If you were to walk around the city today, you’d see the majority of shop windows in Norwich are decked in their Halloween finest. Walking around the city, you can see all manner of cobwebby tinsels, pumpkin props and witchy decals. If you look hard enough, there’s also the faintest whisps of Christmas lurking behind the scenes in glittery readiness. Unmistakably, it’s coming up to October Half term, which as I remember it was always a week full of magic: Halloween, bonfire night and the promise of Christmastime make this such an exciting week for children, and for adults too! For the half term break (21st to the 29th of October), take your pick of the wonderful events that Norwich and Norfolk has to offer: inside, outside, and even on the water!
Title image: Grosvenor Fish Bar
Lemurs at Banham Zoo
Norwich and the surrounding area has a huge range of activities both indoor and outdoors. For little explorers, both Africa Alive and Banham Zoo are celebrating the World Lemur Festival! Get into the carnival spirit and see these beautiful primates, plus there’s a sort-of-Halloweeny theme here too…did you know the word lemur derives from the Roman word lemures (ghosts or spirits)? For conservation a little closer to home, go along to Fairhaven Garden on the 21st of October, to learn how you can help your friendly neighbourhood hedgehog this winter, at their Hedgehog Day with Hodmedod Hedgehog Support. Bring along any donations of cat or dog food, and learn all about the things you can do that will keep these spiky critters safe and warm over the cold spell. And in North Norfolk the spectacular Holkham Park are opening their gates for families to explore the park on a fun-filled Deer Safari where you’ll get the chance to see the amazing deer herd up close and personal, all from the estate’s tractor-trailer!
Deer at Holkham Park
There’s animals roaming around in the city centre too this half term, including three very courageous goats at Norwich Puppet Theatre. In an afternoon of riotous fairy-tale fun, ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff and Other Furry Friends’ will answer all those things you wondered about your favorite stories: What really happened between the wolf and his three porky friends? Why was Goldilocks wandering in the woods? How did the goats overcome a mighty troll? Let the Theatre of Widdershins explain all, with the help of beautiful puppets and a very catchy soundtrack!
Norwich is also playing host to the very exciting, mind-blowing, out of this world and ever-popular Science Festival, running from 21st – 29th of October, over half term. From the science of gin through to the scientific secrets of Doctor Who, there is something for everyone, with events going on all over the city from the modern Forum building, to Norwich’s historic Cathedral.
For families there are so many things to see and do, you’ll be spoilt for choice! Find out if dinosaurs ate their own families (amongst other things) at ‘So you think you know about Dinosaurs?! With Ben Garrod’ at Norwich Playhouse on Monday 23rd of October. On Wednesday the 25th get involved in real-life detective workshop at ‘DNA Detectives – Was my Grandfather a Hero’. The Little Storytelling Company will be using science to uncover more about a discovered collection of photographs and letters, in this live and interactive event held in Norwich’s spectacular Forum building.
On Sunday 29th of October, go on a body - odyssey with BBC Gastronaut Stefan Gates as he uses rockets, robots, insects, flamethrowers, vortex cannons and remote-controlled humans to take you on a hilarious, high-tech journey through your body. ‘Gastronaut Live’ will be at the Sir Isaac Newton zone in the city centre, and promises to change your biology lessons for ever!
If you’re feeling particularly intrepid, there’s no excuse not the explore the Norfolk Broads this half term, as from the 21st – 29th of October, kids go FREE on Broads Tours boat trips! Discover all the fantastic wildlife of the National Park, as you serenely glide down the waterways. Plus, while you’ve got your sensible shoes and coats on, why not download the VisitNorwich App and walk one of our trails? Trails include: Murals, Literary Trail, Medieval Churches of Cathedral Quarter, Run Norwich, and numerous Ale Trails (maybe leave the kids at home for that one). They’re a fantastic way to discover the city, and maybe find out about some hidden gems along the way!
Obviously, being an explorer/conservationist/scientist/sailor is tiring work, so there are more than plenty of places to stop off and refuel during your half term exploits. For fresh, tasty and convenient lunchtime eats in the city centre, we recommend Louis’ Deli, Bistro Britannia and the Waffle House. And for something a little-bit-naughty but extra nice, try Grosvenor’s critically-acclaimed fish and chips (where you can buy a teacake for pudding too!). If you’re in North Norfolk (perhaps you’ve just completed your deer safari!), why not head to Byfords to try their famous brownie?
Half term isn’t just an excuse for children to go out and play; during that week the City is also putting on a show for the adults too.
Do you know what Chessboxing is? I didn’t either until I sat down to write this blog post. It is exactly what you think it is: a battle for glory in the ultimate test of strength, stamina and strategy in a titanic hybrid fight of chess, and (you guessed it) boxing. Chessboxing has been described as both nerd-fighting and the ultimate sporting challenge of the 21st Century, and quite frankly who wants to miss that? Head to OPEN on the night of Saturday the 21st for maybe the most heroic thing you’ll see that week.
If Chessboxing isn’t enough of a curveball for you, perhaps a Rocky-Horror themed murder mystery does it for you? The historic Maid’s Head Hotel will be hosting this Halloween themed 3 course murder mystery dinner – ready your best, most fabulous costume and find out why all’s not been going so well for Brad and Janet…
There’s also loads of great stuff happening at Norwich Arts Centre that week: catch live music from half-hoe-down-half-boogie-woogie trio Hot Club of Cowtown on the 31st, and comedy from ‘unquestionably one of the most talked-about comics of the moment’, former host of ‘Guilty Feminist’, Sophie Hagen: Dead Baby Frog on the 26th. On Tuesday the 24th,The Bicycle Shop is also hosting Heg & The Wolf who will be performing their debut concept album Rising the Fires. The album is set at the end of the world as we know it, brought to it’s demise by a white witch who was wrongfully burnt at the stake – a theatrical evening very in keeping with the mystery of Halloween (plus the food at the Bicycle Shop is well worth a try if you haven’t been before!).
For something classical, renowned pianist Tim Horton is igniting Holkham Hall with a solo recital on the Saturday 21st October. His stunning programme includes some new preludes by Simon Rowland-Jones especially composed for him, and finishes with Schubert’s final masterpiece for solo piano: the deeply affecting Sonata in B flat D.960.
And of course, back in Norwich the CAMRA beer festival returns for it’s 40th year. If you’ve not been before, this event is so much fun, all set in Norwich’s historic St. Andrew's and Blackfriars' Hall. Over 200 cask-conditioned Real Ales from Britain's independent brewers will be on sale, along with draught and bottled beers from Continental Europe, plus a large range of traditional ciders and perries, with over 40 varieties, mostly from East Anglia. Look out too for food stalls, and live entertainment. This is always packed, so make sure you get your tickets early!
Let us know what you’re doing this half term – we’d love to see how you spent the week! Either tweet us @VisitNorwich or tag us on Instagram @norwich_cityofstories. You’ll be finding me at the coast, eating chips outside (before it really is too cold), and wearing 154 coats – let us know what you’re up to!
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