There's always plenty to do during the Easter season in London, and while most planned activities take place over the Bank Holiday weekend, events often take place over a two-week period to coincide with the Easter school holidays.
Easter is a Christian holiday that gives the United Kingdom two bank holidays: Good Friday and Easter Monday. U.K. schoolchildren get two weeks off, so you can expect the major London attractions to be busier. Additionally, although most people celebrate Easter by eating far too many chocolate Easter eggs, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy this springtime holiday on your trip to England this year.
Attend Church Services
Because Easter is a religious holiday and London is a city of many churches, you can expect to find a number of great services held across the city in honor of Easter this year.
Whether you're religious or not, you should consider attending an Easter Service at one of the landmark places of worship such as Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, or Southwark Cathedral—even if you don't celebrate the spirit of the holiday, you'll be awed by the magnificent architecture and the ceremonial grandeur of a religious mass. Additionally, St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church in Trafalgar Square usually has a line-up of events featuring live choral and orchestral music during the holy week.
If you're looking for a place to satisfy your craving for chocolatey treats, London is home to a number of great independent chocolate shops as well as several mass-marketing producers and department stores that carry all your favorite national and international brands.
Whether you just want to swing by a Liberty department store or stop in at Hotel Chocolat for an Extra Thick Chocolate Egg, you're sure to find exactly what you're looking for in London this year. If you're looking for London's independent chocolate shops, though, you certainly won't want to miss Melt, Paul A. Young, Melange, and Rococo, which is an entire school dedicated to the art of making chocolate.
The Widow's Son pub in Bromley-by-Bow in east London is known for the strange tradition it holds every year for Good Friday where a fresh hot cross bun is hung in the bar. As part of the annual tradition, a sailor adds another bun to the existing collection in honor of the bar's namesake widow, who is rumored to have lost her only son to the sea during the Napoleonic Wars.
Although you can swing by the bar any time on Good Friday for a drink, you must book a table in advance to witness the unique Widow's Bun ceremony. However, while you're there you can also enjoy a meal or infusion-based cocktail from the bar; alternatively, you might also like to take a walking tour of the Bow neighborhood.
The London Harness Horse Parade is an annual event whose origins date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. The event takes place every year on Easter Monday at the South of England Showground in West Sussex, which is a short train ride from London.
Although this equestrian event is a little further out than some other celebrations for Easter, it is a wonderful opportunity to see working horses such as the Friesian horses from Harrods. Guests of the parade will also be able to witness a living timeline of the progress made in the transportation industry throughout British history as they learn how the Brits used to carry everything from beer to eggs across the country.
All of London's major attractions have special events for children throughout the Easter holiday season. From egg hunts to hands-on activities like basket and decoration making, there are plenty of unique events you and your family can attend this year.
Some attractions like the National Gallery and the British Museum offer egg hunts or egg decorating activities, which are fun pastimes for the whole family. You should also try the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tate Modern if you're looking for a fun way to learn while you enjoy the holidays this year.
If you're looking to save money on your trip and want to check out more than one attraction, you should consider purchasing The London Pass for your trip, which allows you to pack in loads of sightseeing without spending a fortune. Whether you are taking the whole family or plan to visit multiple sights on your own, the pass gives you the freedom to try hundreds of activities for a set price.
However, most of these attractions also require advanced registration to attend events such as egg hunts and workshops, so be sure to visit each venue's corresponding website for more information on how to participate in Easter celebrations during your trip.
Since Easter usually falls later in the spring season, the weather in London should be nice enough this time of year for you to take one of the many walking tours offered in the city year-round in relative comfort. Whether you decide to join a guided tour or simply download your own self-guided one, you're sure to find plenty of unique adventures around London this time of year, especially if you're touring over the week of Easter.
However, the City of London Tour of the financial district is a good choice over the Easter weekend since the area will be relatively quiet as many of the offices are closed for the holiday. The financial district is also home to tons of historical architecture, unique boutiques, and a variety of restaurants ranging in price from cheap to moderately expensive.
One of the best events in London during the Easter season that has nothing to do with the holiday is the Zippos Circus on Blackheath, which sets up shop on Shooters Hill Road in London's Lewisham district each April.
Featuring a variety of circus acts including horsemanship from Boris Borissov with his stunning white horses and human skills from Brazilian Alex Michael, one of the few trapeze artists in the world who works without a safety net high above the circus ring, this show may even be better than Cirque du Soleil.
On the lighter side, visitors can enjoy comic antics from new Italian clown Mr. Lorenz and the unique comedy style of Alex the Fireman, and it's all hosted by Norman Barrett MBE—Ringmaster extraordinaire with his cheeky performing budgerigars.
Family activities take over the Bank of England Museum for "Eggs Marks The Spot," its annual Easter celebration, from April 8–18, 2019. During the celebration, you can follow a brightly colored trail through the exhibits with your kids, who will be tasked with finding brightly decorated eggs hidden around the museum.
The museum will also host daily Easter crafting sessions throughout the week, including finger puppet making and egg decorating, as well as a few special exhibits centered around the traditions of this religious holiday. All events and entry to the museum are free to enjoy, but reservations must be made in advance if you want to participate in the egg hunt.
On Good Friday, Trafalgar Square has the Wintershall Players performing "The Passion of Jesus" twice in honor of the holiday. First seen on the square in 2010, this 90-minute open-air play is now watched by around 20,000 people every year.
The cast is large with 78 actors, two horses, and a donkey, but a big screen is brought in so that everyone in attendance can get great views of the performance and not miss any details. This event is completely free to watch and attend, but you'll need to remember to bring suitable clothing for the open-air show.
Please note: The Passion of Jesus has a realistic interpretation of the crucifixion, so parental guidance is advised.