Perhaps this December, you feel like a bit of escapism. And you don’t have to go far; this year Norwich has loads of events that will transport you back in time (and one in particular that will actually transport you). With all sorts going on, immerse yourself in a traditional Victorian Christmas, swing dancing, a free Christmas Routmaster Bus ride, or maybe take a day to wander round Norwich’s many and varied vintage outlets. Here’s our run down of the city’s finest retro activities to get you in the Christmas spirit…
For fans of antique and vintage, Norwich is a paradise (and keenly priced too); there are places all over the city stocked high with treasures, no matter what your taste or what you’re looking for. Anglia Square would be a morning’s shop just on its own, as you visit Stalks, Aladdin’s Cave, and the wonderful, sprawling Loose’s Emporium. Loose’s is enormous, and has all sorts from retro furniture to fashion, to collectables and more decorative antique pieces; you’ll certainly find things in here you won’t see anywhere else (and they also have a coffee shop if you need a bit of cake and a sit down). Moving towards the city, there’s also plenty of choice. Try Sue Ryder’s Vintage Boutique in The Norwich Lanes, Taxi Vintage on Norwich Market, or Retreat Vintage for some gorgeous, unexpected fashion. And in the heart of the city (after you’ve stopped for fish and chips at the Grosvenor Fish Bar, naturally), you’ll find St Gregory’s Antiques and Collectables. This medieval church houses wares from over 30 experiences dealers, with all sorts on offer in this remarkable setting.
In the middle of Norwich, you’ll find the mysterious and eclectic Strangers’ Hall; a wonderful Doll’s House-esque museum tucked away just off Charing Cross. Home to wealthy merchants and mayors when Norwich was in its heyday, this beautifully preserved building dates back to 1320, and is opening its doors for some special Christmas themed events. During the day on Saturday 16th & Wednesday 20th, take part in a Strangers’ traditional Christmas, featuring parlour games, lantern shows, music and crafts, plus a special appearance by Father Christmas.
Plus, in their 'After Hours Tour' just for those aged 14+, take a seasonal tour with a costumed guide around the magnificent medieval hall complete with stories, a glass of punch and a mince pie! This extra special event will be held on Wednesdays 13 & 20 December, 5.30, 6.30 & 7.30pm. Tickets: Adult £8, Conc. £7.50, Museums Pass £7.
Take your ears back in time too, as December sees all kind of vintage-themed music events going on in Norwich. Catch the number one Rat Pack tribute in the UK (as voted for in the National Tribute Awards), at the Rooftop Gardens on the 3rd of December, for some sweet swing sounds. This special night of vintage cool also marks the start of the festive season at The Rooftop, where you’ll be dining from the Christmas Menu at a table that’s exclusively yours for the entire evening. Also, Elvis is going to be stopping by The Forum on the 3rd of December, for Carols with the King! This is going to be a fantastic evening to raise money for charity, and a perfect winter warmer. If you are coming though I do recommend you leave your blue suede shoes at home unless you’ve Scotchgarded them; you never know with the weather these days.
And if you feel like trying your hand at some swing dancing, head down to OPEN on Saturday 9th of December for a night of music and swing dancing to the sound of Benoit Viellefon & his Orchestra at the Christmas Drink and Jive You’ve got no excuse either, as the evening includes a dance lesson, as well as a cocktail bar, photobooth and general social swing dance party! Dress code is vintage themed, so this is also a great excuse to use all of your hairspray all at once.
This Christmas for the first time in Norwich, a wonderful 1965 London Transport Routemaster 64-seater double-decker bus is offering FREE trips for everyone between 20 and 24 December! Horray!
This is a great opportunity to experience an old London Bus with driver and conductor (dressed ready for Christmas of course!) to see some of the City’s festive decorations and to take the opportunity to hop on - hop off at a handful of stops for some Christmas shopping. There will be 4 trips each day starting from 10.30am at Castle Meadow with the last one departing at 15.00.
The route: Castle Meadow, travel up St Stephens and down Chapelfield Road, then via Bethel Street for Norwich Market, along Exchange Street, Bank Plain and Prince of Wales Road to Station Yard (Norwich rail station) then back via Rose Lane to Castle Meadow.
Whilst the trip is free, donations are very welcome all going to a very worthy local cause – The Benjamin Foundation - who help around 2,000 people across Norfolk and Suffolk each year by providing them with hope, opportunity, stability and independence.
You might not know it, but tucked into the countryside of West Norfolk, near the market town of Fakenham, lies the world’s largest collection of steam engines and organs. This fascinating museum closes over Christmas, and is transformed into an incredible Christmas wonderland on an enormous scale, and with a distinctly traditional feel inspired by the centuries-old machinery. Santa’s Magical Journey at Thursford is Christmas as you always imagined it as a child: twinkling lights, elves working in their workshops and snow covered trees all around. Penguins and polar bears come to life as you walk past them, you can even meet the big man himself! Plus, take a vintage Christmas back home with you and visit their ‘olde worlde’ village of shops. Open all year round (!), you’ll find all manner of decorations, gifts, and sweets in novelty tins. If you’re looking for a day out with all of the family, this is perfect.
Over the Christmas Period, the beautiful Sprowston Manor will be hosting a couple of very special Christmas Party nights, with a retro twist. Choose from two different party nights, running on two consecutive weekends: On Friday 15th of December, enjoy a three-course dinner plus an evening of Skiffley, Bluegrassy contemporary American music and dancing in the glittering Suffolk Suite. The following weekend on the 16th of December, the Manor will also be hosting a sophisticated evening in their lovely Norfolk Suite Marquee. There will be a glass of fizz on arrival, 4 course dinner plus music by the fantastic 13 piece Jonathan Wyatt Big Band. Guaranteed to be a fantastic evening, with glitter in abundance.
Greater Anglia has Advance fares from £10 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Greater Anglia also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.
East Midlands Trains runs services from Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.
Flights into Norwich served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, Aberdeen, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.
To plan a Christmas trip to Norwich visit our website!