Shape up for Easter: 20 great outings

The best family bank holiday attractions - from pirates and ghosts, to Beatrix Potter and Ratty at the Bank of England


1 Potter around in the Lake District

1 Potter around in the Lake District

Benjamin Bunny Centenary Celebrate 100 years of Beatrix Potter's enduring rabbit. On 6 and 7 April at 11am, 1pm and 2.30pm, visitors to the World of Beatrix Potter can take part in mask- and bonnet-making inspired by characters such as Peter Rabbit and Mrs Tiggy Winkle.

The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, The Old Laundry, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria (01539 488444; www.hop-skip-jump.com). Open daily, 10am-5.30pm. Admission: £3.90 for adults, £2.90 for children (4-14), and £6 for child's entry including the mask and bonnet workshop. It is advisable to book in advance.

2 Walk the ramparts with a ghost

Warwick 'Ghosts Alive'

Sir Fulke Greville is the focus of this guided ghost walk. He lived in the Warwick Castle's Watergate Tower nearly 400 years ago, but was murdered by a servant and haunts what is now called Ghost Tower. Dramatic and ghoulish re-enactments take place throughout Easter, as well as a medieval banquet with entertainment.

Warwick Castle, Warwick (01926 495421; www.warwick-castle.co.uk).

Open daily 10am-6pm. Admission: £14.50 for adults, £8.75 for children (4-16), £39 for a family ticket (two adults, two children). Ghosts Alive is £2 extra.

3 Eggs-iting times, naturally

Wildlife safari

At the Natural History Museum in London, take part in a "mini-beast safari", a guided walk for children aged 7-11 around the Wildlife Garden, which includes oak woodland, lowland heath, pond and hedgerow, on 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18 April at 12.30pm and 3pm. At the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum in Tring, Hertfordshire, "The Egg: the Most Perfect Thing in the Universe", until 4 July, explores the ancient Egyptian art of mummifying eggs and other amazing egg facts. Both events are free but it is advisable to book ahead on the day for the "mini-beast safari" at the Life Galleries information desk.

The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London (020-7942 5000; www.nhm.ac.uk). The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Akeman Street, Tring, Hertfordshire (020-7942 6171; www.nhm.ac.uk).

4 Design your own way of living

Young designers of the year Inspired by the four entries to the Designer of the Year competition, children can design their own interpretations of the exhibits, such as football kits, light sculptures, websites and modern houses.

The Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD (0870 909 9009; www.designmuseum.org).

The activities take place on weekends throughout April from 2pm-5pm and are open to children aged six-12. Booking is strongly recommended, and children must be accompanied by an adult. Admission to the workshops is included in the general entry price, £6 for adults, £4 for children aged 5-16 and £16 for a family ticket of two adults and two children. All children receive a "design action pack".

5 Where the chicken lays chocolate eggs

Drusillas Park

Over the bank holiday weekend a host of Easter activities includes sheep shearing, an oversized chocolate egg-laying "chicken". Visitors can also meet furry friends such as meerkats and otters, unravel an Easter egg challenge quiz trail, and watch Charlie the clown and a birds of prey theatre.

Drusillas Park, Alfriston, East Sussex (01323 874100; www.drusillas.co.uk).

Open daily from 10am-5pm. Admission is £9.99 for adults, £9.49 for children aged two-12, £8.99 for senior citizens and £36.45 for a family ticket (two adults and two children).

6 Turn back the clock, and dance

A Victorian Easter At Blists Hill Victorian Town on the banks of the Shropshire Canal visitors can get a taste of how Easter was celebrated in times gone by with events such as egg dancing, where the participants were blindfolded and had to dance without stepping on eggs placed in their path. Other egg-related activities will include egg decorating and egg rolling.

Blists Hill Victorian Town, Legges Way, Madeley, Telford (01952 435900; www.ironbridge.org.uk).

Other museums in the area such as the Coalport China Museum and Enginuity will also be staging Easter events. Visitors can buy a museum pass that allows entry into the 10 Ironbridge Gorge Museums for £13.25 per adult, £8.75 per child or full-time student, and £11.50 for over-60s. A family ticket for two adults and two children costs £42. The pass lasts indefinitely. All museums are open daily from 10am-5pm.

7 Clowning around at the castle

The Big Top Event

Roll up for Nottingham Castle's Big Top event, which celebrates the new circus-themed Children's Gallery, open from now until next spring. Family events such as circus performances are planned for Big Top day on 7 April. There are arts and circus activities for children in the Big Top Reading Tent while the Children's Gallery will display paintings of fun fairs and acrobats.

Nottingham Castle, Lenten Road, Nottingham (0115 915 3700; www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk).

The Castle and Children's Gallery are open daily from 10am-5pm. Admission is free Mondays-Fridays and at weekends, and on bank holidays is £2 for adults, £1 for children under 16 and concessions, and free for under-fives.

8 Children of the revolution

Science and industry Visit the new Discoveries That Changed the World gallery at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, which celebrates some of Manchester's most eminent scientists, such as chemist John Dalton (1766-1844) and James Joule (1818-1889), a brewer and physicist.

Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, Liverpool Road, Manchester (0161 832 2244, www.msim.org.uk). Open daily from 10am-5pm, admission is free.

9 The other world wide web

Encounter with Spiderman

As part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, Our Dynamic Earth is staging a number of events, including the Spiderman encounter from 5-9 and 12-13 April. The tour takes place from 3pm-4.30pm and participants will come face to face with tarantulas, giant cockroaches and stick insects. The event is free if taken with a "Meet the Scientist" tour of Our Dynamic Earth from 10.30am-12.30pm. There will also be a mask and finger puppet workshop on these days at 1pm (£1 for children).

Our Dynamic Earth, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS (0131 550 7800, www.dynamicearth.co.uk). Open daily from 10am-5pm. The tour costs £10 for adults and £6 for children aged 5-15 and senior citizens. Booking is advisable.

10 Hands up who likes puppets

The Liverpool Museum

Young puppeteers can learn the history of Indonesian shadow puppets on Friday 9 April, hourly between 12.30pm and 3.30pm, then create their own. Wayang Kulit (the art of Javanese shadow puppets) is one of the oldest storytelling traditions. There will be traditional Punch and Judy shows on 10 and 11 April, hourly from 12.30pm to 3.30pm.

Liverpool Museum, William Brown Street, Liverpool (0151 478 4399; www.liverpoolmuseum.org.uk).

Open Mondays-Saturdays from 10am-5pm and Sundays from 12pm-5pm. Admission is free. The puppet-making workshops and Punch and Judy shows will be first come, first served.

11 Track a spy on the streets of London

James Bond walk Mark the 40th anniversary of Ian Fleming's death by seeing Bond film sights such as MI5 and MI6, and the Admiralty building where Fleming worked for Naval intelligence.

The tours begin in Trafalgar Square at 1.30pm daily. Tickets cost £8 for children, £17 for adults (£15 if you book online). Valid for 24 hours, they include unlimited open-top double-decker bus rides, a river cruise, and two other walks, "Rock 'n' Roll" and "Royal Tour". (020-7233 9533; www.bigbustours.com).

12 Fishy goings-on in Cornwall

Rick Stein's chippy

Feast on the English classic takeaway at Rick Stein's new fish-and-chip restaurant and take-away in Padstow, Cornwall. Customers can choose their piece of fish and watch as it is battered and fried. A healthier griddled option, served with salad, is also available.

Stein's Fish and Chips, Padstow (01841 532700; www.rickstein.com).

13 Parade on Prince's Street

Edinburgh Easter Festival

Music and other performances from more than 3,500 international and local artists, on the two main stages in Prince's Street Gardens. Free children's events include maypole dancing, face painting and an hourly Easter Egg hunt. There will be daily lunchtime concerts at the open air Ross theatre, and, in the evening, classical music in churches. The highlight of the festival (020 8566 8586; www.edinburghparade.co.uk) is Easter Sunday when there is a procession along Prince's Street.

14 Stop and smell the flowers

Rhododendron garden

The home and gardens of the Marquess of Anglesey open to the public with spectacular displays of flowering cherries, camellias and azaleas in the Italianate Terrace Garden, daffodils and bluebells on the woodland walk, and the five-acre Rhododendron Garden is at its peak. The house, which is set on the banks of the Menai strait, with stunning views of Mount Snowdon and surrounding hills, houses Rex Whistler's largest painting.

Plas Newydd, Llanfairpwll, Wales (01248 714795; www.nationaltrust.org.uk) from 9 April. Admission is £5 for adults and £2.50 for children.

15 Find the mystery word, make a hat

Leeds Castle festivities

Easter activities are inspired by cultures from around the world. Make an Easter bonnet with an international theme, and a holiday kit using flags and postcards from different countries. Music comes from an African Steel band and local Morris Dancers. In an Easter trail, children find letters to compile a mystery word and win a chocolate egg.

Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent, 9 April - 12 April (01622 765400; www.leeds-castle.com). Admission is £12.50 for adults, and £9 for children between four and 15, a family ticket costing £39 includes two adults and three children.

16 Join the Tudors in the kitchen

West Sussex Fine Food Fair

Eat your way around an abundance of locally produced goods ranging from cheeses and beef to chutneys, beer and spices. Flour-milling is among old agricultural practices demonstrated, and a working Tudor kitchen will be cooking dishes from that period.

The West Sussex Fine Food Fair 11 and 12 April, 10.30am-6pm, Weald and Downland Museum, Chichester, West Sussex (01243 811348; www.wealddown.co.uk). Admission costs £7.50 for adults and £4 for children, which includes entry to the rest of the museum's 50 preserved buildings.

17 Tales of the riverbank

The 'Wind in the Willows' story

Join Toad, Ratty, Mole and Badger at 10am and 1pm in the museum of the Bank of England for readings of The Wind in the Willows, written by bank employee Kenneth Grahame. An hourly theatre make-up artists' workshop, between 11.30am and 4pm, will show children how to recreate characters on stage .

The Bank of England, Threadneedle St, London EC1 (020 7601 5491; www.bankofengland.co.uk/museum), 5-8 and 13-16 April. Admission is free.

18 Ho, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum

Piracy on the high seas

Jump aboard this replica of a Tudor ship for a day of swashbuckling pirate activities, with workshops, storytelling and a worst dressed pirate competition, offering the winner a sleepover for 20 people on board the ship with entertainment and a Tudor stew supper. On 13 April between 1pm-4pm there is a staged battle to save Peter Pan from the evil Captain Hook. Kids can choose to be a Red Indian or Pirate in Neverland, and are taught how to fire cannons, and raise the anchor (£12, including lunch). Kids search the entire ship for Easter eggs on 10 April (£4 per child, advance booking). Daily events throughout the holidays include storytelling sessions about Sir Francis Drake, for five- to nine-year-olds (children, £3; adults, £1).

The Golden Hinde Ship, Millennium Mile, Southwark, SE1 (020 7403 0123

www.goldenhinde.co.uk), 5 -15 April.

19 Ride and walk in Wales

Snowdonia Adventure Weekend

Work off any Easter excess with a weekend of walking, cycling and riding in the heart of the Welsh countryside. Start on mountain bikes, and walk after lunch along paths of varying terrain with superb views of Snowdon. Sunday is spent pony-trekking further into the National Park.

Snowdonia Adventure Weekend (0118 961 8577), 16-18 April. The all-inclusive weekend costs £150 per person and trips leave from Hammersmith, north London, at 5.30pm on Friday, back onSunday, 8pm.

20 Pantomime in the spring

Easter Eggstravaganza

Help Romeo Rabbit and his friends protect the precious chocolate eggs from the Evil Eggbert, in the outdoor pantomine and clown around in the circus workshops. In the formal gardens, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and "mad" King George III will act out scenes from their lives.

Groombridge Place Gardens and Enchanted Forest, Tunbridge Wells, Kent (01892 863999: www.groombridge.co.uk), 11 and 12 April. Tickets cost £8.50 for adults, and £7 for children (aged three-12), or a family ticket including two adults and two children costs £28.50.

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