Celebrate spring with a long Easter weekend in the UK. There are loads of things to do all over the country and - in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - four whole days to party.
Easter is the first bank holiday weekend of the warmer seasons in the UK. It's a special treat, after the bleak midwinter months of January and February (and usually March) unbroken by a single cheery long weekend or official day off.
The Easter Bank Holiday is four days long, including both Good Friday and Easter Monday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, which follows its own holiday calendar Easter Monday is not a legal holiday.
Spring is Sprung
Whether Easter falls in early April or late March, UK woodlands will most likely be carpeted with daffodils and camelia. Magnolias, rhododendrons and azalea will be starting to open in city parks and country gardens. Meadows and river banks will be sprouting crocus and iris and the feeling of annual rebirth will be strong. And, unlike earlier, perhaps more religious times, almost everything is open throughout the weekend.
20 Things to Do For Easter in the UK
There are blooms to see, foods to taste and a good selection of the weird and wonderful pastimes of English eccentrics. Whatever you get up to over the Easter break, how can you resist all that chocolate? Here's where to find the best Easter Egg Hunts and Easter Egg Rolls in the UK.
These links will take you to more information about things to do over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend:
- Chester Food, Drink & Lifestyle Festival. Live entertainment, demonstrations by celebrity chefs, lots of things to taste, try and buy. With 150 artisan food and drink exhibitors and a free cooking academy for kids, it's the biggest event of its kind taking place anywhere in the UK for Easter 2018. There's Camperfest camping at Chester Racecourse, almost in the city center. The festival runs from Easter Saturday to Easter Monday.
- Mells Daffodil Festival The tiny Somerset Village connected with Little Jack Horner (who may have been steward for the last abbot of Glastonbury) welcomes the spring with a traditional village fete on Easter Monday . There are stalls on the high street, food, crafts, games and a display of classic cars.This is an old-fashioned, small town event with Easter bonnet competitions and parachuting Teddies. Some years, there are even daffodils. Find out more about the historic village of Mells.
- Visit an English Garden Many of England's best gardens open for the season on Easter weekend and quite a few have special displays and events scheduled.
- Visit the Predators at Longleat - England's oldest and best safari park is staging "Predators - a Killer Animatronic Exhibition" with killer beasties all over the park. And then of course there are all the real beasties, including Longleat's wonderful monkeys, lions, tigers and more all happy to be outdoors for the season again.
- Go Lambing The first young lambs, bouncing across a field after their mothers, are a sure sign that spring has arrived. The National Trust has several places where you can visit young flocks and, in some cases, witness lambing. There are rare and unusual breeds at the Home Farm of the Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire, thousands of newborn lambs at Ickworth and rare Jacob Sheep lambing at Charlecote Park near Stratford-upon-Avon. At Broomhouse Farm on the Wallington Estate in Northumberland, you can even join in, becoming a lambing apprentice from Good Friday onward for about two weeks.
- International Jousting Tournament at the Royal Armouries, Leeds. The Royal Armouries has its own tilting yard, armorers and a stable for heavy war horses. Quite a sight. In 2018 the tournament runs from 10am Good Friday to 5pm Easter Monday. There are several shows a day but they sell out fast so arrive early or book your tickets in advance at Eventbrite.
- Enjoy one of Lancelot "Capability" Brown's finest landscapes with tons of Easter events at Blenheim Palace. The 18th century landscape architect, who practically single-handedly invented the landscape of English country estate, planted forests, created naturalistic waterfalls and serpentine rivers. Spring is the best time to see it and Blenheim always goes all out for Easter Weekend. In 2018 They are planning their first ever Giant Egg Hunt Challenge and loads of other family events in the Pleasure Gardens - circus skills workshops, bouncy castles, archery in the Maze area, storytelling, face painting, and Easter Bunny walkabout, Punch & Judy Shows and a Victorian Fun Fair.
- Stargazing Hard to believe, but Britain has some of the darkest places on earth. March and April are considered the best for brilliant stargazing. Pick a moonless night and arrive about an hour and a half after sundown for the best viewing. Check this list of official International Dark Skies Association recognized places in the UK to find the darkest skies near you.
- Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic is the Victoria and Albert Museum's "multi-sensory and playful" exhibition built around this popular children's character. The work of A.A. Milne and illustrator E.H. Shepard is brought to life through sketches, letters, photographs, cartoons, ceramics and fashion.It's an exhibition that lives up to the description "for children of all ages" and it finishes April 8 2018 so book tickets online for Easter weekend.
- Planet Thanet Easter Beer Festival Organizers promise this is the planet's biggest Easter beer and cider festival. 200 kinds of beer, cider and perry to taste, souvenir glasses, hot food and a pub quiz with a £100 prize. Friday and Saturday of Easter Weekend at the Margate Winter Gardens..
- British World Marbles Championship Annual Event at The Greyhound, Tinsley Green, Sussex. At least 100 people regularly take part in this eccentric pub event. On Good Friday in 2018
- The 55th Annual Gawthorpe World Coal Carrying Championships How fast can you run a mile carrying a 50lb sack of coal? Men and women compete and achieve amazing speeds. You don't have to take part to enjoy this West Yorkshire mayhem.It starts at 11:30 a.m. Easter Monday at the Royal Oak Pub in Owl Lane, Gawthorpe, with registration from 10 a.m.at the Boot and Shoe Pub on the High Street.
- A Day at the Races There was a time when horseracing was forbidden over the Easter weekend. Not anymore. Lingfield Park in Surrey hosts the flat racing All Weather Championships Finals on Good Friday in 2018. There's Easter Saturday racing at Musselburgh in Scotland. Kempton Park holds its Easter Family Fun Day with flat racing on Easter Saturday and so does Haydock Park, near Liverpool. There are lots more. Check the British Horseracing Authority website to find more racing fixtures over Easter Weekend.
- Have a Splash at an Indoor Water Park Most will be open Easter weekend and some have special family deals. At the Blue Lagoon in Pembrokeshire the "family" ticket covers almost any combination of four people as long as one of them is an adult.
- Music Festivals - Easter in 2018 falls a bit early for most of the big headline music festivals. But that shouldn't stop you. After all, there are all kinds of music. The St Endellion Easter Festival is a celebration of music for orchestra and chorus in St Endellion, a village in North Cornwall near St Isaacs. For music lovers, it's a chance to hear, among other things, Handel's Messiah, in an interesting and unusual part of Britain.
- Hit the Shops - Lots of High Street stores have sales over Easter weekend. Check out Marks and Spencer and Debenhams for good buys.
- Take in a Seasonal Concert - At the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Choral Society has been performing Handel's Messiah every Good Friday afternoon since 1876. If you'd prefer Bach's St Matthews Passion, Birmingham's Ex Cathedra Choir and Baroque Orchestra are performing it at Birmingham Symphony Hall on Good Friday afternoon.
- Introduce the Kids to Dance - As part of Family Weekend, Sadlers Wells hosts BalletLORENT's production of Rumpelstilskin, a "fantastical dance-theatre fairy-tale adaptation" with the narrative retold by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and performed by actor Ben Crompton. It's suitable for children 7+ and the whole family. Good Friday and Easter Saturday.
- See a Show - Pinocchio, with songs and music from the Disney film, is on at the National Theatre, on the Lyttleton Stage in London, Easter Saturday and Monday bank holiday.
- See Some Shakespeare Travel to Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's hometown to see the Royal Shakespeare Company in their home theater. On Easter Weekend 2018 see The Fantastic Follies of Mrs. Rich, a witty comedy of manners by an almost lost woman playwright of the 1600s. Or be more traditionally Shakespearean with Macbeth, starring Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack.