Things to do

Spinball Whizzer at Alton Towers (Photo: Michael Welsing)

East Midlands Airport isn’t the biggest airport in the world, but it has enough facilities to keep most people from boredom. There are plenty of places to eat, drink and shop (see the relevant tabs at the top of the page) as well as a comfortable lounge and free internet access. If you have more time to burn, there are plenty of sights to see in the surrounding area.


Whether you’re travelling from East Midlands for a holiday, a business trip or to see family and friends, it’s always useful to have internet access. A great perk of the airport is that it offers free wifi access throughout the terminal building. There are a few qualifications (the principal one being you only get 30 minutes a day), but it works across all media devices within the terminal building. A premium service, suitable for heavy usage and streaming content, is soon to be available on a pay-as-you-use basis. Regular airport users can set up an account.

Games room

There is a video games room next to Dixons, by gates 8 to 17 where older kids can amuse themselves for a while.

Nearby attractions

Situated slap bang in the heart of the country, East Midlands airport is close to several cities and lots of interesting attractions. The closest is Donington Park Racing Circuit, which is literally next door to the airport. It is one of the UK’s most popular racing circuits and the venue for prestigious events such as the British Touring Car Championship.

Britain’s largest theme park, Alton Towers, is only 35 miles away and well worth visiting. Set in the grounds of a semi-ruined gothic country house, it attracts nearly three million visitors a year, with rollercoasters like Air, Nemesis and Oblivion, the world’s first vertical drop rollercoaster. Prices are quite reasonable: if you book online, a family ticket for four is £86.40. Special offers come up fairly regularly, look out for them online and in the national press.

The cities of Nottingham, Leicester and Derby are all within 25 miles or so. Nottingham is home to the famous Lace Market and its castle, as well as Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest. Leicestershire has many fascinating places to discover and is also at the heart of the National Forest. Be sure to try a Melton Mowbray pork pies and some Leicestershire Blue Stilton cheese.

Plane spotting

There are a few decent places to planespot around the airport. For starters, views from the terminal are quite good. The airport’s internal road system also allows you to see limited views of parked planes.

The best spot is probably the Nags Head Lane, which is especially good for watching the night cargo operation. To get there, turn right out the airport main entrance. Continue for about a mile until you come to the DHL roundabout. Go straight across, then turn right at the next set of traffic lights.

Continue past Donington Park Racing Circuit as the road bears to the right until you come to the roundabout at the entrance to the Aeropark. Take the first exit towards Castle Donington. As you start to go down the hill into the village, the Nags Head pub is on your right hand side. Turn right immediately after the pub into Diseworth Lane and follow this road to the end.

Here there is a crash gate from where you can look across the runway. Make sure you park well clear of the gate, as it is in operation. Also, avoid blocking the farmer’s gate – in fact, don’t park here if the farmer’s gate is open. There is a footpath that runs along the northside perimeter fence for those more active spotters.

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