Quality free Betwixmas time in Norwich

Quality free Betwixmas time in Norwich

The time between Christmas and New Year, a.k.a. betwixmas, can be hard. Spending too much time indoors, eating more in two days than you usually would in a week and everyone’s wallet is feeling a little bit lighter.

We’re here to help you get out of the house and not break the bank. Whether you’re entertaining the family, stretching your legs or trying to escape a house full of guilty pleasures, here is a guide to the hidden gems of Norwich to make the most of quality time with family and friends.

Castle Quarter

In the centre of Norwich, stands an essential destination of the City of Stories. With a glowing orange entrance, Castle Quarter is a labyrinth of shops, restaurants and entertainment opportunities, including a cinema, a bowling alley and an old school arcade. It goes without saying that Castle Quarter could entertain you at any point in the year, but it’s inclusion on this list is because of its dedication to making sure everyone can have fun – and some of it for free!

There’s a football parlour, with several tables for you to share with family or friends. You might not be able to ‘bend it like Beckham’ on the pitch but your skills on the table could be unstoppable. The next stop in Castle Quarter is the puzzle room to test your mental metal. You can take a moment, spend some time doing a Sudoku in your own company, or if you’re feeling competitive, teach your loved ones a lesson in snakes and ladders.

The piece de resistance, however, is the Ping Pong Parlour. This is where family arguments can be settled. After discussing politics over turkey or having to explain once again that Wham wrote the best Christmas song (they really did), this is where you can let out your frustrations and you can finally show your family who’s boss!

Photo: Castle Quarter

Sculpture Park Guided Tour 27th – 29th December

After days of eating, drinking, watching television and being merry, you can end up desperate to leave the house. Getting some fresh air is essential but over these days of festive no man’s land it can be hard to find a purpose to step into the cold.

The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts are giving you the perfect reason to get out and explore as they are offering an expert guided tour of the sculpture park around the Sainsbury Centre and the surrounding UEA landscape. Not only will you see fantastic artwork and learn the stories behind them, but this is a great opportunity to take in the Stunning UEA lake and the free art exhibitions in the Sainsbury Centre.

Within this completely free tour discover whether you are a fan of the work of Antony Gormley or if the Soviet tower designed by Vladimir Tatlin in 1919 is more to your taste. The artwork is spread across UEA’s brutalist inspired campus architecture and amongst beautiful parkland. The sculptures are all within a short walk of one another, with pieces showing a variety of styles from the last 100 years, allowing you an insight into the changing trends of the century.

With art and architecture set against luscious natural scenes, this is the City of Stories at its most sedate.

Photo: Tatlin’s Tower at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

Norwich Cathedral

The most complete Norman Cathedral in England stands steadfast in the centre of our beautiful city. With 900 years of history behind it and secrets scattered throughout its cloisters and gardens this is an essential visit in Norwich.

A tour of this magnificent structure is a perfect activity for those days leading up to the new year. From the 27 December the tours will be commencing on the hour between 10am and 3pm. This insightful view into the history of the Cathedral and the history of Norwich is completely free and lasts just under an hour. The trip is perfect for children who get a free Explorer backpack to use, which is used to encourage learning about the Cathedral! The explorer pack includes binoculars, a torch, a magnifying glass and more, which will make the holiday that little bit easier for tired parents. Whilst you’re taking in the marvellous architecture, don’t forget to check the mirrors located around the cathedral to see the impeccably crafted roof bosses that adorn the ceiling of the main room.

Once the tour ends there is still so much to see in and around the Cathedral. Enter the Cloisters; a portal into an area of beautiful architecture from the middle ages, which to this day remain virtually untouched apart from some very handy lights to allow evening visits. In the centre of the Cloisters is The Jubilee Labyrinth, a beautiful representation of the journey of life. The Labyrinth was created to commemorate the golden jubilee of the Queen in 2002, and visitors are actively encouraged to walk the labyrinth, whether it be for fun, to connect with God or as an opportunity to clear one’s head.

Venture into the Close for an envious insight into a 44-acre urban paradise. With 80 listed buildings, all showing different architectural features, from beautiful Georgian townhouses, to buildings that have stood for almost 1000 years. The Close is as historically relevant as the Cathedral, with struggles of war and royalty through the ages being tied to the story of this land.

Photo: Norwich Cathedral by Keiron Tovell Photography 2013

The South Asia Collection

A hidden gem tucked away on Bethel Street, with a story that reaches halfway round the world and hundreds of years into the past. The South Asia collection is an internationally renowned museum for conserving and promoting the traditional arts, crafts and cultures of South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Burma, Bangladesh, Thailand and more.

The South Asia Collection’s free admission opens you up to a different world. Cultural and historical items tell stories of gods, battles of light and darkness and struggles of good and evil. The spectacular woodwork items on display show a level of beauty, creativity and devotion that conjures up the imagination and stirs the soul.

The South Asia Collection truly is an eye-opening location – housed in an old Victorian skating rink – that will not only entertain you but also inspire you for a long time to come.

Photo: The South Asia Collection