What To Do This May Half Term - Essex

May half term this year runs from 27th May to 4th June and includes a Bank Holiday on Monday 29th May. There is lots happening so if the weather is good you will be spoiled for choice, but even if the sun doesn't stay I have days out ideas for you. This post contains information about special events, half term activities at popular Essex attractions and free places to visit this half term.

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Where to go in Essex May Half Term over a transparent image of a girl feeding goats a colchester zoo

What's On In Essex This Half Term?

Special Events In Essex

Ride London - Friday 26th to Sunday 28th May 
Whether you are interested in cycling or not Ride London is something to pay attention to because there will be road closures across large parts of Essex.  There are rolling road closures on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th May and on Sunday 28th May some roads will be closed for most of the day. If you are planning to go out on these days make sure you check the map to see where is affected. The event goes through Epping, Ongar, Colchester, Maldon and Saffron Walden so traffic and access across large parts of Essex will be impacted.

Barleylands Spring County Show - Sunday 28th and Monday 29th May 
Not to be confused with Barleylands farm park (although it's next door) the Spring County show is organised by Haddon Events. It includes stunt shows, sheep dog displays, birds of prey displays, Kids Fun Zone, Paw Patrol meet & greet and some farm animals (from Barleylands farm). Tickets can be bought online or at the gate.
Takes place at Barleylands Showground, Barleylands Road, Billericay CM11 2UD 

Knights of Royal England Jousting - Sunday 28th and Monday 29th May
Head to Hedingham Castle over the Bank Holiday weekend to explore the castle, experience medieval pursuits and watch knights joust on horseback. The joust is on at set times so make sure you don't miss them. Prebooking recommended.
Takes place at Bayley Street, Castle Hedingham, Essex, CO9 3DJ

Layer Marney Village Fete - Monday 29th May
Layer Marney celebrating 500 years since the death of the 1st Lord Marney who built the tower this year.  On Bank Holiday Monday they have an old fashioned style village fete with games, dancers, stalls and the tea room. You can also go in the tower and see the exhibitions. Prebook your tickets.
Takes place at Layer Marney, Nr. Colchester, C05 9US

A blue bookworm puppet sticking it's head out of something saying world's smallest library
Enjoy free theatre with George The Bookworm

Free Events In Essex in May Half Term

There are lots of places to go in Essex this half term if you don't want to spend much. Many of the County's Museums are free and we have great playgrounds, trails, parks and beaches. You can check out some of the best free places to go in Essex in this post.

Free events taking place in half term include:

Concrete Canvas in Chelmsford ends on Saturday 27th May (it started on 20th May). It is a street art festival where artists can be seen creating murals on walls, bollards and cabinets across the city centre. The final day will see a street party in Bond Street’s Bowl with art, stalls, music and crafts to mark the official start of this year's art trail. 

George The Bookworm has free events in Frinton, Walton, Clacton, Harwich, Manningtree and Brightlingsea Libraries during half term. The shows are theatrical performances including puppetry created for children. You need to book a ticket asap to reserve your space. We have been to a shorter version and my children really enjoyed it. 

Wetland Wonder Trails are happening at Danbury Country Park, Cudmore Grove Country Park, Marsh Farm Country Park and Belhus Woods Country Park between 10am and 4pm every day in half term. You can pick up the free booklet from the Cafe at Belhus or near the car park at other locations, or download a copy from the link above.  

Chelmsford Museum, Oaklands Park, Moulsham Street, Chelmsford, CM2 9AQ
Chelmsford museum is always free entry and over half term they have additional activities including object handling (selected times Monday and Tuesday) and Flag Making (selected times Wednesday, Thursday and Friday). The museum is set in Oaklands Park so make sure you visit the playgrounds while you are there.

Hollytrees Museum, Castle Park, Colchester, CO1 1UG
On 30th May children can learn more about life working in the Georgian Townhouse. Entry is free, keep an eye out for the costumed characters to learn more. It's also open Monday to Saturday with their normal exhibitions. 

Natural History Museum, High Street, Colchester, CO1 1DN
Colchester's Natural History Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday with free entry. During May half term they are running a free Find Out About Fossil's event, pick up the worksheet from the Welcome Desk to take part

Essex Fire Museum, Grays Fire Station, Hogg Lane, Grays, Essex RM17 5QS
Essex Fire Museum is only open on a few days each year. This half term it is open on Sunday 28th May and Tuesday 30th May. If you would like to visit they ask that you email: museum@essex-fire.gov.uk and let them know how many people will be coming. 

Other Ideas Of Free Days Out In Essex

What about Harlow town Park? There are two playgrounds, plenty of green space for picnics and a free mini farm (Pet’s Corner). Go inside the farm to see animals including fish ad chickens, but if the weather is nice most of the animals including sheep and reindeer are probably in the paddocks outside. If you go through the exit on the far side of the Pets Corner playground it's a short walk to a pond where you might see baby ducklings.

On the other side of Essex Maldon is a nice day out. There is lots of space to play and explore so head to Maldon Promenade Park for parking. The main playground is themed as a large pirate ship, on the other side of the playground there is a smaller pirate ship for younger children in a sandpit. There's also a zip wire. If you walk away from the Promenade Park there is a larger sand pit, an older playground and lots of moored boats to see. If you want to buy some food there is a good range of stalls including: local ice cream, fresh doughnuts and seafood at Blackwater Seafood. Chargeable activities include: Maldon Promenade mini Zoo, Pirates Bay Adventure Golf and the splash park which reopens for May half term (book here). Down’s Traditional Steam Fair will  be at Promenade Park from Friday 26th May to Sunday 4th June with traditional fairground rides so be prepared if this is something your children are likely to be interested in (rides are 1 token per person, tokens cost £3 each although bulk purchasing discounts are available). 

The large pirate ship play frame at Maldon
Maldon has plenty of free things to do on a day out

Good Weather Activities This Half Term

Prebooking recommended as many events sell out and others you save money when you buy your tickets inadvance online.

Audley End House & Gardens - Audley End Road, off London Road, Saffron Walden, CB11 4JF
This English Heritage site has a Kids Rule event to celebrate the coronation. Learn about Kings and Queens of the past, receive your own crown and enjoy hands on activities.

Audley End Miniature Railway - Audley End Road, Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4JB
There is a new craft event taking place over half term with 4 craft stations around the site including floral crowns and nature medallions. Tickets must be prebooked and price covers a train ride, crafts, Elf & Fairy walk, play area and interactive shows.

Barleylands - Barleylands Road, Billericay CM11 2UD
The farm is open over half term with added Princesses, magic shows from Skittleman and crafts. There will also be the normal animals, play areas, displays and softplay.

Cammas Hall Farm - Needham Green, Hatfield Broad Oak CM22 7JT
Flora and Bramble’s Plan BEE is a short musical show for children taking place at the farm. You need to prebook tickets (chargeable). The first of the season PYO is normally available at the end of May so there may be fruit to pick while you are there. To PYO you have to prebuy a voucher so check the website for fruit availability close to your visit. Cafe, shop and playground will be open.

Colchester Zoo  - Maldon Road, Colchester CO3 0SL
Essex's biggest zoo is celebrating it's 60th birthday with a range of activities in their Zoobilee celebrations. These are included in the ticket price. On Friday 2nd there is a special party and the zoo will be open until 8.30pm. 
The have warned that on 27th May there will be some temporary road closures in the area due to Ride London.

East Anglian Railway Museum - Chappel Station, Colchester, Essex, CO6 2DS
EARM has a Transport Extravaganza & Mini Gala on 28th and 29th May which will be a fun day out for little (and big) train lovers.

Epping Ongar Railway Ongar and North Weald
EOR is open on 27th to 29th and 31st May and 3rd and 4th of June. There are no events on so it's just transport to see. Prebuy tickets and you get child tickets for £1 each to ride the steam and diesel trains (as well as a heritage bus). Check the website for the timetable.

Foxholes Farm - London Road, Hertford, Hertfordshire, SG13 7NT
The farm has a Big Tractors and Farm Park event from 26th May to 4th June. Check out their machinery including a JCB and combine harvester as well as seeing their animals.

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary - Sawyers Hall Farm, Sawyers Hall Lane, CM15 9BZ
Hopefield is celebrating their 40th birthday on 27th to 29th May. As well as normal animals and activities there are inflatables, children's entertainer, live entertainment and stalls.

Hyde Hall (RHS Garden) - Creephedge Lane, Rettendon Common, Chelmsford CM3 8ET
Hyde Hall has a Sow Awesome event over half term which includes a self led trail. On Tuesday 30th May you can also enjoy a storytelling walk. On Wednesday and Thursday there are seed planting workshops, but these need to be prebooked (and paid for in addition to entry).

Lambourne End -  Centre for Outdoor Learning, Manor Road, Lambourne End, Essex, RM4 1NB
As well as the full drop off half term activity camp Lambourne End have activities on Tuesday and Thursday which are farm based in the mornings and outdoor activity based in the afternoon. Book on to a half day or full day session. Children under 5 need to be accompanied by an adult.

Lee Valley Park Farms - Stubbins Hall Lane, Waltham Abbey, EN9 2EF
The Big Dinosaur Day Out event is on 29th May to 2nd June. Meet the dinosaurs and learn dino facts as well as seeing all the animals and enjoying the play areas. Their new adventure playground should be open too. 

Markshall Estate - Marks Hall Road, Coggeshall, CO6 1TG
From 27th May to 4th June there is a special Percy's Adventures Nature Detective activity. Prebooking is essential and the ticket includes I Spy Trail, den building and fish food.

Marsh Farm - Marsh Farm Road, South Woodham Ferrers CM3 5WP
From 27th May to 4th June there is a Princess and Superhero event at Marsh Farm. Expect walk about characters, photo opportunities, shows, animals, role play village, soft play and more. There are different characters each day, see the website for the timetable. Buy tickets in advance to save money.

3 children standing in front of a superhero backdrop with Spiderman and a woman superhero
Marsh Farm Princess and Superhero Event

Old MacDonald's Farm - Weald Road, Brentwood, Essex, CM14 5AY
If your children are into Hey Duggee, CoComelon, Bluey or Peppa Pig then plan a day at OMD Farm this half term. There are different characters each day with Hey Duggee on May 27th and 4th June, Cody & JJ on 28th and 30th May, Bluey & Bingo on 29th May and 2nd June and Peppa & George Pig on 30th May and 3rd June. As well as the characters appearing throughout the day there are animals, rides, a play village, playground, soft play and more. Small saving with advance purchase.

Museum of Power - Hatfield Road, Langford, Maldon, CM9 6QA 
On Thursday 1st June there is a Summer Science Day with demonstrations from Mad Professor Jones as well as other activities. Other days in half term there are arts and craft activities as well as the normal displays. 

Nuclear Races Wild Forest - Parsonage Farm, Ongar Road, Kelvedon Hatch, Brentwood, Essex, CM15 0LA
On 30th May and 1st June children can take part in Just Get Over It Obstacle Fun Sessions. For children 6 to 10 they will go on the obstacle course and make salt dough medals, children 11 to 16 can enjoy an obstacle course and deathslide!

Essex Wildlife Trust have a huge range of activities at their sites across Essex. From pond dipping, to stories and drop off days activities need to be prebooked and are chargeable. Find out what they have happening near you here.

Woodstock Farm - St Stephens Road, Cold Norton, Essex, CM3 6NP
The farm is open for "Family Funday" Thursday 1st to Sunday 4th June. You can get close to the animals (and feed them), enjoy arts & crafts, a bouncy castle, a pony ride and more. One adult free per paying child.

Wyvernwood - St. Osyth Road, Alresford, Colchester CO7 8AP
Wyvernwood is an immersive story led (mostly outdoor) experience that's like a giant playground with storytelling. 

Indoor Days Out For Rainy Half Term Days

I have a huge post with lots of ideas of where to go when it’s wet including the free museums listed above, softplay, bowling and ceramic cafes, so check this post out for more indoor days out ideas.

A few indoor places with special activities for May Half Term:

Love Your Library Day is on Saturday 27th May and many Essex Libraries will have special events on to celebrate. Check the events listing for your library.

Chelmsford Theatre has a number of child friendly shows over half term including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Suitcase Shakespeare: Macbeth on Saturday 27th May and Magical Mayhems interactive magic and science show on Friday 2nd June.

Colchester Castle. There are lots of activities on over half term at the castle. Some are included in your entrance fee (like colouring), some (like the Mythical Trail, crafts and Dragon encounter) cost extra.

It's also worth checking out Nickelodeon Adventure for younger ones or maybe Immersive Gamebox, Indoor Go Karting, Top Golf or rollerskating for slightly older ones.

Want to receive more ideas of where to go in Essex? Sign up to my mailing list and select the first option (days out in Essex) to receive monthly emails with inspiration of where to go with your children.

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