10 things to do over Easter in Leicestershire
The county of Leicestershire is the place to be this Easter, especially since it was recently confirmed as the final resting place of King Richard III, England’s last Plantagenet king.
If the exciting discovery, which made headlines around the world, has made you keen to discover more about England’s past and present, then visiting the sites that have played such a pivotal role in history is the perfect way to start.
For example, the Richard III exhibition: Leicester’s Search for a King is taking place in The Guildhall, Guildhall Lane, Leicester.
The Guildhall dates back 600 years and is one of the best preserved timber framed halls in the country.
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It is home to an exhibition detailing the 2012 archaeological dig at Greyfriars and is free to enter from 11am to 4.30pm – although parts of The Guildhall may be closed for private hire bookings during the course of the exhibition so do check if travelling a long distance.
There is also a programme of Richard III Guided Walking Tours of the city with an official Blue Badge Guide.
Check back regularly for dates, but private bookings are available for individual bookings. Phone 0116 253 2569 for scheduled tours (The Guildhall) or 0116 299 4444 for private bookings (Visit Leicester Centre).
Starting at Leicester Cathedral, this walking tour, for which you should allow up to two hours, takes you to all the significant sites in Leicester that are associated with King Richard III, the king who lost both his kingdom and his life at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
For those who fancy a different route to the past, however, there are plenty of other events going on in Leicestershire this Easter, which are guaranteed to help the whole family let off steam.
For example the Great Central Railway is the UK’s only double track, main line heritage railway, which means it’s the only place in the world where full-size steam engines can be seen passing each other.
Richard Patching, the Great Central Railway general manager, says: “Easter is a really busy time on the Great Central Railway - perfect for families looking for a day out or steam enthusiasts searching for something a little different. From March 26 to 29 bring the whole family to our Easter Bunny Sale, when a family of five can ride all day on our steam trains between Loughborough Central and Leicester North stations for just £20! The bunny will be on board with sweet treats for younger travellers.
“From March 29 to April 1 we have a classic vintage fair at Quorn and Woodhouse station. Take a train from Leicester, Rothley or Loughborough and change at Quorn to step back in time. With traction engines, steam rollers and fairground rides it’s a country day out 1950s style. Our heritage trains will just be the set dressing! Let the steam do the work - on road or rail - while you relax with a picnic or perhaps a bite to eat from our family bistro.”
So if that’s whetted your appetite, here are 10 more ideas for things to do over Easter.
1) Jump aboard a steam train on the Great Central Railway, which has been voted number 12 in a list of the 50 great railway journeys of the world. This Easter, there are special trips on the Bunny Express from March 26 to 28 and April 2 to 4, as well as the Easter Vintage Festival from March 29 to April 1, where you can have all the fun of a country fair at Quorn station with traction engines, steam-powered gallopers and a big wheel, live music, craft stalls, steam train rides and much more.
Great Central Railway: Great Central Rd, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 1RW. T. 01509 632323
2) Visit the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre and Country Park and relive the infamous battle of 1485 that was the turning point in British history. One of history's greatest and most pivotal battles, the Battle of Bosworth witnessed the death of King Richard III and the birth of the powerful Tudor dynasty. The interactive exhibition tells the story of this all-important historical watershed and invites you to explore the weaponry, armour and strategy used on August 22, 1485. This Easter, there are 1.25 miles of guided walks taking place to explore the battle of Bosworth, the death of King Richard III and the unlikely victory of Henry Tudor from March 29 to April 1 at 11am and 2pm. From March 30 to April 1, 11am to 3pm, ‘Conflict 1485’ is also taking place, where you can meet medieval soldiers and families preparing for battle; with weapons and armour, costumes, medicines and children's activities. Admission charges apply.
Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre and Country Park, Sutton Cheney, Nr. Market Bosworth, Leicestershire CV13 0AD. T. 01455 290429
3) If you would rather go back to the future, then why not reach for the stars at the National Space Centre, the UK's largest attraction dedicated to space. From the moment you catch sight of the Space Centre's futuristic Rocket Tower, you'll be treated to hours of breathtaking discovery and interactive fun. Whether you are sitting back in the UK's largest planetarium being immersed in a 360 degree full dome show, challenging yourself on one of over 150 hands-on activities, blasting off on a unique SIM ride or enjoying the amazing interactive galleries and rocket tower - the National Space Centre really is an out of this world visit. The Easter activity for 2013 is ‘Gastronauts’.
National Space Centre, Exploration Drive, Leicester, Leicestershire LE4 5NS T. 0116 261 0261.
4) Another blast from the past is Moira Furnace - a nineteenth-century iron-making blast furnace located in Moira, Leicestershire, on the banks of the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal. From Friday, March 29 until Monday, April 1 there will be an Easter Heritage Event on from 10am until 3pm each day. A 19th century blast furnace, canal and barge trips, craft village, country park and children's play area all make this accredited museum the perfect venue for a great day out, especially on Family Fun Day, Friday, March 29, when there will be craft workshops with local artists, an Easter egg hunt, storytelling, brass band and more.
UPDATE: This event has now been rescheduled for the bank holiday of May 4,5 and 6 because of the current bad weather. See www.nwleics.gov.uk for more details.
Furnace Lane, Moira, Swadlincote DE12 6AT. T. 01283 224 667.
5) Enjoy a rare glimpse around the stunning Belvoir Castle which opens to the public on Easter Sunday and Monday, March 31 and April 1. Entry to the castle is by guided tour only at 11.15am, 1.15pm and 3.15pm, but please allow at least 15 minutes to walk from the ticket office to the castle where the tour begins. Gardens are open from 11am to 5pm only. Members of the public are also invited to attend Easter Sunrise Service at 6am on the Castle Esplanade, conducted by the Reverend Stuart J. Foster, Chaplain to His Grace the Duke of Rutland.
Belvoir Castle, Grantham, Leicestershire. T. 01476 871002
6) Barnsdale Gardens, near Oakham, was originally home to the BBC’s Gardeners’ World programme. This Easter, from March 29 to April 1, the gardens are open from 9am to 5pm and are simply bursting with colour-drifts of daffodils and hellebores, giant snowflakes, and blossom in the trees. Whether you are a gardener or not, this Easter, why not rediscover the magic of Barnsdale - there are 39 themed gardens, ponds and woodlands to explore and a friendly tearoom serving delicious light meals, hand-made cakes and cream teas. For the children, there are garden trails to follow and an egg hunt every day from Good Friday to Easter Monday. Admission charges apply.
Barnsdale Gardens, The Avenue, Exton, Oakham, Leicestershire & Rutland, LE15 8AH T. 01572 813200
7) Swannington Heritage Trust have got some fun lined up for Easter Monday with an Easter Egg Hunt at the Hough Mill at 2pm. This is a chance for visitors to come and see the new opening season's displays, as well as enjoy the historic Hough Windmill and Swannington Incline.
Hough Windmill, off St George’s Hill, Swannington. T. 01530 222330
8) The beautiful Rockingham Castle opens on Easter Sunday, March 31, with some wonderful family fun for the Easter weekend from 12 noon to 5pm. There will be a Children's Easter Egg Hunt (tokens in exchange for eggs), children's ‘witches and wizards’ search and family quiz, as well as Wentworth the Griffin’s Lost Gold quiz. The fun continues on Easter Monday, April 1.
Rockingham Castle, Rockingham, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 8TH T. 01536 770240
9) If family entertainment is what you’re after, then try Twinlakes Park, which offers 70 acres of glorious countryside, jam-packed with a breathtaking variety of family rides and attractions, including a massive 125,000 sq ft indoors area plus rides and attractions galore. There are fascinating flying displays in the Falconry Centre, hundreds of wonderful friendly animals in Red Rooster Farm, and giant tortoises and scary snakes in the Creepy Critters experience, made accessible by the Twinlakes family train which chugs around the park. Admission charges apply.
Twinlakes Park, Melton Spinney Road, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire LE14 4SB T. 01664 5677777.
10) There’s nothing like messing about in boats, and you can relive the grand industrial age at the famous Foxton Locks and Foxton Canal Museum, which reopens at Easter. Foxton Canal Museum, which opens from 11am to 5pm, is fun - children of all ages love it as it tells the story of the lift and canals it served. British Waterways, working in partnership with the Leicestershire Orienteering Club, has also created a permanent, family friendly 2km orienteering course at the site of the famous Locks. With three course lengths, and one suitable for mobility and pushchair users, the course is suitable for all.
Foxton Locks and Foxton Canal Museum, Middle Lock, Gumley Road, Market Harborough LE16 7RA T. 0116 2792 657