Easter in St Albans

Building on the success of the Christmas panto season, the city-centre’s leading entertainment venue, the Alban Arena, will be putting on a pantomime at Easter for the first time, starring Gareth Gates in the lead role of Robin Hood. The pantomime is just one of many events taking place in and around the cathedral city, which is a particularly relevant destination to spend Eater as it also lays claim to being the home of the original hot cross bun.


Home of the Hot Cross Bun!

The spicy Easter cake, also known as the Alban bun, is said to originate in St Albans, where Brother Thomas Rocliffe, a 14th-century monk at St Albans Abbey, developed the original recipe and distributed the Alban Bun to the local poor on Good Friday, starting in 1361.

The bun is on sale from St Albans Cathedral shop and Abbot's Kitchen cafe.

Here is a round-up of the events taking place in the city and what makes it such as great place to spend Easter.

Panto at Easter

Gareth Gates Robin HoodThe Alban Arena, will be putting on a pantomime at Easter for the first time, starring Gareth Gates in the lead role of Robin Hood with an all-star cast of merry men including the much-loved characters George and Zippy from 1980s hit children’s TV show Rainbow.

The panto will be performed on 12 and 13 April and tickets can be booked at www.alban-arena.co.uk.

St Albans Cathedral

Cathedral thumbnailThe Cathedral is somewhere visitors must see- and is completely free to visit. Built on the spot in the City on which Britain's first Saint - Alban himself - was beheaded, the Cathedral is the oldest place of Christian worship in the UK and the jewel in St Albans’s crown. Once the most important Cathedral outside London, it is a site of huge historical importance, not least because the first draft of the Magna Carter was drawn up here in 1213. It also has the longest nave of any Cathedral in England, which, along with the distinctive Rose window and Norman tower give the Cathedral its individuality.

Verulamium Park

Verulamium Park summer 190x150Before you get stuck into the great shopping St Albans has to offer, exit the Cathedral at the Abbey orchard end and take a stroll round the 100 acres of Verulamium park, named after the major pre-Roman city of Verulamium, in which Boudicca was said to have rampaged. Remnants of the City walls, including the entrance to the city itself, can still be seen, as well as Britain’s only surviving Roman Theatre, built around 140AD, and, in the middle of the park an original Roman floor mosaic, with one of the first heating systems to be installed in this country (a hypocaust),

The 100-acre park also has a free splash park and children’s playground for little ones, and, for bigger ones, beach volleyball courts (using Olympic sand), and an adiZone outdoor gym. And for nature lovers there’s also a beautiful lake with a central island which is home to a heronry and attracts thousands of keen twitchers each year.

The UK's Oldest Pub

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks 190x150Staying with birds, on the way back to the town centre, have a pint in Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, the UK's oldest pub according to the Guinness Book of Records, which is on the fringes of the park and offers a fantastic menu of food for all the family. As numerous tourists from overseas will confirm, it is well worth a visit – especially on a sunny day as its extensive garden has a perfect view of the lake - and the Roman walls - and that view is free!

Roman Theatre of Verulamium

Roman TheatreJust a short walk from the park are the remains of the Roman Theatre of Verulamium. Built in about 140AD, it is the only example of its kind in Britain as it was a theatre with a stage rather than an amphitheatre. The ruins were unearthed in 1847 and subsequent excavations have revealed a row of shop foundations, a Roman Villa and a secret shrine, all thought to date from the 1st Century AD.

Heartwood Forest

Heartwood Forest thumbnail 190x150In the village of Sandridge, just a mile outside St Albans is Heartwood Forest, the Woodland Trust’s largest wood in England, covering more than 850 acres.

The Trust has already planted nearly 400,000 native trees on site, this surrounds existing pockets of ancient woodland, which will provide a stunning spectacle during autumn as the native trees turn from green to vivid reds, oranges and golds. The wood is also home to a wide variety of wildlife, with a number of species of birds, mammals and insects being recorded, so you’re never far away from seeing anything from a red kite to deer. The site has miles of pathways and bridleways clearly signposted, with a good sized car park. Visitors can also walk into Sandridge village for a hearty lunch or dinner at one of the local pubs.

Verulamium Museum

Verulamium Museum activities 150px highThis museum of everyday life in Roman Britain is pulling out all the stops to keep the kids entertained over Easter.

Workshops include: Crafty Capers; Keep Calm and Colour; Memories and Mementos; Paper Engineering; Front-page News – Tales and Tabloids Holiday Activity; Tots Tales; and Meet a Roman Soldier.


Willow’s Activity Farm

Willows Farm Easter Eggstravaganza 190x150Check out the Peter Rabbit Playground at the much-loved Willows Activity Farm. The playground has been specially created with a focus on learning through imaginative play and brings together many of the locations and characters the children love from the CBeebies animated Peter Rabbit series.

As well as the new playground, there’s a whole host of activities for children to enjoy including Captain Chicken’s Egg Dodge, Woolly Jumpers indoor play barn, The Big Dig, JCB Young Drivers Zone, Animal Feeding Area, Tree House Adventure and the Peter Rabbit Woodland Play Trail.

During the Easter break, there’s also sheep shearing, sheep racing and Easter egg hunts.


The Clock Tower opens

Clock TowerThe only surviving medieval clock tower in England, opens to the public in April. The tower and its fine bell, right in the centre of the city, has survived over 600 years of use. The view of the City and the surrounding countryside from the top of the clock tower are breath-taking. You have 93 steps to climb to get to the top – but the views are worth it. (Adults £1, children free).

Naomi’s Wild & Scary

Wednesday 5 April 2017 at 1.30pm

Children’s TV presenter Naomi Wilkinson comes to The Alban Arena in the spring. The show will be packed full of fun and surprises as Naomi is joined on stage by ‘Animal Mark’, and some of his scariest creatures.

Easter egg hunts

A fundraising Easter egg hunt for the Woodland Trust will be taking place at Wick Wood, St Albans on 15 April.

Take a walk with St Albans Tour Guides

Tour Guides logo blue 190x150St Albans Tour Guides host a number of walking tours throughout the Easter break, including:

A Roman City Revealed – Saturday 1st April 2017, Saturday 15th April
Discover the lurid past of Roman Britain’s third city, revolting Celts and a fire to rival the Great Fire of London. See the hypocaust, the Roman central heating system not surpassed in England for over 1400 years, and part of the Roman Wall.

A Monastery Revealed – Sunday 2nd April 2017
Our city owes its existence to the monastery, which was once the most important in England. From Dedication to Dissolution, powerful Abbots controlled the town, the lives of its people and of course the monks.

Fishpool Street - Rags and Riches – Saturday 8 April
Journey from St Michael's, the village within the Roman walls, taking in medieval pubs and houses and a 16th-century watermill, to Fishpool Street. How did this street, once a major 18th-century coaching route, degenerate to a slum and backwater, then become a prime residential area? You will have the opportunity to look at the architecture of some of the 72 listed buildings which range from a manor to workmen’s cottages.

Historic St Albans: A City Revealed – Sunday 9 April, Sunday 16th April, Monday 17 April
St Albans, the unheralded jewel of Hertfordshire, a 1000-year-old city at the heart of English History. Tour well known and lesser known sites of the City – hear about revolting peasants, martyrs, heretics, monasteries and monks. Find out what is unique to St Albans and see its medieval clock tower and parish memorials.

Aristocrats, Paupers & Philanthropists – Friday 14 April
Based in the St Peter’s area, you will hear of London orphans and their wet nurses, the philanthrophy of Winston Churchill’s ancestors and find out about the “heir and spare”. Why is there an arrow above the Pemberton Almshouse on St Peter’s Street and why is there an unusual milestone in Hatfield Road? An interesting stroll around the lesser known historic features of St Albans

Coaching Inns – Sunday 16 April
For over 1000 years, St Albans has been a town of inns, taverns and alehouses. Find out why there were 15 inns in one street alone. At one time, stabling was required for more than 2,000 horses. This fascinating walk also looks at the architecture and the people who were part of this vibrant area of St Albans.


And just down the road is… The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour!

More information

There are lots of other things to see and do throughout the year in St Albans!