Easter. A holiday full of traditions, excitement, family time and … eggs ( you thought I was gonna say chocolate, didn’t you). It is my parallel Christmas, despite the lack of presents and I still love all Easter activities we get into.
Let’s go back a bit first for all new readers here. I come from an Eastern European country, where religion and therefore traditions widely differ from what we’re used to seeing in the UK. My family and I moved to the UK last year in January. We’ve already had one Easter celebration here, but it was very chaotic and, unfortunately, caught us quite unprepared.
This year, however, we decided to make the most of it. One of the many good things about the UK is that such holidays call for many commercial and non-commercial organisations to prepare various activities. I tried to research them well in advance, so that we could be better prepared. And here are some highlights from our Easter, which might give you ideas for next year or even the coming summer season.
Garden centre – Breakfast with the Eastern Bunny
This is something I found out about from one of my local mum-friends. Turns out the Wyevale garden centre chain, which has a few locations near where we live, hold bi-annual events for children – for Easter and Christmas. In the spring you get to meet the Eastern Bunny, and in December – Santa Clause.
We didn’t know what to expect, but since it was recommended, we thought we’d give it a try and in the end it didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t something major but our little son seemed to enjoy it a lot and prices were quite reasonable, so it doesn’t add too much to your usual cost of living.
At the entrance we were greeted by the Mad Hatter who showed us to our table. We started off with an English breakfast ( there were other options as well) and a hot drink. Food was very good. In the meantime, our son decided to have a look around the garden centre. He spend quite a bit of time in the toy section where they had all sorts of miniature gardening tools. But the highlight for him was the wheelbarrow, which he loaded with a few plush animals and gave them a tour.
Then it was time for the Easter egg hunt around the plants and flower pots. This activity could have been better organised, because it turned out we were looking for printed out posters and not actual eggs, but still it was fun for the kids . They would get a stamp with a caterpillar for each egg found. The hunt eventually led us back to the diner and each child got a few chocolate eggs as a reward.
We then had a visit from the Easter Bunny and took the opportunity to take some pictures. The little one received a chocolate chicken to decorate. If you think he was too young for that kind of activity – you’re probably right. Despite that, he still seemed to enjoy it immensely. The grand finale was when the Bunny came back with a crate full of stuffed animals and each kid got one of their choice. As a result, we came back home with a chick.
Hampton court palace
This was such an unexpected find. We were looking for places to go to over the long Easter weekend. Knowing that most such places would have some Easter activities I went straight to the Historic Royal Places website. The main reason was, because we got an annual pass from them when our parents came to visit. With both families we visited the Tower of London, and an annual pass turned out to be cheaper than buying two adult tickets twice. Idea? We hadn’t made real use of this pass, and Easter seemed like the perfect occasion.
Hampton court is fairly close to where we are. In addition to the breathtaking gardens ( only seen on pictures so far), it said there was the palace, two maizes and … tatadadaaaa “The magic garden”. If you are familiar with it, you could probably guess correctly that in the end we did not see neither the gardens, nor the palace. We spend most of our time there in the Magic garden. It truly IS magical. As was the line at the entrance as well. If I have to describe it briefly I’d say it is a little oasis in the middle of the palace, but for children. It has water activities, a sand strip, green area and lots of slides, towers, bridges and others to go crazy at.
I’m sure we did not manage to see it all. On the one hand, we were unprepared for what it was. Most kids were in swimsuits with flip-flops, and parents with towels and sunscreen, waiting at a safe distance. On the other hand, since it was a really warm and sunny day, the line to get in was quite long, so we were only given two hours to stay inside. Of course, no one seemed to keep track of who entered when. In any case, as a curtsy to the many families waiting outside, I guess most people didn’t overstay their welcome. When we were leaving we noticed that they would let as many people go in, as were the ones leaving. There is a separate entry fee for it, but it’s well worth it, and not too expensive anyway. There’s a cafe inside and even though we did not take advantage of it, it was nice.
Most of our time we spent at the fountains, where our son was stripped to his vest and a diaper, having the time of his life playing with the water. Some of the slides he found too scary to try. However, he did explore the magic towers and bridges enjoying the view from above. The pictures I’ve included definitely don’t do it justice. Reason was that due to the many people and children in there, I did not want to completely disturb their privacy. You can still head over to their website to have a look yourself.
We ended our visit with lunch at the cafe of the palace. It was lovely and had lots of tables outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. Food was delicious and we all enjoyed it in the sun.
Easter activities from home
This year again caught us slightly unprepared. An important tradition where we come from is to decorate and paint real boiled eggs. It has to be done either on a Thursday or on a Saturday the week before Easter, and always the first egg should be done in red. Unfortunately, last year we tried the local food dye and it didn’t work. For some reason I thought it was because I bought the cheapest one. This year I got some more expensive options and still only the red was good. I regretted not trying some more natural options or just buying proper egg dye from back home. Anyway, at least we got the first one to be red.
This tradition goes on to Easter morning when we have some sort of an “egg fight”. That’s when each person picks one of the eggs and tries to crush the other one’s with it. There usually is someone, whose egg will remain whole, and tradition says they will be healthy all year long. Our son did not participate in the painting. Regardless, he was so eager to try the fight that he didn’t want to stop until he had all eggs broken. He was also really disappointed that his was the egg that remained whole.
So, these are the highlights from our Easter 2019. If you’re new to the UK and are trying to find out about any local activities going on, I’d suggest looking at the following:
- Any local garden centres usually go all out on the major holidays
- Local farms, which welcome visitors and usually have a cafe, or a farm shop on the premises
- Any such big palaces, gardens, etc.
- Children centres and libraries
If you’d like to share your Easter experience or would like to add to my list of places to look at – please do so in the comments below. I’d love to find out more 🙂