Passionate people and organisations create wonderful events throughout the year so that there’s something special going on whenever you visit Norwich.
On top of that, its cobbled streets and medieval buildings with wonky windows and tiny wooden doors are interrupted by flint churches, round watch towers and thick city walls. It’s quaint and beautiful, but it also makes its own fun.
It’s the only city for miles and it’s not on the way to anywhere so it doesn’t get anybody passing through. We like it that way though, because we get to make our city our own.
Depending on whether you like shopping, history or live music, hopefully this post will inspire you to visit Norwich at a time that’s perfect for you.
Norwich welcomes Spring with several festivals.
The Norfolk & Norwich Festival is the largest, with music, theatre and arts events throughout May. Don’t expect artists you’d hear on the radio or in the West End, though. The N&N Festival showcases art from all over the world, designed to open everyone’s eyes to experiences they might not have had otherwise.
The events span from free street plays to live music in established venues and pop up theatres. Be careful to read the descriptions carefully. My friend and I went to a literary event at Dragon Hall and listened to an author read a short story. We sat on the floor in the circle with candles in the middle. The author proceeded to read her erotic story. We all found somewhere to stare that avoided making eye contact. It’s one of the most awkward experiences of my life.
On a different note, the City of Ale festival also happens in May, with no erotic content (that I’m aware of). Norwich is famed for having a church for every Sunday and a pub for every day of the year within its city walls. Now, no one knows if this is true but the City of Ale route will help you keep count. You can collect a guidebook and try to get stamps from each pub you visit on different routes, and getting them all will win you prizes! The purpose is to showcase different small breweries from around the country and get you to try something new. I’m not a beer-drinker, but I do like sitting in pubs and beer gardens.
Equally of note, the Bishop’s Gardens begin to open on Sundays. It’s located just behind the Cathedral and each Sunday during Spring and Summer it opens with £3 entry fee donated to a different charity each week.
If you’re tempted by Norwich as a city break, read here for How to Spend 48 Hours in Norwich.
I love Norwich’s network of independent shops, bars and restaurants. Most of them are in medieval, cobbled and pedestrianised streets. Summer is an excellent time to wander the Lanes and the Market, and then finish the day in the Adam & Eve’s glorious beer garden and Rita’s award-winning flower displays.
Norwich Lanes is a collective of 300+ small businesses and they host the Summer Fayre every July, an outdoor street party celebrating the different shops and cafes.
Ver esta publicación en Instagram
Norwich is one of Europe's most in tact medieval cities because of its old trading houses, like these. . . Beautiful Elm Hill, still full of independently owned businesses including a board game shop, antiques, second hand books and crafts as well as a cafe or two! . . #Norwich #ElmHill #uk #gb #visitengland #travel #citybreak #shetravels #wanderlust #instapassport #instatravel #traveldeeper #staycation #visitnorwich #norfolk
Popular festivals include Laugh In The Park (23rd – 26th July), an outdoor comedy event spanning several days with loads of comedians – some famous and some up & coming. The Nearly Festival is also popular, it’s a festival of tribute bands, allowing you to spend the day in the park listening to your favourite artists that you might not be able to see live.
The Lord Mayor’s Parade is three days of free, family-focussed events across the city, starting with a paint party where everyone dresses in white and throws paint at each other! There’s a procession through the city with floats showcasing some of the area’s local businesses, clubs and schools. There’s free live music and performances and it all culminates in the fireworks display in the city.
Other Summer Events
The Lord Mayor’s Parade includes a 5k race which is only open to people who can finish in under 20 minutes!
A much more accessible race is the Norwich 10k. It has 7,000 entrants and is run by the Community Sports Foundation, so every ticket sold goes to raise money for an awesome charity. There’s live music, loads of people cheering everyone on and a great atmosphere. Winners win very quickly, but there’s no one left behind. It’s one of the most well-organised races I’ve run and it’s great to go and see.
In 2020, Dippy the Dinosaur will be visiting Norwich Cathedral! It’s the only building in the city that could accommodate Dippy’s huge skeleton, on loan from the Natural History Museum. It’ll be showcased between July and October. The Cathedral do lots of community events, including taking part in the Love Light Festival in February and putting up a helter skeltor one summer!
More generally, summer is a great time to go out on the Norfolk Broads. You can get a bus or train from Norwich to Wroxham and hire a day boat. A day is plenty of time to idle along the water and stop off at various pubs along the way.
The festivals don’t end in summer! Norwich is the City of Stories, and hosts Noirwich in September, a literary festival around crime writing that’s hosted Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Nicci French and Anthony Horowitz amongst many others.
During the October Half Term, there’s a Science Festival which is mostly child-focused with free events during the day but also has paid-for events such as talks by scientists or nature specialists. STEM subjects are so important so it’s great to have a week-long festival focused on science and nature.
Perhaps the best event in Autumn is the Beer Festival, which takes place in St Andrews’ Hall every October. It’s very popular, so expect to queue at peak times, but the crowds inside add to the atmosphere. Each year the glass has a different design on it which makes a great souvenier. Beer and cider from different small breweries around the country can be bought in 1/3, ½ or pints. I’d recommend avoiding pints if you want to stay the course! The walls of the hall are covered in paintings of old men in red coats, quietly wondering what happened to their civilised hall.
If the architecture and history of a city is what appeals to you, September has the Heritage Open Days (11th – 20th September 2020), which allow behind-closed-doors access to some of the oldest buildings in the city that normally aren’t open to the public.
If you have a beautiful Autumn day, why not take my walking route through the city centre to see the mural’s and street art?
Fireworks! Bonfires! Christmas Lights Switch-Ons!
Norwich is beautiful in the winter. Jarrolds is a family-owned, independent department store in a 5-storey, elaborate building on the corner of the market. Its Christmas lights are elegant and they set off fireworks from the top of the building for their own switch-no ceremony.
Part of the winter lights is the Light Tunnel, which is a favourite part of the scenery for lots of city residents. The ever-changing lights in the tunnel create great Instagram posts and it brightens up an otherwise boring walk from the Forum to the rest of the city.
The short days are a great excuse for light festivals, and Valentine’s 2020 marked the first Love Light Norwich festival in the city. The Cathedral was lit up in changing patterns on the front of the building and there was an interactive light and music installation in the gardens. The event also had live theatre and processions throughout the city’s streets. It was unfortunately called off due to a storm and high winds, but it was great whilst it lasted and should become an annual event.
Dreary winter weather can sometimes make us sit inside and avoid going out. But to break up those grey weekends, the Norwich has some excellent escape rooms. History Mystery has different escape rooms in different buildings in the city, all focused around historical events. My favourite is in the Guild Hall, you’ve been arrested and you’re locked in a (genuine!) prison cell, accused of murder. Solve the clues to find out the real perpetrator or you’ll be locked in! This is based on a real murder that happened in the city. There are others which take place outside, which is a good excuse to explore if you get a sunny day.
Germany might be the reigning champion of Christmas Markets, but Norwich gives a good effort, many of which are indoors which is always a benefit in December! They are quite often themed events, and St Andrews Hall hosted a Vegan market and Nightfair Before Christmas, an evening event celebrating all things weird and eclectic for sale, with live music. The Cathedral hosted a free Christmas Fair, with local produce and gifts for sale in the Cloisters.
So, when you do think you’ll visit?This entry was posted in City Breaks