Things To Do With Children In Essex This Spring

As the days get longer and warmer it’s a great opportunity to go out and do things locally in Essex with your children. As attractions start to open for the season there are plenty of fun places to visit, as well as the many free parks and woodlands to enjoy. A rainy day doesn’t have to stop play though and this post also contains suggestions of indoor places to visit this Spring.


A child dancing among daffodils on a Spring day
Ideas of what to do and where to go in Essex with your family this Spring


23 Things To Do In Essex With Children This Spring


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1.  See Snowdrops

One of the first signs that Spring is coming is the arrival of these beautiful white flowers. Many of the gardens in Essex open in February so visitors can enjoy their snowdrops. Great places to visit to see snowdrops include Markshall Estate, The Gibberd Garden, Hyde Hall, Hedingham Castle and Easton Lodge. Or if you want to visit somewhere without the entrance fee try the snowdrop walk at Norpar Barns (closed Mondays).


2. Make Pancakes

Pancake day in 2023 is 21st February (and 13th Feb next year). It’s a great opportunity to get children cooking by making this simple batter or they can just enjoy decorating the cooked pancakes with a whole range of toppings. Why not have a pancake race in the garden as well?


3. Go To The Cinema 

Cinemas are a great place to go with children on cooler or wetter days. Save money by using Meerkat Movies 2 for 1 offer on Tuesdays and Wednesdays or check out special children's screenings. At the weekend you can see reduced price films at 10am for £2.50 a person at Cineworld, £3.25 a person at Odeon and £2.49 a person at Vue when tickets are bought in advance online. 

New film releases this Spring include: The Super Mario Brothers Movie (from April 7th), Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret (from April 28th) and the live action Little Mermaid (from May 26th). Expect the early morning children's sessions to show popular films that have been out a few months rather than the latest releases.

Find out the cinema nearest to you in Essex here.


4. Fly A Kite

The windy weather in Spring makes it a great time to find an open space and fly kites. With older children you can encourage them to make their own and see if they will fly, with younger children buy one like this simple design or this blue butterfly kite.


5. Splash In Puddles

Does it seem to be raining every weekend? It doesn't mean you have to stay in, just make sure you are all dressed to be stay dry and warm and go puddle jumping. Welly boots essential (and maybe a change of clothes and some hot chocolate in a flask too).


A toddler playing in puddles in a jumpsuit and wellies
Enjoy the rainy Spring days with some puddle jumping


6. Markshall Estate Mini Beast Trail 

Until 19th March you can explore Markshall Estate and enjoy their Mini Beast Trail. Don't worry if your little one finds creepy crawlies a little scary, the creatures on this trail are paintings on wood so they will love marking them off on their trail sheet. Only open Friday to Sunday. You can read more about what to expect in our review here. If you miss the Mini Beasts then their next trail will be Easter eggs.


7. Feed Baby Lambs 

Baby lambs are super cute and there are lots of events throughout Essex when you can see them. If you are lucky you might even get to see one being born. Several farms are running events to see lambs (like Lambing Live at Foxholes Farm from 31st March to 18th April) but if you want to bottle feed the lambs there are less choices. Try booking onto one of the tractor rides and bottle feeding sessions at Layer Marney or visiting Boydells Dairy Farm (open in the Easter holidays).


A young girl bottle feeding a lamb on an Essex farm
Children will love the opportunity to bottle feed lambs

8. Plant Seeds In The Garden

Whether your children are more likely to enjoy beautiful flowers or growing food to eat Spring is a good time to start getting the garden ready. Good seeds to plant outside in Spring include sunflowers, sweet peas, poppies, peas and carrots, but make sure the night frosts have passed.


9. Have An Afternoon Tea

Most of us love cake and what better way to enjoy it than with the traditional British Afternoon Tea? Around Mother's Day caf├ęs everywhere have offerings or if you worry about your children being around fine china and glasses of bubbles why not have your own afternoon tea at home? Children will love making the cakes and sandwiches or you can order one to be delivered eg this package from Cutter & Squidge or this from Piglet's Pantry. Make sure you order with plenty of notice if you want it for Mother's Day weekend as it will be one of their busiest times. 

If you want to try an afternoon tea out in Essex Emma has been working her way round the county trying them all and you can read her recommendations of the best afternoon teas in Essex here.


A properly poured cup of tea in china as part of an afternoon tea in Essex
Enjoy afternoon tea at home or out with your family in Essex


10. Play Pooh Sticks

Pooh sticks is a great way to break up a walk and in Spring there are plenty of fast flowing streams around. The game comes from the Winnie The Pooh book: The House at Pooh Corner, hence it's name. If you've not played before then it's simple: first you need to find a bridge over a stream or river (without cars or other traffic), then everyone looks for a stick and goes to the side of the bridge which is upstream (eg water is running from this side, under the bridge and out the other side). On the count of 3 everyone drops their stick in the water and runs over to the other side of the bridge to see which stick floats through first. 


11. Become A Detective At Chelmsford Museum 

From 11th February until 31st March Chelmsford Museum has a special trail to celebrate the release of a new children's book: Montgomery Bonbon: Murder at the Museum written by comedian Alasdair Beckett-King and illustrated by Claire Powell. Grab an activity sheet and solve puzzles as undercover detectives. Remember to pick up a free moustache bookmark. The museum is open 10am to 4pm and entry is free.


12. See Baby Animals

In Spring lots of animals naturally have their babies so a visit of any of the many farms and zoos in Essex are sure to involve seeing cute baby animals. Find out the best places to see animals in Essex in this post, but check the opening dates before visiting as some wont open until the Easter holidays.


A pile of piglets at Marsh Farm in Spring
Spring means cute baby animals

13. Go Geocaching

Geocaching is a great way to get children out and about. Download the Geocache app and discover the geocache near you. These small capsules sometimes contain small treasures (which you can take and replace with one of your own) or just small logbooks where you register when you found it. One of the great things is they are everywhere so whether you are exploring a country park or shopping at your local high street there might be one to find. Make sure you bring a pen to sign the logbook.


14. See Your Favourite TV Characters Brought To (Super Sized) Life 

Barleylands have Bluey visiting 11th to 12th March, Marsh Farm have Peppa Pig on 18th and 19th March and Old MacDonalds Farm & Fun Park have Hey Duggee 22nd April and 27th May, Cody and JJ (CoComelon) on 29th April and 28th and 31st May, Bluey & Bingo 29th May and Peppa & George Pig on 30th May. 


15. Go On A Bug Hunt

Head out to the forest, the park or even your garden and see how many different insects you can find. Ladybirds, butterflies and bees will be checking out the spring plants, but those without wings can be harder to spot. Try looking in cool, damp spots like under stones and fallen branches. The i-SPY books are a great way to identify and log your finds or check out this website which helps you identify common creatures by asking a series of questions that will encourage your child to look carefully at what you find. 


16. Go Litter Picking

Going litter picking is a great way to encourage children to think about their environment and care about their community. Many areas have organised litter picking sessions like our local Loughton Wombles (find out more about joining them by emailing contact@loughton-tc.gov.uk) which provide litter pickers and bags, or you can buy your own litter picker for about £10 each.


17. Visit A Private Garden

Spring is a lovely time of year to see flowers and you can visit some new and unusual gardens as part of the National Garden Scheme. Check out which gardens are open near you and when to visit these private gardens not normally open to the public and raise money for charity at the same time.


18. Go On An Easter Egg Hunt 

There are lots of places across Essex which have Easter Egg Hunts on the Easter weekend and a few are running throughout the Easter holidays too. You can find out about Easter Egg Hunts in Essex here. You could also have an Easter egg hunt at home by hiding eggs and Easter gifts around the garden and your house.


A flower pot with plastic eggs as part of an Easter Egg Hunt at home in Essex
You can have your own Easter Egg Hunt at home or at one of the many organised events in Essex


19. See an Easter Pantomime

There is a growing trend for Easter pantomimes, or at least family friendly theatre, during the Easter holidays. This year KD Theatre Productions are performing their Goldilocks and the Three Bears Panto from 31st March to 4th June. The tour starts at Harlow Playhouse on Friday 31st March to 4th April and other Essex dates include: Clacton on 11th April, Basildon 22nd April and Thameside Theatre (Grays) on 13th and 14th May). 

You can also see Room on The Broom in Colchester on 11th and 12th April and the Little Mermaid (on Ice) at Riverside in Chelmsford on 5th to 9th April.


20. Pond Dipping

Spring is a great time to go pond dipping and see what you can find. If your aqueous life recognition skills need some work then you can get the help of the experts and they will provide the equipment too. Many of the Essex Wildlife Trust locations have pond dipping sessions you can book. Langdon (Basildon), Chigwell Meadow, Abberton Reservoir (Colchester) and Hanningfield (Billericay) are among the sites that have sessions. Check on Essex Wildlife Trusts event page and enter "pond" as the keyword for current events.


21. Go Barking Mad

All About Dogs returns to Hylands Park on Sunday 30th April and Monday 1st May. The dog show has lots of activities to join in with and watch whether you have your own dog or just love them. Book tickets here (dogs welcome and they go free).


22. See Bluebells

Late April, early May sees woodlands across Essex with beautiful carpets of these delicate flowers. Large patches of bluebells create a blue haze that can be breathtaking. Find out where to find wild bluebells in Essex in this post, but please ensure your children don't tread or pick these delicate plants as they can take years to recover.  


A carpet of Bluebells in Essex woodland
Don't miss these beautiful bluebells in Essex this Spring


23. Dance Round The Maypole

Ok so you might have to watch others do the Maypole dancing, but the first weekend in May sees a number of traditional May Day celebrations across the county. In 2023 many of the normal fayres and celebrations might take place on the weekend after May Day, combining the traditional event with the King's Coronation on Saturday 6th May and the additional Bank Holiday on Monday 8th May.


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