1.6m Brits enjoy Easter escapes

airliner against sunset sky


Around 1.6 millions Britons are jetting off on a foreign holiday over Easter.

Holidaymakers will avoid facing packed roads, disrupted rail journeys and the threat of unsettled weather here in the UK.

Popular foreign spots for those going overseas include Spain and its islands, Turkey, Tunisia and Florida, according to UK travel organisation Abta.

Top city destinations are Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Rome and New York, while bookings for UK breaks are described by Abta as "healthy".

Over the Easter weekend, 370,000 passengers will leave from Heathrow airport, 200,000 from Gatwick, 120,000 from Stansted, 60,000 from Luton and 4,500 from Bournemouth.

In the north of England and the Midlands, 110,000 will leave from Manchester airport, 45,000 from Birmingham and 23,000 from East Midlands, while more than 100,000 will be leaving via the Scottish airports.

Thousands will also take ferry services to the continent, while Channel Tunnel high-speed train company Eurostar is expecting to carry more than 130,000 passengers over the holiday weekend - a
15% increase on numbers at Easter 2013.

While those heading for the sunshine abroad can expect high temperatures, those having a break in Britain are being warned by forecasters to expect isolated showers on Good Friday and Easter Saturday.

Easter Sunday and Easter Monday are expected to bring unsettled weather in the South, with north east England and the Midlands getting the best of the sunshine, the Met Office said.

As is usual over bank holiday weekends, Network Rail is carrying out a large programme of engineering works which will see a number of key routes disrupted.

The extensive work will affect services to and from a number of major termini, including London's Charing Cross, London Bridge, Paddington and King's Cross stations.

Southampton Central and Sheffield are among other major stations where services will be affected over the weekend.

With Easter falling earlier last year and proving distinctly chilly, this Easter is expected to see a rise in the number of vehicles taking to the road.

Traffic information company Trafficmaster and the AA have forecast as many as 16 million cars will be on the move over the holiday, with drivers from Northern Ireland the most likely to get behind the wheel and Scots the least likely to do so.

Another traffic information company, Inrix, has forecast that the worst-affected congestion hotspots in south east and south west England will be twice as busy over Easter as during non-holiday periods.

The company said this Easter's busiest periods will be all day on Thursday, between 10am and 3pm on Good Friday and between 10am and 4pm on Easter Monday.

Inrix listed the sections of road likely to be the most congested over the holiday. These include the M4 between Hampshire and the West Country, the western section of the M25, the A303 in Wiltshire, the M55 between Preston and Blackpool, and the M4 between London and Reading in Berkshire.

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Easter holidays: UK days out with the kids
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1.6m Brits enjoy Easter escapes

For a fabulous family drive, head for Lanarkshire, where the ancient hunting lodge and grounds of Chatelherault await you this April. Located a short distance from Edinburgh and Glasgow, the attraction makes for a great day out, whether you want to learn about the past or get active outdoors. 

Explore stunning south-west England this Easter with Dartmouth Golf & Country Club's activity break package, which includes one night's bed and breakfast and 1 activity of your choice for £99pp. Activites include coasteering, caving, kayaking, golf and much more. Two day and three day packages are also available. The resort is ideally located for exploring historic Dartmouth and the delights of South Devon.

Wey & Arun Canal has made sure kids can make the most of the great outdoors this Easter with two free quiz sheets that make walking along the canal more interesting. The quizzes will give your children the chance to learn about the canal and its surroundings in a fun way. Quiz sheets are available from the Canal Centre beside the Onslow Arms at Loxwood.

Head to the stunning surrounds of the Lake District to The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction and see the landscape that inspired some of the best-loved children's books of all time. Join Peter Rabbit and forage for 50 limited edition ceramic eggs on 1 April. There will also be a mini treaseure hunt in the garden on 5 April. Admission to park costs £6.95 for adults and £3.65 for children.

Ok, so this one isn't for the kids per se, but we're sure they won't complain when you stop here for lunch. The Black Swan in Cheshire is a family-friendly pub, where you can relax and feast on dishes like fish and chips, beef burgers and steak. The cosy pub is decorated in chic interiors and it's dog-friendly too. So when the kids have been to their favourite attractions and it's time for the adults to take a break, head for this cute pub in the Cheshire countryside.

If your teens love stories about England's past, a Jack the Ripper Secret London walking tour is a must this Easter. You'll be whisked through London's streets, learning about the most intriguing characters, like Jack the Ripper, Dick Turpin and Samuel Pepys, and even braver explorers can sample some of the capital's jellied eels! £30 from buyagift's experience days

Visit Carmarthenshire in Wales, the home of Cwmcrwth Farm, a small rare breed farm nestled in rolling hills, which offers idyllic farm stays for all ages. There are four-star self-catering holiday cottages so you can relax and enjoy the peaceful Welsh countryside and small children will love the hands-on experience of feeding piglets, collecting fresh eggs and visiting the ponies, sheep and goats at the farm.

For a weather-proof family day out this Easter, look no further than the underground attractions of Wales, where you can discover the secrets hidden under the surface, explore mines and caves that lurk deep below the rocks and visit wonderful attractions like Sygun Copper Mine, Electric Mountain and King Arthur's Labyrinth.

Explore the gross and grisly side of science at Waltham Abbey's Royal Gunpowder Mills this Easter with a host of explosive, fun-packed activities. Professor Nitrate will show you repulsive and revolting experiments from the past and you'll get involved in all sorts of mess and mayhem in the Mad Lab.

Love the idea of cooking with your kids but hate the idea of the washing up? Harts Barn has the answer. Sign up for the Children's Easter Baking class where parents and their little ones can take part in a fun-filled morning of cooking and baking. Each class will have recipes to take home so you can build a recipe folder and all items cooked or baked are taken home to share. Class runs on 28 March and costs £25.00.

Take the family to York, the UK's home of chocolate, this Easter where they can get learn all about the York's Chocolate Story. The attraction features an interactive tour of York's confectionary heritage and you'll be given plenty of opportunities to sample choccy delights. £29.50 for a family of four.

Take the kids back in time at Arundel Castle. Set in The Keep and Barbican at Arundel Castle, Raven Tor Living History Group will be creating an authentic representation of 12th Century England through a series of events, displays and activities this Easter. Set against the backdrop of Arundel Castle, a key Norman strategy point steeped in 1000 years of history, families can try on armour, watch archery and falconry demonstrations and learn abou the castle's past. 28-29 March.

Join the team at the Llanelli Wetland Centre from the 28 March to 13 April for some outdoor Easter exploration. Build your own den out of willow twigs from the wetlands, go pond dipping for newts and great diving beetles, enjoy a close-up look at the flock of Caribbean flamingos using binoculars and telescopes, get creative with Easter-themed craft activities and take part in the Great Duck Hunt. Adults £8.14; children £4.50, under-fours free.

Visit a Gulliver's this holiday for a host of Easter activities for the whole family like egg hunts, the Easter Bunny Parade and the Big Bunny Bounce. There will even be an appearance from the Easter Bunny himself. Experience the ultimate family day out at the Easter Eggstravaganza at Gulliver's on 5 April. Adults and children £15.00 each.

Get swept away on the beautiful Suffolk coastline this Easter and join in Woodbridge's most anticipated annual event: the Elmhurst Park Easter Egg Hunt. Taking place on 4 April, participants scramble to find one of the whopping 500 eggs that have been hidden all over the park.

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