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If you’re looking for an atmospheric, joyful, Christmas break this winter, look no further than Norwich. With festive fun abound, you’re sure to find a whole host of treats to enjoy on your trip to the City of Stories.
Not sure what to do on a Christmas break to Norwich? Check out our seasonal recommendations to give you some inspiration!
First things first, you’ll want to find a cosy place to call home on your short break. After a long day exploring the city and shopping to your heart’s content, you’ll need a relaxing place to put up your feet.
Gothic House, £105 per night
This Regency grade II listed B&B set in a quiet courtyard is ideal for those wanting an affordable and relaxing stay. In the heart of the city, it’s only minutes away from bustling shopping streets and iconic landmarks such as Norwich Cathedral. With stylishly appointed bedrooms and breakfast included, you can’t go wrong.
Assembly House, from £170 per night
If it’s a luxurious experience you want, it’s The Assembly House you’re after. This regal Georgian hotel has a range of features that will delight anyone looking for that little something extra from their stay. Four poster beds, roll-top baths, secret courtyards and four brand-new luxury bedrooms await – and that’s not to mention the delicious food offering. Book before the 23rd December to enjoy a night’s stay, bottle of bubbly, afternoon tea and breakfast for only £199.
Maids Head Hotel, from £105 per night
For a historic stay, choose the Maids Head Hotel opposite Norwich Cathedral. Known as one of the oldest hotels in the UK, there’s plenty of fun to be had when staying at the Maids Head. Enjoy character features in the rooms, complimentary spins around Norwich in a vintage Bentley, and a magical heated courtyard perfect for savouring a festive afternoon tea.
Outside Norwich with leisure facilities
If you fancy a hotel stay just outside Norwich then take a look at Park Farm and Barnham Broom. Both are set in lovely grounds and offer leisure facilities including swimming pools and spa treatments. Barnham Broom also has fantastic golf courses.
Looking for something truly magical to experience this Christmas? There’s so much festive fun in Norwich, you’ll be spoilt for choice!
Tunnel of Light, free, 16 November – 5 January
There’s nothing quite like sparkling lights to get you in the mood for Christmas. And the Tunnel of Light (presented in association with Phoenix Events) is surely one of the most stunning light displays around. With over 57,000 LED lights, you’ll be wowed by the patterns and illuminations that light up Norwich city centre.
‘The King’s Christmas’ projection on Norwich Castle, free, 16 November – 5 January
In 1121, 900 years ago, King Henry I chose Norwich Castle for his Christmas Court. In celebration of this, Norwich Castle will be adorned by beautiful 70ft projections telling the story of this royal visit. You’ll be wowed by the stunning and intricate illuminations on this medieval landmark – so make sure to grab a hot chocolate or mulled wine from Norwich Market to keep you warm and take your time watching the projections. The best place to stand? Norwich City Memorial Gardens or Castle Meadow.
Christmas at the Castle: The Story of the King, adults £6.70, children £6.40, 20 – 30 December
Dig deeper into the story of King Henry I with a majestic programme of activities, perfect for families. Sit back and enjoy a dramatic performance as the King and Queen tell you their story, follow a royal trail of treasures around the museum, explore the noble ‘play-table’ and even visit the selfie station. Activities included with price of admission.
Christmas Crown Trail, free, 16 November – 5 January
In partnership with Norfolk Museums Service, and to commemorate King Henry’s visit, Norwich Business Improvement District and VisitNorwich present the Christmas Crown Trail! Over 80 businesses across the city centre have hidden crowns in their windows and in store displays for eager hunters to find. There are four different trails you can take, so take your pick and go on a journey around the city, discovering new places and sights. Pick up a trail map from our City Hosts (you’ll find them in blue tabards), or from our pop-up stall at Norwich Market, ‘Journey Through Christmastime’. Look out for crowns there, and enjoy the mini festive art installation, which is filled with images of Norwich at Christmas throughout the years. (Open 17 November – 17 December, Monday – Saturday)
Countdown to Christmas, free, 21 November – 19 December
Every Sunday in the lead up to Christmas, make sure to head out into the city to experience free festive performances! Run by Norwich City Council, Countdown to Christmas will have everything from gospel choirs and cheeky elves causing mischief, to Mexican Mariachi bands! Perfect for families to enjoy.
Christmas Quest – Elf Rescue, £9.99
Help Santa save Christmas by freeing 10 elves trapped by the devious Jack Frost! This wonderful winter outdoor activity is ideal for families with children 7 years old and up, or teams of adults wanting to take a festive foray into the city! This lively game from City Escape Games will take you on a tour of 10 iconic Norwich locations, with a treasure trail of puzzles to solve.
Christmas is the perfect time of year to cosy up in a theatre and enjoy a brilliant show or two. For the little ones, there’s My First Panto: Cinderella Rocks at The Garage (26 November – 16 January, from £8.50). This telling of Cinderella is aimed at ages 7 and below with singing, dancing and laughter! Be mesmerised by puppetry and live music in the highly-visual Pinocchio at Norwich Puppet Theatre (17 December – 4 January, £9), or why not enjoy a classic Christmas panto with Dick Whittington and his Cat at Norwich Theatre Royal? With a host of TV stars, a lockdown YouTube sensation and Norwich’s favourite pantomime dame, this isn’t one to be missed! (11 December – 9 January, from £18.50).
Let’s face it. One of the best things about Christmas is having the excuse to go on a shopping spree! Whether you’re looking to treat yourself or find the perfect unique gifts for friends and family, Norwich has the perfect mix of independent, pop-up, and high-street chain stores – meaning you can find everything you need! And Norwich has just made it into Which? in their latest Best Cities for Shopping in the UK list.
Filled with independent stores that boast unique gifts, this is the place to go for cute jewellery, art, baked treats and more. Head to Lisa Angel for personalised jewellery and accessories, the Norwich Art Shop for affordable and beautiful art, and Athena Games for board games (if you can’t get family and friends together for a game or two at Christmas then when can you?).
Vintage clothing, international food, wine, cheese, gifts – need we say more? Norwich Market is filled with stalls offering up a whole host of treats, making it the perfect place to go hunting for Christmas presents.
On a busy day Christmas shopping, it’s handy to have everything you need in one place. And there’s plenty of choice when it comes to shopping centres and flagship department stores in Norwich. There’s Chantry Place, which has a newly opened Hamley’s store, and Castle Quarter which boasts leisure facilities such as a cinema, bowling lanes and more. John Lewis is brilliant for those needing new electricals, homeware or stylish clothing, and Jarrold is Norwich’s independent department store, selling everything from fashion and furniture to beauty and books.
The Royal Arcade
Adorned with Christmas wreaths and lights, you’ll want to take a stroll down The Royal Arcade this season. Don’t forget to pop into Lady B Loves for retro fashion, Sonkai for bespoke jewellery and Langleys for toys and games.
You’re likely to find a pop-up Christmas market in Norwich almost every weekend in the run-up to Christmas. And if you’re keen to hit as many Christmas markets in Norwich as you can – check out our round-up of the Top 12 markets in Norwich and Norfolk. We’d definitely recommend making time for The Festive Fair at The Forum– as featured in The Times Best Christmas Markets in the UK list (25-28 Nov). Over 4 days pop-up stalls and artisan food carts will be selling East Anglian goods, while the Pavilion Brass Quintet serenades shoppers with festive tunes. It’s certainly not one to be missed!
Eat, drink and be merry is the saying – and there’s no better place to do that than in Norwich.
The Assembly House
Narnia afternoon tea anybody? With delights such as Raspberry Snowflake Dodger and Snowy Black Forest Cheesecake accompanied by Turkish Delight cocktails, mocktails and hot chocolate – you’ll truly feel indulged. You can even book to enjoy your afternoon tea in your own private pop-up igloo in the gardens. £35 per person and £22 for under 12s. Available 1 November – 2 January.
A food experience with a Christmas festival vibe, Mysabar is a definite must-do this season. Under the lights of Norwich Castle, you’ll find a range of local traders serving up delicious food, an 18-tap bar with craft beers, ciders, and more, and plenty of heaters to keep you toasty and warm. Until 2 January.
Although there’s plenty to keep you busy and entertained in Norwich, you may want to extend your trip to make the most out of the festive fun happening in Norfolk. Take a day trip out to Holkham Hall to see the grand estate by candlelight, take part in a wreath workshop, or visit their festive Christmas gift market. Or why not head to Thursford to take a magical walk through the Enchanted Journey of Light (until 28 December, £18), or to see some dazzling singing, dancing and comedy at the Christmas Spectacular show (9 November – 23 December, from £38).