Spring days out and events in East Anglia
This spring and Easter there’s plenty to do across the region. From fairs and festivals to walks and events, there’s a whole array of exciting and fun activities.
Events in Bedfordshire
Fire your imaginations as St George’s Festival returns to Wrest Park from Saturday 22 to Sunday 23 April, 10am-6pm. England’s patron saint will be celebrated with plenty of pomp, pageantry and patriotic flag waving, with a host of entertainers spanning 2,000 years of history lined up to mark his special day and see the ultimate showdown with the fire-breathing dragon, at Wrest Park’s annual St George’s Day celebration.
Nonsense and frivolity will be the order of the day with entertainers including the popular Peterkin the Jester, kids mini battles, storytelling, circus skills, musicians and even hobby horse jousting for all those budding St Georges. A colourful living history encampment will also provide a rolling programme of entertainment throughout each day. There will be an authentic historic market to wander around and a variety of catering offers including a café in the beautiful surroundings of the Wrest Park Orangery.
Music at Bedford Corn Exchange
Saturday 22 April will see the Bedford Corn Exchange in St Pauls Square play host to ‘From the Jam: In the city 40th anniversary tour’. The event features former Jam bassist Bruce Foxton, legendary vocalist and guitarist Russell Hastings and drummer Mike Randon performing as part of their 40th anniversary tour. Visit www.bedfordcornexchange.co.uk to find out more.
Spring events in Cambridgeshire
Ely Eel Festival Weekend, 28 April – 1 May
Ely is preparing itself once again for its four-day extravaganza to celebrate the origins of the humble eel. This year, as always, we see the return of the Eel Food Safari which runs all weekend where a selection of local food outlets provide special dishes inspired by the eel theme.
The Eel Parade kicks off Saturday’s Eel Day with a colourful array of eels processing through Ely’s High Street, down to the river where a whole host of eel related activities take place. Special highlights include the Town Criers’ Competition and the World Eel Throwing Competition (no eels will be harmed in this competition, just stuffed toys!).
Rounding up the weekend is the ever popular two day Food and Drink Festival where over 60 artisan and specialist food and drink traders will be showcasing their wares. This year welcomes internationally renowned chef Theo Randall and current MasterChef’s winner Jane Devonshire to the Cookery Theatre, who will be demonstrating a variety of dishes alongside some of much loved local chefs. For the full Ely Eel Festival programme check out www.elyeelfestival.co.uk
Opera in Cambridge
The English Touring Opera is coming to the Cambridge Arts Theatre in April performing Puccini’s Tosca on 25, 28, 29 April and Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience on 26-27 April. Enjoy an Italian opera brimming with lust, corruption and intrigue or an English sung all-dancing comedy with willowy poets, sighing maidens and burly officers galore. Plenty of humour and tunes promised.
This Easter The Varsity Hotel & Spa is celebrating with a gingerbread house-making masterclass with a boozy twist.
On Sunday the 23 April, the luxury Cambridge hotel will be launching Gin & Gingerbread, combining a gin master class with mini gingerbread house-making.
Set at the hotel’s sixth floor panoramic bar and brasserie, SIX, guests are invited to build gingerbread houses and learn about one of the nation’s favourite tipples before enjoying a two-course skyline dinner.
Tickets are £18.50 per person for the master class only and £39 per person including the Gin & Gingerbread masterclass and two-course meal.
Science Festival at Ely Cathedral, 19 May – 18 June
From the 19 May to 18 June, Ely Cathedral will be transformed with a month-long event of interactive fun and discovery as it plays host to the Science Festival. This extraordinary festival will involve science shows, live experiments, prehistoric creatures and fascinating talks by leading experts. Highlights include a lecture by Prof Robert Winston, a dinosaur dig with a life size T REX and a Sci-Fi Prom featuring music from favourite composers and movies. Visit www.elycathedral.org to find out more.
Spring events in Essex
What’s on at Civic Theatre
Saturday 22 April will see the Civic Theatre taken over for ‘Nights on Broadway’, a tribute to the BeeGees. Featuring the best of their music from the 60s through the 90s, there’ll be a blend of classic hits, acoustic medleys and dance floor favourites all accompanied live by a six-piece band. For more information visit: www.chelmsford.gov.uk/theatres
National Flower Show, 19-21 May
The National Flower Show returns to the Hyland’s Grand Pavilion between Friday 19 – Sunday 21 May this year. Full of spectacular flower displays and amazing show gardens, it also offers the opportunity to attend talks with the region’s leading gardening experts. The show will be opened by the crowned king of gardening, Monty Don and there will be the opportunity to meet him in the Gardening Theatre. For more information please visit: www.chelmsford.gov.uk/national-flower-show
Things to do in Hertfordshire
Knebworth Barns will be hosting a special pre-booked afternoon tea on the 30 April, 23 July and 10 September. Enjoy a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with homemade jam and clotted cream, mini tea fancies, tea or coffee and a glass of sparkling wine. Tickets also include admission to the gardens and the park. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Call 01438 813825 to book.
This year Knebworth House will be hosting over 30 special event days during the season. Some old favourites make a return such as: the Jousting events being held on 16-17 April for Easter, and 18 June for Father’s Day.
Green fingered types will enjoy the Hertfordshire Garden Show on 29–30 April to 1 May, and little ones can enjoy Dino Adventure on 29 May and 6 August. 2017 will also see in some new events: DogFest on 24-25 June, The Great British Food Festival held on 22-23 July, Classic Ibiza 19 August, and the Great British Prom on 20 August. Full events details at www.knebworthhouse.com
Living Crafts Fair, 4-7 May
Returning to Hatfield House, meet hundreds of designers and makers from across the UK at this event which promotes the very best of British crafts. Enjoy lectures, demonstrations and a packed schedule of workshops from origami to oil paintings. Visit www.livingcrafts.co.uk to find out more.
Easter events in Norfolk
Easter at Holkham at Holkham Hall, 14-17 April
Hop-along to Holkham for four days packed full of ‘egg-citing’ things to do over Easter. Holkham’s ‘egg-cellent’ events and activities will be great fun for all the family.
The Field to Fork Experience is a great place to start your adventure. Holkham’s Easter bunny will be there to welcome you and will set you off on some exciting trails to test your skills. Then it’s a short walk across to the Hall where spring has sprung with vibrant displays of flowers in all shapes and sizes. It’s origami fun time too and there’s a chance to create your very own ‘hoppy’ friend or discover the animals that roam at Holkham with a footprint quiz.
Family day out in Norfolk
For a family day out this Easter head to Amazona Zoo, one of Norfolk’s leading attractions in Cromer. Families can explore and learn about a varied and fascinating selection of animals native to South America. Visit the Zoo on Easter Sunday and each child will receive a free cream egg! www.amazonazoo.co.uk
Days out and events in Suffolk
East Anglian Dragon Boat Festival, 14 May
The East Anglian Dragon Boat Festival on 14 May sees up to 10 people paddle a boat with a drummer beating in time and a helm at the tail steering the course. Why not get involved and create your own entry (or just pop down and watch them race). There will be at Nicholas Everitt Park from 10am – 5pm on the day. Find out more here: http://dragonboatfestivals.co.uk/dragon-boat-festivals/east-anglian-dragon-boat-festival/
Lavenham will be taking a step back in time this May. From 19-22 May it will host a 1940s vintage event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of US Forces starting to arrive in the East of England in support of World War II.
The Swan at Lavenham Hotel & Spa has joined with vintage events group, The Baker Boy Collective, to host a series of 1940s events across the village. Amongst the many events being planned across the village are a 1940s swing dance, vintage afternoon tea, film show and a history talk about the 487th Bombardment Group, 8th USAAF (United States Army Air Force).
There will be a walk to Lavenham airfield and a commemorative service in the church, while you can expect to see 1940s vehicles and vintage fashions worn around the village by The Baker Boy Collective group, together with 1940s re-enactors. And on Sunday, 21 May Lavenham will be teaming up with the Vintage Affair at Hedingham Castle, a short and picturesque drive away in nearby Essex.
Vintage events will continue to be held annually in Lavenham during May leading up to the 75th anniversary of VE Day on 8 May 2020.
Written by Amanda French. Read more from Amanda on her blog at www.anoseforfood.com