Top things to do near East Midlands Airport
See the world’s largest collection of Grand Prix cars
Donington Collections is home to a wide range of vehicles from throughout racing history. The most famous of these is the Grand Prix Collection. There, you’ll find a complete assortment of classic Vanwall cars. The owners have committed an entire hall to McLaren F1 cars from the team's origins in 1966 right up until to the early 2000s.
There are also huge ranges of Williams F1 cars, racing motorbikes and even a military collection on site. If you’re into motorsport or automotive machinery, the Donington Collections are a must-see, located just two miles (3.2 kilometres) away from East Midlands Airport. It takes two minutes to get there by car via the A453.
Visit a gothic castle
Elvaston Castle Country Park comprises 321 acres (130 hectares or 1.3 square kilometres) of historical gardens, woodland and open parkland. Elvaston Castle sits right at the heart of this grand estate. James Wyatt designed this tour de force of gothic-revival architecture back in the early 1800s.
The Grade II-listed building was the set of the 1969 film 'Women in Love', so you can experience film history as well as Gothic history.
The castle is 9.2 miles (14.8 kilometres) from East Midlands Airport. It takes 26 minutes to drive to Elvaston Castle via the B5010.
Recall the time when steam ruled the rails
The Great Central Railway is billed as “the UK's only double track, main line heritage railway”. This makes it the only place you can still see full-size steam trains passing each other, just as they did during the golden age of the railways.
Steam trains run between Loughborough and Leicester every weekend and on bank holidays. They also run on some weekdays during the summer. While onboard one of these wonderful machines, you’ll find a first-class restaurant car offering five-course meals. You can take advantage of the railway's 'Drive a Locomotive Experience', attend a steam gala or take part in wartime- and Christmas-themed events.
You can go to their website to see a list of Great Central Railway timetables and fares. The railway is 9.7 miles (15.6 kilometres) from East Midlands Airport and it takes just 20 minutes to reach by car on the M1.
Make your own gin
At the artisan distillery in Bawdon Lodge Farm, you can find 45 Gin School. If you love gin, there’s nowhere better to indulge your passion. During your time there, you’ll take a guided tour of the 45 West Distillery and enjoy choosing and mixing botanicals to create your own unique gin recipe.
If you’ve ever wondered how lavender and fennel gin (or any other blend) tastes, the 45 Gin School Experience gives you the chance to find out. After blending your herbs, berries, flowers, or spices, you then distil your gin and bottle it to take away with you.
The experience gives you an insight into the gin-making process as well as a chance to enjoy the distillery's delightful countryside setting - the perfect contrast to the hustle and bustle of a busy airport. If you’re looking to make the most of your layover and learn something new, this is just the tonic.
The distillery is 9.7 miles (15.6 kilometres) or 18 minutes’ drive from EMA, via Charley Rd.
Discover Nottingham’s rich industrial past
Nottingham Industrial Museum takes pride of place in the 17th-century stables at Wollaton Hall and Deer Park. The museum galleries pay homage to the trades that put the East Midlands on the map during the Industrial Revolution. You’ll see items reflecting the region's historical links with the industries that made railways, bicycles, motorcycles, tobacco, textiles and more. The museum is also home to a unique assortment of diesel trains and steam engines.
Volunteers run the museum and it’s clear these men and women have a true passion for what they do. Nottingham Industrial Museum is a fascinating place to spend a couple of hours and it is inexpensive.
The museum is 14.5 miles (23.3 kilometres) or 44 minutes’ drive from East Midlands Airport via the A453.
Feel the wind in your hair
Donington Park is a world-famous motorsport circuit. Thousands of people flock there for weekends to see the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) and British Superbikes (BSB) each year. It also plays host to hospitality events, as well as things like toy and antique fairs.
Whether you’re into motorsport or want to catch one of the many events taking place there, Donington Park offers a great day (or even weekend) out. At just two miles (3.2 kilometres) from East Midlands Airport, Donington Park is also very easy to access.