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It’s July! So what’s on in Norfolk this month?

July already?! The weather might not have noticed, but the social calendar's full and celebrating summer. From outdoor theatre to bold exhibitions to brilliant makers' markets, via the return of a mega festival, here's what's on.

PICK OF THE MONTH

Latitude at Henham Park 22 — 25 July

OK, so it’s not strictly in Norfolk but as well as being a fabulous international event, packed with the very best in music, dance, comedy, poetry, theatre, literature, podcasts, family activities and wellness, Latitude is our local festival, a rite of passage. Our kids grow up here – sometimes faster than expected. Definitely wasn’t my toddler hiding under a chair watching a phenomenally lewd cabaret act. That must have been some other mother.

Babies with cheeks squashed by ear defenders evolve into exotic creatures vanishing into the woods at dusk, glittering like fireflies. Teens work here after A-Levels (remember those?) and some are so inspired they perform here. Magic happens in these summer fields. Emotions are liberated, we all love each other. Latitude, how we’ve missed you. There are still tickets –come and play!

EXHIBITIONS

Major works by celebrated British sculptor Tony Cragg are on show at fabulous Houghton Hall near Kings Lynn. The exhibition, curated by the artist himself, includes large-scale bronze and steel sculptures sited in the gardens and grounds, and smaller pieces shown in the State rooms and gallery spaces of the house. Several new works have been made specifically for the exhibition. My kids have already been and it’s a cracker. 19 May – 26 September 2021. Tickets aren’t the cheapest so make a day of it – booking info here.

Norwich based? Japanese-Swiss artist, Leiko Ikemura, presents a selection of paintings, sculptures, drawings and photography in her first UK exhibition, Usagi in Wonderland at The Sainsbury Centre. Ikemura has selected 50 works that span three decades of her career, with a dominant theme being the connectivity of all aspects of nature, human, animal, plant or mineral, in an eternal circle of life. Usagi, meaning ‘rabbit’ in Japanese, is a recurrent mystical motif in Ikemura’s work, representing rebirth, fertility and renewal. Coinciding with the Japan-UK Season of Culture, it’s on until 12 December. Tickets £8 and must be booked.

MUSIC

Taking place from 18-31 July, The King’s Lynn Festival features classical recitals, concerts, jazz, talks, walks and a 70th anniversary exhibition. Most events will be in three of the town’s historic churches – the Minster, St Nicholas’ Chapel and All Saints Church. Our top pick is sublime vocalist Vimala Rowe and John Etheridge, ‘one of the best guitarists in the world’. Quintessential jazz for a summer night. Full disclosure – Vimala is an old friend. And that woman’s voice is a swooning joy. They’re on 23 July. Tickets from £10 here.

THEATRE

If you join Heartbreak Productions in the woods at Holkham on Wed 28 July, you’re sure of a big surprise! 

It’s Grimm Night and the forest spirits are wandering abroad. Never heard of the Grimm? It used to live in the Black Forest, but now travels through forests across the UK looking for children’s voices to steal. To ward off this dastardly spectre we must gather to tell it the stories from whence it took its name – the Brothers Grimm. But in this fantastical world there are altered endings and a modern twist. Suitable for 6+. And it’s outside so bring stuff for English weather. Like an Ark. Adult tickets £15, Child: £10 (2-16 yrs) and Family (2+2): £45. No dogs. Too scary…

And speaking of scary, I don’t know what you think you know about string quartets, but forget it now. Internationally acclaimed Bowjangles is an irreverent, anarchic group mashing up music, theatre and comedy in a totally unique way. Fresh for 2021 is their new sci-fi horror musical comedy Dracula in Space. The intrepid foursome blast into outer space to meet a mysterious benefactor…but what happens when their lead violinist starts to act a little strangely? (WARNING: Contains scenes of graphic violins). 22 – 24 July at Sheringham Little Theatre.

DINOSAURS

Dippy the dinosaur is about 150 million years old which makes 900 year old Norwich Cathedral sound like a new build. That’s where the Natural History Museum’s iconic Diplodocus cast will take up residence from 13 July to 30 October 2021. There’s loads of fab info for keen Dino fans on the new Dippy microsite. Entry is free and those old bones will be popular so plan your visit or be scorned by your kids forever.

NORWICH T-REX TRAIL

GoGoDiscover is Break’s latest art trail in partnership with Wild in Art. Norwich has been stalked by gorillas, dragons, hares and now dinosaurs!

It features 21 individually designed T-Rex sculptures which have stomped through the streets of Norwich as a guided route to Norwich Cathedral and Dippy the Diplodocus. Explorers of all ages can have fun and learn more about the City while also raising vital money for vulnerable children and young people across the region. The Jurassic trail will be on the streets of Norwich from Monday 12 July until Saturday 11 September 2021.

CIRCUS

Who doesn’t love a circus? Circus Cortex is a modern Cirque show celebrating the energy of the street. This is circus with an urban vibe. Performers are skilled in Parkour, Tightrope, Pole,  BMX, Unicycle, Acrobatics and Dance, beating with the rhythm of the city. Perfect for the whole family from wide-eyed toddlers to skateboarding teens. Dates and venues here!

MARKETS

Oooh, we LOVE a market! Sod shopping online, let’s get up close and personal with the actual makers of the lovely stuff we covet.

North Norfolk Arts and Crafts Splendid Summer Fair is at Back to the Garden 24 & 25 July. The seventh summer gathering of the finest arts and makers of Norfolk showcases high quality goods, hand made with love. 100% of your money goes straight to local families and small businesses and generally supporting beautiful expressions of fine craftsmanship and creativity here in Norfolk! It’s all outside in the gorgeous gardens at wonderful organic farm shop and restaurant Back to the Garden. Loads of lovely food and super friendly atmosphere. You might even get all your shopping done early for that…um…winter festival.

Prints by Red K Elders

And specially for July and August, the Holt Sunday market is on every week before switching back to once a month in the autumn. Market Place and Star Plain close to vehicles for a day of Norfolk’s independent best. With brilliant regional makers, delicious street food traders, Vinyl DJs and buskers and many shops open too, it’s a triumph of indie spirit and our incredible community. Just fantastic!

GARDEN SHOW

Hollie-Blue Huntsman

Pick up summer plants, garden furniture, tips and tricks from some of the UK’s finest horticulturalists at The Norfolk Garden Show, 16 – 18 July 2021 at the Norfolk Showground, Norwich. Whether you have a bijou city courtyard or a rambling country garden the show is packed with everything to make your outside spaces heavenly. There’s great food too and what’s known in the trade as ‘alcoholic beverages’. My favourite part of gardening.

There’s entertainment for the whole family across the weekend too, including uplifting live music from soprano Hollie-Blue Huntsman.

GIN AND BEER

Who’s up for A Celebration of Gin! in the gardens of the King’s Head, Letheringsett on Saturday 17 July, 3pm ‘til late? Thought so…we all are! Sip your way through a summer afternoon on a ‘journey of Gin’. Probably the most beguiling phrase in the English language. Tantalise taste buds with divine Norfolk and British Gins, cocktails a go-go and gorgeous local grub from The Garden Shack. There’s live music from Jack Daniels – hang on, isn’t he a drink?! And if you have to take Grandpa, there’s real ale too. (OK, so we love an ale – but there’s all that delectable Gin!)

Oh, you do quite fancy a few ales? Then head to the Wildcraft Brewery where weekends are all about drinking beer in a field. Acoustic acts and chill out tunes summon a laid back rustic festival vibe thanks to local brewing and foraging heroes Mike and Mark. Mates, proper beery pints and awesome street food. Sorted. Back from 17 JulyFree entry but you have to register.

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BIRTHDAY PARTY

What’s SUP?! Launching a business in the middle of all the lunacy that was 2020 was pretty damn crazy, but Norfolk Paddleboards are going from strength to strength and it is all thanks to you lot, their incredibly well-balanced customers!

So they’re throwing an amazing Party Paddle on the water. Check out 3 fab sessions running on Saturday 17 July launching from The Red Lion pub in Norwich to celebrate a well-deserved 1st Birthday! Many happy returns Paddle people!

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