How to Spend the May Bank Holiday in Norwich

8 April 2024

How to Spend the May Bank Holidays in Norwich

There’s nothing quite like a bank holiday weekend. That extra day is the perfect reason to treat yourself, unwind on a day trip or short staycation, spend some time with friends and family, go out, or just do something fun. We’ve already enjoyed two this year and – great news – there’s another two bank holidays coming up in May! And, however you choose to spend it, there’s nowhere better setting than right here in the City of Stories. Read on for our top recommendations for your long weekend!

Shopping in Norwich  

Why not start your May bank holiday weekend with a little shopping spree? Norwich is a shopper’s paradise, with hundreds of independents, family-run businesses, and regional flagship stores, such as John Lewis, M&S, and Primark to satisfy any retail craving. Plus, it’s an activity great for any weather!

For the independents, you’ll want to start in the Norwich Lanes – a gorgeous, award-winning district, filled to the brim with the finest local creatives and artisans. There’s truly something for every interest here. Check out Atwin, who consciously curate sustainable and ethical womenswear, accessories, and homeware, St Giles Pantry for a huge assortment of local food & drink to take home, Norwich Arts Centre for intimate performances that will blow you away, and all of the music and art shops dotted around!

For an unforgettable shopping experience, you’ll find even more amazing independents and household name brands standing shoulder-to-shoulder across the city. Wander down the Back of The Inns and find Dune London for both men’s and women’s luxury footwear, including their new spring range! Or, head down Elm Hill and marvel at The Bear Shop, one of the country’s largest assortments of collectible bears. Finally, for a gorgeous range of jewellery, head to Dipples on Swan Lane, one of the city’s finest family-ran businesses, or check out Sonkai in The Royal Arcade for a selection of beautiful, handmade jewellery (you can even order a custom, one-of-one piece from here too!)

You also can’t miss out on a visit to Norwich’s longest-running family-owned business, Jarrolds Department Store – which has everything from makeup and fragrances, to toys, books, fashion, furniture and six incredible restaurants to choose from! Jarrolds is truly a one-stop-shop!

Finally, explore both Castle Quarter and Chantry Place – there’s some seriously good shops and entertainment in both venues. Browse through Lisa Angel, H&M, Frasers, Hotel Chocolat, Apple, and more at Chantry Place. Then, at Castle Quarter, unwind with a round of mini golf at Putt Putt Social, challenge your friends at Boom Battle Bar, catch the latest blockbusters at Vue, or take a trip through video game history with Retro Replay!

A large, white building on the corner of a street.

Whatever you’re looking for, chances are Jarrolds has it!

Food and Drink in Norwich

It’s always a good idea to unwind with a spot of lunch or dinner, and we’re lucky enough that Norwich has tonnes of amazing restaurants, cafes, and eateries to choose from to refuel and relax. If you’re a visitor to the City of Stories, no trip is complete without sampling the local flavours!

One of our favourites has to be a true British cuisine staple – fish and chips from Grosvenor Fish Bar! Choose from the classic cod and other tasty fish, battered sausage, and, of course, chips. Or, go for something that we’d bet you’ve never tried from a chippy before, like the ‘Loony Toony’, which is a battered tuna steak in a roll with lettuce and wasabi mayo (and it’s only £7!). Whatever you choose, we’re sure you’ll absolutely love it. You can find Grosvenor Fish Bar in the Norwich Lanes on Pottergate, and you can view the full menu here. You can also dine in their medieval undercroft below the chip shop – which closes about 7pm.

If you’re a family looking to dine somewhere you’ll find a friendly atmosphere and wide-ranging menus for everyone to enjoy – we have plenty of options. For a true local classic, head to The Waffle House on St Giles Street for a variety of sweet and savoury waffles (plain, wholemeal, low-gluten, vegan, and a rice alternative available!). Plus, they’ve been serving Norwich tasty meals since 1978! Find out more on The Waffle House website.

Other fantastic options around the city for the bank holiday weekend include Yalm in the Royal Arcade for a delicious meal from a choice of nine kitchens, COSMO on London Street for a tasty all you can eat buffet with dishes from around the world, Cluck’d for a delicious meal when you need something fast (with different spice levels for those feeling brave!), and Café Gelato on Opie Street for wonderful, authentic Italian gelato, with rotating, in-house made flavours every day! For even more suggestions, check out our ‘Family Places to Eat in Norwich‘ blog!

Rows of people eating and socialising in a foodhall.

Can’t all agree on a cuisine for lunch or dinner? At Yalm, you don’t have to!

And if you really want to make the May Bank Holiday a special one, look no further than a trip to some of Norwich’s best fine dining establishments. Benedicts on St Benedicts Street is a Michelin Guide restaurant, offering elegant tasting menus like you’ve never had before. Add their wine pairing option for a real treat for the senses! Or, head further down St Benedicts Street to find Farmyard, another one of the City of Stories’ four Michelin Guide features. Here, a casual bistro atmosphere meets fine dining quality, with a perfectly constructed á la carte menu to tantalise your tastebuds.

But if you’re looking for something just as decadent, we’d recommend a trip to The Last. A fixture of Norwich for over 30 years, The Last has recently changed hands, with new life being born into this locally cherished restaurant and wine bar. Find everything you need, from an á la carte menu, Sunday lunch menu, and an afternoon tea menu, all of which have been carefully curated with the finest local produce! And best of all, these three restaurants also have set menus, making their luxury creations that much more affordable!

As always, you can find even more incredible restaurants, cafés, and eateries in Norwich on our ‘Eat & Drink‘ page!

A chef carefully plating three identical dishes.

There’s so many wonderful options for lunch and dinner in Norwich, like Benedicts on St Benedicts Street!

Museums of Norwich

Norwich is home to several brilliant museums filled with interesting artefacts, historical displays and art galleries. And a bank holiday weekend is the perfect time to leisurely stroll around a museum or two and soak in all of the fascinating history!

You can start your May Bank Holiday with The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell, which is open from 10am-4:30pm on Saturdays. Across their several exhibits and displays, you can learn more about the rich history of Norwich and what made it the city we know today, including when it was England’s ‘second city’! Admission costs £7.80 per adult and £6.60 per child aged 4-18, however adults with a child can gain entry at a discounted price of £6.90.

Or, if you’d rather your museum visit later on into your bank holiday trip, visit Strangers’ Hall, open on Sundays from 1pm – 4:30pm. Inside this beautiful building, which is one of the oldest in Norwich, you’ll pass through different time periods with each room, learning more about the city and the people who lived there who the building is named after! Plus, it has a gorgeous knot garden, so consider bringing a picnic if the weather is nice – very few know of this hidden gem! Admission costs £6.80 per adult and £5.90 per child aged 4-18, but adults can get a discounted ticket with a paid child, instead paying £6.20.

Our iconic Norwich Castle is also available for a morning or afternoon out, but note the Castle Keep remains closed until after summer as it undergoes it’s £15 million regeneration project. However, you can still enjoy their special exhibition galleries, art galleries, and historical Roman, Natural History, Egyptian and Royal Norfolk Regimental collections. Norwich Castle is open from 10am – 4:30pm Monday – Saturday and 1pm – 4:30pm on Sundays! Admission costs are the same as Strangers’ Hall, £7.80 per adult, £6.60 for children, and £6.90

Last, but by no means least, The Sainsbury Centre is the place to go in Norwich if you’re wanting a dose of beautiful art, like works from Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Francis Bacon, and many more. Their ‘Pay If and What You Can’ scheme means you can explore the permanent collection and the stunning Sculpture Park set in 350 acres of grounds, all at a price that suits you. While they’re unfortunately closed on Bank Holiday Mondays, you can enjoy these sprawling exhibits across both Saturday and Sunday between 10am – 5pm

A castle atop a hill.

Norwich Castle Keep might be closed, but the rest is open and ready to amaze!

Norfolk  Activities

The great thing about a bank holiday is that you can easily fit a trip to Norwich and a day trip out to the Norfolk coast or countryside in the same weekend!   

Holkham Hall is always a treat, whether you’re taking a look around the historic hall itself, hiring bikes to take out around the grounds, or taking part in a tractor trailer tour! There’s something for everyone. Plus, there’s a great beach nearby to relax by the sea if the sun is out. What better way to spend your day? Plus, there’s almost always brilliant events on across Holkham, which you can find here!

Or, for a day out the kids will absolutely love, head to Roarr!. With trails, indoor and outdoor play, a secret animal garden, Dippy’s theatre, and much more, it’s a fantastic day out for the family during the bank holiday. You might even catch sight of Dippy & Friends. And it’s open for the whole bank holiday weekend from 10am – 5pm, so you can visit anytime that works for you! Tickets are available from £23.95 and can be booked on the Roarr! website.

If treetop adventure is a bit more you speed, BeWILDerwood is the outdoor adventure you’re looking for. There’s super slides, high-speed zipwires, a Sky Maze, arts and crafts, performances, denu building, an enchanted boat ride, and so much more. It’s all quite magical at BeWILDerwood. The best bit? Everything is included in the price of your admission! Tickets are available from £20.50 and can be booked on the BeWILDerwood website! Check out even more Norfolk attractions here!

A family of six cycling down a countryside path with sheep in the background.

Holkham Hall has something for everyone, whether you’re looking to explore, stretch your legs, or enjoy one of their events!

Staying in Norwich & Norfolk

Over the bank holiday weekend, you’re also going to need somewhere to stay. Here in the City of Stories, there are so many delightful places. You could choose from the Grade-II Listed Georgian luxury right here in the city centre with the Assembly House (they also create famous themed afternoon teas!), or The Maids Head, which is reputedly the oldest hotel in the UK. You could even go for something a bit more unique, like the self-serviced apartments of No. 82 The Unthank, or the beautiful Gothic House B&B!

Or, if you’d rather stay out in the beautiful Norfolk countryside, you could choose from a relaxing break at the Norfolk Mead Hotel (coming with treatment rooms) or Park Farm (featuring a full spa), or opt for a cottage break with Go Norfolk Cottages or Fielding Cottage! Wherever you choose to stay, it’s bound to be a great choice. For more information on these hotels, or for even more recommendations, check out our ‘Stay‘ page! 

A large hotel on the corner of a busy city centre street.

The Maids Head is reputedly the oldest hotel in the country, and makes for a fantastic stay!