Hit the Right Note With Your Children: Music Inspired Days Out Ideas in Essex

From Blur to Busted, and Alison Moyet to Pixie Lott, Essex has no shortage of connections to the world of music. Chelmsford even lays claim to being the birthplace of radio, so whether you’re looking for a day out discovering the history of music or just enjoying some live, here are our top picks for a music themed day out in Essex this summer.

children playing on a piano at Lee Valley Animal Park in Essex
These days out will be music to your children's ears

Music Themed Family Days Out In Essex

Belhus Woods Country Park

Set in over 300 acres in South Essex, this country park boasts a music themed play area. It features a number of musical instruments children can play alongside the usual play area activities, slides and swings, and a large sandpit with wooden sculptures to enjoy. The play area has some seating and is surrounded by grass, perfect for a picnic. There is also a cafe as well as woodland, meadows and a lake to enjoy.

Open year round, 8am to dusk. Parking is available on site and costs from £2.80 for the first hour.

Belhus Woods Country Park, South Ockendon, Aveley, RM15 4XJ

Read our tips for visiting Belhus Country Park here

Belhus Woods Country Park Playground has music themed activities
Belhus Woods Country Park Playground

The Jazz Centre UK

This Southend-on-Sea venue claims to be the only organisation striving to wholly protect the heritage of jazz music and it's culture in the UK. It features a representation of the 100 Club - the oldest continuously-running music venue in the world, and memorabilia from several artists, including Louis Armstrong. They have a performance space where they hold a number of events throughout the year and an onsite shop.

Open Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-5pm. Closest parking is at the Beecroft Art Gallery car park (Victoria Avenue) and charges start from £1.

The Jazz Centre (UK), Beecroft Art Gallery, Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, SS2 6EX

If you have a special interest in Jazz it's also worth checking out the resources at The National Jazz Archive which can also be found in Essex at Loughton Library. 

Chelmsford Museum

Guglielmo Marconi opened the world's first wireless factory in Chelmsford in 1899, giving it the claim as the birthplace of radio. Visit the Chelmsford Museum to find out more about Marconi and the origins of live entertainment broadcasts which helped bring music to the masses. See objects from Marconi’s factory alongside a replica of Titanic’s Radio Room, which was made in his Chelmsford factory and allowed over 700 lives to be saved. And for more music history, one of Suzi Quattro’s jumpsuits made locally is on display too. Set in Oaklands Park, it has a cafe onsite but it is also perfect for picnics and has two play areas.

Entry to Chelmsford Museum is free and there is free car parking for two hours (weekdays or all day weekends) available on site. Open every day, except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

Chelmsford Museum, Oaklands Park, Moulsham Street, Chelmsford CM2 9AQ

The front of Chelmsford Museum
The free museum in Chelmsford recognises the birthplace of radio

Radio Caroline

One way to visit a real working radio station is to take a boat trip to Radio Caroline, the first British pirate radio station. On this hour and a half long tour, you will be taken 20 minutes by tender from West Mersea to former pirate radio ship, MV Ross Revenge on the River Blackwater. Tours are available during live broadcast weekends and on some non-broadcast days. Children must be eight and over and accompanied by an adult.

Tickets are £35 per person. Occasional weekend dates throughout the year. 

Park at Coast Road car park for £6.50 for four hours.
Boat departs from jetty to the left and to the end of Coast Road, West Mersea, CO5 8PB

Family Friendly Music Festivals This Summer In Essex (2024)

And festival themed events

Festival in the Gardens - 25th to 26th May

This event, held in Braintree and Bocking Public Gardens, is a family friendly event held over two days. Going into its 5th year, it offers live music, kid's entertainment, arts and crafts, food stalls and licensed bars. From disco supergroup Miss Disco on Saturday to folk music from Beans on Toast on the Sunday, there is a mixture of genres to choose from. There are inflatables, rides, bungee trampolines, and a kids tent with children’s entertainment among other things for a full day of fun.

Adult tickets are £12 plus booking fee each day and children under 16 get free entry. The inflatables, rides and bungee trampolines are unlimited with the purchase of a wristband on the day.

Braintree and Bocking Public Gardens, 25th-26th May 2024, 11am-11pm. Nearest parking is at Howard Hall Masonic Centre at 50p for all day.
Braintree and Bocking Public Gardens, 43 Bocking End, Braintree CM7 9AE

Rock the Park - 25th to 26th May

Rock the Park is a free music festival in Harlow Town Park organised by Harlow Rock School. Performances include choirs with a wide range of music as well as stalls, food and face painting. 
Saturday 25th May Midday to 10.30pm, Sunday 26th May Midday to 7pm.
Harlow Town Park Bandstand, Park Lane, Harlow, Essex, CM20 2QQ

Raver Tots - 9th June

Raver Tots is an outdoor family friendly festival in Maldon deserves a mention purely for its tagline, ‘throw shapes, not toys’! It features house, garage and drum and bass acts with So Solid Crew, DJ Hype and Maddy V among those performing. There is plenty more to keep the children happy too with Bluey appearing, a free funfair and face painting and more.

Taking place in Maldon Promenade Park on Sunday 9th June 2024, 1-6pm. All day parking is available at the park for £11. Child tickets are £25 and adult tickets £30 plus booking fees.
Promenade Park, Park Drive, Maldon CM9 5JQ

Mini Ravers - 7th July

If you want to give your kids the full clubbing experience, Mini Ravers is coming to Chelmsford with a zoo party theme. It features 90’s and 00’s music, UV lighting, glow sticks and confetti canons, as well as more child-specific activities like character meet and greets. There is a tuck shop and merchandise available onsite.

Tickets are £13.16 each including fees. 7th July, 1-3pm at Popworld in Chelmsford. 
Popworld - Chelmsford, 7 Springfield Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 6JE
Meadows Retail car park is a five minute walk and £4.70 for up to three hours. Chelmsford Station is a ten minute walk away.

Essex Family Fest - 14th July

Set in Hornchurch, Essex Family Fest is a day out featuring a number of live tribute acts throughout the day. For more music, they also have a kid's disco, alongside soft play and arts and crafts. There are plenty of other activities too such as a petting zoo, character meet and greets and a funfair. All money raised goes to Mind charity for Havering, Barking and Dagenham.

Tickets are £5 for children over three and £10 for adults, plus small booking fees.

Harrow Lodge Park, Hornchurch 14th July 2024, 10am-6.30pm. There is a limited amount of free parking in the park close to the event, although public transport is recommended.

Harrow Lodge Park, Hornchurch, RM11 1JU

Summer Sundays - 14th July

Summer Sundays is a touring, family-friendly festival coming to Colchester this year on Sunday 14th July. With Acts include Ocean Colour Scene, Embrace, Cast, The View and Tom Hingley and it is being held in the grounds of the historic Castle Park. There is also a silent disco, refreshments and festival market to enjoy. Unlike the other events in this listing it isn't family targeted, but older children will enjoy this festival close to home.

Tickets are £49.50 and under fives go free but every ticket incurs a £4.95 booking fee.

Colchester Lower Castle Park, Sunday 14th July 2024, 2pm to 10.30pm. Parking details haven’t been released but the nearest chargeable car parks are Nunn's Road, Priory Street and Osborne Street.
Lower Castle Park, Castle Road, Colchester, CO1 1UW

Bubble N Bop Festival - 20th July to 1st September

Marsh Farm has their annual summer event taking place from 20th July. In good weather this is a great day out for the whole family. The music part comes in from their discos taking place through out the day, but there is also a foam party, the paddling pool, a sand pit and all their normal activities like animals, crazy golf, adventure play, glitter face art and their new dinosaur area.

Advanced tickets £14.99 for adults and children over 2 plus booking fees, although if you live nearby and want to visit multiple times it is worth buying a Summer pass for £29.99. Festival from 20th July to 1st September, 10am to 5pm. Free car parking. 
Marsh Farm, Marsh Farm Road, South Woodham Ferrers, CM3 5WP

Children posing in front of a wooden B N B sign at Marsh Farm Bubble N Bop Festival
Photo opps galore, a disco and foam party at Marsh Farm's Summer event

Kids Fest - 24th July to 1st September

In a similar style to Marsh Farm (as both managed by Partyman Company), but on a slightly smaller scale Lee Valley Animal Adventure Park in Waltham Abbey puts on a children’s festival daily throughout the summer holidays. It features a main stage with entertainment along with a glitter station and foam party for the full festival experience. There’s an adventure playground, crazy golf, animals and rides too so plenty to do outside of the festival and picnics are welcome.

Advanced tickets £12.99 for adults and children over 2, children under 2 start at £4, plus booking fees.
24th July to 1st September, 10am-5pm. Free car parking on site.
Stubbins Hall Lane, Waltham Abbey, EN9 2EF

Kids Fest foam party at Lee Valley Animal Adventure Park
Cool down in the bubbles at Kids Fest foam party

Lazydays Festival - 26th to 28th July 

Billed as craft drink festival Lazydays has a great music line up. Taking place in Priory Park, Southend acts include Newton Faulkner, Girl Ray, Mystery Jets and Sleeper. The afternoon sessions on Saturday (12 to 5pm) and Sunday (12 to 6pm) are family friendly with a children's mocktail bar and family entertainment.

Single session entry from £39.95 with free entry for children 11 and under.
Priory Park, Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea SS2 6ND

A line up advert for Lazydays festival
Afternoon sessions at Lazydays are suitable for children.

Colchester Zoo - 10th and 24th August

Summer Late Nights at Colchester Zoo are back this August. Not only can you stay at the zoo until 9pm on these dates but you can also hear live performances from steel drummer Ian Beckles and marimba band Otto & The Mutapa Calling. There are also additional animal talks throughout the evening and refreshments available to purchase.

Adult tickets cost from £27.08 and a child's ticket is £19.95 when booked in advance online.

Colchester Zoo, 10th and 24th August until 9pm. Free car parking is available onsite.

Summer Late Nights live music at Colchester Zoo in 2023
Stay longer at Colchester Zoo this summer with Summer Late Nights complete with live music

Rothcock Festival - 25th August

This annual family friendly festival held in Rayne features live music throughout the day from a number of acts. In addition, Engineering for Kids will be there offering robotic Lego, challenges and experiments to keep the children entertained. There are also stalls, games and a BBQ. This year, the festival is raising funds for PAPYRUS Prevention of young suicide charity.

Sunday 25th August 2024, 11am-10.30pm at The Swan Pub in Rayne.
1 The Street, Rayne, Braintree CM77 6RQ

*All information correct at time of publishing. Suggestions provided as ideas of days out and not direct endorsements of events. Always check the event website and social media for latest information before visiting*

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