The Easter Muddy Guide
Excu-u-u-u-se me, coming through, make way! I’ve got a massive Muddy Guide, spanning three blimmin weeks and if I don’t offload soon, it’s going to explode like a great big Creme Egg and it ain’t gonna be pretty. I’ll be honest, there is a shed load of chocolate, more than a few Easter chicks and more bunny ears than I’m comfortable with, but hey, it’s the holidays and a happy small person is a happy big person (likely to get bigger over the next few weeks, if you’re me).
Don’t worry, for those without a child wrapped around their thigh, I’ve included just as many less calorific, more civilised ideas, too (gin-infused events aside). Easter, we’re ready for you. Sort of.
Easter Egg Trails and Outdoor Fun
Easter Nature Trail, Heddon Valley, North Devon Fri 31 March (and every day until 17 April)
I’ve just returned from a weekend away near Heddon Valley and my gawd, it was a beautiful part of the world. If the kids need persuading, tell them there’s a prize at the end of it and and that should keep them quiet for five minutes . Pick up Ranger Dan’s buggy-friendly Easter Trail from the National Trust Ranger’s Office and then off you go, along the river, through the woodland.
10.30am – 3pm, £2.50 per child. Sensible footwear advised. nationaltrust.org.uk
Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt, Baggy Point, Croyde, Sat 1 April (and every day until 17 April)
Another trail, this one along the coastal headland and fuelled by Cadburys. Pick up the paperwork from the car park kiosk and don’t forget suntan lotion (what? we can hope!)
10.30am – 3pm, £2.50 per child. nationaltrust.org.uk
Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt at Agatha Christie’s Greenway – Brixham and Dartmouth: 1 April (and every day until 17 April)
If you have all ages of fussiness to deal with, then go for a chocolate detective trail around the glorious garden of Greenway, the holiday home of author Agatha Christie. Hop on the ferry from Dartmouth along the River Dart (timetables permitting) and, if you can find time grab a cheeky brunch in the fabulous Cafe Alf Resco in Dartmouth before you set off. Be warned we have it on good authority that they will also be serving up some delicious Easter treats! This should please everyone…
10.30am – 4pm, £2.50 per child. nationaltrust.org.uk
Spring Fun Day, Wembury, Sat 1 April
Wembury beach is a family fave here, small but beautiful with plenty to keep the Mudlet occupied. To prove the point, the rangers and wardens from Devon Wildlife Trust are organising some fun on the beach, from stream dipping to rockpooling, bug hunting to kite making. Meanwhile the cute cafe will be entertaining me with cake and coffee. Mr Muddy loves that sort of stuff.
11am – 4pm, free event. nationaltrust.org.uk
Wild Tribe, Castle Drogo, Sun 2 April
If bushcraft is more appealing than bunny ears in your house then join the Wild Tribe at Fingle Bridge Meadow. Take a Land Rover safari to a secret Iron Age hill fort where the fun is at. Or, if the idea of making things will get them off the sofa, then see below for a two-pronged attack.
11am – 2pm. Adults £4, Children £6. nationaltrust.org.uk
Crafty Castle Capers, Castle Drogo, Tues 4 & Tues 11 April
Hands will still get dirty, but things will actually get made in a day of fun-filled crafty activities.
11am – 4pm, Free admission. nationaltrust.org.uk
Woodland Easter Bunny Faces, Lydford Gorge, Thurs 6 April
This is a family event, where you’ll get to fashion your own wooden bunny face to take home and display in the garden or home (so I’d think carefully about the colour scheme and employ some gentle guidance, if I were you). Suitable for kids aged 7 +, they’ll love getting to grips with real tools. Beats a Bank Holiday stroll around B&Q, anyway…
11am – 4pm, £3 per bunny face. nationaltrust.org.uk
Hey Clay! Model with Porcelain drop-in, Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey, Sat 8 April
As part of the BBCs Get Creative campaign, Guild member, expert potter and teacher, Taja will be holding a free drop-in workshop where you’ll have a go at modelling a small sculpture of your own in porcelain.
10am – 12.30pm, Free (but a small charge if you want your work of art fired and returned). crafts.org.uk
Nature Treasure Hunt and Letterboxing, Haytor Rocks, Dartmoor, Sun 9 April
Exercise, fresh air and adventure – my guess is that all three will go down nicely at this point in the holidays. Meet at the lower car park at Haytor and bring sensible clothes and snacks. The kids will meet other kids and burn off energy and they might even connect to the natural landscape of Dartmoor, as they hunt for objects to tick off their lists and seek out letterboxes.
3.00pm – 5.30pm, £12 + booking fee per child. eventbrite.com
Spoon People Puppet Making, Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Wed 12 April
Bring a wooden spoon and create a spoon friend, then have them take part in a mini egg and spoon race movie!
10am – 12pm & 1pm – 3pm, Free. crafts.org.uk
Clubs and Workshops
Go Active Easter Holiday Clubs
The award-winning Go Active Holiday Clubs will be taking over several venues during Easter: Hazeldown School, Teignmouth; Axminster Guildhall, Widewell Primary School, Plymouth and Willowbank Primary School, Cullompton. So breathe a sigh of relief.
£14 per day, go-active.org
Easter Tennis Camp at Bovey Tracey Lawn Tennis Club, Tues 4 – Thurs 6 April
Are you parenting a budding Murray-Mudlet? This tennis camp could save your sanity over Easter and help burn off some of that chocolate. Morning sessions for ages 4-8 and afternoons for ages 9-14, each day.
The Star Seekers Easter Family Workshop, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Tues 4 – Fri 14 April
A chance for you and the smalls to spend quality time together messing about with messy play…not in your own home *and exhale*. For this one, the creativity is based around star wands and flying rockets and you can watch the children’s show The Star Seekers for inspiration beforehand in the Drum theatre (or after if you want to wave your wands in the air with pride throughout the performance).
£3 per child, suitable for kids aged 3 – 8 years. theatreroyal.com
Spring Bake Off, Occombe Farm Cookery School, Wed 5 April
You might be too late to book onto this fab one day baking course for kids aged 7-12 years, since places on all the events here tend to sell out super fast. But worth seeing if you can put your name down on the waiting list.
£30 per child, countryside-trust.org.uk
Fablab Exeter, Laser cutting workshop for kids and t-shirt design workshop, Fri 7 April
Fablab, within Exeter Library is a creative hub opening its doors to young people this Easter. In this workshop, kids aged 8-16 years will have the chance to design and take home their own t-shirt, starting on 2D software, right through to the vinyl cutter and heat press.
10am – 12pm, £15 including materials. eventbrite.co.uk
Easter Academy at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Mon 10 – Thurs 13 April
Budding little actors, waddle along to the Theatre Royal and ruffle those feathers! This year’s musical workshop is a sweet version of The Ugly Duckling story, which is full of songs, soundscapes, movement and colour. Kids have the opportunity to take part and quack along!
10am – 12pm, £55, suitable for kids 5 – 7 years, theatreroyal.com
Wild About Plymouth: Snapping Nature, Tues 11 April
Need a respite from endless selfie taking? The Wild About Plymouth team are holding a session of nature photography at Drake’s Place Gardens and Reservoir, showing how to capture plants and insects in their natural habitat and take a *sick* pic. That’s what the kids say, right?
2pm – 3.30pm, all ages welcome, Drakes Place, plymouth.ac.uk
Theatre* (*a chance to sit quietly in the dark and rock back and forth)
Dracula: The Bloody Truth, Barbican Theatre, Plymouth, Thurs 6 – Sat 15 April
Their Christmas co-production of The Jungle Book took Devon by storm; now Le Navet Bete, in association with Exeter Northcott Theatre and Barbican Theatre are back for Easter, bringing a brand new show to the Plymouth Athanaeum, Dracula: The Bloody Truth. It’s not quite festive chicks and easter bunnies leaping around on stage, but it promises to be great family fun.
Recommended for children aged 8+, tickets £15.50, barbicantheatre.co.uk
Robin Hood: Easter Panto, Princess Theatre, Tues 11 April
If traditional holiday panto is more your thing, then fear not, fair maiden, there’s plenty of tights-wearing action happening in Torquay! Filling the stretchy pants are Britain’s Got Talent winner George Sampson, Dani Harmer from CBBCs Tracy Beaker and X-Factor runner-up Andy Abraham as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Sammy and the Snow Leopard, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Tues 11 – Sat 15 April
Travelling Light are known for their innovative performances for young audiences. In their latest production Sammy reckons he’s hit upon a great way of having a pet, even though his mum won’t let him, but then ends up on an adventure he’ll never forget. This is one for the over fives.
Cirque Du Hilarious, Babbacombe Theatre, Thurs 13 April
Circus Hilarious are an award-winning father and son duo, who bring magic, madness and mayhem to the stage, with the kind of comedy that will have all the family laughing. A perfect pick-me-up for the half-way point in the holidays, I reckon.
2.30pm, tickets £16. babbacombe-theatre.com
Stuff Grown-Ups Will Love Too
Spring Lamb Masterclass at Darts Farm, Thurs 30 March
Nothing says Easter Sunday lunch more than roast lamb. In this workshop, the chief carvers of the family can learn butchery and cooking techniques to make the most of this year’s joint.
7.15pm – 9pm, tickets £10 inc. a glass of wine on arrival & tastings, dartsfarm.co.uk
Mila Fustova Exhibition, Brook Gallery, Budleigh Salterton, Starts Fri 31 March
This brand new exhibition showcases the recent work of internationally exhibited Czech born artist Mile Fustova. Following her first show in collaboration with Coldplay, Guiding Light is billed as an intimate portrayal of the human soul explored through the medium of etching, expressed in a distinctly female voice.
Exeter Illustrators Exhibition, RAMM’s Café Gallery, Starts 4 April
In the market for some original art? Check out the Exeter Illustrators’ first group exhibition opening in April, featuring a range of artistic styles, like artwork for children’s books, observational drawings, wall murals, graphic novel illustration and character design. It also includes new works to complement The Royal Albert Memorial Museum summer exhibition Sea Life and a collaborative piece based on iconic buildings in Exeter. Just don’t forget the plastic!
Book Club, Just Be Café and Wine Bar, Saltash, Weds 5 & Thurs 13 April
Yes, yes, I know it’s technically Cornwall, I haven’t taken total leave of my senses. But in my defence, this Saltash Waterfront Café and Wine Bar is in literal sight of the divine Devon coastline and a mere two minutes’ drive from the Tamar Bridge! It’s the perfect spot for some well-deserved downtime and the word is out about this fab book club so get in there to reserve your perch, before someone else beats you to it!
From 7.30pm, justbecafewines.co.uk
Mike Perry: Land/Sea Exhibition, Plymouth Arts Centre, Starts Fri 7 April
In his exhibition, Welsh-based artist Mike Perry invites the viewer to engage with the environmental issues plaguing us. Land/Sea includes selected groups of work from Perry’s Mor Plastig (Welsh for ‘plastic sea’ and I’m sorry Welsh readers, I can’t find the accent thingy on my keyboard), where he collects and forensically photographs plastic objects such as bottles and shoes washed up on the beaches of West Wales. Who knew rubbish could be so visually striking?
Certain Women, Exeter Phoenix, Fri 7, Sat 8, Mon 10 & Thurs 13 April
Showing for four days only in April is Certain Women, the film The Guardian describes as ‘an indelible portrait of independent women at odds with their rural surroundings.’ Starring stellar actresses Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern and Directed by Kelly Reichardt the film unfolds as a set of uncannily intimate dramas shot on 16mm, following the lives of three women in small-town America. Adapted from the short stories by Maile Meloy, the film follows the journey of a lawyer navigating an increasingly volatile relationship with a disgruntled client; a couple in a marriage laden with micro-aggression and doubt; and a young ranch hand fixated on a new-in-town night school teacher. A clear-eyed depiction of the modern American West. Sounds like gripping stuff.
Grinagog Festival at Torre Abbey Historic House & Gardens, Fri 7 – Sun 9 April
How’s about this: a mudless festival…guaranteed! Yeah, that got your attention, didn’t it? And rightly so, because this is a brand new world-class festival featuring over 200 acts at venues across Torquay, from the people behind the music at Glastonbury’s Shangri-La. There will be a myriad of genres on fifteen stages, from the 12th century Torre Abbey, to harbourside nightclubs, alongside street performers, award-winning food and workshops. This sounds like a Torquay I’ve never seen before and can’t wait to meet!
Weekend tickets £35, family day ticket £10, grinagogfestival.com
La Traviata, Exeter Northcott Theatre, Fri 7 – Sat 8 April
Ooh, fancy the chance to see Olivier Award-winning OperaUpClose present their critically acclaimed new English Version of La Traviata? Get yourself to Exeter, then! Set in Atlantic City during the 1920’s prohibition era, this is the story of Violetta, a so called ‘fallen woman’ who sacrifices her own happiness for the sake of her lover’s family and future. Violetta’s lover Alfredo, is a passionate young man whose optimisim has been shaken by time at the front line in the first world war. Violetta’s protector ‘the Baron’ is a gang boss, and Alfedo’s father a crooked politician. If you loved Boardwalk Empire, this is another fascinating portrayal of life behind the glitz and glamour of the 1920s.
Budleigh Salterton Food & Drink Fest, Sat 8 – Sun 9 April
This great little family-friendly festival showcases East Devon’s producers, through demo’s, kid’s cooking competitions, tasting stalls and foraging fun. The best bit? It’s free!
South West Home and Garden Show, Exeter Westpoint, Sat 8 – Sun 9 April
Planning a classic Bank Holiday DIY sesh for Easter? All work and no play is dull though, right? Get yourself along to Exeter’s Westpoint for some inspiration and maybe a bit of a splurge. This two day event will showcase the best of the region’s interiors, garden, renewables, self-build and lifestyle products.
Easter Floristry Workshop with Anna Slade, Darts Farm, Sun 9 April
At this time of year, we’re completely spoilt by all the gorgeous spring flowers in bloom, but wouldn’t you like to learn how to throw together one of those effortless floral arrangements so you can bring some outside cheer in? Anna, manager of the Flower Shack at Darts Farm will guide you through the art of creating your own seasonal display, which you can take home and admire for the rest of the holidays. Sounds like a good excuse to escape for a few hours.
11am – 1.30pm, tickets £49, dartsfarm.co.uk
Heritage and Spring Garden Open Day at Sharpham, Sun 9 April
If you’ve never visited Sharpham along the River Dart, this sounds like a great time to go along and explore. Tour the historic house, wander through the gardens along Ladies’ Walk and take part in arts & crafts activities with the little people, or follow the Easter trail. The fab Sharpham Wine and Cheese Shop and Vineyard Kitchen Cafe will be open all day too, so you’ll be fed, watered and chilled out come the end of the day. Well, that’s the plan…
Free entry, £4 for parking, see website for a regular bus timetable, sharphamtrust.org
Evening Paddle By Canoe, River Dart, Totnes, Sunday 9 April
Lifejackets on and maybe a sneaky gin in a hipflask (just in case). You feeling adventurous? You’ll fancy an evening paddle along the River Dart by canoe, then. Setting off while it’s still light and paddle for an hour or so upstream; you’ll gather firewood en route (beat that chest!). Then, pitch up on the river bank, have some hearty soup around the fire, and if the storyteller is on board, a river tale or two. No previous canoeing experience required.
6pm – 10pm, prices for Adult types £35 windingrivercanoe.co.uk
Gin Festival 2017, Torquay, Fri 14 – Sat 15 April
G&T anyone? Described in Timeout as one of the “Top 10 things to do in 2016,” the UK’s biggest and oldest Gin Festival is coming to Torquay’s Riviera International Centre for their first ever event in Devon. The Gin Festival will be serving up more than 100 craft gins with plenty of new and exclusive tipples. All to the soundtrack of live music and entertainment, talks from gin industry experts, delicious food and lots of chit chat with other gin lovers! You can keep your chocolate, I’m off down to the English Riviera.
Tickets £9.50 + booking fee for entry to evening or afternoon sessions. G&Ts £5. You may be asked for ID (always a little bonus post-21). ginfestival.com
Live Jazz Ft Michael Campari, [email protected], Plymouth, Friday 14 April
[email protected] Duke is the 20’s speakeasy influenced lifestyle bar within the basement of the Duke of Cornwall Hotel in Plymouth. Accessed via an intercom and intimately lit inside, there’s a sense of naughty Prohibition-esque escapism, which is fuelled by an eye-watering collection of inventive cocktails all served to your private table. The Live Jazz night featuring Michael Campari is bound to draw a crowd, so book ahead, Muddies!
Tavistock Vintage Fair, Town Hall, Sat 15 April
For all things vintage (and that surely means more gin, too?) the quarterly Tavistock Vintage fair is back in time for Easter Saturday. Tavistock Town hall squeezes in over 38 tables ranging from regular Market traders to new faces. You’ll find specially sourced pieces including jewellery, furniture and furnishings, clothes, glass, retro clocks, vintage postcards, eiderdowns, welsh blankets, enamelware and a cuddly toy! (made that last bit up).
Easter Petfest, Tavistock Pannier Market, Mon 17 April
People with pampered pets are in for a treat, as there will be over 40 stalls selling nifty pet products, a first aid workshop, an easter bonnet competition, a dog show, children’s pet workshops, even a pet photo booth. Sounds a furry riot!
10am – 3.30pm, Adults £2, kids under 12 free, Tavistock Pannier Market, origintickets.co.uk