12 Traditionally Different Things to do in Norwich at Christmas

10 November 2023

12 Traditionally Different Things to do in Norwich at Christmas

At Christmas, Norwich is truly filled with magic. This is a city full of independent spirit, and at this merry time of year, we’re light-hearted and welcoming. From the hustle and bustle of our iconic Norwich Market to our famous and award-winning Lanes transforming into a cobbled, festive wonderland, Norwich at Christmas is traditionally different.

So, if you’re coming to our fine city this Christmas, you’ve made a great choice. Expect the experience you know, with the twist that you don’t. From unique experiences to unbelievably tasty dishes, here’s just a hint as to what you’ll find in the City of Stories this festive season.

Candy-cane nails and winter cocktails

Why not start the festivities in Norwich with a little bit of self-care? At Jarrolds, Norwich’s flagship independent department store, you’ll find a one-stop-shop for everything you need this Christmas!

Head to their nail bar, where you can settle down and get comfortable while pampering your nails to whatever style you like. We’d recommend candy-cane nails for the festive season! And after, be sure to head to their Patisserie Wine Bar or the Cheese & Charcuterie Bar for a glass of something sparklingly wonderful.

Self-care is the perfect addition to any Christmas visit!

A Christmas dinner from a fish bar!

One thing is for certain – good, seasonal food is one of the best parts about Christmastime, right? Whether you love a good Christmas dinner or some sweet treats, this city has it all.

And this year, you can mix a traditional dinner from a chippy with the best parts of that festive roast with Grosvenor Fish Bar. For just £10.50, tuck into turkey sausage with chips, gravy, battered stuffing balls, and cranberry sauce! Our mouths are watering already.

Visit the Grosvenor Fish Bar for a tasty twist on Christmas dinner! Photo credit ©Simon Finlay Photography.

Santa’s Grotto, but for dogs

If you love your dog, you’ll absolutely love this pet-themed day at The Forum. For one day only (Sunday, December 10, 11am – 3pm), bring your beloved pooch to join the festivities at Santa’s Grotto for Dogs!

Here, you and your furred friend can meet Santa Woof Woof himself and pose for a family ‘pawtrait’ while helping raise money for the local RSPCA charity! Live music is included, and Christmas costumes for you and your dog are encouraged! It’s the perfect way to get everyone involved in the celebrations.

Everyone can get involved in the fun this Christmas – including your dog!

Gluhwein and empanadas from Norwich Market

When you’re in the City of Stories, a visit to our popular Norwich Market is a must. It’s one of the oldest and largest outdoor markets still running in the country! You can find some serious gems on these stalls, especially at this merry time of year.

For a good lunch or dinner, we’d highly recommend a festively warming glühwein from Sir Toby’s Beers and an empanada from Cocina Mia. Glühwein is a type of German mulled wine, and Sir Toby’s is delicious – one of the best in the city! And empanadas from Cocina Mia are popular for a reason, these tasty little Chilean pastries are the perfect meal while you browse the rest of the Market.

A visit to the Norwich Market paired with a mulled wine and empanada is an ideal Christmas treat!

A historic walking tour – with beer and cheese!

There’s no better way to discover a city like Norwich than with an expert tour guide, especially when there’s food and drink involved! That’s exactly what you can expect from Beer Sommelier & Educator Cheryl Cade on her fantastic tours of Norwich.

As an experienced and friendly tour guide, Cheryl has a huge range of tours available, where she’ll take you to all the city’s must-see sights, with historic facts and stories that you wouldn’t otherwise know of! Plus, with her beer & cheese tours, you can tuck into something tasty while learning something new. That’s a good way to spend a Christmas visit!

Cheryl Cade Tours: a group sit at an outdoor table with drinks in hand

Cheryl Cade Tours are the perfect way to see the city.

Fondue in an igloo, with a Georgian ballroom for a view

It doesn’t get much more Christmassy than this visit to The Assembly House. This year, the famous pop-up igloos make their return for a private, cosy dining experience. Get together with the people you love and tuck into an apres-ski fondue menu, filled with goodies!

There’s a glass of sparkles on arrival with snacks like olives, mixed spiced nuts, and curried parsnip crisps, before you settle down with a three cheese Swiss fondue with crusty bread, pigs in blankets, charcuterie meats, and so much more. Igloos require a minimum of eight people and a maximum of ten, and come with heating, Bluetooth speakers, and your own personal service staff! Bookings can be made by calling 01603 626402 between 9am – 5pm!

The Assembly House’s popular igloos are a great way to get your loved ones together and celebrate.

A panto with a cast of puppets

No Christmas is complete without a festive performance! For a real treat this year, take a trip to the Norwich Puppet Theatre to see a magical puppet pantomime of Jack and the Beanstalk. With this cast of glove puppets, you can expect bundles of knockabout humour, which is perfect for the panto!

And we’re lucky enough that this performance sees Ronnie Le Drew – who was the man behind Zippy from Rainbow and Sooty – behind some of the puppets! This year’s panto features beautiful miniature sets, glittering costumes, and laugh-out-loud puppetry, which makes it the perfect trip for the family at Christmastime.

Find out more and book your visit to the Norwich Puppet Theatre on their website here!

A Christmas carousel beneath church bells

A Christmas delight is making its return to The Forum this year! A real vintage affectation, you and the family will absolutely fall in love with this magical Victorian carousel over the Christmas half-term.

For just £3 per person, you can hop on and enjoy the ride around this gorgeous carousel. Take a look if you share a name with any of the horses, or simply pick one that stands out and get going! One thing is for sure, you’ll be back for more than one ride!

The Christmas Carousel at The Forum is seriously good fun!

An al fresco Nutcracker cake-away (afternoon tea)

A true British tradition combined with a wonderful Christmas theme – The Assembly House’s Nutcracker afternoon tea is not to be missed this year! And best of all? You can enjoy it anywhere you like with their ‘cake-away’ service! We’d recommend enjoying it al fresco under the sparkling Christmas lights of the city.

This afternoon tea features all the classics, like finger sandwiches, scones, and other tempting savouries, before you move onto the bit everyone loves – the cakes and pastries! Enjoy Sugar Plum Fairy Gateau Opera, Snowflake Macarons, Clara’s Cupcake, and much more. This afternoon tea is available for £22 per adult and £14.95 per child under-12.

Orders can be placed by phone on 01603 626402, with orders needing to be placed by 5pm the day before you’d like to collect it!

The Assembly House’s famous Nutcracker afternoon tea is deliciously festive!

A Clutter Christmas Market filled with treasures

Looking for a good Christmas market this year? Look no further than the Clutter City Winter Market at Norwich Arts Centre (Saturday, December 9), which features over 25 carefully selected stalls featuring the best local makers, artists, illustrators, and designers. You’ll find jewellery, prints, ceramics, clothing, and homeware! Which makes it the place to be for those perfect Christmas presents.

The Clutter City Winter Market is open from 11am – 4pm with FREE entry! And if you’re looking for even more Christmas markets, we’ve got plenty on throughout Norwich & Norfolk.

The Clutter City Winter Market has plenty of great gifts on offer!

Festive carols in a cloister

If you’re looking for some Christmas services this year, the Norwich Cathedral’s doors are open to anyone and everyone. As you’d expect, there is a huge range of events on at the Cathedral for this festive time of year, including their incredibly popular and FREE to enter ‘Carols in the Cloister’.

Enjoy a carol singalong with the girl choristers in the stunning surrounds of the Cathedral’s cloister (which happens to be the largest in the country) with traditional and favourite songs all featuring. Warm, colourful, and festive attire is encouraged as always for this magical afternoon!

The Norwich Cathedral is the perfect place to go to keep busy this Christmas, like the Messiah by Candlelight (pictured).

A Christmas Carol with Muppets and singalongs

This festive night out is for 18+ only!

Everyone loves a good Christmas film, but none are like the Sing-a-Long-a Muppet Christmas Carol at the Norwich Arts Centre this Christmas (Tuesday, December 19 – Wednesday, December 20). In this screening of the hit film, you can expect a few twists, like audience engagement led by performance artists, FREE goody bags, and FREE whiskey! Sounds like the perfect night out to us.

So, head over and join these household favourite characters as you witness laughter, redemption, and… singing food! Tickets are available from £13 per person on the Norwich Arts Centre website!

The Sing-a-long-a Muppet Christmas Carol is a great twist on a classic!

And that’s just a few of the traditionally different wonders you can expect around Norwich this Christmas! There is, of course, plenty more to do in your time here. For even more Christmas inspiration, check out our Christmas in Norwich page, and our ‘How to Spend a Christmas Weekend in Norwich‘, ‘9 Places to Shop in Norwich‘, ‘8 Christmas Nights Out in Norwich‘, and ‘7 Things to do in Norwich this Christmas‘ blogs!