Enjoy a cheep and cheerful Easter to keep the kids happy

Belts are tight, but with dozens of free attractions across the Lothians you can still entertain the little ones

TIMES are hard and this year even the Easter bunny is feeling the pinch.

Balancing the books between keeping the kids entertained without bursting the bank is a holiday dilemma parents could do without at the peak of a recession.

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Thank goodness, then, for the dozens of free events and attractions right on your doorstep.


Taking the kids to the shops might not sound a cheap way to spend Easter, but there are certain events that won't cost you a chocolate button.

On Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday, head to John Lewis Edinburgh between noon and 3pm where children can join an Easter egg hunt in the store.

From now until Easter Monday, Sainsbury's at Cameron Toll and Murrayfield will celebrate with face painting, card making and drawing for the kids.

Easter typically involves rolling an egg and where better to roll it than down Edinburgh's most familiar hill? Go to Holyrood Park Education Centre, Queen's Drive, for 11am on Easter Monday and roll your painted egg down Arthur's Seat. Pick up a map to uncover hidden secrets of the park with the chance of a prize at the end. E-mail [email protected] to book a place.

Alternatively, go to Vogrie Country Park in Gorebridge on Easter Monday for a packed schedule of fun events from nest building to egg rolling, nature trails and crafts.

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Get in the Easter mood tomorrow at Hopetoun Monument car park near Haddington, where the rangers will be hosting an afternoon of events including egg rolling from 12:30pm. Visit www.eastlothian.gov.uk/ rangerevents


Modern libraries have shed their stuffy image to offer video games, crafts workshops and a host of children's events.

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Check out Corstorphine Library for craft sessions for five-12-year-olds on Thursdays and Gilmerton Library for storytime and craft sessions on Tuesday afternoons.

Portobello Library has events for children from four to ten, including Easter card crafts this Saturday, arts and crafts next Friday (9 April) and a rabbit-themed hour on Thursday, 15 April.

Piershill Library has traded the Easter bunny for a dinosaur – paint dino eggs at a free craft session on Tuesday – and Port Seton Library runs a Backpackers' Club for pre-schoolers on 13 April which includes songs, games and stories around the "campfire".

Library events are free but some may require tickets. Contact local libraries for details.

Edinburgh Community Food Initiative is running a craft event based on the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, for five-eight-year-olds on Tuesday, 13 April.

Gorgie/Dalry Toy Library, at St Martin's Episcopal Church, Dalry Road, is hosting free activities for children this Saturday, including Easter crafts, dancing for all the family with CeilidhKids and face painting. Free refreshments including home baking. Go to www.gdtoylibrary.org.uk


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Older children love blood, gore and body bits. Joe Richards, pharmacist at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, tells The Horrific History of Medicine at the Edinburgh Dungeon (contact 0131-240 1001 for booking details). The event is on Easter Monday at 6:30pm.

Little ones will prefer to make a puppet and take part in a King David and the Stag puppet show at Holyrood Park Education Centre, Queen's Drive (0131-652 8150, www.historic-scotland.gov.uk, on Easter Monday from 11am. Booking essential.

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Head back to the royal park on Sunday, 11 April at 9am for Ecofusion, a day of fun outdoor activities run by the Forum for Environmental Volunteering Activity.

Introduce them to Scots music at a "come and try" workshop at St George's West, Shandwick Place, on Saturday, 10 April, 11am-4pm, as part of Ceilidh Culture (0131-228 1155, www.ceilidh culture.co.uk)

For a similar experience, join Cafe Ceilidh at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, High Street, on Tuesday, 13 April at 2pm, for a free afternoon of song and music (0131-228 1155, www.scottish storytellingcentre.co.uk)

Visit Ceilidh Culture Street Fair in Castle Street from 10am-6pm across the Easter weekend. You may be tempted to splash out on the Scottish food, drink, crafts and fashion on sale, but the music, banter and atmosphere is free.


The weather might be telling us different, but it is supposed to be spring, and Scotland's outdoor playground is free to enjoy.

Nothing says springtime quite like the bluebells carpeting Ravelston Woods. Join the rangers for a guided walk on Good Friday (www.edinburgh.gov.uk/ countryside-rangers).

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Take the kids for a brisk stroll up Arthur's Seat with the Historic Scotland rangers and learn about its past, present and wildlife.

Walks take place on Tuesdays between 1pm and 3pm. Phone 0131-652 8150 to book or e-mail [email protected]

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If your young ones are fascinated by the science of nature – or just love to mess about in the mud looking for worms – then the Royal Botanic Garden, with its impressive new John Hope Gateway, offers endless days of fun.

The garden is running a series of drop-in events aimed at young botanists and nature lovers under the Science Festival banner.

Go pond dipping with the garden rangers on Monday and Tuesday at 11am and 2:30pm, join the Talking Trees Storytelling sessions on Saturdays (11 and 18 April at 2pm) and time travel to the year 2050 to discover how climate change might affect Scotland's farmers (from Saturday, runs throughout April). For details, check www.sciencefestival.co.uk or www.rbge.org.uk/whats-on/event-details/1120

Head further afield on Easter Sunday to see the lambs at Legerwood Farm near Earlston in the Borders. The event starts at 2pm and is organised by the Scottish Borders rangers (01835 825060, www.scotborders. gov.uk).

Join the Historic Scotland Ranger Service at Linlithgow Palace for some nature detectives work on Tuesdays, 6 and 13 April. Search for mini beasts, go pond dipping and make a kite from 10am to noon, details from [email protected]


Collect a bag of fun activities from the Art Station at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and create your own masterpieces. Bags of Art runs on Sundays between 2pm and 4pm. Suitable for ages three to 12.

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Older artists can hone their skills at the Royal Scottish Academy at The Mound on Saturday, 10 April. Friends of the RSA Light Painting Workshop runs two sessions – one for ages 8-11 at 11am-noon, the other for 12-16-year-olds from 2pm-4pm. Details on 0131-220 6016.

Or join children's authors James Mayhew and Catherine Rayner at the National Gallery at The Mound for a writing and illustration for children exhibition throughout April. Call 0131-624 6200, www.nationalgalleries.org

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Buzzy Bees at the Usher Hall on Saturday, 17 April, 2-4pm, is a chance to learn more about our furry flying friends, take part in an array of art activities, enjoy honey tasting and much more. No need to book. Dress up like a bee and you might win a prize.

Out of the Blue in Dalmeny Street is running a circus activities event next Saturday from 11am to 4:30pm for children aimed at raising funds for Edinburgh Direct Aid.

The event is free. For further details, call 0131-555 7101 or visit www.outoftheblue.org.uk


Try the Easter Family Trail at National Museum of Scotland this weekend and attempt to complete the challenges.

If the museum's massive collections seem daunting, take a 15-minute tour of one of National Museums Scotland's collections, designed with families in mind. Tour subjects change weekly and run on Saturdays from 2pm.

Connect Super Science Shows at the National Museum run at 15 minutes past the hour from noon onwards on Saturdays and Sundays. Themed tours are run every day, from 2:30-3:30pm, and guided tours are every Friday at noon and Tuesday at 3pm.

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The Chambers Street museum is also running a selection of events under the Science Festival banner. Details from www. sciencefestival.co.uk

Visit the People's Story at the Canongate Tolbooth in the Royal Mile for exhibits reconstructing the lives, work, leisure and even smells of Edinburgh people.

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The Museum of Edinburgh is across the road, while the Museum of Childhood has five galleries with toys and games from around the world. The National Gallery Complex at The Mound has drop-in workshops with family activities from 2pm-6pm, 2-6 April.


DIG into a key part of Scotland's industrial heritage this Easter – for free.

The Scottish Mining Museum is offering free entry to young visitors from April as part of its commitment to the UK-wide Kids in Museums 2010 campaign which aims to make museum visits even more family-friendly. From this month children under 16 go free when an adult pays.

As well as free entry, there are children's activity backpacks and young visitors have a selection of hands-on fun activities once inside – including the chance to dress up in period clothes. They can also visit an underground railway and coalface and two interactive exhibitions.

The museum, at the former Lady Victoria Colliery at Newtongrange, is also running paid-for Easter events, including puppet shows and bouncy castles. Visit

www. scottishminingmuseum.com