Matisse and Mallard to guns and butterflies: Ten things to do around the UK this Easter

By Ben Miller | 16 April 2014

Don’t get left with egg on your face this Easter – try our ten things to do at museums, galleries and heritage sites

A photo of a child dangling above buildings and a river from 27 metres in the air
Follow in the footsteps of a Victorian sailor after a briefing by a topman on the Weather Deck of the ss Great Britain in Bristol© Adam Gasson
Go Aloft at Brunel’s ss Great Britain, Bristol

Climb the rigging, hold your nerve and get a vertiginous view of life as the sailors saw it 27 metres above ground. “We vowed to create an authentic and adrenaline-fuelled experience,” says Rhian Tritton of the ss Great Britain Trust. “Once you have climbed that far up the mainmast, you forget you’re wearing a harness.” Don’t worry – crew are on hand. Suitable for over-10s.

Witness Matisse’s knock-out Cut-Outs at Tate Modern, London

Tate’s show, which is expansive enough to contain some of the spellbindingly vast works from the final 17 years of Henri Matisse’s career, seems to have been met with a critical reception to match the exuberance of his art. Get some tips on what to look out for with our Curator’s Choice.

See the largest porcelain vase of its kind from 15th century China at the Burrell Collection, Glasgow

The cobalt Ming Vase is a blue and white symbol of the Chinese dynasty at a time when the country was a global superpower. This newly-opened exhibition is the first stop on its tour from the British Museum, sanctioned by a Scottish Parliament Private Bill allowing visiting gems to appear alongside the magnificent resident collection.

Dress as the Romans would have at Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields

Quinta, a Roman re-enactment group, look fearsome in their weapons and costumes on Good Friday, before the legend of St George, the patron saint of England, calls for an open invite to young visitors to dress as their favourite dragon slayer and hear tales of bravery on Monday. Both events are free.

Watch a massive gun being fired at Fort Nelson, Fareham

A cast-iron, 13-inch Land Service Mortar, from 1800, would have formed part of the fort’s original 19th century armament against a feared French invasion. Mortars like this hurled large bombs, exploding above the head of enemy troops with an estimated range of 3,000 yards.

Visit a former wartime hospital at Normanby Hall, Lincolnshire

From 1914 to 1919, the Sheffield family offered this grand mansion - built in 1825 - as a convalescent home for soldiers too badly injured to return home, starting with 25 beds and expanding to 75 under the watch of Lady Julia. “The story at Normanby Hall was very similar to that portrayed in Downton Abbey,” says museum manager Susan Hopkinson.

Wave goodbye to the mighty Mallard at the National Railway Museum, Shildon

The Class A4 locomotives behind the breaking of the world speed record, the Dominion of Canada and Dwight D Eisenhower, have their final day in the UK on Monday. Before their return to America, this Spotlight, on Saturday and Sunday, illuminates and gives a sense of movement to the two towering engines, dramatised by theatre and performance experts.

Embark on a sculpture quest at the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, St Ives

Paintings, drawings, bronzes, stone and wood sculptures festoon the Trewyn studio where Barbara Hepworth spent 26 years, and this hands-on exploration for families promises a fun challenge on Saturday. You can also borrow an iPod Touch for a Ben Nicholson walking tour of St Ives.

Meet Sensational Butterflies at the Natural History Museum, London

Wander through an outdoor butterfly garden on the east lawn of the museum, where butterflies emerge from their chrysalises through a hatchery window and the butterfly house manager has tips on attracting flutterers and creating your own garden. Interactive activities and tropical plants accompany the sixth year of this uplifting, hugely popular project.

Hunt for an Easter Egg at Rhossili, Swansea

An Easter Egg puzzle led by clues, questions and chocolate in Gower. You can also have a go at examining rock pools, crab-catching and trying the National Trust’s 50 Things Easter trail near the National Nature Reserve and award-winning beaches.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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