The five best destinations for family fun at Easter
This month, British families are seeking winter sun in the half-term holidays – and planning ahead for the upcoming Easter break. Which British Airways destinations hit the sweet spot for wow-factor family fun?
Easter is a cracking time to get away and have your whole family entertained by street processions, epic firework shows, unique local traditions and, of course, plenty to satisfy that sweet tooth…
Spring is a sweet time to visit Sicily, not least for the agnelli pasquali – hand-painted marzipan lambs filled with pistachio, which are the Italian island’s extremely cute take on an Easter treat. In April, temperatures can hit an almost-swimmable 18°C, wildflowers burst through and, for the entire week before Easter, life erupts into ancient and eye-grabbing celebrations. On Easter Sunday, Prizzi (a town in Palermo) hosts the Dance of the Devils – in which two people dressed in devilish red pretend to lock up spectators. Good luck explaining that one on your postcards home.
To entertain energetic kids, head to Monti Rossi Adventure Park where the whole family can zip line, climb on platforms, clamber on nets and swing on ropes to their hearts’ content. With different paths to choose from, everyone gets the right level of adventure, and picnic areas in and around the park provide a place to replenish energy levels.
If you like your hot cross buns served on a sun-lounger with a side of tropical sand, bookmark Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory with completely un-British weather (and new direct daily flights from London Heathrow, from 26 March). But Bermuda’s star Easter attraction happens in the air, not the oven. On Good Friday, everyone flocks to the beach to fly bright hexagonal or octagonal kites – which kids can make or buy. Some kites are huge and require a team to get them airborne. Others buzz via a special hummer made from paper. Where to watch it all? Horseshoe Bay is regularly named one of the world’s best beaches, or there’s Shelly Bay for calm, shallow water and a huge playground.
As for the rest of your trip, point restless teens towards the Railway Trail, a paradise for walking, hiking and pedal biking that stretches across the island from end to end. The trail is made up of nine sections, with the most popular part spanning two miles between Somerset Village and Somerset Bridge and featuring the ‘smallest drawbridge in the world’. Cute.
Understated Swedish culture does not apply at Easter – particularly when it comes to the sheer volume of pick ’n’ mix sweets that are stuffed into decorative paper or plastic eggs. Swedish Easter mixes elements of Christian, folkloric and Old Norse traditions, the quirkiest being påskkärring. Similar to Halloween, children dress up and door-knock to exchange a homemade Easter card for, you guessed it, more sweets. Girls wear headscarves, mismatched dresses and paint on red cheeks and freckles, while boys don a black suit, fake moustache and top hat. You’ll also find great family craft activities: boiled eggs are painted with watercolours or pens for table centrepieces, while branches of birch – the Easter equivalent of a Christmas tree – are decorated with feathers and baubles. Look out for bonfires on Saturday night, and a cola-like soft drink called påskmust that’s only sold at Easter.
After you’ve got your festive fill, hop on a cruise along the Göta Canal, which passes through 190km of charming towns and rolling countryside. Pick a short cruise through the Östgöta section of the canal and stay overnight by the locks of Berg, or splash out on the six-day Grand Sweden luxury cruise, which includes hiking and biking en route.
Easter in Corfu is a spectacle for the senses, whether the celebrations are Catholic or Greek Orthodox. Easter Saturday wins the ‘Erm, what just happened?’ moment, though. Spianada Square in Corfu Town hosts Botides – a wild custom where giant clay pots of water are thrown from balconies. No one’s exactly sure why – but taking home a piece of smashed pot is considered a good-luck charm. At midnight, there’s a huge fireworks display, plus treats of fogatsa (a sweet brioche) and mandolato (almond nougat).
April is also a fantastic time to visit the island as a family. Take a day trip to Old Corfu Town, with market shops to keep you busy and plenty options for refreshments – hit up the whimsical Hans & Gretel Sweet Shop to keep smaller kids happy. Or, try the Sweet ’n Spicy Bahar Shop at the centre of town, a business started from scratch by Greek-Lebanese entrepreneur Saoumaa Fadia Katerina. She creates and sells more than 100 different spice mixes plus an online cookbook, revealing her secret recipes for maamoul mad (a Lebanese semolina cream dessert) and giouvetsi (Greek beef stew with orzo pasta).
Southern Spain is always an excellent choice in April, offering soul-quenching top-ups of vitamin D and vitamin sea before the full scorch of summer takes hold. Holy Week (Semana Santa) remains deeply religious, but the Spanish know how to throw a spectacle and the processions draw a global crowd. Easter is Seville’s main festival and it’s world-renowned: there are more than 50 enormous street parades, where Catholic brotherhoods dress in silk robes and tall, conical hats, and people carry religious wooden statues (known as pasos) through the city. Flamenco performances punctuate the devout imagery and everyone – no matter their faith – worships at the altar of the local food. Don’t leave without trying torrijas (a Spanish version of French toast) and some golden buñuelos de viento (cream puffs).
And once Easter weekend is over, search out some cultural family fun in Barcelona at Park Güell, designed by fabled Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. A colourful mosaic dragon greets you as soon as you enter the park, which is full of lush greenery and quirky buildings in Gaudí’s whacky Modernist style.
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