10 eggciting Easter events for families in Portsmouth this holiday
First thing’s first, sorry for using that all-too obvious pun in our headline. Now that’s out of the way, here’s a handpicked list of Easter events we think you’ll love in Portsmouth and Southsea this spring, especially for families!
1) At Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Whilst the Dockyard’s events are spread across multiple venues and are thus technically multiple events, we’re counting them as one, because the kindly Dockyard folks are offering visitors the chance to see ten attractions for one price — that includes the HMS Victory, the Mary Rose Museum, the HMS Warrior, and the museums of the National Museum of the Royal Navy. What’s more, the All Attractions tickets are currently 20% off!
Onboard the HMS Warrior 1860 from 3rd April through to the 19th April there will be a family activity trail. Once the lower deck and schoolroom for young officers, the Warrior’s Gun Room is now somewhere for families to bring young sailors. During this Easter half term, enjoy themed arts and crafts activities, costumed role play as sailors swabbing the decks, and colouring and quiz sheets. These arts and crafts sessions are set to run from 10:00am to 4:30pm for each day.
At the National Museum of the Royal Navy, an Easter trail will see youngsters and families tracking down Wilfred, a rabbit who lived aboard the HMS Centurion and is now hiding somewhere in the museum’s galleries. Use clues to track him down in a self-guided activity. The trail will run from 10:00am to 5:00pm daily from 3rd April to 19th April.
School’s Out For Easter at Action Stations is an evening exclusively for teaching and education support staff aged 18 years and over, featuring a hog roast, DJ and disco, a bar, and unlimited Laser Quest and Action Stations games. The evening is £20.00 per person and bookings can be made by calling 02392 893 338. Action Stations are also hosting a range of Easter craft activities for families from 3rd April through 6th April, from 10:00am to 5:30pm daily.
One of the members of the National Museum of the Royal Navy family is the Explosion! Museum of Firepower in Gosport, where youngsters will be making Easter egg bombs — Easter eggs with popping candy centres. The event is free with a valid ticket from 11:00am to 3:00pm on 3rd April 2015.
3) Portsmouth Museum Easter Trail
From 3rd April to 6th April, families are invited to take part in an Animal Trail or Detective Trail around the Portsmouth Museum to win themselves a chocolatey Easter prize. Trails are 50p, and the prize is free for all completed trails. When you head into the museum, ask at reception for a trail sheet.
4) Yuck! Easter at Blue Reef Aquarium
One of Southsea Seafront’s most popular family attractions is running a special event this Easter dedicated to some of the animal world’s most disgusting members. As well as finding out all of the frightful facts and horrible habits of the animals that live in our seas, there will be opportunities to get mucky with a series of hands-on experiments.
Blue Reef’s very own insect expert will be making a special appearance on April 8th and April 15th along with his personal collection of giant bugs and insects. Blue Reef’s Jenna MacFarlane said: “We’re all fascinated by the more disgusting aspects of the animal kingdom and so we decided to dedicate an entire event to the things that make you go ‘yuck’!
“From fishy slime and starfish that throw up their own stomachs to gelatinous jellyfish and the disgusting dinners we feed our aquatic inhabitants there’s loads of gross goings-on.”
The Yuck! activities will run daily from Friday 3rd April to Sunday 19th, and will also include other themed activities such as rockpool encounters, special talks, and animal feeds.
5) Easter Fun at Big Screen Portsmouth
Pop down to the Big Screen Portsmouth in Guildhall Square at the centre of Portsmouth for a free range of family activities on Wednesday 8th April from 11:00am to 3:00pm.
The day will feature spring-themed arts and crafts workshops for children where they’ll be able to make a range of items to take home with them, including butterflies, birds, caterpillars, and lambs. There will be a Spot the Bunny competition where participants have to find the various bunnies which have been hidden around Guildhall Square — winners will receive a prize!
The workshops are drop-in so there is no need to book in advance. They will be running from 11:00am to 3:00pm.
Face Fanatics will be on hand with free facepainting.
At 12:30pm noon there will be an egg and spoon race, with a prize up for grabs. Shortly after that at 12:45pm, Big Screen Portsmouth will be screening Paddington, a family comedy featuring the widely-loved Peruvian bear who travels to London in search of a home, ultimately winding up with the Brown family who offer him a temporary haven.
Limited seating is available for this screening and will be offered on a first-come-first-served basis.
Also in Guildhall Square on the day: bungee trampolines, a roundabout, and a helter-skelter. The entire event is free for the whole family, aside from some of the children’s rides, for which a small fee will apply.
6) The Love Southsea Easter Market
In April 2015, leading local events brand Love Southsea will be hosting three days of Easter markets in Portsmouth and Southsea’s Palmerston Road high street, featuring a vast array of local independent arts, crafts, giftware, and food traders.
Starting on Good Friday (3rd April) and running through Saturday 4th to Easter Sunday (5th April), the markets will be in the same vein as Love Southsea’s regular monthly markets in Palmerston Road, and will be yet another chance provided by the local events company for small local businesses and creatives to sell their wares and promote their products and services.
Visitors are welcomed along free of charge to peruse the stalls and snap up some unique purchases while enjoying the thriving atmosphere of the popular street market and refuelling with food and drink from some of the countless top-quality street food stalls.
RSVP to the event on Facebook to find out more information and to keep up to date with traders who will be present at the three-day street market.
7) Hidden Histories at Fort Nelson
The fully-restored Victorian fort will be turning into an archaeological excavation site this Easter, inviting youngsters and families along to uncover artefacts from the fort’s past. Learn about Fort Nelson’s history and the lives of people who lived and worked there.
Tickets are £3.50 per child, and the activities are for those aged three years and up. Sessions begin at 11:00am, 2:00pm, and 3:00pm every day from 6th April to 17th April.
Each child must be accompanied by an adult during each session. Tickets can be purchased on arrival from Fort Nelson’s Visitors Centre.
Also at Fort Nelson: see the mighty World War Two 25-pound quick-firing Howitzer gun fired on parade every day at 1:00pm. Museum admission and parking is free.
8) Charles Dickens Birthplace reopens with new portrait of Fanny Dickens
The legendary writer’s birthplace is set to reopen for a new season on Friday 3rd April, just in time for the Easter holidays. The museum, located at 1 Mile End Terrace on Old Commercial Road, is the house where Dickens was born on 7th February 1812, and was the first married home of his parents John and Elizabeth Dickens.
Head along and experience the authentic atmosphere of the comfortable Regency home which would have greeted new-born Charles. Displays bring the birthplace to life, perfectly presenting the furnishings and style of the Dickens family through a fully-decorated parlour, dining room, and bedroom, all of which are genuine Regency pieces.
Step into the world of the 19th century Dickens family and see exhibits belonging to the writer himself, including personal possessions such as his snuff box and the couch on which he died.
The Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum is also home to a new portrait of Frances ‘Fanny’ Dickens — Charles’ beloved older sister. Fanny, as she was known, was the first-born child of Charles’ parents.
Fanny was renowned for being a gifted singer and musician. She won a boarding scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, and in time was awarded a silver medal for her talents.
In 1837, she married Henry Burnett, a fellow musician. They had two sons. One of her sons, Harry, inspired the fictional characters of Paul Dombey and Tiny Tim in Charles’ novels. When Fanny passed away in 1848 from consumption, aged 38, Charles was devastated, and he provided financial support to her bereaved husband and surviving son.
The new portrait is a translation in oil paint of an original chalk drawing by Samuel Lawrence. Painted in 2010, the portrait was donated by London-based artist Fizle Sagar to the Portsmouth Dickens Fellowship so that it could be put on display in Fanny’s birthplace.
Rosalinda Hardiman, Museums Collections Manager at Portsmouth City Council, said: “This painting of Fanny Dickens is of significance for the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum as it depicts the best-loved of all Charles Dickens’ sisters and who was born in the house. The Birthplace museum presents the type of home that Charles Dickens was born into, so it is most appropriate to be able to have a depiction of his sister on display. For visitors interested in the wider Dickens family, Fanny’s portrait adds an extra element.”
The Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum is open from 3rd April to 27th September on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only from 10:00am to 5:30pm. Last admission is at 4:30pm.
9) Easter Art School at The Kings Theatre
The iconic Edwardian playhouse on Albert Road will be running an Easter art school with resident artist Simon Whitcomb.
Youngsters will be invited to draw and sketch the beautiful building and use their creations as an inspiration to create a cardboard construction featuring mechanical movement, learning the techniques Simon pioneered in creating foyer installations for previous Kings Theatre pantomimes.
The school will conclude with an exhibition of finished artworks. The Kings Theatre Easter Art School is a week-long event running Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday during the Easter holiday week (starting on Tuesday 7th April).
The school will run from 9:00am to 4:00pm on each of the days it operates, and is open to those aged from 8 years to 12 years.
Youngsters who get involved will need to attend all of the sessions in order to complete the project. The full run of the project costs £120.00.
10) Cinderella photo carriage at Cascades Shopping Centre
Commercial Road’s indoor shopping mall will be throwing open its doors to a Cinderella-themed photo carriage in celebration of Disney’s new live action cinematic adaptation of the classic fairytale. The carriage will visit the Cascades from 11:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday 4th April.
The event will also feature free crafts which youngsters will be able to take home with them, plus exclusive offers and competitions.