Norwich 2020 “So what’s new?”

27 January 2020

Norwich 2020 “So what’s new?”

In line with the time-honoured tradition of beginning a new year with a new start – welcome to our new website.

New year: new look.

This year, Norwich has a host of new chapters to offer would be out-of-towners and residents alike, from the inaugural Love Light Norwich festival and cultural anniversaries to a rather famous dinosaur … in a cathedral.

Read on…

Chapter One – Let’s love light in February

February is the month where we are all looking forward to the light returning. Christmas is long gone, Spring still seems far away, and Valentine’s Day lurks in its midst, to be celebrated or avoided depending on your outlook.

But fear not. The days are slowly lengthening, and the inaugural Love Light Norwich Festival offers a beacon of light. Many lights, in fact. Taking place from 13 – 15 February, whatever your feelings about St Valentine, the festival is set to be a welcome celebration of light with an emphasis on love and inclusion. It’s a real family affair.

Events range from the transformation of Norwich Market into a Night Market, large scale projections, pyrotechnic street theatre, a Valentine’s Parade including dogs in light up costumes and the chance to have a kaleidoscope experience inside a giant sculpture!

Love Light Norwich Festival takes place from Valentine’s Eve until 15 February 2020

Image: Halo by Illumaphonium

Chapter Two – New stage for Norfolk & Norwich Festival

Boasting the title of England’s oldest arts festival, Norfolk & Norwich Festival in 2020 is the first of three Festivals building towards their 250th anniversary in 2022. This year sees the addition (in Chapelfield Gardens) of an extra stage – the Main Stage alongside their iconic Spiegletent. The new Main Stage will be a 500-seat pop-up where festival goers will see music, circus and cabaret. The full programme will be announced in February however tickets for a selection of shows are available now amongst which includes: a world-renowned singer, a live art programme on the streets of Norwich, award-winning circus and outlandish pop music cabaret duo – Frisky and Mannish.

Taking place over seventeen days, people flock to the city to participate in a huge range of events featuring artists from all over the world, from music and circus to literature, street theatre, cabaret and even mind-reading.

So whether you want to soak up the atmosphere in Chapelfield Gardens, take in a risqué evening show in the intimate depths of the Spiegeltent, or be swept away by the dulcet tones of a symphony orchestra, you can do all that and more right here in Norwich.

Norfolk & Norwich Festivals runs from 8th – 24th May 2020 across multiple venues in the city.

Image: Gravity and Other Myths at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival

Chapter Three – Three beers please (and no sign of Goldilocks)

At one time it was said that Norwich boasted a pub for every day of the year (though some suggest it was actually closer to TWO pubs for every day). But one thing is for sure.

Norwich loves beer.

We love drinking it, we love talking about it, we love meeting over it, and we love making it.

This year, Norwich City of Ale celebrates 10 years. Let’s raise a glass to that. Launching on the 23rd May at the Waterfront, the festival includes events such as ale-expeditions navigable using different pubs, guided treasure hunts, taster sessions and heritage beer tours.

Norwich City of Ale runs from 21-31 May 2020

Chapter Four – We’re Diplodocus delirious

Since beginning his tour in 2018 on the Jurassic coast, Dippy the Diplodocus has travelled to all four corners of the UK inspiring the next generation to connect with science and nature. He will be wrapping up his travels with a long-awaited visit to the East of England this year, where for his final stop he can be found holding court in the spectacular surrounds of Norwich Cathedral from July to October 2020. There will also be a host of fringe dino events at the cathedral for all ages.

His arrival has been much anticipated, with Norwich Cathedral winning a bid over two years ago to host Dippy’s visit to Norwich. Service as usual will continue in the Cathedral during Dippy’s residence, and admittance to see him will be free. Dippy will be welcomed to the city by a new two-year GoGoDiscover sculpture trail. This will include 20 decorated Tyrannosaurus-Rex sculptures across the city centre.

Image for Visit Norfolk © Keiron Tovell Photography 2013 Unauthorised reproduction prohibited

Dippy can be seen at Norwich Cathedral from 11th July until 31st October

Chapter Five – Happy anniversaries 

Three well-loved independent arts venues in Norwich celebrate anniversaries this year.

Located in a 15th-century church, Norwich Arts Centre was awarded Best Small Venue by NME in 2014 and over its 40-year history has played host to some very famous names including Oasis & Nirvana. Norwich Arts Centre has just undergone the first phase of its regeneration project and is looking better than ever. Most notable for its rock music, it also hosts comedy and cabarets.

Famous for the ‘ceilingopolis’ in its bar, Norwich Playhouse sits next to the Wensum river in a 19th-century old maltings. With an audience capacity of 300 and its raked seating, patrons enjoy a fantastic view of the stage, and the Playhouse bar is a renowned meeting place for creatives. This year it celebrates its 25th birthday.

Some of Norwich Puppet Theatre’s family of puppets have lived within the walls of the converted medieval church since it became a theatre 40 years ago this year. One of only three permanent puppet theatres in the UK, the theatre hosts regular performances, puppetry workshops and masterclasses.

Photo: Norwich Puppet Theatre

Chapter Six – Norwich comes to Netflix (well, some of it…)

Residents of Norwich may remember when the rooftops of Elm Hill were decorated with a delicate smattering of snow in the mid-June heat last year.

Snow in June? Panic not…

The beautiful medieval Elm Hill in the heart of Norwich was used as one of the shoot locations for upcoming Christmas 2020 film Jingle Jangle. Where a cobblestone world comes to life in the holiday musical tale of an embattled toymaker, his granddaughter and a magical invention that, if they can get it to work in time for the holidays, could change their lives forever.

From producers Kristin Burr (Christopher Robin), John Legend and Mike Jackson (La La Land), Lyn Sisson-Talbert (Almost Christmas), David McIlvain (First Sunday). And staring none other than Forest Whitaker. We are expecting great things.

Whether you want to bag a selfie at this historical – and now Netflix-famous – location, or simply explore its winding undulations and enjoy a coffee or a browse in the bookshop, this is a must-visit.

Image: Elm Hill


Chapter Seven – Experience something, learn something, do something

image: Pottery throwing at Wensum Lodge

Since we talked about Wensum Lodge’s wonderful new workshops at the beginning of the year (and yes, it’s still only late-January) they have been flying off the shelf. Wensum Lodge is the only known city example of a 12th century domestic residence and once housed a commercial 19th century brewery. Today this riverside centre is a hub for creatives, makers and designers making it the perfect place to learn a new craft this year whether its ceramics, silversmithing, sculpture and more. Plus, their courses are reasonably priced – why not start a new creative hobby this year?”

The perfect location for a Norfolk getaway, Fielding Cottage now offers an all-day goat’s cheese making course at it’s on-site, working farm, just outside Norwich. After a morning of touring the state-of-the-art factory and learning the science behind their award-winning cheese, you’ll be donning hair nets, rolling your sleeves up and getting hands on as you make your very own goats’ cheese to take home and share. Then its off to enjoy the fruits of your labour, as you’re treated to an afternoon of cheese, crackers and other great local produce. Courses are £80 per person and include the factory tour, a cheese making class and light refreshments in the afternoon.

If you’re more a fan of the spotlight, then Norwich Theatre Royal’s ‘Take Part’ experiences are a must. A wide variety of workshops, events and training courses are on offer this year, all taking place at Stage Two – their learning and participation venue. Take part in a behind-the-scenes tour, learn the basics of scriptwriting, or hone your skills as a theatre technician. Everything from stage management to set construction and lighting. Norwich Theatre Royal’s ‘Take Part’ programme offers courses for all ages, from young children through to their ‘Limelighters’ activities (aged 50yrs +).

Set against the backdrop of the River Bure, with eight acres of lovingly preserved private grounds, The Norfolk Mead is the perfect countryside escape. And now, this beautiful Georgian, Grade II listed country house is the perfect place to master your photography skills. Throughout February and March, guests will have the opportunity to explore the wild beauty of the Broads National Park through a lens, with local landscape photographer Helen Storer. Across this 2-day experience, guests will be treated to tea and scones on arrival, a two course A La Carte dinner, two nights in a Deluxe Room, breakfast for two mornings, and one full day of photography tuition. Contact the Norfolk Mead team for more information on 01603 737 531 or email [email protected].