Fun things to do in East Anglia this half term

Gruesome Goings On at Framlingham Castle. Picture: ROBERT SMITH/ENGLISH HERITAGE TRUST

Gruesome Goings On at Framlingham Castle. Picture: ROBERT SMITH/ENGLISH HERITAGE TRUST - Credit: English Heritage Trust

From a children’s festival to gruesome goings-on at a castle, wildlife trails and even a superhero training day, there are lots of open-air activities to enjoy over half-term week - not forgetting the Suffolk Show!

Baylham House rare breeds farm will hold its sheep shearing festival on Monday, and will be open all

Baylham House rare breeds farm will hold its sheep shearing festival on Monday, and will be open all half term Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Gruesome Goings On, Framlingham Castle, May 28-June 1, 11am-5pm

If you’re looking for a day out with a difference this half term, head on over to Framlingham Castle, where English Heritage’s Gruesome Goings On event will keep the whole family entertained.

Two shows will take place throughout the day – Top of the Chops, a macabre but amusing double act which will give young visitors the chance to re-write history, and the A-Z of Torture, a whole alphabet of grim and grisly tortures and punishments throughout history. Families will also be able to explore the castle itself, take a stroll along its famous wall walk, learn more about its history in the interactive exhibition and refuel with a bite of something delicious to eat in the café. For more details, see the website.

The Fairy Fair. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The Fairy Fair. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Archant

The Suffolk Show, Trinity Park, Ipswich, May 30-31, gates open 7am, last admission 5.30pm

Definitely the biggest half-term outdoor family event around, with all kinds of exciting activities to enjoy for a packed day out. The Bolddog Lings, Titan the Robot, international showjumping, terrier racing, dog agility and all kinds of other attractions and displays.

There will also be a wide range of have-a-go activities, with 100 things to do for free. If you haven’t booked your tickets yet, to find out more and book. visit the Show website

'The Virgin Mother' by Damien Hirst on display at Houghton Hall. Picture: Ian Burt

'The Virgin Mother' by Damien Hirst on display at Houghton Hall. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

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Animal Magic, Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm, Baylham, May 26, 10am-5pm, plus activities all week

The Festival of the Naked Sheep is being held on bank holiday Monday, May 28,with demonstrations and activities. There will be the chance to see the rare breeds sheep being sheared, and take part in preparing and rolling fleeces.

See demonstrations from spinners, dyers and felters, as well as craft activities for the children, a treasure trail, local stalls and more. All this, plus a barbecue and bar. The farm will also be open all week, so children can meet the piglets, feed the boats and enjoy the play area. See the website for more details.

A sunny day at Flatford Mill. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

A sunny day at Flatford Mill. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

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Children’s Festival, Stonham Barns, May 29-30, 10am-4pm

This new two-day festival will include a wide range of activities, including a silent disco, puppet making, theatre, sports, music, art, circus skills and dance classes. There will also be an inflatable world, with inflatable games and bouncing fun.

Bring a picnic rug and lots of energy! All adults entering the festival area must be accompanied by a paying child, aged three to 15. You can also pre-book a packed lunch. For more details and to book, visit the website.

Downham Market carnival parade makes its way through the town centre to the Howdale Picture: Pauls T

Downham Market carnival parade makes its way through the town centre to the Howdale Picture: Pauls Tibbs

Let’s Get Crafty, Wyevale Garden Centres, Woodbridge, May 28-June 1, times vary

Children aged three to eight are invited to take part in a series of activities over the week. You can pre-book 20-minute sessions, with a different activity daily, designed to introduce youngsters to the joys of gardening and wildlife.

The sessions include creating their own garden features, planting their own mini-allotment, or even building a home for their garden gnome. All events include a free activity sheet to take home or complete in centre. For more details and to pre-book online, visit the website.

Wildlife Trail, Notcutts Garden Centre, Woodbridge, May 26 to June 3, 11am-4pm

Young explorers can go wild this May half-term with a free wildlife trail. Harry the Hedgehog, Rupert the Robin and four other wildlife characters will be hiding amongst the pots and plants, waiting to be found.

There’s a sweet treat for every wildlife watcher who can find all the creatures and unscramble the hidden word at the end of the trail. The activity aims to encourage children to have fun outdoors and learn more about the wildlife that can be found in our parks and gardens.

Magic Monday, Easton Farm Park, Easton, May 28, 10.30am-5.30pm, plus activities all week

Magic shows and a fairy trail, encouraging children to find fairies and elves, will add to the normal fun on bank holiday Monday. Special activities are planned every half hour from 11am to 4pm, including the chance to hug a bunny, collect eggs and hold a chick. Pony rides, family train rides and the chance to ride around the farm in specially modified barrel carts are also on the timetable.

As well as the special activities on Monday, the farm park will be open all through half term week with the chance to take part in animal activities and use the play areas. To find out more, visit the website.

Mammals Quiz and Maze Trails, Nowton Park, Bury St Edmunds, May 28 to June 3, 10am-3.30pm

Youngsters can pick up a quiz sheet from the Grounds Cafe, follow the trail and answer as many mammal-related questions as possible, before going back to the cafe to claim a prize. There is no need to book.

Superhero Training Day, Arc Shopping Centre, Bury St Edmunds, May 29, 11am-3pm

To tie in with the release of the new Avengers: Infinity War movie, the shopping centre is hosting a superhero themed event. Children can wear their favourite costumes and come down to Charter Square to take part in one of four superhero training sessions, starting at 11am, noon, 1pm and 2pm.

Children will be joined by Captain America, The Hulk, Thor and Iron Man, who will take it in turns to help them complete an obstacle course around Charter Square. For more details, see the website.

Wild in the Stour Valley Family Activity Day, Mill Acre Pond, Croft Road, Sudbury, June 1, 11am-4pm

Foraging, pond dipping, mini-beast hunts, rocks and nature ID session will all be part of the fun at this free family fun event, being organised in partnership with local community grouops. Children can also enjoy kayaking and arts and crafts, meet goats, and more. For more details, see the Facebook page.

Mobile Theme Park, Funpark, Alderman Road, Ipswich, May 26 to June 3

A large mobile theme park is in Ipswich over the half term. The park has a wide range of attractions, including two big new rides for this year, a waltzer, dodgems and children’s rides. Admission is by wristband.

Other attractions include waterballs, inflatables, stalls and games and a food court. For more details, visit Funpark’s Facebook page.

Travel Around the World, Braintree District Museum, May 27-June 2, 11am-1pm

You can go around the world - from right here in East Anglia. Create your own T-shirt or bag inspired by Indian culture, patterns and design; your own African-inspired mask, Ndebele House and collar necklace; your own mini sombrero, maracas and Mexican mirror, Chinese lantern, dragon puppet or rattle drum or be inspired by Aboriginal art before making your own dot picture, boomerang and didgeridoo.

Cockfield Art Show, Cockfield Village Hall, near Bury St Edmunds, May 27-29, 10am-4pm

More than 100 artists showcase more than 650 pictures plus pottery, glassware, ceramics and woodturning in support of community projects.

Breaking with tradition, if you like something and buy it you can take it away with you before the end of the show.

Three Mills Walk, Melford Hall, May 27, 10.30am-1pm

Enjoy a guided walk from Melford Hall to Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury along the old railway line and taking in three water mills as well as Sudbury’s water meadows.

RSPB Titchwell Wild, Things at Spring, May 28, 11am and 3pm

Experience nature close-up at the RSPB nature reserve in Titchwell, which will be hosting a range of family-fun activities, beginning on Monday, May 28. The trails and challenges taking place between 11am and 3pm are a great way to get kids active and to engage with the great outdoors and every child will receive a special souvenir to take home. The event will take place everyday of the half-term, ending on Friday, June 1. Tickets are £2 per child.

Mersea Island Food, Drink and Leisure Festival, Mersea Island, Essex, May 27-28, 11am-5pm

Two days of family activities, music and more good food than you can possibly eat - what’s not to love?

New this year are local authors, dance and karate workshops, hamster balls and an aerial adventure course with 18m high swing.

Damien Hirst at Houghton Hall

Now is your chance to check out the Damien Hirst exhibition at Houghton Hall, which is on display until July 15.

A series of paintings and sculptures by one of the UK’s most controversial artists have been installed at the lavish country house, built for Britain’s first prime minister Sir Robert Walpole, in March this year.

Damien is known for exploring the themes of science, religion, life and death and some of his most recognisable works and new paintings can be seen at the exhibition.

Lion’s Club of Ipswich Art Show, Tithe Barn, Sproughton, May 27-29, 10am-5pm Saturday and Sunday; 10am-4pm Monday

Featuring more than 300 pieces of work by local artists. All proceeds from the art show will go towards this year’s Lion president’s charity appeal. This year the club is supporting The Red Rose Chain Community Project.

Circus Fantasia, The Jolly Roger, Clacton Pier, May 27-June 4, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm

The non-animal circus features acrobats, clowns and a traditional water show.

Portraits of Trees, Boat House Gallery, Flatford, until June 25

Janet French and Emma Buckmaster make etchings of British trees and print them onto paper made from that tree’s own leaves.

There will be a printmaking demo on bank holiday Monday.

Country and Pet Show, Hylands Park, Chelmsford, May 28-29, 10am-5pm

Fun and entertainment including arena attractions, animals and shopping stands.

Highlights include the Dzhigitova Stunt Show, Conquest K9 Display Team, falconry, living history display, sheep shearing, have a go archery, Essex Heavy Military Vehicles and more.

The Great Garden Trail, Glemham Hall, May 28, gates open 11am

Raising money for St Elizabeth Hospice, Ipswich; roam the gardens of the Elizabethan mansion featuring Irish yews, roses, a lily pond, herbaceous borders, spreading cedars and more or just admire the sculptures. A restful way to spend your Monday.

Comedy and cocktails in Hunstanton, May 27 and 28

Enjoy some fun in the sun in Hunstanton with a weekend of live music and cocktails at the Sunset Wine Bar at the Princess Theatre.

On Sunday, May 27, there will be a live performance from three-piece band Victims of Time at noon, and cover music throughout the years by band Decade on Monday, May 28 at noon.

Bank holiday Monday will see the return of comedy and cocktails night at the Sunset Wine Bar with resident comedienne Hilarity Jen at 7.30pm.

Flatford Nature Day, Flatford, May 30, 11am-4pm

Go wild and get a little dirty at this special day aimed at families. A £3 wild passport will get you pond dipping, bug hunting and the chance to make natural crafts.

Craft and collectables market, May 26, 9am to 2pm

On Saturday, May 26, the King’s Lynn Craft and Collectables Market returns to the Saturday Market Place from 9am to 2pm.

The market takes place on the fourth Saturday of every month, offering a range of unique arts and crafts from local makers plus antiques and vintage collectables. More information can be found at

Mister Maker and The Shapes, Ipswich Regent, May 30, 1.30pm

The CBeebies’ arts and crafts hero encourages Mini Makers and grown-ups to sing, dance and make some noise.

Suffolk Talons and Essex Tails, main nave, St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds, May 30-31, 10am-noon, 1pm-3pm

Storyteller Hatty’s tales of the battles between the Suffolk black dragon and Essex red dragon. Coinciding with the Suffolk Heraldry Exhibition on display in the cathedral, there will be crafts and a heraldic hunt plus the chance to create your own history, coat of arms for your family and your own dragon to take home.

Newmarket Kite Symphony Open Days, The Mews at the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art, May 31-June 1, 11am-4pm

Wednesday’s drop-in sessions are about kite design with artist Paula Wilson helping all ages create one of the six kites to be used for the Newmarket Carnival procession. Thursday’s session includes flying with Paula and fellow artists Marcelo Camus and Zack De Santos.

Julia Sutton, The Cut, Halesworth, May 31, 2.30pm

The artist and writer presents her first novel, A Sea of Straw. It’s 1966 and Jody, a young mother and designer from the north of England, arrives on the Lisbon coast, bringing the lure of Swinging London to the life of Portuguese painter Zé Will’s life. Their burgeoning love is interrupted when, back in England, Jody’s husband forces her to choose between their two-year-old daughter Anna and Zé.

Fairy Fair at Stradsett Hall, May 26 and 27, 10am-5pm

The award-winning Fairy Fair returns with its magical events at Primrose Woods in Stradsett Hall, near Downham Market.

Taking place on Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27, from 10am until 5pm, families can partake in pirate games, tend cuddly British wildlife and other magical creatures in the fairyland wildlife hospital and send postcards to family and friends from the pixie post office.

The fair raises funds for the Fairyland Trust, the Norfolk-based charity which introduces families to flowers, wildlife and trees.

Downham Market Festival

Held annually during the end of May Bank Holiday weekend, this week-long festival begins on Sunday, May 27, with the main festival carnival parade and arena events taking place on the Howdale on bank holiday Monday.

The festival promises a week of music, food and entertainment including the traditional Howdale Parade Day which progresses through the town centre before arriving at the Howdale at 1.15pm.

Stage and arena events include Moto Stunts Team, Molly dancers, Zumba dancing, Raz the Clown, Legacy dance troup and Justso James. Attractions will include funfair rides, inflatables, craft and charity stalls, food and refreshment vendors and the bar bus.

Let’s Rock Norwich, Retro Festival

Let’s Rock Norwich! will take place at Earlham Park today. With a fabulous line-up of artists to bring you the very best of the 1980s, and an action packed day of general 1980s madness, there is plenty to do for everyone at this family friendly festival! The line-up includes acts such as The Human League, ABC, Jason Donovan, OMD and many more apparently.

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