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The county’s tourism organisation, Visit Essex, is helping to extend the visitor season by offering free tickets to a wide variety of attractions, restaurants and accommodation. To help businesses extend the tourist season, visitors to the county’s top attractions and popular stays are being offered free tickets and short breaks. Attractions, such as Colchester Zoo, Hedingham Castle, Marks Hall Estate, Audley End Miniature Railway, Escape Live and Lee Valley glamping have all signed up to the ‘Big Weekend’ promotion.

The Big Weekend will take place between 6-8 October and is open to Essex residents. Visitors can apply for some amazing prizes by taking part in the Visit Essex ballot, which opens on 25 August and closes on 25 September and prizes can be redeemed during the Big Weekend. Visitors to the Big Weekend are in for a treat with over 40 businesses offering a wide range of prizes, such as a chance to explore the ‘Upside Down House’ at Lakeside and a wander around Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome near Maldon. There’s also free entry for food and drink lovers; Meadow Oak Distillery are offering free tours and gin tastings, whilst foodies can also join the 2.5-hour Saffron Walden food tour, taking in top eateries around the historic town.

The Big Weekend is also offering a number of short breaks . There’s a chance to go glamping and stay at a luxurious cabin at Lee Valley, an overnight stay with dinner and breakfast on at the award - winning Camelia Hotel along the coast or escape for the night at the rural Great Sampford B&B.

To apply for the Big Weekend, visit from 25 August to apply for free tickets before the ballot closes on 25 September. Successful bidders will be notified of any tickets they have secured.

To discover more about Visit Essex,

Cllr Peter Schwier AIEMA Climate Czar Cabinet Member for Environment, Waste Reduction & Recycling

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