‘What’s On’ – what to do and where to visit on your Norfolk Short Break
What’s On? There’s ‘lots on’.
Norfolk is a diverse county with historic market towns, quaint coastal and picturesque Broadland villages, clean, sandy beaches and of course the waterways of the Norfolk Broads where you idle away a few hours on the water and get close-up with some of the iconic wildlife. You can buy freshly caught shellfish and other local, seasonal produce at roadside stalls and farm shops.
Norwich is the most complete medieval city in England with a stunning Norman Castle, two Cathedrals, the largest open-air market in the country and numerous historic buildings; it is England’s first UNESCO ‘City of Literature’. Norwich is an vibrant shopping destination with two shopping malls, department stores, ‘out of town’ retail parks, the elegant and historic Royal Arcade, and the independent traders in the Norwich Lanes – ‘Great British High Street of the Year’ in 2015. Twinned with Rouen, Koblenz, Novi Sad and El Viejo, Norwich (and Norfolk) is one of 58 towns and cities around the world which share the same name.
For arts and culture, there is a choice of theatres and cinemas, museums and galleries including the renowned Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (SCVA) at the University of East Anglia; the annual Norfolk and Norwich Festival happens every May, the UEA hosts a Spring Literary Festival, the Hostry Festival in October, and various other events take place throughout the year.
For foodies there are cafés and restaurants at almost every turn, including great vegetarian and vegan offerings; Norwich Market features many stalls selling fresh Norfolk produce together with a varied choice of ‘food-to-go’ outlets.
Sports and leisure facilities abound, including Whitlingham Outdoor Centre for walking, sailing and water sports and Sportspark at the UEA. There are golf courses, horse riding, fishing and many other outdoor activities.
Download the ‘VisitNorwich’ App on iOS or Android – it’s full of useful information and tips for things to see & do, where to shop, culture, events and local transport.
Within a short distance there are RSPB and NWT nature reserves (NWT Thorpe Marshes is just across the road); woodland, heathland, Broadland, coast and marsh provide a variety of habitats for some of the country’s rarest species. RSPB Minsmere (former home of BBC Springwatch) is about a 45 minute drive. At RSPB Strumpshaw Fen you can ‘Rent-a-Warden’ who will guide you around the reserve pointing out all the wildlife you see and hear and talk about the management of the reserve – email them or call 01603 715191 to book – click here for more information about Strumpshaw Fen. Local naturalist, wildlife holiday guide and NWT volunteer Chris Durdin also offers personal guided walks around NWT Thorpe Marshes for our guests in return for a donation to NWT (we suggest £25 – £30 per couple). Walks last approx. 2 hours. Contact Chris via his website www.honeyguide.co.uk to arrange.
Walking routes abound, including Wherryman’s Way, a 35 mile route along the River Yare, the ancient 93 mile Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path, and Weaver’s Way, a 61 mile route from Cromer to Great Yarmouth. For something a little less challenging you can take a gentle amble around some of our pretty Norfolk villages. We have lots of information, routes and maps at Reception and we can pack you up a picnic to take out for the day.
There are too many heritage sites to mention with the ‘Norwich 12’, ‘the UK’s finest collection of individually outstanding heritage buildings’, NT and English Heritage properties, medieval churches, museums and gardens galore; whatever your taste, you will find something of interest.
Norfolk is great for cycling but it’s not as flat as you may think! There are quiet lanes, marked trails around the Broads, or Thetford Forest for a bit of off-road adventure. You can take your bicycle on Bittern Line trains (advance booking recommended) and follow a number of routes from their stations. A network of bike hire points around the county offers tandems, child seats and trailers, safety equipment and more. If you bring your own bikes you can store them securely overnight in our garage.
For sailors and boaters, the Norfolk Broads offers a network of peaceful waterways on which you can slow down the pace of life and see an array of wildlife including iconic species such as Swallowtail butterflies, Norfolk Hawker dragonflies, Marsh Harrier and Bittern, maybe even an otter. You can hire sail, electric or motorised day boats or paddle your way along some of the more shallow channels in a canoe. The ‘CanoeMan’ offers guided canoe trails in spring and summer.
Whenever you visit us, there’ll be lots happening:
- Courting Marsh Harriers and ‘booming’ Bitterns, breeding waders at Berney Marshes
- Rhododendrons & Azaleas at Sheringham Park (mid-May to June)
- Norfolk and Norwich Arts Festival and Broads Outdoors Festival (May)
- Royal Norfolk Show (end of June)
- Swallowtail butterflies at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen
- National Parks Week – events around the Broads
- Norwich Beer Festival (end October)
- Sandringham Game and Country Show
- Norfolk & Norwich Food Festival
- Christmas Markets / Christmas Shopping.
- Spectacular wintering wildfowl and waders at RSPB Minsmere (home of BBC Springwatch), Buckenham Marshes and Holme.
- See newborn pups at England’s largest seal colony, NT Blakeney Point, and at Horsey Mere