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If you’re after a holiday destination that’s awe-inspiring, intellectually stimulating, full of historic treasures, and will feed your imagination, you need look no further than Norwich. It’s the perfect place for walks along medieval cobbled streets, visiting art galleries and museums, and enjoying spectacular theatre and live music.
Need help planning the ultimate cultural city break? Well, read on for our top recommendations for art, theatre, history, and more to experience in the City of Stories.
1. The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
The Sainsbury Centre is a must for anyone looking to soak in some culture. Its stunning permanent collection features paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewellery and more – and it’s free to see! Its Sculpture Park (in 350 acres of parkland) is perfect for long walks and a picnic. Not to mention the incredible exhibitions that the centre houses. If you visit between 18 July and 12 December, make sure you spend some time at Leiko Ikemura: Usagi in Wonderland. Japanese-Swiss artist, Leiko Ikemura, presents a selection of painting, sculptures and drawings spanning three decades of her career in her first UK exhibition. Tickets only £8.
2. Gaia at St Peter Mancroft
Art is rooted in Norwich’s culture (part of what makes it so unique) so there’s always interesting and one-off exhibitions and events taking place. From the 1st – 31st October, St Peter Mancroft, a 600-year-old church right in the heart of the city (in fact, Norwich’s largest medieval church), will be hosting the Gaia art installation. 6 metres in diameter and created by Luke Jerram, Gaia is a beautiful piece depicting our planet using NASA imagery. It’s free to see, and throughout October the church will also be holding a series of talks, presentations and discussions that look at the planet and the climate crisis from the perspective of both faith and science.
3. Fairhurst Gallery
Located in the Norwich Lanes, Fairhurst Gallery is a charming space in a historic area of the city. Hosting regular exhibitions that champion contemporary art, it’s a great little gem for fans of art. Until 14th August, the gallery has on show Bread and a Girl, a collection of vibrant paintings by Norwich artist Jess Burgess, exploring the idea of the contemporary woman.
4. Norwich University of the Arts
With an established history in arts, design and media education, the Norwich University of the Arts is home to some of the finest talent in the city. Take a visit to the university’s East Gallery to see (free) some of the best modern and contemporary art in an exciting city centre space. See the website for upcoming events.
5. Norwich Theatre Royal
Norwich Theatre Royal is the place to go for a night of entertainment, with a programme that stretches from ballet and live music, to touring West End musicals. There’s something for everyone to enjoy here. Plus, this summer you can enjoy Norwich Theatre INTERLUDE in the CLOSE. A big top circus tent in the Cathedral Close will feature a range of outdoor performances. Brilliant for a family day out or an evening with friends. (Entrance opposite The Great Hospital).
6. Norwich Playhouse
Another of Norwich’s popular theatre venues, the Playhouse is notorious for hosting some of the best-known names in comedy, as well as the finest up and coming performers. It’s also a popular spot for those wanting to enjoy a relaxed drink in a welcoming atmosphere. You can’t go for a show here and not stop to quench your thirst! The bar is now open and shows are available to book from September.
A new food and drink festival under the lights of Norwich Castle, Mysagarden is perfect for those who want to enjoy live music with a festival-like atmosphere. Book a table for Saturday or Sunday afternoon to enjoy a range of local acts curated by Wild Paths Festival. And while you’re there, don’t forget to order some delicious food from one of the local vendors. Running until 5th September.
8. Norfolk & Norwich Festival
An annual festival in May, Norfolk & Norwich Festival is a 17-day international arts festival. Each year it brings to the city a varied and exciting programme of performance, theatre, music and literary events. One of the oldest festivals in the country, it’s certainly a reason to start planning your stay for next year. Especially as 2022 celebrates 250 years of the festival – so it’s bound to be bigger and better than ever.
9. Norwich Cathedral
History is one thing you’ll never be short of in Norwich. And a must-see is the city’s Norman Catholic Cathedral. It’s free to enter, and there’s much to enjoy. Take in the Cloisters, one of the most complete features from the Middle Ages in England, and the biggest of their kind in the country. If you’re lucky (or you’re good at planning ahead), your trip may coincide with a special exhibition, such as Dippy, the Natural History Museums Diplodocus cast, on display until 30 October.
10. Cathedral of St John the Baptist
For lovers of architecture as well as history, you’ll enjoy the Cathedral of St John the Baptist. A brilliant example of Victorian Gothic Revival, its stained windows and carved stonework will surely have you looking around in awe. Plus, it’s free to enter.
11. Norwich Castle
Looking out over the city, you can’t miss Norwich Castle. This medieval fortification is not just impressive from the outside either. Inside is a museum and gallery, showcasing objects from the region, archaeological finds, history specimens, and wonderful art. Tickets are £6.70 for adults and £6.20 for children. Or you can bag a Twilight ticket for only £2 an hour before closing.
12. Museum of Norwich
If you’re interested in learning the history of Norwich, The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell is where you can learn more. With exhibits that tell the story of Norwich’s industries and people, all the way from medieval times to the modern day, it’s the place to go for a proper history lesson. Admission £6.70 for adults and £6.20 for children. Plan ahead and visit when there’s tours of the 14th century undercroft below the building.
Norwich is bursting to the seams with culture (it’s not called the City of Stories for nothing you know). So, one thing’s for sure. Whether you stay for a day, a week, or even longer – you won’t find yourself short of things to do!
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