It may feel like a long way away but the countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun. Ignore those Scrooges who want to hear nothing about baubles, presents or Christmas pudding and instead concentrate on all the wonderful events that Norwich has to offer throughout November and into the beginning of December (and keep an eye for part two, which will highlight the events taking place later in December – there are just too many to squeeze into one post!)
Top image: Inspiration for Norwich's Tunnel of Light has been taken from Nagashia Resort's theme park, Nabana no Sato, in Japan
Image: Thursford Christmas Spectacular
Well, we couldn’t start off a list of fab Christmas events without mentioning this extravaganza, could we? Now recognised as the largest show of its kind in the UK (and often in the whole of Europe, too!), the Thursford Christmas Spectacular is packed full of dancers, singers and musicians with plenty of humour and fun thrown in – all there to celebrate Christmas in a big way! Visitors come by the coachload to see it – including members of the Royal Family - Kate and William’s visit in 2010 was their first public appearance since they announced their engagement! It’s a truly well-loved yearly event which will really get you in the Christmas spirit!
If you fancy combining the Christmas Spectacular with an overnight stay, Barnham Broom Hotel, Golf & Spa are offering a special Christmas break package for £189 per person sharing, which includes a two-night stay with breakfast, tickets for the Christmas Spectacular show and a three course meal before the performance! And you can squeeze in some Christmas shopping whilst you’re here!
Image: artist's impression of the projection onto Norwich Castle
We always look forward to the night when the city’s beautiful Christmas lights are switched on, and this year it’s going to be EVEN BETTER! For the first time ever in the UK there’ll be an incredible ‘Tunnel of Light’ which will link Gentleman’s Walk to The Forum via Hay Hill using programmable LED lights (which will reflect patterns and colours of the Northern Lights, no less), and at 6 meters wide and 4 meters tall it’ll be quite the spectacle! Not only that but there’ll be amazing projections to music on City Hall and Norwich Castle throughout the evening (between 5 - 9pm) as well as the ever-loved fireworks display!
Norwich Cathedral is welcoming vocal quartet and X-Factor stars G4, as they embark on a nationwide tour. They’ll stop off in Norwich to perform songs from their album ‘G4 Christmas’ with plenty of merry classics all beautifully performed in the stunning setting of the Cathedral! Tickets are on sale now and, if you really want to make a special night of it, why not opt for VIP tickets, which include a Meet & Greet with G4?!
Image: Christmas at The Assembly House
The Assembly House’s Christmas Fair (10am – 5pm on Saturday, 11am - 4pm on Sunday, free entry) is another well-loved yearly event, and is always a great opportunity to get some fantastic festive presents as well as sampling food and drink (and let’s face it, probably coming home with bags full of tasty treats!). Whilst you’re there you could also treat yourselves to one of their renowned Festive Afternoon Teas… but make sure you book in for those as they’re very popular! Plus, reap the satisfaction of being able to feel ever so slightly smug that you’ve got so many lovely gifts sorted before November’s over (well, only if you’re usually a Last Minute shopper like us!).
If you fancy festive Afternoon Tea but can’t make that weekend, there are lots of great events in December which feature this lovely foodie tradition, and go one step further by combining it with music! Enjoy jazz with your Afternoon Tea on 4 December, the sounds of Norwich Ukelele Orchestra on 11 December or fantastic piano performances with Anthony Issacs on 18 December – and all include a glass of fizz!
Image: An Audience with Father Christmas at Holkham Hall
This is a truly magical experience: take a tour of the rooms of Holkham Hall (as seen recently on Channel 4), beautifully illuminated with hundreds of candles and decorations. You’ll learn more about Holkham’s history on this early evening tour (starting every 15 mins between 4 – 8pm) coupled with a glass of prosecco and a mince pie – perfect!
Holkham Hall are also hosting various other festive events which will be truly enchanting, including the Christmas Chamber Music concerts with Gothic Voices (3 December, 7pm) and Navarra String Quartet (4 December, 3pm), Diva Opera’s new Christmas show The Twelve Days of Christmas (10 & 11 December, 7pm) & An Audience with Father Christmas (17 – 20 December, various times).
Image: Woodforde's celebrate Christmas in their brewery
Local award-winning brewer Woodforde’s throw open their doors during this weekend for a behind-the-scenes look at its brewery, with tours, beer tastings and Christmas gift inspiration from local food, drink and craft producers. Their Christmas market will have plenty of present ideas to avoid resorting back to buying socks!
Image: Bure Valley Railway in the snow
The Santa Train departs from Wroxham Station and travels to Aylsham Station, where Santa and his railway sleigh are there to welcome everybody; kids can then visit Santa in his Grotto with a personalised present for each child whilst the whole family enjoys some festive entertainment and refreshments before returning to Wroxham! The Santa Specials this year are running at weekends from 3rd December and daily from 17th December, up to and including Christmas Eve. Booking is essential.
Image: RAF in Concert at Norwich Theatre Royal
Always an uplifting experience (and a critically acclaimed show too), this year’s RAF in concert will be at the Theatre Royal for one night only on 4 December (7pm). It’s a great chance to enjoy classic Christmas songs and show tunes mixed in with legendary big band numbers and military marches – but get your tickets soon!
Abellio Greater Anglia have Advance fares from £9 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Abellio 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.