Easter fun in Edinburgh for the kids

Fun at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick. Picture: Rob McDougall
Fun at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick. Picture: Rob McDougall
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THE homework is away, the lessons are done and for the next week schoolkids across the Lothians are free from their studies to enjoy the Easter break.

For their hardworking parents that means finding things to keep their youngsters occupied – hopefully with something other than video games and cartoons.

And with a raft of family-friendly activities ranging from bus tours to chocolate-themed events there are dozens of ways to help to keep boredom at bay.

Edinburgh’s International Science Festival kicks off this weekend, with events to inspire youngsters’ imaginations.

Among the many activities on the festival programme is “Adventure Bots and the Temple Gods” at the City Art Centre, where children can use a specially designed version of LEGO technology to build and programme robots to play games and search for hidden treasure.

Not for the faint-hearted, the Blood Bar, at the same venue, will give youngsters the chance to make their own scabs, mix up a gooey blood clot and even touch a real heart.

As part of the science festival and the John Muir festival, Professor Egghead will return to the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick with a brand new interactive live science show.

From today until April 21, visitors can join Professor Egghead and friends Percy the puffin, Tommy the tern and Teresa the turtle to hear about what it takes to survive in the wild.

Tom Brock OBE, the centre’s chief executive, said: “Our Professor Egghead show is always popular and this year’s performances will not disappoint. With the themes of Homecoming and John Muir, not only is it very topical, but our visitors are guaranteed to learn all sorts of fascinating facts about our local wildlife and what it takes to survive in the wild.

“With craft activities and a new fact finding trail in the Discovery Centre throughout the day from 10am to 6pm, we will also prepare budding wildlife explorers to experience nature the John Muir way.”

On the final day of the show, April 21, the centre will celebrate the launch of the John Muir Way with performances from cyclists and artists. It will coincide with the second leg of the John Muir Way walk, which departs from the complex at 10am.

Of course Easter wouldn’t be Easter without a healthy dose of chocolate for the kids – and possibly the adults too.

The National Museum of Scotland’s Chocolate Alchemy workshop will suit budding scientists with a sweet tooth.

The free event, in the venue’s Level 4 Studio, is open to children aged nine and over and will be held from Thursday, April 10 to Monday, April 14.

Aspiring chocolate chemists will learn about how the chemical structure of substances can affect its properties – for example when chocolate is melted and 
re-hardened it crystallises into a different molecular structure.

They will be given the chance to carry out experiments with chocolate – and then taste it to discover changes in texture and flavour.

West Lothian also has plenty to offer families who want a more traditional Easter day out.

Throughout the Easter fortnight, little ones can meet the new arrivals at the Almond Valley Heritage Centre farm.

They can also take part in the springtime trail and collect clues hidden around the farm, keeping a close eye for hidden eggs.

There will also be Easter bonnet decoration and a plastic duck race along the mill lade.

Meanwhile Howden Park Centre will host a Mad Hatter’s Easter Tea Party on April 13, with a daytime disco for all the family and a tasty lunch box with an Easter treat.

Guests are also encouraged to show their creative sides to be in the running for a prize in the best Easter costume.

Hopetoun House’s Easter Eggstravaganza on April 21 will feature some age-old favourites – from egg painting to egg rolling.

And on Easter Sunday, the Five Sisters Zoo’s exciting Easter egg hunt will be a hit with the kids, as will new areas to explore at the attraction such as the Medieval Castle Petting Zoo, the Wallaby walkabout and the walkthrough African Wading Bird Aviary.

Children will also be excited by the arrival of Chad, a Giant African Spurred Tortoise, and two adorable baby meerkats.

Today also marks the launch of the new seasonal programme from Edinburgh Bus Tours.

As Scotland’s second most popular paid-for visitor attraction behind Edinburgh Castle, the firm’s five city tours as well as the Forth Bridges and Bus Tour routes will give families a variety to choose from.

Some of the tours now depart from St Andrew Square, however the red City Sightseeing bus and the Green Edinburgh Tour will continue to operate from Waverley Bridge.

Kids will particularly enjoy the City Sightseeing tour, which takes in the best of the city centre – with a Horrible Histories twist.

Dedicated to Edinburgh’s gruesome past and based on Terry Deary’s best-selling series of kids’ novels, the Horrible Histories commentary, voiced by Edinburgh’s 
favourite pantomime villain Grant Stott, includes tales of the Grassmarket hangings, Nor Loch, Burke and Hare and Dr David Livingstone being mauled by lions.

And the Forth Bridges bus and boat tour gives guests a chance to spot seals and puffins.

Helen Adams, marketing manager for Edinburgh Bus Tours, said: “It’s an exciting time for Edinburgh Bus Tours with the launch of the new season’s tours. We had one of our best years on record in 2013, so are hoping our new routes and more regular buses will continue to delight our visitors.

“The Majestic and City Sightseeing Tours in particular are extremely popular with residents looking to learn more about their city and our Edinburgh Bus Tours’ free app for apple and android also makes travel on board the tour buses even easier.”

A chance to win tickets

WE have teamed up with Edinburgh Bus Tours to offer five free family tickets.

Rediscover your own city – and its gruesome past – with commentary for children based on Terry Deary’s bestselling Horrible Histories books.

To be in with a chance of winning, e-mail alison@jigsawpr.com with your answer to this:

What is the name of the series of books that the children’s commentary is based on?

Terms and Conditions:

Tickets are valid until October 31, 2014 for two adults and up to three children. They cannot be exchanged/returned. No cash alternative.

Valid for use on any Edinburgh Bus Tour routes only.

All children must be accompanied by an adult.