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2024 is going to be a big year in Norwich and Norfolk. And we mean big.
In the coming year, you can take a journey across 900 years, uncover the real-life stories behind Apple TV’s brand-new $275m mini-series, discover what truth is through art, and so much more. All while seeing the wonderful sights of Norwich. We told you it was a busy year!
2024 really is the time to come and experience what this city and county have to offer, trust us, you don’t want to miss out! Read on for all the details for the coming year in the City of Stories.
And if you want to find out even more new experiences and exciting developments in Norwich & Norfolk, be sure to check out what we welcomed here in 2023!
It might be new to 2024, but Norwich Castle’s ‘Royal Palace Reborn’ project will be turning the clock back 900 years as it transports visitors to the heyday of Norman England next summer! And with that, it will also take its place as one of the UK’s premier heritage attractions – so it’s not to be missed.
Norwich Castle’s story started in 1067, when, following his successful invasion of England, William the Conqueror ordered its construction. It was then completed by his son, Henry I, in 1121 and was one of the most spectacular palaces in all of Medieval Europe.
And in summer 2024, a trip to the Castle will mean you can see the Keep like you’ve never known it before. Expect to see reinstated floors, audio-visual projections, character panels, VR, multisensory elements (like dressing up as a Norman king or queen, or experiencing the noises and smells from medieval life), numerous interactives, and the British Museum’s first medieval gallery outside of London with over 1000 artefacts, including over 50 from the British Museum. Excited yet?
Well, that’s not all. A new entrance to the museum will also include a magical light-filled atrium adjacent to the Keep, setting the scene and orientating visitors upon arrival. Plus, it offers gorgeous new views which will showcase the Norman Keep that has become such a popular Norwich icon.
The Castle will also become the most accessible castle in the UK – from basement to battlements – offering complete access to wheelchair users and pushchairs, as well as those with SEND requirements. There will also be larger toilets and a Changing Places facility.
Keep your eyes peeled for the brand-new restaurant and gift shop too, no museum is complete without them!
And if you’re looking to keep yourself busy before the Castle Keep’s reopening in the summer, don’t worry, there is plenty on throughout Norwich & Norfolk (you can find our recommendations on our ‘See & Do’ page!). But we’re also lucky enough to be seeing the release of Apple TV’s Masters of the Air on January 26, 2024.
This new $275m epic mini-series comes from producers Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Gary Goetzman, who also put ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘The Pacific’ on our screens. And the cast is just as star-studded, featuring Austin Butler, Sawyer Spielberg, Callum Turner, Barry Keoghan, and Raff Law, among other fantastic actors.
So, why is this TV series relevant to Norwich & Norfolk? Well, based on the book, Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany by Donald L. Miller, it will tell the story of the US Army, more specifically the 100th Bombardment Group of the Eighth Air Force, who were based in Thorpe Abbots – just 20 miles from Norwich – during World War II.
It’s bound to be a fascinating, emotive and gripping series. While we can’t guarantee the story itself will be true to the real-life events of World War II, what we do know is the 100th Bombardment Group (or the ‘Bloody Hundredth’ as they were known) really were stationed across Norfolk! At one time, there was around 50,000 USAAF personnel within 30-miles of Norwich.
Unfortunately for us locals, most of the filming took place in Oxfordshire, but the story is set here in the East of England. And today, you can still visit some of the locations the US Army were stationed, like Thorpe Abbotts (visit the control tower – restored in 1977 – and the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum), or Old Buckenham Airfield (15 miles from Norwich, where Hollywood legend, Jimmy Stewart, was the first Operations Officer).
You can even visit The American Library inside The Forum in Norwich, which holds 4000 books on all aspects of American life and culture, plus a collection devoted to the Second Air Division’s history, which includes rare group histories privately published at the end of the hostilities (also available digitally here). Or explore over 30,000 images of original photographs, letters, memoirs and more at the Norfolk Record Office in Norwich.
Finally, The City of Norwich Aviation Museum at Norwich Airport (2.5 miles from Norwich city centre) does what it says on the tin, however it is also the official museum of the 100th Group and offers a large collection of memorabilia, personal accounts and photographs of personnel, its aircraft and operations dedicated to all Royal Air Force 100th Group Operations. The 458th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force was based here during WW2 when it was known as RAF Horsham St Faith!
Feel free to visit these locations individually, or join the brand-new 4-day tour from Cheryl Cade Tours as she guides you through these airfields, museums, and more, with bespoke tours also available. Perfect for the history buff.
2023 has been a busy one for the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts – so it’s only right that 2024 is the same! In the past year, the Sainsbury Centre have revolutionised their programming. From becoming the first museum in the country to offer a ‘Pay If and What You Can’ scheme, to becoming the first in the world to see art as living (which you can read more about here).
And on top of all of that, the Sainsbury Centre also launched their new ‘Big Questions’ seasons – a new approach to exhibiting art. Across these seasons, fundamental questions will be asked about the world, with the art on display trying to help visitors answer them.
In the coming year, the question will be ‘What is Truth?’. With fake news, elaborate scams, and the growing presence of AI, the Sainsbury Centre will question whether we’re living a time when technology can distort what we know as authentic.
This dynamic 2024 programme consists of five key exhibitions commencing at various dates from February – ‘In Event of Moon Disaster’, ‘Liquid Gender, Jeffrey Gibson: I can choose’, ‘Rashaad Newsome: In the Absence of Evidence, We Create Stories’ and ‘The Camera Never Lies’ –bringing together some of the world’s leading artists and creative thinkers. It’s a must-see, especially since you can gain admission at a price that totally suits you.
Have you ever been to Pensthorpe? It’s gorgeous. Across this 700-acre nature reserve, you’ll find woodland walks, nature trails, lakes, and a huge variety of habitats teeming with wildlife, including wetlands, woodlands, farmland, and grassland, offering a fully immersive and unforgettable experience for families and wildlife enthusiasts alike!
Even better, this summer, for the first time in their history, Pensthorpe will be opening their doors (or gates, really) to their new glamping and camping site from early July to the end of August! There will be 24 tent pitches available for pre-booking, plus six high-quality bell-style tents for that luxurious glamping experience. There’s even solar-powered showers and toilets! Guests will also get discounted entry to the reserve on each day of their stay, so you can maximise your time with nature – how relaxing. Prices for tent pitches will start at £30 per night, and glamping starts from £130 per night.
And if you fancy a stay closer to the city centre, there’s plenty of options for that too. Take advantage of a stay at The Assembly House with a spectacular deal of £180 until the end of January 2024 on all rooms from Sunday to Friday night* including an incredible bedroom, a bottle of fizz, Afternoon Tea for two AND a freshly cooked breakfast the next day (based on two people staying).
*Saturday nights are NOT included in this deal.
Or, head to the oldest hotel in the country and enjoy a stay at The Maids Head Hotel, with rooms available from £130 per night. While you’re there, be sure to head to their very own 2 AA Rosette restaurant, WinePress, for a fantastic meal. It makes for the perfect couples getaway!