Katy Holland: Woodland to Wonderland: Easter escapes that won't break the bank

Are We There Yet? Spring is in the air and plenty of new family-friendly attractions are opening up
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The Independent Travel

On my to-do list this weekend: make a plan for the Easter holidays that: a) doesn't require a second mortgage to pay for it; and b) will distract the kids from their usual pastime of throttling each other.

A pressing task, and one that is on the minds of parents up and down the country, judging by your emails to me. But don't despair just yet. Spring is in the air and, like the buds on the trees, plenty of new family-friendly attractions are opening up.

For a proper adventure, there are the new space-age tents that have appeared in the Forest of Dean. The Dome Garden (01730 261458; domegarden.co.uk) is a secret hideaway that is perfect for families with an urge to run wild in the woods. Ten geodesic eco-domes sleep up to six each, and come with big beds, beanbags, and ensuite showers. There's plenty to exhaust the kids, from white water rafting to biking and canoeing.

If you're stuck for ideas for day trips, you can always rely on English Heritage (english-heritage.org.uk), which lays on lots of family events – many of them free – around the country during school holidays. For the Easter weekend, there are egg hunts and treasure trails, as well as various local historical events. Check out the Time Travellers Go ... Through the Ages adventure at Dover Castle, in Kent, where your little darlings can dress up as gladiators, learn to play the fool at jester school, or turn into fearless knights for an afternoon.

The National Trust (nationaltrust .org.uk) is guaranteed to come up with enticing ideas, too. One of its best is the new interactive Alice in Wonderland Experience at Antony House, Torpoint, Cornwall. Several scenes from Tim Burton's new film were shot here, and the estate is now hosting its own Alice event until October. The kids will enjoy meandering through the art installations and sculptures, sliding down the rabbit hole, meeting the Cheshire Cat, and joining in the Mad Hatter's tea party, where Alice and friends will lead them around the garden, re-enacting scenes along the way.

That's Easter sorted, then. Next on the to-do- list: summer holidays.