Pictured: Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford
December is here, which means Christmas is around the corner.
All that stands in between then and now is some last minute shopping (unless, like me, you are yet to start), wrangling unwieldy shaped gifts, mulled wine on a school night, hoovering up needles, trips to Santa and testing the fairy lights to find out which bulb has gone.
But amidst ALL that, are some really lovely things to do in Norwich, either with the family, with a partner, with best friends or just by yourself. The city is alive with festive feeling at the moment, and this is our guide to making the most of it.
Norwich Puppet Theatre
Norwich Puppet Theatre run workshops which see your child bring to life some fantastic characters in puppet form. At Christmastime, expect to come home with your own miniature Father Christmas and cheeky little Rudolph! Materials are provided, and at the end of each session participants can take home their creations for performances at home.
Classes running throughout December – Tickets £9.50 per child
There is a broad spectrum of things to do at OPEN over Christmas, taking you from day, to early evening, and the small hours of the morning.
On Friday 21st of December, make the most of the Christmas ‘Shop & Drop', where you can drop the kids off while you head into the city to do some shopping. While you’re off battling the hordes, your children will be enjoying a disco, crafts, and all kinds of fun and games!
Other than that, OPEN are hosting a Carols and Crafts event on Wednesday 12th of December, which is free entry, and on Wednesday 19th of December you can see a very unique take on the classic tale ‘A Christmas Carol’, as told with a Millennial slant (tickets: £8 for adults, £6 for children). On the 22nd of December, OPEN are hosting a night of Britpop from 7.30pm 'til late, with Counterfeit Brits Xmas Britpop Takeover (tickets £8 adv.).
Visit OPEN’s website for a complete list of all their Christmas events (and more!).
Back for its 4th year, the Norwich Ice Rink is being built as we speak! It will be open to the public on the 14th of December, for a magical skating experience in Castle Gardens. The rink will be bigger than in previous years, with more space for twirling, sliding and skating with grace. For those of us not so confident on skates, there are plenty of polar bear and penguin skate aids to help keep you upright! Complete with festive music and lights, this covered skating rink is such a lovely Christmas treat.
Norwich Skating Rink is open from 14th December – 6th January. Tickets: £12.50 - £8.50
Vintage Bus Ride through the city!
Following last year’s success, the Christmas Bus is back in Norwich! All in order to raise money for local charity The Big C, hop on and off this vintage London Bus to stop off at your favourite shops, get from A-B, or just take in the sights of the city at Christmastime. The service will be operating in between the 20th and the 24th of December, free to ride, with donations to The Big C very welcome indeed.
Find more information and bus routes here.
Victorian Father Christmas at Strangers’ Hall
This Christmas, experience a story book experience like no other at the unique Strangers’ Hall Museum on Charing Cross in the city centre. One of the oldest buildings in Norwich, Strangers’ Hall began life as a merchant’s house in the 14th Century, and now it has been converted into a Doll’s House-esque museum that will journey you through different time periods.
This Christmas, the Hall has been decorated just for Christmas, with greenery, projections and installations. Telling the story of ‘T’was the Night Before Christmas’, the centrepiece is a visit to Victorian Father Christmas, with a gift for each child.
Saturdays 1, 8, 15, 22 December, 10am – 4pm.
Father Christmas visit & museum admission child £10 or Father Christmas only £8, both include quality gift & photo. Adults usual museum entry cost £5.20.
Pre-booking advised, Norfolk-museums.arttickets.org.uk
The Norwich Arts Centre Christmas Party
Join one of Norwich’s favourite venues for a real Christmas shindig. Traditional carols to modern Christmas classics, you’ll be gathering around the old Joanna to have a good old sing-a-long, yuletide style. Hymn sheets and choir will be on hand for support.
Find out more about this on, or their Christmas party for families, on their website.
Maybe one of the most beautiful places in Norfolk anyway, at Christmastime Holkham Hall is something truly special. It is decorated sumptuously for the festive season, and is wonderful to visit for a day out that’s the perfect mix of stately home wanderings and outdoor ambles. Join their candlelight tours to see the state rooms in all of their finery, or for children, join in their ‘natural Christmas’ workshops to make decorations out of material from the local area – berries, twigs, moss, pine cones and the like (these workshop run on the 8th and 9th of December so make sure you visit their website to book in advance). Beside all that, there’s a bracing winter walk to be had on Holkham’s dramatic beach.
Candlelight tours running until 13th December - Tickets: Adult £20, Child (2-16 years inclusive but we recommend the tours are suitable for 10 years and over) £12. Complimentary parking.
Natural Christmas Workshops until 9th December – Tickets: £8.50 per child
Santa’s Magical Journey at Thursford
Thursford is about 25 miles from Norwich, and is a place like no other. Throughout the year, it is one of the most eminent collections of steam engines to be found in the UK (including some beautiful fairground rides from years gone by). At Christmas, the place transforms into a winter wonderland, and a very, very special experience for adults and children alike. Take a walk through the frozen landscape of the north pole, where you can see polar bears, penguins, and - of course – elves, before you make it to see the big man himself. This really is a wonderful day out, and something not to miss!
Christmas Family Concert with Norwich Philharmonic
The Phil’s Family Christmas Concert this year features the orchestra accompanying the choir and it promises to be another light-hearted evening of seasonal favourites and orchestral lollipops. Always a sell-out, tickets need to be booked soon! Held at the magnificent St Andrew’s Hall, David Dunnett will be your conductor for the evening.
To purchase tickets, click here.
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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.