London is a great place to visit with kids year-round, but there’s even more going on than usual in April, when British schools close for the long Easter vacation. April 18 to 21 is the busiest time for family-friendly events around the holiday, but you’ll find activities taking place across the capital all month, too.
The gorgeous gardens and glasshouses at this 255-year-old London institution are the site of a wide range of activities inspired by the classic children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Young ones can create their own chocolate bar with a chef from The Roald Dahl Museum’s Café Twit, take part in sing-alongs with Willy Wonka and his head Oompa Loompa, learn about the plants used in chocolate in hands-on sessions, have their faces painted and more. Parents, meanwhile, will enjoy the Georgian cookery sessions held in The Royal Kitchens at Kew Palace, where chefs will demonstrate how to prepare chocolate recipes from the 18th century. It all culminates with a traditional egg hunt around the gardens on Easter morning. April 5-21
Adorable ducklings are the stars of the Easter events at this fun-packed nature reserve on the outskirts of London. Families can meet the precious animals, see a collection of eggs and learn about the birds’ development process, then create duckling-themed Easter cards and other artworks in morning and afternoon craft sessions. There’s also egg painting and even a self-guided spring trail, where parents and children tour the reserve together looking for signs of spring with the help of poems and challenges. April 5-21
Over Easter weekend, a more serious note will be struck by back-to-back performances of The Passion of Jesus, a huge public production telling the story of Jesus’ last hours on Earth. Taking place outdoors in Trafalgar Square on Good Friday, the 90-minute play is performed by a cast who enacts Pontius Pilate’s judgment of Christ followed by his crucifixion. This sobering and thought-provoking show attracts crowds of 20,000 people each year, with big screens ensuring that no one misses out. April 18
Join revelers at this magnificent historic site to welcome King George I — newly arrived from Germany — as he makes his first appearance via royal barge. This re-creation of the monarch’s arrival at the palace (following his ascension to the throne in summer 1714) will entertain and educate, as courtiers take part in splendid dances, watch Hanoverian horses perform a ballet in the gardens and witness the Georgian Army display its awesome firing power. There are treat-making demonstrations in the new Chocolate Kitchen as well. Over at Kensington Palace, another historic royal residence about 35 minutes away, there’s an Easter trail through the gardens with chocolate prizes for kids who can work out the royal-history-themed code words. April 18-21
An exciting egg hunt also takes place at this19th-century sailing ship at the heart of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. Children must scour the British tea clipper to find the eggs — a special gift awaits the child who uncovers the special golden one—that have been hidden in unusual places. April 18-21
Photo Courtesy of Helen Maybanks