A day out with a difference this Easter
PUBLISHED: 12:56 18 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:56 18 April 2019
The Easter break is the perfect chance to make the most of the lighter, brighter days with a fun-filled family day out
With the weather finally warming up, Easter is the first school holiday of the year where we can get outside and start enjoying the brighter days. For families with little ones, keeping the kids entertained is a top priority over the Easter break, and there is simply no better time to make the most of the sunshine and head off on a fun day out.
Fortunately for any parents struggling to tear their kids away from the TV, East Anglia boasts a wide array of experience days and affordable events designed to entertain adults and children alike. The historic Hedingham Castle is rolling out an exciting programme of events as the days get lighter, getting things off to a flying start with an exhilarating Easter joust.
On Sunday, April 21 and Monday, April 22, visitors will be transported back to medieval times, cheering on a band of brave knights as they go head-to-head (and lance-to-lance) in an ultimate battle for honour and glory. Reputations will be won and lost as the Knights of Middle England charge at each other at full speed, showcasing their strength, agility and chivalry. Mounted on horseback, the brave St. George and the fearless Earl of Warwick will attempt to keep the evil Black Knight at bay, with the roar of the crowd spurring them forward.
The event is inspired by the awe-inspiring jousting tournaments of old, which saw fearless knights charging at each other, lances raised, in an attempt to unhorse their opponent. The first recorded jousting tournament took place in 1066 – the same year as the Battle of Hastings – with the sport growing exponentially in the centuries that followed. Successful knights did not simply joust for pride, and were often rewarded with money and land, as well as the affection of a loyal fan base. In 1536, Tudor King Henry VIII was severely injured in a jousting accident, when his horse fell on top of him and promptly ended his jousting career.
Alongside the joust itself, the Hedingham Castle Easter event is also set to feature a number of other exciting activities, designed to immerse guests in every aspect of medieval life. A medieval band will be playing period music throughout the two-day event, and guests will be able to try their luck with a bow and arrow at the archery range. Maypole dancing, donkey rides and an Easter egg hunt are sure to keep children entertained for hours, while a host of hot food stalls will provide some tasty refreshments. Essex's Coda Falconry will be bringing its magnificent birds of prey to the Easter event, giving guests a rare opportunity to meet some of these majestic creatures.
Visitors will also have the chance to try their own hand at jousting atop of Henry Hotspur – the UK's only full-sized rolling jousting horse. Running on a smooth track, Henry can trot sedately for youngsters and gallop for thrill-seeking adults, taking riders past an array of authentic jousting targets. Very young riders can also experience the fun with mum or dad seated behind, while adult riders can attempt the ride in full medieval armour.
Fans of adventure days out are sure to find plenty to interest them among Hedingham Castle's programme of upcoming events. The Easter joust will be followed by 'Siege!', an immersive event led by the Medieval Siege Society, which will be taking place on May 5 and 6. The jousting knights will then be returning to the historic castle on May 26 and 27 for another impressive spectacle. The castle itself – which is home to a 900 year-old Norman keep – will be open to visitors on event days, and guests are invited to take their time in exploring this glorious site and its picturesque grounds.
A family ticket for the Easter joust costs £42, with this amount covering any size of family - provided that you can all fit in one car, and there is at least one child aged five or over. The event is free for children under fives, and you can also receive 10% off your ticket price when booking online.
For more information, visit www.hedinghamcastle.co.uk