Nowton Park, Great Notley or Christchurch Park - where is best for a day out with children this summer?

The round pond in Christchurch park in Ipswich in May 2015.

The round pond in Christchurch park in Ipswich in May 2015. - Credit:

Whether you want to relax, enjoy some music, try your hand at sport or take the children out for the day, there’s an East Anglian park to suit your every need. Take a look at our guide to find the perfect park for you.

Christchurch Mansion is the jewel in Christchurch Park's crown.

Christchurch Mansion is the jewel in Christchurch Park's crown. - Credit: Archant

Christchurch Park, Ipswich- Steeped in history and fun for all the family

One of Suffolk’s Green Flag parks is Christchurch Park, situated at the heart of the county town of Ipswich. It is a hub of activity in the summer months with children playing, families having picnics and pop-up football matches. It also plays host to a string of summer events including Ipswich Music Day in July and elements of the Ip-Art Festival.

The park first opened to the public back in 1895 and still includes important and fascinating historical features including shelters, water fountains and an ice house. The vast park has a varied landscape from rolling hills, ponds and wooded areas to grassy expanses. More modern attributes include a fantastic playground for children, tennis courts and toilet facilities.

Don’t forget to pay a visit to Christchurch Mansion, which sits within the park

Opening times: 7am to dusk (8.15pm - 9pm seasonal)

Facilities: Tennis courts, croquet lawn, bowling green, duck ponds, children’s play area

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Other info: There is a tea room that adjoins the mansion

The scene at Nowton Park, Bury St Edmunds.

The scene at Nowton Park, Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Nowton Park, Bury St Edmunds- A typical Victorian country estate

Nowton Park is another of Suffolk’s Green Flag-winning parks. It retains its original Victorian charm thanks to the maze, folly, walled garden and arboretum.

A variety of circular walks are signposted, taking you on routes between half a mile and two miles and you will find lots to explore, from ponds to the wildflower meadow. An all-weather sports pitch, two grass football pitches and a busy events programme broaden its appeal, and make it the perfect park for the whole family.

Opening times: 8.30am to dusk (6pm to 9pm seasonal).

Facilities: Children’s play area (including a wheelchair accessible swing), parking for 200 cars and picnic area.

Contact: Ranger service: 01284 757098.

Other info: Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead.

Elmhurst Park, Woodbridge.

Elmhurst Park, Woodbridge.

Elmhurst Park, Woodbridge- The jewel in the crown of Woodbridge

This award-winning park sits in a magnificent and unique setting, overlooking the world-famous Sutton Hoo burial ground on one side and the historic River Deben and the picturesque town centre on the other. It is considered one of the town’s most enjoyable attractions, and is often referred to as the jewel in the crown of Woodbridge.

The park covers nearly two acres and is attractively enclosed within boundary walls, with levelled paths running through it making it wheelchair friendly. The park is a hotspot for families and each Easter plays host to the popular egg hunt. However, the peaceful Scouts Corner is is much used by the older generation, meaning this Green Flag park really does have something for everyone.

Elmhurst is home to two sundials, the first a traditional horizontal sundial and the second an unusual equatorial sundial, while the maritime theme flagpole and Napoleonic cannon reflect the town’s history.

Facilities: Children’s play area, public performance area, seats and benches and toilets


Nicholas Everitt Park, Oulton Broad- Sunday afternoon concerts

Nicholas Everetts Park at Oulton Broad in Suffolk is a perfect day out, whether you're on or off the

Nicholas Everetts Park at Oulton Broad in Suffolk is a perfect day out, whether you're on or off the water. - Credit:

With crazy golf, trampolines, a museum and a host of water-based activities, Nicholas Everitt Park is a one-stop shop for summer fun. The park offers the perfect gateway to stunning Norfolk Broads, and visitors can hire a canoe, or watch sailing and motor boats cruise past. Or you can simply enjoy this green oasis with its waterside wildlife.

This summer traditional bands will be playing on the bandstand between 2pm and 4pm each Sunday, Creating a feeling of nostalgia in this Green Flag awarded parkland.

Opening times: Until dusk each night

Facilities: Tearooms, bowling, tennis, fishing access, toilets, disabled friendly


Other info: Free short-term parking available in The Crescent

West Stow Country Park, Bury St Edmunds- Nature lover’s paradise

West Stow Country Park

West Stow Country Park - Credit: Archant

West Stow Country Park is located alongside the River Lark and adjacent to lakes and heathland providing a varied and fascinating day out. Set in 125 acres of unspoilt countryside, there is plenty to do for the whole family. And last year the park was officially recognised with a Green Flag award from Keep Britain Tidy.

The park offers nature trails that run along the river, over the heath and through the woods. Each uses natural paths with benches along the routes for those needing a short rest.

Bird hides and a bird feeding and viewing area make it ideal for nature lovers while children will love the excellent play area with its climbing wall and scramble net.

Opening times: 9am to 5pm in winter and 9am to 9pm in summer

Facilities: Parking (pay & display), wheelchair accessible toilets, café, museum (charges apply), picnic area, play area

Contact: 01284 728718 or

Needham Lake, Needham Market- Recommended by streetlife community

Enjoying the sun at Needham Lake

Enjoying the sun at Needham Lake

Part of a local nature reserve, Needham Lake teems with wildlife in the summer. From native birds and small mammals to dragonflies – there are lots of species to see here in the warmer months, as well as wildflowers growing in the fields and meadows.

The lake itself is stocked with fish and popular with anglers, and it is also used for sailing model boats. Around the lake is a surfaced path, which makes for a pleasant walk, while there are also picnic and play areas to enjoy.

When we asked users on the hyper-local social networking site,, for their top days out in Suffolk, Alan, from Stowmarket, said: “The lake at Needam Market is very popular for all ages.”

Opening times: Open at all times

Facilities: Nature reserve, picnic areas, childrens play area, lake

Contact: 01449 724639

Other info: Free parking, permits needed for fishing and model boating. Regular guided walks and activities for children take place all year round. Toilets are available and staff are present on site most days

Colchester Hospital Radio fun day in Castle Park, Colchester.

Colchester Hospital Radio fun day in Castle Park, Colchester.

Castle Park, Colchester- Historic features at every turn

Steeped in 200 years of history, Colchester’s Castle Park is a site of national importance.

Its landscape has been shaped over generations and it is a key indicator of Colchester’s Victorian heritage. The park is situated in the grounds of Colchester Castle and the Hollytrees Museum, and is divided into an Upper and Lower Park by the Roman Town Wall. The 24-acre park is designated Grade 1 on the register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. As well as being an important historical site, the park plays host to a string of events each year from the Tour Series to the medieval festival and Children’s World.

Castle Park is a fully licensed premises and has water and electric supplies. More than one million visitors are drawn to the Green Flag-winning park each year, taking advantage of the children’s boating lake, crazy golf course and traditional café

Opening times: 7.30am to 9pm

Facilities: Electric and water supplies, licensed premises, three toilet blocks, children play area

Contact: 01206 282962 or

Clacton's war memorial in the Memorial Gardens by the sea.

Clacton's war memorial in the Memorial Gardens by the sea. - Credit: Archant

Seafront Gardens, Clacton- Mini golf and cafeteria popular with visitors

Tendring District Council has once again been successful in its bid to retain Green Flag status for Clacton’s Seafront Gardens for 2014/15. The Green Flag area runs from the Memorial Gardens to the mini golf range and cafeteria, bringing together three popular attractions.

The gardens were created more than 100 years ago and still retain much of their original design, although the adjacent Mediterranean Garden was created during the late 1990s.

There is plenty to do along the seafront gardens, making it an action-packed day out – why not try your hand at the mini golf course, take a stroll through the sensory garden or follow one of the cycle routes.

Opening times: Dawn to dusk all year

Facilities: Childrens play area, sensory garden, cycle routes, golf/crazy golf , public sculpture, walking routes, rose garden

Events: Clacton air show 22-23 August

Contact: 01255 686643

Race For Life used to be held at Great Notley Country Park.

Race For Life used to be held at Great Notley Country Park. - Credit: Andrew Partridge

Notley Country Park, Braintree- Adventure is free at this playground

Great Notley Country Park is best-known for its extensive adventure play trail, suitable for young and old alike. Spread along a mile-long trail, the giant timber play equipment emphasises the natural levels of the country park – with rope trails set in valleys and huge tyre swings on the crest of the hills, to make you feel like you really are on top of the world.

Children can play a tune as they leap from key to another on an over-sized piano made of railway sleepers, or simply dig in the sand beneath the climbing frames. And as they run from one exciting piece of apparatus to the next, they can see the diverse wildlife of this relatively new parkland.

Great Notley Country Park is linked by bridleway to the Flitch Way providing a safe cycling environment across the north of Essex and for those unable to bring their own, bicycles can be hired.

After all that adventure, visitors can have a well-earned cup of tea and some cake in the Discovery Centre bistro whilst looking out on the view across the park – and admiring the wind turbines. The country park has won three Green Flag awards and sees around 200,000 visitors per year.

Opening times: 8am to dusk

Facilities: Refreshments, toilets, picnic area, cycling, dogs allowed, parking – charegeable, horse riding, football pitches, orienteering, geo-caching

Contact: 01376 347134

The Party in the Park event in Belle Vue Park in Sudbury.

The Party in the Park event in Belle Vue Park in Sudbury. - Credit: Archant

Belle Vue Park, Sudbury- Something for everyone

The award winning Belle Vue Park has everything you need for a perfect family day. The park has excellent leisure and play facilities suitable for children of all ages, a small pets trail, manicured gardens, a skate park, tennis courts and a large open space perfect for picnics or simple relaxation. In the warmer months a refreshment cabin is open selling snacks, ice creams and hot and cold drinks. Toilets are also available on site.

The park is also used to stage the town’s largest annual event - Party in the Park - a free summer spectacular which features a range of exciting entertainment and attractions. The event attracts thousands of people each year.

Opening times: Dawn to dusk

Facilities: Children’s play area, pet trail, manicured gardens, skate park, tennis courts.

Are bucket and spades more your thing? If so, check out our guide to East Anglia’s beaches here.

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