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Tony Watson / Alamy Stock PhotoEWWK9X Southend Pier, the worlds longest at 1.34 miles.

Seven awesome kid-friendly days out in Essex and East Anglia

By Laura Lee Davies

Been to the Tower of London so often you know all the ravens by name? Run through the fountains at South Bank until the kids have shrunk a shoe size? When you’re tired of London this summer take the kids out of the city on a new adventure to the seaside towns of Essex or the wide open spaces of East Anglia.

All the events and trip ideas below are easy to reach by train with Greater Anglia. Advance fares start from £5 to Southend-on-Sea* – so all you’ve got to do is book ahead, pack your picnic and have a great day out!

Summer Holiday Adventure Jul 28

If the kids are already seasoned theatregoers, try something different on a day out to Norwich. This immersive children’s show at Stage Two at the Norwich Theatre Royal is specially created for kids aged two to six and their families (£6). Make your own passports and set off by plane to somewhere hot, fuelled by your imaginations. Build sandcastles, swim through bubbles, have tea with a mermaid or maybe get swallowed by a whale!

Liverpool Street to Norwich by train with Greater Anglia

Ipswich Maritime Festival Aug 19 and 20

Do you have a budding Sailor Sam or Steamboat Suzy in your family? This free festival is the ideal excuse to explore the seaside town of Ipswich. With decorated ships and boats, costumed historical re-enactments, music, rides, Punch and Judy shows, children’s activities and lots of stalls, there’s lots to see and do, and if you go on the Sunday you’ll catch the fire performers and the firework finale.

Liverpool Street to Ipswich by train with Greater Anglia

Southend Pier Puppet Festival Aug 5 and 6

Forget ‘Streetfighter IV’ – Mr Punch was duffing up everyone in sight long before electricity was invented. For a proper old-fashioned day out, ditch the video games and get along to this pageant of puppetry. There are puppet shows from 11am to 5pm on both days, with Prof Joe’s Marionette Showcase each afternoon. There will also be an exhibition plus a colouring workshop and face painting for younger children. Free with regular pier entry price.

Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria by train with Greater Anglia

Circus Fantasia, Aug 24 and 27

Leave your grumpy face at home and indulge in a day of rides, bowling and free live music and magic shows. For the total seaside fix, how about a few clowns thrown in for good measure? The Circus Fantasia classic clown show (£6.50) on Clacton Pier is hard to beat. Ticketed experiences also include the Seaquarium (£3, under-twos free), so you can enjoy a complete family day trip without actually leaving the pier. Even better, time your visit for one of the free fireworks displays (Aug 24 and 27).

Liverpool Street to Clacton-on-Sea by train with Greater Anglia

Norfolk Broads River Trips daily

Want to inspire the kids with jaw-droppingly beautiful nature? There’s nowhere else quite like the Norfolk Broads. You can easily reach Wroxham by train, and from there you can start your boat adventure on the waters. There is a range of family-friendly boat trip options, kids under five go free and you can even take the dog for £1!

Liverpool Street to Hoveton & Wroxham by train with Greater Anglia

Big Screen Southend Aug 5, 12, 19 and 26

Free family movies? What’s not to like? Each Saturday in August there’s a 6pm free outdoor screening of a family film classic at the Forum Arts Centre – perfect for a little downtime before heading home after a day on the beach. The schedule includes ‘Jurassic Park’ (Aug 5), ‘Toy Story’ (Aug 12), ‘Labyrinth’ (Aug 19) and ‘Finding Dory’ (Aug 26).

Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria by train with Greater Anglia

Children’s World Aug 9 to Sep 3

Imagine letting the kids run free in a child-friendly fun fair. No, really! Parker’s Piece is the setting for Cambridge’s annual fun park – open daily (Aug 9 to Sep 3), it’s ideal for keeping restless little ones busy during the school holidays. A £7 ticket gives them the chance to enjoy as many rides as they like, including fun bouncy castles, fairground swings and other activities, from noon daily.

Liverpool Street to Cambridge by Greater Anglia


* Days out by train with Greater Anglia

Advance one-way fares from Liverpool Street start from £5 to Southend, £7 to Cambridge and £10 to Norwich, Clacton, Frinton, Walton, Cromer, Sheringham, Ipswich and Colchester. The earlier you book, the more you save. For that last-minute day out there’s GroupSave. With our fabulous GroupSave offer, you get a third off all our off-peak turn-up-and-go fares for groups of three to nine adults travelling together. You can book via the app on the day, at the station or in advance online. Plus, kids travel for £2 – just turn up on the day and buy the kids ticket at the station.

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