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Ryedale’s family attractions feed the imagination as well as the taste-buds this Easter.
While traditional Easter Egg Hunts might be egg-citing, the sugar rush can be fleeting – so avoid a chocolate hangover this April, by opting instead for twilight enchantment or a beautiful beastly encounter in Ryedale and the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
With Easter being the first holiday of British summertime many of us dream of getting out with our families to do something memorable together. So why not feed your imagination, as well as your taste buds? The area’s attractions are offering a huge choice of ‘alternative’ Easter events for families, but sweet-toothed visitors don’t need to worry: Ryedale has plenty of delicious sweet treats on offer in attractions and tea-rooms, while Ryedale’s market towns – Helmsley, Kirkbymoorside, Pickering, and Malton – will proudly display the handcrafted, chocolate creations of its resident master chocolatiers and confectioners.
Family highlights in Ryedale during April include:
As twilight descends between 12–15 April, the magnificent ruins of Rievaulx Abbey will be transformed by Brocken Spectre, a unique sound and light phenomenon created by artist Charles Monkhouse. It’s a ticket-only event with limited availability, so early booking recommended. A family ticket costs £23.50 www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/rievaulx-abbey/events
Meet Scamp the Mole's Fairy Friends on Friday 14 April at Scampston Hall near Malton, for a fun and fairy-filled day of story-telling, crafts, games and fairy cakes. Join the fairytale walks to meet the woodland fairies, make a wish on the Wishing Tree, or make fairy wing or a wand. A family of five ticket costs from £19, but all children in fairy or elf costumes gain free entry on the fairy day. www.scampston.co.uk
Malton Cookery School: families can bond over baking, with Kids in the Kitchen sessions for 6 – 16-year-olds throughout the school holidays. There’s delicious food, a homely kitchen and expert chefs to make sure that everyone is having plenty of messy fun. Aprons, menu packs and ingredients are provided. A 1.5-hour session costs from £35. www.maltoncookeryschool.co.uk
Animal Lovers: if the kids are beastly thanks to Disney’s beautiful new movie, there’s plenty of opportunity to get them outdoors for some creature comforts:Voted Yorkshire’s Best Attraction, the National Bird of Prey Centre in Helmsley has the North’s largest collection of thrilling raptors, with regular aerial displays by the tiny Burrowing Owl and the majestic Sea Eagle. Families can get even closer to these magnificent birds during handling sessions, or can adopt a favourite. The centre is also hosting the British Falconry and Raptor Fair between 30 April and 1 May, with displays, demos and workshops by experts and bird-lovers from across the country. A day ticket for a family of four costs from £27. www.ncbp.co.uk
Flamingo Land Theme Park & Zoo, near Pickering: The UK’s most visited Zoo is anything but tame, with over 140 species of animals and regular handling sessions, or even a chance to Be A Zoo Keeper on unforgettable experience days. During Zoo Keeper talks, families can also discover Flamingo Land’s impressive role in animal conservation and welfare, helping to preserve endangered populations in the wild. A family of four day ticket for both the theme park and zoo costs £104. www.flamingoland.co.uk
Easter Farm Fun at Castle Howard, Fri 14 April - Mon 17 April: Meet some new farmyard friends, in the pop-up petting farm. A family of five, all-access day ticket costs £47.85. www.castlehoward.co.uk
Between 16–17 April, families can help build a host of scarecrows for Nunnington Hall’s organic vegetable gardens and orchards, and create a mini scarecrow to take home! There are also fun family races, and a special Easter bonnet parade. Activities cost £2 plus admission. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events
Tour de Yorkshire: on Friday 28 April, some of the world’s top cyclists will be travelling right through the centre of Ryedale during Stage One of the Tour de Yorkshire, one of the highlights in the international cycling calendar. There are a huge number of picturesque picnic-spots to linger and cheer on the champions, and many villages and towns en route are planning special events or displays. For full route details, visit http://letour.yorkshire.com
Throughout April (until 21 May), a free, family-friendly art exhibition, Ryescape at Ryedale Folk Museum will be showcasing some of Britain’s top artists and craftspeople – all living and working in Ryedale, and all inspired by the area’s beautiful landscapes and wildlife. In the folk museum, visitors can then take a trip through time, journeying through the museum’s ‘village’ of homes, shops and gardens, from pre-history to the 1950s. For more details, visit www.ryedalefolkmuseum.co.uk
Woodland adventures: Dalby Forest, near Pickering, is a vast family adventure playground, with off-road family cycle trails, children’s mountain-bike skill sessions in famous Dixon’s Hollow Bike Park, tree-top escapades at Go Ape – including an 880 metres of zip wires, tarzan swings and rope ladders - and Gruffalo Trails and Wildplay areas for younger children. A family day ticket for Dalby Forest costs from £8. www.forestry.gov.uk/dalbyforest
Calming Down: thanks to its unique microclimate, Ryedale has the country’s largest, most northerly and award-winning lavender farms at Terrington (Yorkshire Lavender) and Malton (Wolds Way Lavender), where families can wander through vast acres of the famously relaxing flower, but also enjoy giant mazes and games – there’s even a miniature railway and Yorkshire’s largest Snakes & Ladders. Admissions is Free to Yorkshire Lavender (http://yorkshirelavender.com); a family ticket to Wolds Way costs from £7 between Jun-Aug, but Free other times, with the miniature railway costing £2 (http://woldswaylavender.co.uk).
What’s more, many attractions are just a few miles from each other, giving families a perfect excuse to hop between adventures on a longer holiday, with accommodation including luxury glamping, woodland cabins, farm B&Bs, and boutique hotels. For much more information about family holidays in Ryedale visit www.visitryedale.co.uk; or for ideas while already out and about, there’s free WiFi, maps and guides at Visitor Information Points in Malton and Pickering.