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40+ things to do in Norfolk this December

What a festive feast we have for you this month! From Christmas markets and light trails to the latest concerts, art fairs and shows, here's the best of Norfolk this December...

MUSEUMS

Lull: listening session, Lynn Museum, King’s Lynn, 4 Dec

As part of the Norwich and Norfolk Festival, take a winter walk through King’s Lynn guided by audio artwork Lull, by French & Mottershead, which describes how plants, animals and fungi bide their time waiting for spring. The walk is 43 minutes long (so the age limit is set at 10+), and you’ll need headphones and access to Spotify, iTunes or Google Podcasts.

Castle 900: Illuminating the Christmas court of King Henry I, Norwich Castle, until 5 Jan

This Christmas, the West Wall of Norwich Castle becomes an illuminated projection screen telling the story of the visit of King Henry I and his new queen Adeliza to Norwich Castle at Christmas in 1121. There’s even a special medieval soundtrack you can listen along to while you gaze on the illuminations (above).

The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Book Artists, Time & Tide, Great Yarmouth, until 23 Jan

Nostalgia alert! Browse hundreds of vintage Ladybird books and original watercolour illustrations from 1940 to 1975 to find out what made these picture books such a childhood staple for many.

The Thetford Treasure, Ancient House, Thetford, until 29 Jan

If you’re a magpie like moi, come and take a peek at a selection of the so-called Thetford Treasure, a horde of items buried on Gallows Hill back in 390 AD and only discovered in 1979 by metal detectorists Arthur and Greta Brooks.

Princess Catherine exhibition, Ancient House, Thetford, until 26 Feb

A fascinating exhibition about Princess Catherine Duleep Singh, a member of the royal family that had ruled the Sikh Empire of Punjab in northern India before it became part of the British Empire in 1849. Not only was she a campaigner for women’s rights, she also helped Jewish people escape from Nazi Germany – this new exhibition marks the 150th anniversary of her birth, so it’s the perfect time to learn more.

Gardens: Sowing Seeds, Growing Stories, Lynn Museum, King’s Lynn, until 12 June

This headline exhibition is perfect for you if you love nothing more than a potter about the green spaces of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, as it explores the history and archeology of local parks, allotment gardens and private gardens.

THEATRE

After pantos? Check out our Norfolk round-up here!

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, Norwich Theatre Playhouse, until 5 Dec

Produced by the same team behind Muddy favourite musical Six, this new pop-filled show based on Kate Pankhurst’s award-winning book promises to be, er, ‘kickass-pirational’, and takes us on a musical tour of some of feminism’s greatest heroes. Seriously catchy stuff.

Beastly Belle, St George’s Theatre Great Yarmouth, 20 Dec

Littlies aged 4 and up will love this retelling of Beauty and the Beast, not least because there are some serious puppets involved. As well as puppetry, expect film projections and an original musical score inspired by the iconic era of 1920s cinema.

Donimo and Monroe Variety Show Christmas Special, St George’s Theatre Great Yarmouth, 21 Dec

Delightful duo, comedian Donimo and vocalist and saxophonist Monroe, have racked up a lot of names between them – they’ve played alongside the likes of Kylie Minogue, Stevie Wonder and the Rolling Stones, and for the British royal family and the Sheik of Dubai. Now it’s your chance to catch them for yourselves with their Christmas special at St George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth.

Thursford Christmas Spectacular, until Dec 23

Thursford Christmas Spectacular

The big one! This all-singing, all-dancing variety show has a cast of over 130, and more sequins and feather headdresses than a Strictly special. Ticket holders to this event also get a discount on Thursford’s Enchanted Journey of Light, paying only a tenner.

Jack Frost, Norwich Theatre, Norwich, 18 – 23 Dec

Moon on a Stick returns to Norwich Theatre to bring the story of Jack Frost to life with their one-of-a-kind puppetry, shadow play, song and interactive theatre. Running at just 45 minutes long and recommended for ages 3 and up, it’s the perfect short show for the family.

Cromer Pier Christmas Show, until 30 Dec

There’ll be music, comedy and magic in spades at this family-friendly show on Cromer Pier. Expect plenty of glitzy costumes, full-on dance numbers, and festive cheer thanks to local boy, host Olly Day.

Christmas Spectacular Circus and Water Show, The Hippodrome Circus, Great Yarmouth, 11 Dec – 9 Jan

This Norfolk tradition is back, and bigger than ever! One of the biggest circus shows in all of Europe, the Christmas spectacular includes song, dance, plenty of magic and of course acrobatics, all centred around a giant pool.

MUSIC

Bongo’s Bingo Christmas Special and Winter Wonderland, Gorleston-on-Sea, 10 Dec and 21 Dec

The country’s best rave-bingo mash-up is holding two Christmas special shows this month, so get your best baubles on and get ready for naughty elves and cheesy sing-alongs galore.

Malcolm Arnold Centenary Concert, St Andrew’s Hall Norwich, 11 Dec

Fans of the Norwich Phil will want to grab seats for this centenary concert celebrating 100 years of Sir Malcolm Arnold, an iconic name when it comes to twentieth-century British classical music.

Canine Carol Service, Holkham Hall, Wells-next-the-Sea, 12 Dec

Who says your four-legged friends can’t join in the festive fun? This short outdoor service includes carols, readings, poetry and prayer – perfect for combining with a bracing dog walk around Holkham’s grounds.

Christmas Classics with Strings Attached, The Forum Norwich, 12 Dec

The perfect night out with friends. The Gary Winter Band, with arrangements by musical director Mike West, put five musicians, three vocalists and a quartet to work to bring you all your favourite retro Christmas classics.

Swing into Christmas, The Forum Norwich, 19 Dec

The Jonathan Wyatt Big Band are back for their yearly antics at The Atrium in The Forum, Norwich. Expect a mix of holiday classics, big band covers of modern Christmas favourites and more to get you grooving in your seat.

The Phil’s Family Christmas, St Andrew’s Hall Norwich, 21 Dec

It’s not Christmas without a good singalong, so why not join your voice with the 100-strong choir at Norwich Philharmonic’s festive special? Tickets to this show sell out like hot mince pies (which, incidentally, they’ll be selling in the Cloisters), so pick them up ASAP. Please not, this show is not suitable for under 5s.

G4 Christmas, St Andrew’s Hall Norwich, 22 Dec

If festive harmonies that jingle your bells, you need to snap up tickets for G4’s biggest and best Christmas tour yet. For mega-fans, there are also meet and greet tickets available.

ART & CRAFTS

Art Fair East, St Andrew’s Hall Norwich, 2-5 Dec

One of the largest exhibitions of this kind outside London, Art Fair East presents hundreds of artists both local and international. There’ll be a massive range of artwork available to buy, from affordable prints to serious investments, and gallery specialists on hand to advise on your next arty buy.

Eco Wreath-Making Workshop, Holkham Hall, Wells-next-the-Sea, 6 and 13 Dec

Still putting the finishing touches on your decs? Join Natalie of The Wild Folk Florist and create your own sustainable, fully biodegradable Christmas wreath using freshly cut and dried materials from Holkham Estate and the Walled Garden. All materials, plus a mince pie and festive drink, included!

Silk Scarf Printing Workshop, Holkham Hall, Wells-next-the-Sea, 8 Dec

For a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas gift, you can dye your own sustainable silk scarf under the expert guidance of Libby Mata Harii from The Way of Tea. All materials will be provided, plus a mince pie and drink to enjoy while you create your fashion masterpiece.

Silversmithing Workshop, Holkham Hall, Wells-next-the-Sea, 15 and 22 Dec

Forget tinsel – this is some Christmas sparkle we can get behind Contemporary silversmith Suzanne Seed will teach you how to design and make your very own silver ring (the perfect piece for those work parties), and a mince pie and glass of fizz is included in the ticket price.

FAMILY

The Norfolk Lights Express, Sheringham, until 3 Dec

All aboard! A Muddy favourite since its first journey in 2019, The Norfolk Lights Express sees a beautifully lit steam train chugging from Sheringham to Holt and back. Buy hot soup, booze, homemade cakes and more from The Old Luggage Office for the trip.

Luminate Sandringham, Sandringham Estate, until 19 Dec

Luminate Sandringham

Whisk the kids away to Her Majesty’s private Estate for a whimsical illuminated trail, vintage fairground (new for 2021!) and festive food and drink from Sandringham Courtyard. Save a roasted marshmallow for us!

Christmas at Stranger’s Hall, Norwich, 5, 12 and 19 Dec

Grab the family and head to Stranger’s Hall to see the festive decs in the Great Hall, tour a Victorian suite of rooms and see the tale of St Nicholas and the Wishing Tree played out by the Fools Puppet Theatre Companie – all accompanied by the sweet (?) sounds of the hurdy-gurdy. Well, it beats Cliff Richard!

A Christmas morning at Blickling, nr Aylsham, until 19 Dec

Enjoy the sights and smells of a Victorian Christmas in this gorgeously-decorated National Trust property. Not only can you take a tour around the Christmas decs, there’s shopping, festive food and a winter wander trail with Percy the Park Keeper for kids.

Thursford’s Enchanted Journey of Light, until 28 Dec

This truly magical light trail is back! Weave through the Lantern Light Extravaganza and into the Santa’s Magical Journey Building where you can see Santa’s elves hard at work. Finish off with a visit to the vintage outdoor funfair and indulge in the outdoor bar and food.

CHRISTMAS MARKETS

Global Village Christmas Market, The Forum Norwich, 2-4 Dec

Pick up a gift (or five) from this eco-friendly, fair trade fair in The Atrium. On Thursday and Friday the market is indoor-only, but visit on Saturday and there’ll be extra stalls outside, with Christmas carol singers, food and mulled wine.

Christmas Craft Fair, Great Yarmouth Town Hall, 6-10 Dec

Pop along to the town hall in Great Yarmouth between 10am and 4.30pm to browse the handcrafted items for sale at their Christmas fair, including original artworks created by members of Great Yarmouth Guild of Artists and Craftsmen.

King’s Lynn Christmas Market, 11 and 12 Dec

No need to freeze at this year’s Christmas market, as it’s all indoors! The Vancouver Quarter of King’s Lynn Town Centre will be transformed into a Christmas scene, hosting up to 25 stall holders each day.

Jabbawockycrafts Christmas Craft and Gift Fair, The Forum Norwich, 11 and 18 Dec

This pop-up Christmas mini market from Jabbawockycrafts and Paul Macro Photography is popular with locals and has an ever-changing selection of local companies. Take a look at the line-up to see who you can expect to see on the day you visit!

Modern Country Crafts Christmas Craft & Gift Fayre, The Forum Norwich, 17 and 18 Dec

From candles to coats, bath bombs to bauble earrings, there’s sure to be something at this crafter’s market to tick off your Christmas list.

Farmers’ Market Christmas Food and Gift Event, Creake Abbey, Fakenham, 18 Dec

For their final farmers’ market of the year, Creake Abbey are holding a food and gift event, with plenty of local farmers and producers on hand with their festive offerings. The Courtyard shops will also be open for gift-buying as well as food and drink.

Christmas Food, Drink and Gift Market, Holkham Hall, Wells-next-the-Sea, 18 and 19 Dec

The list of delicious indies exhibiting at this Christmas fair is almost as long as Santa’s! Expect all the festive classics as well as one-of-a-kind local flavours, such as Bakeshack’s curry doughnuts, Ubercorn’s Christmas popcorn and Cheeky Nibble’s Victoria sponge granola.

OUTDOORS

Tractor Trailer Tour, Holkham Hall, Wells-next-the-Sea, 2, 9 and 16 Dec

Wrap up warm and hop on a wildlife-spotting tractor tour around the grounds of Holkham Hall, including the rarely explored south of Holkham Park, where a fantastic forestry project is taking place on the South Drive. Ticket prices include a hot drink and mince pie, and blankets are provided on the trailer, but please note this event is not suitable for children.

Christmas Lantern Parade, Great Yarmouth, 15 Dec

The town’s yearly lantern parade is back, with over 200 handmade lanterns expected to light up the marketplace. The parade kicks off at 6pm, and will finish at Great Yarmouth Minster ahead of the carol service. There are also free lantern-making workshops taking place during the day if your kiddos want to join in.

Garden of Lights at Blickling, nr Aylsham, until 19 Dec

One of our favourite local light trails! Start your tour in the magically lit walled garden, before discovering the garden of lights and lit acorns on the Parterre. Warm drinks and snacks will be served in the Stables, or you can head to the Garden Party Bar on the front drive for a glass of fizz or cocktail.

FOOD

Christmas Patisserie Demonstration, The Assembly House Norwich, 5 Dec

As the former head of pastry at Claridges (hello, dream job), The Assembly House’s Mark Mitson certainly has some tricks up his sugar-dusted sleeves! Book now to learn some of his sweet treat secrets.

The Greatest Christmas, Barnham Broom, 2-23 Dec

The Greatest Christmas

Barnham Broom’s glitzy Christmas dinner party in their big top includes a delicious three-course dinner with drinks before tripping the light fantastic in the Barford suite and marquee. Depending on which date you attend, there’ll either be a DJ or a live band, so be sure to check on booking.

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