10 Apr). It’s a charming choice, with love triumphing over everything, delightful music and lots of gorgeous dancing. *sigh*
Get your pre-schoolers grooving in the festival vibe with The Glastonbabies’ Make It Fun-ky Show the Rhodes Theatre, Bishop’s Stortford (11am-1pm). Loads of song and dance to get those tiny toes tapping.
Or get your older ones creeped out with Goosebumps at Hertford Theatre (10.30am). Jack Black (who my eldest loves and I could well do without) does battle with the monsters from the R. L. Stine books as they’re unleashed upon an unsuspecting town.
You’ve just got a couple more days to catch Michael Rosen’s Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake and Bad Things at Discover, at the Children’s Story Centre Discover in London – it’s closing 10 Apr. Children can step inside a huge chocolate cake, discover a secret larder, swishy swashy their way through a Bear Hunt and explore Bad Things in the Dread Shed.
Who doesn’t love Julia Donaldson? Check out this mash-up of some of her loveliest books – Tiddler, Monkey Puzzle, The Smartest Giant in Town and A Squash and a Squeeze – at Hertford Theatre (1 & 3pm). Lots of funky moves, toe-tapping tunes, and plenty of giggles.
Ah, Mister Maker. How can you not love a chap who drives a brightly-coloured car made out of loo rolls and felt? He’s at the Alban Arena (1pm) for his first ever live theatre tour, And yes, the dancing shapes will be there with him.
Check your little actors (6-12) in to The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe themed drama camp this week at the Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage (11-15 Apr). They’ll be putting together a script – we lovies call it devising… – and then performing that show to family and friends at the end of the week.
There’s ‘Wild Archery‘ going on at St Albans Girls School (10am-12pm). Fun archery games and competitions, learning to shoot safely, and ending up in an archery shoot out. Sounds wild.
Go glam, Celtic-style, at Mill Green Museum and Mill, Hatfield (10am, 11.15am, 1.15pm & 2.30pm). Make some gorgeous Celtic jewellery and decorate a stunning Celtic mirror.
Get outside – and almost certainly muddy – at the ‘Wild Survivor Adventure Day,’ Phasels Wood Activity Centre, Kings Langley, (10am-3pm). Shelter building, fire-lighting, tracking, wild navigation, camp-fire cooking, water filtration, carving simple wooden objects, team games – all good jolly outdoor fun!
Design and paint your very own cave drawing at the Cave Art sessions at Mill Green Museum and Mill, Hatfield, 13 April (10am, 11.15am, 1.15pm and 2.30pm).
Any wannabe boarders in your house? How about the ‘Wild Wheels Skateboard School‘ at St Albans Girls School (10am-12pm) to get them rolling? All the basic moves, and even a few tricks to impress.
Chris and Pui from CBeebies – they’re just so darn sweet. And they’re in St Albans (11am & 2pm), along with all their favourite toys — Tom, Momo, Teddington, Stuffy and Miss Mouse – so why not take yours along too?
Get pre-historic today, using clay to design and make pots, arrows and axe heads – or they can even think big and make Stonehenge – at Mill Green Museum and Mill, Hatfield (10am, 11.15am, 1.15pm & 2.30pm). Or there’s Family Fun at Lowewood Museum, Broxbourne (12-3pm), with a chance to make an emergency vehicle (and accompanying sound effects in the car on the way home).
There’s no place like home…. There’s no place like home… Get your ruby slippers on and take the Yellow Brick Road to vist The Wizard of Oz at the Watford Colosseum (3 & 7pm). Starring Bobby Davro (remember him?) and Dani Harmer, it’s chock-full of pop songs, dance routines and lots of audience participation. Bit like an Easter panto.
How about a Discover Archery Course with the country folk at Celtic Harmony? Learn how to shoot a bow — and even how to string a bow — as well as all the safety bits you’ll definitely need to know.
Or if you’re in the St Albans area, what about enjoying a St Albans Cathedral Family Discovery Morning? (10.30am-12.30pm, although it’s best to get there before 11). It’s all about dressing up — are you going to be a Saxon, a Tudor, a Roman Soldier…?
And then, pretty much, it’s back to school….