Choose local attractions for a day trip this bank holiday, says Visit Essex

Choose local attractions for a day trip this bank holiday, says Visit Essex


The county’s tourism organisation is encouraging people to get out and enjoy their local attractions this bank holiday.

To boost the local tourism economy, Visit Essex is encouraging people to support local attractions over the May bank holiday weekend.

Tourism in Essex is now on par with pre-pandemic levels and has seen a significant boost in recent times, bringing in over £3 billion to the county. Latest figures reveal that 50.3 million day trips took place in Essex, up from 37.1 million the previous year.

Councillor Mark Durham, Chair, Visit Essex, said: “Tourism in Essex is on the up and we want people to continue choosing Essex for their days out. The county has a 350-mile long coastline, a range of historical attractions, and a variety of places to eat and drink. There’s plenty to do, unique places to enjoy and lots of family events on over the bank holiday weekend. Whatever you fancy, choose local attractions for a day trip this bank holiday.”

Visit Essex has compiled a list of top things to do over the May bank holiday weekend:

  1. Ride a steam train.

Travel enthusiasts can head to East Anglian Railway Museum, Colchester, this bank holiday weekend. Ride in vintage wagons or carriages pulled by a restored steam engine train on Steam Day, 25 May. Or stick around for the whole bank holiday weekend to enjoy their annual transport extravaganza on 26-27 May, to see classic cars, vintage motorbikes, military vehicles and more.

  1. Try your hand at traditional Victorian lawn games.

Audley End House and Gardens in Saffron Walden will host ‘Kids Rule!’ over the bank holiday weekend. The whole family can compete at lawn billiards, croquet, cups and balls, and shove ha’penny. The event is included in the entry price, so take a tour of the house, or explore the gardens. Visitors will work up an appetite and can enjoy a picnic on the grass or enjoy refreshments from the cafe.

  1. Immerse yourself in gardening activities.

Green-fingered gardeners can get involved at RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Chelmsford, this bank holiday. Their Garden Festival aims to get families involved in gardening together. The event will run during the May half term, 25 May-2 June, with a range of activities to keep the whole family busy. Children can learn to sow a sunflower, get their face painted and go on a garden trail.

  1. Transport yourself to a historical era.

Built 900 years ago, the iconic Hedingham Castle is steeped in history. This bank holiday, watch knights battle each other during the Knights of Royal England Joust, taking place on 26 and 27 May. Try out a range of medieval activities, like archery, birds of prey and more. Food trucks will serve up a variety of food and drinks, which can be enjoyed in the stunning gardens.

  1. Enjoy some animal-themed fun.

Head to Hopefield Animal Sanctuary in Brentwood for their Family Festival this May bank holiday. Fill up on BBQ food, watch the children play on inflatables and a soft-play bus, enjoy live performances and meet their rescued animals.

Lee Valley Farm is also welcoming families to explore the farm, meet the animals, and dress up like a superhero or princess. The children can take part in superhero training, meet and greet their favourite characters, and enjoy arts and crafts, face painting and feeding the animals. The event begins on 27 May and runs through May half-term to 31 May.

  1. Climb to new heights.

The whole family can get climbing this bank holiday weekend, with High Ropes sessions at Nuclear High Ropes in Brentwood. Suitable for people aged six and above, Nuclear High Ropes has a 40m zip wire, 70 aerial obstacles and is the biggest high ropes course in Essex. It’s the perfect choice for those who love to get the adrenaline pumping.

  1. Have a fun, family day out.

Enjoy live entertainment, a bouncy castle and family-friendly games, as the Park Inn by Radisson Palace, Southend-on-Sea, celebrates 120 years of the Palace Hotel. While in Southend-on-Sea, make a day of it and head to Adventure Island to ride a thrilling rollercoaster or Adventure Inside to enjoy fun arcade games.

  1. Learn all about a variety of animals and their habitats.

For more animal-themed fun, Colchester Zoo is a must this May bank holiday. The zoo is taking part in national ‘Love Your Zoo Week’ from 25 May to 2 June, where they will celebrate their charity and the important work they do in the UK and worldwide. Learn about different animals’ habitats, let the children transform into their favourite animal with face-painting, and hear from zookeepers with ‘Keeper on the Couch’ sessions.

  1. Treat yourself to local food.

Essex is the home of many world-renowned foods to enjoy this bank holiday weekend, such as Wilkin & Sons Tiptree jam and Mersea oysters. Head to one of many Tiptree tea rooms across the county to enjoy an afternoon or cream tea for yourself or take a trip to Mersea Island to try out freshly caught oysters. With its iconic coastline, Essex is also home to a range of seafood, so head to the coast to try some traditional fish and chips.

  1. Explore the county’s different natural landscapes.

Essex is a vast county, full of a variety of landscapes, and is perfect for a May bank holiday amble around. Take a woodland walk in nature or head out to the coast and breathe in the sea air. The county also has plenty of country parks to explore, like High Woods Country Park in Colchester or Great Notley Country Park in Braintree. If bustling cities and market towns are more you, then Colchester, Maldon or Saffron Walden are great places to go.

To discover more things to do this May bank holiday, see



Notes to Editor:


Images can be found here. Here’s a list of copyrights, in order of appearance on the link. If you use these images to accompany the article, please ensure you credit Visit Essex or the appropriate member:

  1. Tiptree tearoom – credit Wilkin & Sons Ltd
  2. Child at Nuclear High Ropes – credit Nuclear High Ropes
  3. Event at Audley End House & Gardens – credit Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre
  4. Joust event at Hedingham Castle – credit Hedingham Castle
  5. Saffron Walden market – credit Uttlesford District Council
  6. Adventure Island ride – credit Adventure Island
  7. Children running at RHS Garden Hyde Hall – credit RHS Hyde Hall
  8. Children on Sky Ropes at Great Notley Country Park – credit Visit Essex
  9. Children watching animals at Colchester Zoo – credit Visit Essex
  10. Children watching pigs at Hopefield Animal Sanctuary – credit Visit Essex
  11. People enjoying Adventure Inside – credit Visit Essex
  12. People enjoying fish and chips – credit Visit Essex


Visit Essex is the official tourism organisation and the only body specifically marketing the whole of the county to the visitor market. We work with visitor attractions, leisure/activity providers, accommodation establishments and other tourism related businesses (including the travel trade, media and wider partners), to ensure that the county remains a leading visitor destination.

Our work encompasses major marketing campaigns, high profile PR work, business support, and the management and promotion of the official Visit Essex brand. Visit Essex will ensure that the county gets the recognition it deserves as a desirable place to visit in the 21st century. We will work closely with partners to develop a sustainable tourism offering for the future, identify new markets and harness visitors at the county’s major gateways of Stansted, Harwich, Southend and Tilbury.