This week saw the invariable ‘100 days until Christmas’ memes posted all over the internet. Iterations of Christmas characters graced our news feed in various excited guises to remind us all that the season of peace and goodwill is fast approaching.
Even the weather seems to have joined in this wintery spirit recently: looking out of the window sandals have been exchanged for snug boots, sunglasses for scarves and dewy glows for scrunched-up-in-the-wind faces. We won’t mention the rain.
So perhaps now that we’re all wearing jumpers again, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas, and more importantly, where you’ll be during the festive period. Every year, Norwich puts on a spectacular show during November and December as well as over the Christmas break, and if you don’t fancy spending this Christmas Eve at home peeling 1256 potatoes, there is no better city for a festive getaway.
From the 22rd to the 27th of December, the city and surrounding area has plenty on offer. On Friday the 22nd head into the twinkling city and get to the beautifully decked out St Peter Mancroft church for a special Carol Service, where members of the pantomime have been known lend their voices to the choir (starts 11am). The next day wrap up warm and take the kids to see Santa on the top deck of a broads boat, and in the evening come back to the city for raucous pantomime Sleeping Beauty at the Theatre Royal. Explore the legendary Norwich Christmas lights, which – for the second year running – includes the fairytale-esque ‘Tunnel of Light’, linking the soaring glass structure of the Forum to the bustling Haymarket. Grab a Pumpkin Spiced Latte, and explore the twinkling medieval streets and the ancient Cathedral Quarter, but on Christmas Eve be sure to stop off at one of Norwich’s many pubs for a hot spiced cider (The Rumsey Wells, the Playhouse and the Ribs of Beef are a few of our favorites for this), or follow the sounds of live music towards one of the many Christmas Eve get-togethers in bars around the city.
So, where to stay...
Below we’ve put together our handy guide to Christmas breaks in hotels in and around the city. From city-center bolt holes, to spa breaks to a wintery countryside getaway, there’s something for everyone.
From the 23rd to the 27th of December, stay in this eclectic independent Tudor hotel, right in the heart of Norwich’s historic Tombland. The Maid’s Head claims to be the oldest Hotel in Britain, and can boast some pretty big celebrity guests during its time: Catherine of Aragon, Queen Elizabeth I and Admiral Lord Nelson, to name a few. It has recently undergone major refurbishment, and the rooms have been dramatically updated with light décor and plush fabrics. Better still, beyond the sash windows the hotel overlooks the majestic Norwich cathedral, which is only across the road.
Highlights of the Maid’s package include an invitation to The Midnight Eucharist at Norwich Cathedral on Christmas Eve (followed by Hot Chocolate and Stollen when you get back...), a sumptuous Christmas morning Full English, Christmas dinner and Evensong at the Cathedral. Boxing Day includes a trip to the pantomime as an optional extra, and magical gala dinner dance. For a complete itinerary, please see the website for details.
3 Night stay 24th - 27th December £450 per person to include dinner, bed and breakfast on all three nights and lunch on 25th & 26th. 4 Night stay 23rd - 27th December £545 per person to include dinner, bed and breakfast on all three nights and lunch on 24th, 25th & 26th. Additional nights can be booked from just £60pp bed and breakfast. (All prices are based on 2 sharing, single supplements of £50 per night will apply.) Pantomime tickets from £20 per person.
Sprowston Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club have two and three night Christmas residential breaks on offer. Relax just on the outskirts of the city in this luxurious 16th Century English Manor house, and make use of the extensive spa and golf facilities, all overlooking immaculately landscaped grounds. An easy 10 minute drive into the center of Norwich if you want to sample the hustle and bustle of the city at Christmastime, or equally relax at the hotel if you’re looking for a quieter kind of festive break; there’s something for everyone here.
A summary of both packages includes:
For the two night package, your stay concludes after a sumptuous Boxing Day breakfast on the 26th.
For two nights: £417 per adult, per stay, sharing a Deluxe Double bed; £211 per child (12 and under) sharing with parents, per stay.
For three nights: £524 per adult, per stay, sharing a Deluxe Double bed; £268 per child (12 and under) sharing with parents, per stay.
Studio Suite supplement, £40 per night; Four Poster supplement, £60 per night; Single supplement, £30 per room, per night. For more information please see the website for more information.
Nestled within 200 acres of unspoilt Norfolk countryside, this beautiful Georgian country house hotel sits just a few miles from Norwich for your Christmas escape, close to one of our favourite historic market towns, Wymondham. The hotel has recently undergone renovation which has helped transform it into one of the top hotels in Norwich, and is also home to the dreamy Imagine Spa.
The festive package at Park Farm is a truly relaxed programme. Spend Christmas Eve at your leisure, with tea and home-made cakes served throughout the afternoon in the lounge. There are competitions, entertainment, and you are invited to Midnight Mass at the local parish church (followed by hot punch and mince pies). Christmas day includes a decadent 7-course dinner, and you are invited by the hotel simply to do ‘as much or as little as you wish’ (which either way I don’t think includes peeling potatoes).
On Boxing Day you can take a stroll around the Wymondham (we recommend visiting the stunning Wymondham Abbey and stopping for a drink in a cosy local pub), enjoy a hot buffet, or attend the pantomime in Norwich (tickets to be purchased in advance). There is also afternoon tea, starring the nation’s most beloved debate: scones (because it really should be jam then cream). You’ll leave Park Farm on the 27th, after a Full English, although guests are invited to stay an extra night or two at a special rate.
A full itinerary and price list is available on the Park Farm website; prices for the full three night package start from only £440 per person.
10 miles out of Norwich in the secluded Norfolk Countryside, Barnham Broom has everything you need to spend Christmas all under one roof. Set in 300 acres of rolling countryside (which, if we’re lucky might even be dusted with snow…), Christmas at Barnham Broom would truly be a leisurely one. Make use of all the facilities the hotel has to offer: two championship golf courses to choose from on those crisp winter days; a decadent spa to unwind after the Christmas rush, and fitness facilities if you want to do some mince pie damage control.
Two and three night packages are available, both beginning on Christmas Eve with mulled wine on arrival. Highlights include afternoon tea, Christmas Carols, entertainment and a three course dinner on Christmas Eve. On Christmas day, you will be treated to a Buck’s Fizz Breakfast, traditional Christmas dinner, a quiz night, bingo AND a visit from Santa. If you’re staying for the full three night package, Boxing Day begins with a delicious brunch, and concludes with a decadent three course dinner and entertainment.
Prices for the full, three night package begin from £499.00 per person sharing (single supplement will apply). To book and for more information, visit the website.
For a truly luxurious escape-to-the-country type Christmas Break, the Fritton Arms is the one for you. Set 20 miles from Norwich city centre, in the quintessentially Norfolk Somerleyton Country Estate, the Fritton arms is a charming boutique hotel, elegantly appointed for the perfect chocolate box Christmas. There are lovely walks along the banks of Fritton Lake, and the countryside is yours to enjoy during your stay.
Check in from 3pm on Christmas Eve, and enjoy mulled wine and mince pies in the lounge, and in the evening you are invited to attend Midnight Mass at St Edmund’s Church in the village – just a stroll away. On Christmas day enjoy a slow morning, Christmas Cocktails before a traditional Christmas dinner, before spending the afternoon at your leisure exploring the beautiful countryside. The festivities continue on Boxing Day: take a trip to Southwold by the Sea, or explore the gardens before heading back into the warm for lunch. Dinner in the evening also includes live jazz. Head home the morning of the 27th following a Full English, safe in the knowledge you don’t have to do any of the washing up!
Prices for the full package: £790.00 per room based on 2 adults sharing (children half price £197.50). For more details click here.
The Fritton Arms also offer a 2 night Festive Recharge Break, from the 27th – 28th, or 29th – 30th December. Treat yourself after the Christmas rush by doing absolutely nothing in front of a roaring fire and views of the wintery lake. You deserve it!
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 trip to Norwich check out our website www.visitnorwich.co.uk