The finalists have been announced for the Experience of the Year award, sponsored by insight6, at the East of England Tourism Awards 2022-2023

This award recognises providers of truly memorable and immersive activities for visitors to participate in.

Here are the finalists for this year's award.

Mersea Boating Lake

Mersea Boating Lake is a six-acre, man-made saltwater lake situated next to the sea on Mersea Island, Essex.

Opened in 2020 by Rebecca Edwards, the lake offers water sports activities for all ages and abilities – including kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing, windsurfing, sailing, rowing boats, dinghies, model boats and an aqua park.

It also offers swimming sessions and lessons for families and dogs, plus dog walks, nature walks and private beach parking and access.

The lake is a popular family attraction in the summer but has lots going on throughout the year, such as pumpkin patches and fright nights in autumn and a Christmas experience during the winter.

Highlights for the business over the last year include the development of paddleboarding club SUP SQUAD – which has been recognised by GBSUP as the main junior racing team in the UK, hosting a national junior race at the lake in September 2022.

The judges were very impressed with the “levels of enthusiasm, energy and professionalism” among the staff at Mersea Boating Lake.

They noted the range of activities available for all ages and abilities, commending the attraction’s “ability to be inclusive for people of all backgrounds”.

East Anglian Daily Times: PrimEVIL has over 100 scare actors working across its themed hauntsPrimEVIL has over 100 scare actors working across its themed haunts (Image: PrimEVIL)


PrimEVIL is Norfolk’s biggest scare experience with 100 scare actors working across its themed haunts.

The attraction was created by Martin Goymour, who owns and runs ROARR! Dinosaur Adventure in Lenwade with his son Adam Goymour.

First launched in 2009, PrimEVIL returned for its 13th year at ROARR! in 2022 and attracts over 20,000 visitors every year around Halloween.

Starting as an event across five nights with just two haunts and 2,000 visitors, it now takes place over 13 nights – reduced from 17 nights in 2022 to commemorate its 13th year.

Visitors can experience five terrifying haunts – from the Crypt to the Circus of Terror and Mayhem Manor Hotel – where there are surprise rooms, obstacles, corridors and non-stop twists, turns and jumps around every corner.

The haunts are upgraded each year to provide visitors with a new experience. The attraction also offers a bar, street food vendors and entertainment.

The judges liked the theming of PrimEVIL, which starts in the queue outside before entering the experience.

They loved the Circus of Terror haunt and said that the overall experience was “fantastic and very immersive”. They were also impressed by the attentive team members throughout and the variety of food and drink options.

East Anglian Daily Times: Talliston House & Gardens was described by The Times as “Britain’s most extraordinary home”Talliston House & Gardens was described by The Times as “Britain’s most extraordinary home” (Image: Gavin Conlan Photography)

Talliston House & Gardens

Described by The Times as “Britain’s most extraordinary home”, Talliston House & Gardens is a unique interior design and art installation project within what was previously an ordinary three-bedroomed, semi-detached, ex-council house in Great Dunmow, Essex.

Each of the original rooms and gardens has been transformed into 13 locations, each set in a different time and place, and incorporating more than 1,800 antiques, objects, furniture and fittings sourced from 27 different countries across the globe.

At its core, the project is an exploration of the concept of the extraordinary within the ordinary.

Every room is now a chapter in a fantasy adventure novel, ‘The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston’, with Enchanted Evening experiences allowing guests to ‘step inside the book’ in an immersive experience.

The business started trading in 2015 when the house and gardens were completed. It has one full-time employee with a small crew of housekeepers, cleaners, gardeners and volunteers.

The judges enjoyed the experience at Talliston House & Gardens, commenting that the tour guide made it very memorable.

They also noted how Talliston House had brought art to the community, as well as awareness of the hidden meaning behind the property.

The winners of the East of England Tourism Awards 2022-2023 will be announced at a black-tie event held at Milsoms Kesgrave Hall Hotel, Ipswich, Suffolk​ on Thursday, March 16.

To view the full East of England Tourism Awards 2022-2023 finalists supplement, please click here.