Visit Norwich at Christmas

4 September 2023

Visit Norwich at Christmas

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? That’s right, we can hear the sound of Christmas bells in the distance! If you’re looking to plan a festive break away in 2023, then Norwich, the City of Stories might be just what you’re looking for.

Christmas Shopping in Norwich

Prettily decorated in festive lights, there are wonderful places to shop with both a host of independent stores and high street favourites to discover – including two city centre shopping centres and Norwich Market. And with Norwich’s medieval street pattern, it means everything is situated centrally so you can walk everywhere (including from the train station and bus station).

The Royal Arcade, The Norwich Lanes, The Cathedral Quarter, Elm Hill and Magdalen Street are all locations where you’ll find the lion’s share of independent shops in Norwich. Boutiques, antiques, second-hand books, collectable bears, galleries, lifestyle, jewellery, local crafts, and vintage items. As well as Jarrold – Norwich’s only award-winning independent department store over five floors, including a wine bar, deli, and seafood restaurant.

If well-known brands and high street names are more your thing then head to Castle Quarter and Chantry Place for a huge selection such as TK Maxx, Apple, Urban Outfitters, Whistles, Zara and H&M. Norwich also has regional flagship stores from John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Primark.

Christmas markets are always one of the most popular things to do on a festive break or shopping trip. Norwich is not known for one big Christmas market, but several smaller, artisanal markets over each weekend in the lead up to the big day itself. At different locations. Most are to be found at The Forum, but there are other venues including the very cute Norwich City Clutter Market at Norwich Arts Centre – it really is not to be missed! Read more here.

Shoppers walk down a street adorned with Christmas lights.

Christmas Shopping in Norwich isn’t complete without lights guiding the way!

Food and Drink in Norwich

Christmas isn’t Christmas without delicious food and drink. And many of us use it as an excuse to catch up with friends over dinner, or just have a treat – because – it’s Christmas!

Dig in on the go at any of the Christmas markets, or dive into the plethora of food stalls on Norwich Market. From huge New York style deli sandwiches, to warming Indian dishes and everything in between, including sugar coated churros dipped in chocolate. The sweet smell is incredible.

Festive afternoons teas are hugely popular, and we advise to book early – take a look at The Assembly House (Georgian surrounds) who offer delectable teas November to January and The Maids Head (December).

A festive tipple is often on the agenda and again there is plenty of choice. Try Norwich’s smallest bar – Sir Toby’s Beers on Norwich Market for warming glühwein with or without rum or brandy. Or any of the cosy city centre historic pubs such as The Ribs of Beef complete with river views, and independent bars such as Makers House on St Benedicts Street and Gyre & Gimble on Charing Cross.

A Christmas afternoon tea sits in front of a Christmas tree.

There’s nothing quite like an afternoon tea at Christmas! (The Maids Head’s afternoon tea pictured)

Christmas Performance and Things-To-Do

Christmas events are aplenty (and are pretty diverse too) with theatre performance such as Sleeping Beauty at Norwich Theatre Royal, traditional Christmas music and services at Norwich Cathedral, and the annual one-day-only Santa’s Grotto for Dogs at The Forum (yes, dogs). Plus, music, comedy, dance and more. Take a look at our What’s On guide for a full list of fantastic things to do.

There is also Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, EAST Gallery NUA (free), The South Asia Collection at Country & Eastern (free), The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (pay if and what you can), Strangers’ Hall, The Museum of Norwich and walking tours with Paul Dickson, Cheryl Cade (food and drink tours) and The Shoebox Experiences.

A theatre auditoriums seats are empty

The Norwich Theatre Royal will soon sell out for day and night performances of the famous panto!

Close to Norwich (so stay an extra day)

One of the most fabulous things about Norwich is that it’s close to the coast, countryside and Broads. Nothing is very far away. So, no visit to Norwich would be complete without considering a visit to Holkham Hall in North Norfolk for their themed room tours, country Park walks and possibly a visit to the beach, or Pensthorpe who offer hundreds of acres of nature, countryside and gardens to enjoy. All wrapped up.

Thursford has the world’s largest Christmas show – The Thursford Christmas Spectacular – it will truly get you in the Christmas mood. But they also have an Enchanted Journey of Light – and if you time it right – you can do both!

Where to stay?

Take a look at The Assembly House and The Maids Head Hotel for historic, boutique style décor and a central location. In the Broads with a river location just eight miles from Norwich is the gorgeous Norfolk Mead Hotel. Park Farm is a hotel plus fab Scandi-style lodges, and Barnham Broom comes complete with golf courses.

For self-catering, there’s 82 The Unthank, Spixworth Hall Cottages, Fielding Cottages and Poolside Lodge.

The Assembly House in Norwich lit up with Christmas lights and with outdoor dining pods in the garden

The Assembly House is a truly magical place to stay in Norwich this Christmas.

And finally, new for this year

‘The Chronicles of Christmas’ Walking Tour with The Shoebox Experiences (booking from October), and Norwich’s city centre lighting scheme which will be bigger than ever!