The Easter holidays are the perfect time for families to get together to enjoy days out and staycations. In Winchester you’ll find an enticing array of affordable attractions and events for all generations. Here are our highlights of the best things to do in England’s ancient capital and the surrounding area this spring…
Winchester Science Centre
From Saturday 18 March and running on weekends and all through the Easter holidays until Monday 17 April there will be explosive family fun with Boom & Bloom at Winchester Science Centre. Visitors can join in with an Easter hunt, help plant the Boom & Bloom garden and get hands-on with bubble-fun live science. There are also two floors of hands-on exhibits and the out-of-this-world Planetarium.
Winchester Science Centre’s Easter egg hunt is a little different, it’s an oviparity egg hunt. Be on the lookout for eggs laid by animals that hatch rather than brightly coloured Easter eggs. What birds will be found? Will there be a creepy crawly or two? And will there be a few surprise species that hatch? The hunt is a picture trail and once children spot all the eggs they’ll be in for a delicious Easter treat.
All visits need to be pre-booked via winchestersciencecentre.org
Come and explore one of southern England’s most historic buildings. Entry to Winchester Cathedral is free for children (under 16yrs) and visitors who purchase adult tickets can return as often as they like for 12 months, free of charge. A full list of Easter services and events can be found here winchester-cathedral.org.uk/whats-on/
If you are looking to entertain and engage teenagers, why not book a Tower tour and see Winchester and the cathedral from a great height. After climbing spiralling steps up onto the cathedral roof, you will see the ringing chamber, the great cathedral bells and then walk the full length of the nave roof with its huge wooden beams. Tickets are £15 and include entry to the cathedral itself winchester-cathedral.org.uk/event/tower-tour
For a wild family day out that never disappoints, book a visit to Marwell Zoo. You’ll see 100s of animals includinggiraffes, tigers, rhinos, meerkats, penguins. The park is over 140-acres and has five adventure play areas. You can download an app to guide you around the zoo and find out animal feeding times. When your own tribe is hungry, you’ll find plenty of kiosks selling food and drink and a restaurant or bring your own and relax in one of the outdoor or indoor picnic areas.
There will also be a special Appy Egg Trail on the app to follow this Easter. Unscramble the letters on boards around the park to find a mystery animal and enter a prize draw to win Annual Membership for you and your family.
All tickets need to be prebooked in advance from marwell.org.uk/ticket-prices-offers/ Adults £26, Children (3 – 16 years) £22, Senior Citizens £23.50, under 2s free.
Check out the city’s newest attraction and experience the sights and sounds of Anglo-Saxon Winchester. Discover the stories of the people who lived here, brought to life with the spectacular world of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Discovery Tour: Viking Age. A great multi-generational attraction, 878 AD is a seamless experience in two parts: an interactive attraction with live performance and an augmented reality, self-led app tour of Winchester.
Pre-booking via 878ad.co.uk Adult £15 Child (5–15) £9.50 Concession £12 Family (up to 5 people, max 2 adults) £46.50. Tickets are valid for a whole year, and you book and return as many times as you like free of charge.
Awesome activities at The Arc
There are lots of craft and play sessions on at The Arc this Easter including make felted eggs and pom-pom bunnies, race pro paper aeroplanes and make your own Guatemalan Worry Dolls.
Pre-book all activities via www.arcwinchester.org.uk
Winchester City Museum
The Easter Bunny is visiting the City Museum on Friday 7 April, 11am-3pm. Take part in an Easter trail around the museum and make your own eco-friendly plant pot and plant a mystery seed…what will you grow? Meet the Easter Bunny as they hop past City Museum before a busy weekend! Collect your prize from the Bunny on completion of your trail and planting.
Pre-booking required via hampshireculture.org.uk/event/easter-bunny-meet-and-greet#dates: £6 per child (standard admission of £6 applies for adults, £4.75 concessions). Suitable for ages 3+, children must be accompanied.
Join us on Thursday 13 April to meet a real Roman. Julius the Sutler will help you to discover more about Roman food, religion and life in ancient Britain. See what curiosities he’s collected whilst following the Roman Army across the land…plus have a go at making your own catapult!
Free with price of admission. Suitable for ages 5+, children must be accompanied. hampshireculture.org.uk/event/ruthless-romans
The Great Hall
King Arthur’s legendary Round Table has dominated Winchester’s ancient Great Hall for centuries. Visit and discover the history, battles, secrets and trials for terrorism and treason that were held here. From the 1 April through to the 16 April there will be Easter craft activities and an Easter trail at the Great Hall. hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/greathall
On the Stage
There are family shows a plenty at the Theatre Royal Winchester this Easter including:
2 April – Showstopper Improvised Musical and Showstopper Kids Show takes ideas from the audience and turns them into marvellous, musical adventures from scratch, right away and in front of their very noses.
3 – 4 April – Tales from Acorn Wood. Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s beloved Tales from Acorn Wood stories are brought to life on stage for the first time in an enchanting lift-the-flap experience.
13 April – Total Pop Party is an excellent introduction for kids who are too young to go to the big concerts but don’t want to miss out on seeing their favourite pop stars!
14 April – Morgan & West’s Unbelievable Science. Captivating chemistry, phenomenal physics, and bonkers biology in this fun for all the family science extravaganza!
For more information and to book tickets visit theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk
Free Fun in Winchester
Winchester BID Bunny Hop
Hop around the city to find nine Easter themed words in the windows of participating businesses. Collect a trail sheet from The Arc, Visitor Information Centre or City Museum or download and print one from the Winchester BID website www.winchesterbid.co.uk/Easter-bunny-hop-2023 before you start.
Write all nine answers onto your trail sheet and return to a collection point to receive a small treat (whilst stocks last) and to be in with a chance of winning an Easter inspired hamper, with prizes donated by local businesses.
Winchester College’s Treasury is free to enter and hosts a wealth of ancient treasures in the museum, including artefacts from Egypt, Greece and Rome, casts of the Parthenon Frieze, and Chinese ceramics centuries old. The Treasury is open 2 – 4pm, 7 days a week. Enter via the Porters’ Lodge halfway down College Street. winchestercollege.org/visit-us
Out and about
From the city centre you are just minutes from the beautiful water meadows which inspired Keats’ poetry, among others. The paths along the River Itchen are teeming with flowers and wildlife as spring has sprung. Climb St Catherine’s Hill, a great family walk. The top is ringed by ancient ramparts of an Iron Age hill fort and there is a puzzling labyrinth of a mizmaze. The views are amazing as are the spring flowers in this nature reserve.
Winchester is the also gateway to the South Downs National Park which provides plenty of opportunities to get the family out enjoying the fresh air.
Feeding the family
Families are well catered for in Winchester and alongside the popular chains you’ll find some great budget-friendly independents. These include great sourdough pizzas from Three Joes Pizza, Piecaramba, a pie and comic shop and Shoal, a traditional fish and chips restaurant.
In Winchester there is also a vibrant café scene offering plenty of opportunities to warm up the family with a hot drink and treat.
For cracking family accommodation head to the Holiday Inn Winchester. They have family rooms starting at £135, including breakfast. These have two double beds and can accommodate an extra child’s bed (children 12 & under) or a travel cot too. They also have a year-round offer of Kids Stay and Eat Free option for children under the age of 12 years. Check the website for full details hiwinchester.co.uk
It’s easy to travel affordably and sustainably to Winchester. The city is on a mainline route and just one hour from London. You can save money on your tickets by booking in advance. Many of the attractions are easily walkable and there is a comprehensive bus network. If you are travelling to Winchester by car, reduce your stress and spend by parking in one of the five park and ride car parks on the outskirts winchester.gov.uk/parking/park-and-ride/
For the latest news on what’s on in Winchester go to visitwinchester.co.uk or follow Visit Winchester on social media.