With Christmas out-of-the-way, Valentines Day just another card in the past and the days getting longer, it's almost time for the next Children's holiday season; Easter. With at least 2 weeks off for every school child the streets are full of bored youngsters who have already seen the endless repeats of films with Easter bunnies and Portsmouth in Hampshire is no different. The wider Portsmouth area has plenty for adults, children and the undecided this Easter time and this look at some of the (predominantly annual) Easter Events in Portsmouth will hopefully convince some of you to visit the city, whether it's from down the road or in the next county.
Easter Break at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard always tries to have lots of events for children during the school holidays and as usual the HMS Warrior's Gun Room and lower deck mess have been transformed for the holiday children to get to grips with art and crafts, pirate role-playing and colouring and quizzes.
Meanwhile close by in the Mary Rose Museum, children can try on some of the museum's costumes for that Easter snap for the photo album. This event only runs in the museum between 11am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm.
Running from 31 March to 15 April, participation is free to ticket holders and is easily located close to the Gunwharf Quays ferry, rail and bus interchange.
There are also a few events for the children at Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard that are not running the full length of the Easter school holidays. These are located on the HMS Warrior and include;
Learning about Victorian toys and games; 03-05 & 10-12 April
Learning about naval weaponry, cutlasses and swords; 03-04, 06-08 & 10-15 April
Macrame Workshop; 03-10 April
Meet The Crew; 05 & 12 April
and in the Dockyard's National Museum of the Royal Navy; an exhibition about naval and Antarctic explorers Cook and Scott.
If you are looking to wear out the children as well as take in a little culture; the Portsmouth Guiding Service are offering a guided walk from the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on Sunday 01 April taking in a tour around the Gunwharf Quays area - which was formerly part of Portsmouth's Royal Naval establishment - and onwards to the beauty of the cobbled streets in Old Portsmouth. The guided walk starts at 14:30 from the Victory Gate at the Dockyard, but tickets must be bought in advance from the visitors information centre next-door.
The Portsmouth Guiding Service is also hosting a guided walk around Old Portsmouth itself from the 20th Century foundings to its 12th Century origins. This walk starts at 14:30 on 08 April from the Square Tower, Old Portsmouth.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is also hosting a Ghost Walk on 06 April. This 1 hour tour will tak in some of the naval history as well as the ghostly "goings-on" but tickets must be booked well in advance as part of the tour takes place within parts of the Portsmouth Dockyard that are ordinarily out-of-bounds for visitors and need Royal Navy security clearance.
A second Ghost Walk is also booked for Portsmouth's Spice Island on 13 April; this is part of what is more commonly known as Old Portsmouth and brings the same interactive fun with the 60 to 90 minute guided tour and again, tickets should be purchased in advance.
Easter @ Port Solent
On the edge of Portsmouth, the small shopping and entertainment area at Port Solent is offering children's free entertainment on Wicked Wednesday's and Super Saturday's along with a day of family entertainment on Good Friday.
Port Solent itself is quite secluded for the most part of the season, with a number of pubs and restaurants as well as a multi-screen cinema and specialist retailers. If the children are interested in a movie then the free parking and half-hourly bus service means that its easy to get to and offers a little something different either side of a film.
Who Needs a Lift at the Spinnaker Tower
If you like the easy way up, maybe it's time for a less easy way down as Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth's Gunwharf Quays opens up the emergency exit.... at the top. The management of the Spinnaker Tower tried this last year and it was such a success that they are already booking up for the 100m drop right the way through to August. It's not a cheap thrill, but it's definately an adrenaline-filled one anyone who is over 18, under 21.5 stone and psychotic!
(You will never see me doing it!)
Easter Fates, Fayre and Markets
Most of the "usual" establishments have the standard range of events across this Easter period.
Starting by overlooking Portsmouth Harbour, Portsmouth's Gunwharf Quays has an Easter Gift Fair running through the school holidays.
Southsea's Palmerston Road Farmers Market will also be taking place on the weekend after Easter; Sunday 15 April, offering a range of locally grown and bred high-quality food and produce.
Portsmouth's King's Theatre will become the new corner of Pontypandy on 12 April as it plays host to Fireman Sam for a one-off performance of his children's live show Pontypandy Rocks. Join Fireman Sam and his friends as they host Pontypandy's first ever music festival.
Something slightly different at Gunwharf Quays on 15 April is a production that sets the backdrop; of Gunwharf Quays. Depth Charge is part of an ongoing project that started in October 2011 and provides workshops for the children interlinked with performances in some of the communal areas of the site and strategically placed performers. The website for the event describes the interaction as being on three levels:
- Those that have booked,
- Those that realise what is going on and get involved,
- Those that are oblivious but realise something is going on.
All The Fun of The Fair
For those that like a little bit of a thrill, Southsea's Clarence Pier funfair will be open during the Easter holidays with modern and tranditional rides, arcades and a pub-restaurant for the adults to relax while the children are off entertaining themselves.
For those that want to stay along the beach but not spend all day on the rollercoaster, Southsea's Blue Reef Aquarium, D-Day Museum and South Parade Pier will all also be open as normal; and if the weathers warm you also have the glorious Southsea Common for a picnic lunch.
There is always something to do in Portsmouth, regardless of the season.
Easy to Get To, Easy to Get Around
Being on the south coast, Portsmouth is one of the easiest cities to get into; sat off of junction 12 of the M27 and with its own private motorway (the M275) bringing the tourists and commuters alike into the heart of the city. Parking is simple as well with plentiful on-street and car park facilities across the city centre, Gunwharf and Southsea seafront.
Coming to Portsmouth is also easy by public transport. Regular train services come to Portsmouth from London, Brighton and Cardiff; while CrossCountry trains provide a frequent service between Southampton (a short train ride away), Birmingham and the North. Getting around Portsmouth by public transport is just as easy with both Stagecoach and First Group competing for the lions share of the passengers, ensuring that there are plenty of buses across the tourist parts of Portsmouth seven days a week.