We love the Summer Holidays: no lessons; the school tie is banished to the back of the cupboard; and unless you really really want to, you don’t have to think about Pythagoras theorem for about 6 weeks.
But it does have the potential to get a little expensive, so we’ve put together a handy list of free things to do around Norwich and Norfolk. Some of the events are only free on certain days, so make sure you do your research beforehand and plan ahead!
Title image credit: Fisheye Images
Norwich Cathedral Tours
Norwich’s magnificent Cathedral is a must-see for any visitor to the city, and doesn’t charge an admission fee (although donations are welcome). It’s a terrific spectacle, and a fascinating place to while away a few hours. Tours of the Cathedral are free too, if you want to find out more about its 900 year history, and the stories of the people who have lived and worked there. For a picnic, the Cathedral green is a peaceful oasis in the centre of the city (and quite often there’s an ice cream cart there too!).
This is a programme of free events, organised to complement Norwich Castle’s once-in-a-lifetime exhibition, ‘The Paston Treasure – Riches and Rarities of the Known World’ (read more about that here). There are LOADS of amazing, free events to choose from, all of which have a historical slant and are suitable for a variety of ages. For full listings please visit the Paston 600 website, otherwise our picks include an authentic Tudor concert, Medieval Tales for Young and Old, Medieval Sieges and Siege Craft and Medieval Mardles: a theatrical walking tour!
Sainsbury Centre – Free admission and family events
The Sainsbury Centre is quite the spectacle, inside and out. This is a free public art museum, and houses some fascinating works of modern art including works by Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon and Edgar Degas. The building itself is unlike anything you’ve seen before (and it was even featured in The Avengers – The Age of Ultron movie!), and is set in acres of countryside for you to explore, close to a lakeside walk. It’s an entire day out, plus the Sainsbury Centre often put on free events, such as Story Pot gallery storytelling for families, and their series of ‘From the Collection’ workshops.
Free museum entry with the Freemen of Norwich
Following record breaking 'free days' last year, the Freemen of Norwich are delighted to announce that they are once again hosting free admission to the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell, and Strangers Hall Museum. From the 24th of July to the 5th of August, you can visit both of these fascinating, family-friendly museums for free and learn all about Norwich's incredible history. Strangers' Hall is one of Norwich's mist historic buildings, and this magnificent Tudor house has been home to many of the city's leading citizens since the 14th century. Now, you can immerse yourself in the past, and walk through time in its recreated rooms and gorgeous garden. The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell not only tells the story of the building's murky past (read more about that here!), but also that of Norwich's journey from affluent Medieval city to the present day. This is too good an opportunity to miss!
Outdoor Circus Fun
As part of the national programme of Circus 250 events, on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th of July you can try your hand at leaning circus skills for free! Outside the big top tent in Chapelfield Gardens, there will be a series of drop in workshops and circus skills instructions for all ages, and completely for free. With support from professional performers and tutors, you can try your hand at lots of different things, and maybe discover that you were acrobat all along!
On The 27th of July, the county will be celebrating all things Norfolk with a range of different offers, activities and incentives to get us all experiencing what’s right on our doorstep. As part of this, there will be lots of free things happening, such as backstage walking tours of the Theatre Royal, coffee and costumed talk ‘Norfolk Day and Edmund Paston’s Tombland Tales’ at the Maid’s Head hotel, and free entry to Holkham Hall, which will also be hosting a range of special activities during the day! This is a great excuse to get out and discover things about Norfolk that you never knew…
Lord Mayor’s Procession & Norwich Lanes Garden Party
Generally, July is going to be a big one in Norwich. In addition to all the circus events happening in Chapelfield, the 13th, 14th and 15th of July is also the weekend of the Lord Mayor’s Celebration, and Norwich Lanes Garden Party. Fun starts on Friday night, when 5 life sized elephant puppets will wind their way through the city streets recreating P.T. Barnum and Bailey’s 1898 real-life elephant parade through Norwich. The day after will be an all-day celebration featuring procession, live music and performance, culminating in a firework display from the Castle at 10.30. During the same weekend, the Norwich Lanes are hosting a garden party on St Gregory’s Green, sponsored by Bullards Gin! For up to date timings please see our 'things to do this week' post.
Beaches & Parks
We’re lucky that Norwich not only has several lovely parks, but also that it is in close proximity to Norfolk’s award-winning beaches. In the city centre, larger parks include Chapelfield Gardens, Waterloo Park, Sloughbottom Park, Wensum Park, Eaton Park and Earlham Park. Mousehold Heath is a wonderful woodland for walking in (with amazing views of Norwich), and children’s play areas can be found at Chapelfield Gardens, St George’s Green and Eaton Park (to name a few). On the 22nd of July, you can try your hand at tennis for free at Eaton Park! Norwich is also within easy driving distance from Norfolk’s beaches, where you’ll find something for every taste and age. VisitNorfolk have put together this hand list of the county’s top ten beaches, if you’re looking for a place to start!
Norwich Library and beyond
Across Norfolk, the libraries are preparing for the Summer Reading Challenge, designed to keep children reading over the summer holidays. There are loads of creative, engaging events programmed as part of this, (slime workshops, anyone?!), all over the county.
At Tuckswood library, every Friday you can join the team there - hats, wellies, suncream and all - for storytelling and a treasure hunt in the park! Over in Norwich at the Millennium Library, there are LOADS of free events for families, such as comic book workshops, reading to dogs, creative code workshops for budding developers and a creative workshop in partnership with the National Centre for Writing! Phew!
Norwich Millennium Library is also supporting the 'Tricky Period' initiative, which provides sanitary items to those in need.
GoGo Hares and the Wym Trail
Until September, there are 50 large, individually designed hare sculptures for you to discover around Norwich’s historic centre, and 18 more around the beautiful county of Norfolk. GoGo Hares is a mass participation public art sculpture trail, and is always a great favourite for families - what's more it is completely free to do. Free Trail Maps are available from Norwich Tourist Information Centre, and there is also a raffle, auction, and your chance to win flights to Europe for 4 people! Over in Wymondham (where you’ll find Henry the Hare), you can also download their free Wym Trails app: a digital treasure hunt for children, and a pioneering virtual reality historic train for older children and adults.
COMING TO VISIT?
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 and Amsterdam, and seasonally from Guernsey and Jersey.
To plan a trip to Norwich check out our website www.visitnorwich.co.uk