Read on for more about the wide range of Christmas events and activities taking place in Norfolk in 2023...
There is so much for families to see and do in Norfolk this festive season. From theatre, to Father Christmas based experiences.
Sleeping Beauty, the Fairy's Tale: Norwich Theatre Royal: 9th December – 7 January
The magic and the mayhem of the pantomime returns to the stage this festive season with Sleeping Beauty, The Fairy's Tale - on at Norwich Theatre Royal between 9 Dec – 7 Jan. This is more than just the story of Sleeping Beauty! Get ready to see the other side of Sleeping Beauty, the Fairy's tale. Join in and learn how the Queen and Fairy embark on a journey to save the Sleeping Beauty, with a prince in tow and despite the efforts of the Evil Fairy.
For more information or to book, visit norwichtheatre.org
NEW for 2023 – the award-winning BeWILDerwood Presents Christmas - A Sparkly Light & Panto is coming to BeWILDerwood Norfolk!
This festive season venture along a Sparkly Light Trail, as you spot Christmas crackers, a giant Christmas pudding, silly snowmen plus lots, lots more! Head over to the Storytelling Stage to catch the mini BeWILDermas Pantomime full of festive cheer and fun for the whole family. Plus, you’ll even catch a glimpse of Santa Claus himself!
At just £15.50 per person, they recommend booking your tickets soon to avoid disappointment as tickets for this magical event are already selling fast!
Head to bewilderwood.co.uk to get yours.
Coming up at Bure Valley Railway
Noel Night Train at Bure Valley Railway
Enjoy Aylsham Station all lit up and decorated, whilst listening to Aylsham Brass Band playing festive favourites, before boarding the special evening train for a 60 minute journey by steam through Norfolk's night sky.
Included in the price of your ticket is not only your train travel, but festive refreshments, which can be enjoyed on the train and a special 10% discount on any purchases from our shop during the evening (excludes model railway items)
NB: Santa will not be present as he is busy preparing for our Festive Express Trains for the little ones!
Festive Express at Bure Valley Railway
Join Bure Valley Railway this festive season for a traditional Christmas experience for all the family. Advanced booking is essential.
The Festive Express is a one-hour experience from Aylsham Station and includes festive refreshments, a 30-minute steam train ride and a visit to see Santa in his grotto. Each child will receive a personalised present from Santa himself!
Festive Express trains are running on selected dates, up to and including Christmas Eve. Ticket price is £22..00 per person (Adult/Child)
Mince Pie Specials . . . at Bure Valley Railway
Santa is off for a well-deserved rest, and you can wind down after the Christmas festivities too! With heated carriages, you can get away from the repeats on TV and bring the family and friends to the Bure Valley Railway and enjoy a steam train ride through nine miles of Norfolk rural winter countryside.
A free mince pie is available for every fare-paying passenger at the Whistlestop Café at Aylsham Station. Trains are running from both Aylsham and Wroxham from 27th December 2023 to 3rd January 2024.
Adult Return £19:00. Child Return £10.00. Under 5’s travel free!
Find out more about all of the experiences via the website - www.bvrw.co.uk
Church Farm Stow Bardolph
Christmas at Church Farm is always a wonderful time to take the whole family to visit Church Farm. Father Christmas will be in residence from 30th November in his magical woodland retreat. You can visit the ‘real life’ nativity scenes with their resident animals in starring roles! You will also receive a warm welcome from the elves and the white bearded gentleman. Lots of activities, indoor and outdoor play areas, mini Christmas outdoor market, gift shop and tearoom with yummy treats. This all makes a great day out!
Pre book tickets on the website www.churchfarmstowbardolph.co.uk
Santa events at Highway Garden and Leisure
Magical Adventure Santa's Grotto. Help Santa retrieve presents that have fallen from his sleigh by visiting magical worlds. Your visit will take you through the night sky, rabbit tunnels, enchanted woodlands, icy caves and mystical lands, ending with a trip to Santa’s grotto where each child will be given a gift and have a chat with the big guy himself!
With Breakfast with Santa, enjoy a festive morning with your family where Santa will visit your table for a chat and a child's gift will be delivered.
Afternoon Tea with Santa will see Santa visiting your table to have a chat and a giggle with a special Afternoon Tea and a child's gift delivered to your table.
Find out more at www.highwaygardencentre.co.uk/events
Recycle more this Christmas!
Did you know, we throw away 30% more rubbish at Christmas?
Food packaging is a huge contributor to this, but a lot of it can be recycled. For example, mince pie packaging – the cardboard boxes, plastic trays and foil cases can all be recycled – it’s just the mince pie itself that can’t! Please make sure that all items are clean and dry before placing them in your recycling bin.
For further information, top tips and ideas please visit www.norfolkrecycles.com
Jingle your way through Thetford Forest: Sunday 3rd December
Get your running shoes out, your Christmas Santa hat on and join Big C Cancer Charity as they jingle through Thetford Forest for a festive 2.5k or 5k family fun challenge. Whether you want to walk or run the route, wrist bands with jingle bells will recreate that wonderful Christmas sound of Santa’s sleigh. Then take in the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas with a festive market, organised by Forestry England. With mulled wine, festive bakes, music and a variety of craft stalls, it’s the perfect opportunity for a spot of Christmas shopping. All proceeds from the Jingle Jangle challenge will go towards helping support local people affected by cancer across Norfolk and beyond.
Entry fees are Adults - £15, children - £1.
Find out more at www.big-c.co.uk (search Jingle Jangle)
Fun for all the family at Mattishall Golf Club
Pick up a putter, grab a score card and start putting your way around their 9-hole fun and challenging Indoor Mini Golf course this festive season. It’s sure to entertain you all; and don’t forget to take that all-important photo for the ‘gram on their floral photo wall before or after your game. Suitable for 5yrs+. The fun doesn’t stop there as they have plenty of extra fun and games for you to enjoy, with the magic pond, dinosaur, skyscraper or nearest the pin games on their Trackman Simulators. As well as their function room which has been kitted out with a table tennis, pool table, bouncy castle and many more fun games.
More information is available at www.mattishallgolfclub.co.uk
Help grant a rescued horse’s wish this Christmas
All the rescued horses and donkeys of Redwings Horse Sanctuary want this Christmas is the chance to continue living a life free of fear and neglect. Help make their wish come true by sponsoring one of the charity’s adorable Adoption Stars. There are more than 20 beautiful horses, ponies and donkeys to choose from, each with their own moving story to tell.
From gentle giant Shire cross Fox to adorable donkey Dotty, from mini but mighty Sampson to real life ‘Black Beauty’ Maya, there’s an array of wonderful characters enabling everyone to find the perfect new friend for themselves or a loved one! Sponsorship costs from just £2 a month and every penny goes towards their care and that of their four-legged friends at the Charity.
To sponsor a Redwings Adoption Star this Christmas, head to https://www.redwings.org.uk/ or call 01508 505246
Christmas at Norfolk Museums
Get festive with events and activities across the county this winter - from a new exhibition at Lynn Museum celebrating the beloved children’s book, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, to Victorian festivities at Elizabethan House, wintery trails at Ancient House and Norwich Castle and a chance to see Strangers’ Hall decked in traditional greenery. Time and Tide is offering a free musical evening, plus hands on activities too.
A Norfolk Museums Pass gives unlimited admissions to all 10 Norfolk Museums and makes a great gift too! Visit the website for details.
For more information about events at all the museums, visit museums.norfolk.gov.uk.
Christmas at The Bug Parc
The Bug Parc has some exciting fun-filled things to do in December during their Christmas opening hours. As well as the large selection of exotic tropical invertebrates on show, they have their famous “bug-eating “ challenge ….. are you brave enough to try it ? They also have their fantastic trails searching for the Christmas spiders hidden around the Parc…. Solve the clues, find all the spiders and get entry into the prize draw to win lots of fun prizes. With a photo opportunity in the sleigh pulled by a spider and their Christmas wish tree, there's lots to do.
Find out more at www.thebugparc.com
Christmas shows at The Garage, Norwich
Pinocchio thought life would be better with no strings to hold him down, to make him fret, or make him frown. But being human comes with a heap of different ties and he soon feels the pull of being a puppet again. Especially when sly Fox starts toying with his emotions.
A Pinocchio Adventure is a new magical musical adventure for ages 5-8 from The Garage Norwich and All-In Productions. You wood-knot want to miss it. Catch it from 14-24 December. There’s also My First: The Night Before Christmas for ages 0-4, from 28 November to 31 December.
Bressingham is getting ready for a magical winter!
Join in for the Bressingham Nights event to experience the three railways at night along with some beautiful illuminations. This takes place on selected evenings in November.
Plus, their Christmas events are the perfect way to get your family in the festive mood! Visit Santa’s grotto, go for a ride on their Christmas train and experience all the magical decorations throughout the museum.
For more information or to book tickets, visit www.bressingham.co.uk
Christmas Lights Switch-On, Markets and Lantern Parades
Although the big build up to Christmas Day starts from the autumn, the real fun begins when towns, villages and cities switch-on their Christmas lights and host festive events.
Many mark the occasion with lantern parades, music from brass bands and dress the streets in bright illuminations, and some places hold themed Christmas markets following traditions of days gone-by.
PTA Christmas Fayres and School Nativities
Schools are incredibly busy places in the run up to Christmas, with many PTA’s holding Christmas fayres, which are huge money-raisers for the schools – for extra Christmas Fair ideas for your PTA event see www.ptasocial.com/christmas-fair-ideas.
Whilst for many parents, one of the best bits about Christmas, that is the most heart-warming of all, is watching the brilliant school performances or nativity plays and listening to the children sing. Don’t miss it!
Reduce, reuse and upcycle your Christmas waste this festive season…
Have a go at getting the kids involved by making some DIY Christmas decorations. Cut out snowflakes to stick on the windows, stick cloves into oranges and bake until dry, and pick some holly and ivy to make table decorations and wreaths.
This can be a fantastic way to reduce your waste and costs, while having fun with the kids too.
As a nation, we use 83 square miles worth of gift wrap every festive season, but this doesn’t mean it needs to be scrapped.
Get the kids involved by cutting and sticking your leftover paper, gluing it into a scrapbook, and adding photos, words and decorations to create a family book of festive mementos.
DIY Decorations for the Tree and Home
Always eager to please, it’s no surprise that Santa’s hair has turned white as the finances at this time of year are often stretched and sometimes even he has to pull tightly on the reins. Still, he always manages to make Christmas dreams come true.
So, taking a giant leaf out of Santa’s book, you too can make amazing savings by making your own Christmas decorations for the home and tree.
Make even more savings by sending Christmas e-cards to friends and family instead of sending traditional cards. Notably, the ‘Elf Yourself’ digital Christmas cards are especially popular –www.elfyourself.com
Giving at Christmas
Christmas is truly the season of giving and there are so many ways families can give something back to the community or worthwhile charity.
Buying a Real Christmas Tree
What better way to celebrate the festive season than with the most glorious Christmas tree! Each tree species can be a little different in size, scent and needle retention, so here’s the Forestry Commission England’s guide to choosing the perfect Christmas tree:
Norway Spruce: Considered the traditional Christmas tree, the Norway Spruce is best known for its wonderful shape, abundance of branches and lovely ‘Christmassy’ scent.
Nordmann Fir: With its big needles which are lovely and soft, Nordmann Fir are perfect for those with young children. Having soft foliage and an even shape, it makes it a joy to decorate.
Lodgepole Pine: With the best needle retention of them all, Lodgepole Pines are perfect for those who like a long festive season. It has luscious long green needles with branches that point upwards which hold a wonderful pine scent.