Have you been thinking about a weekend getaway in the New Year? Why not consider a break to the picturesque medieval city of Norwich?
There are plenty of exciting attractions to see in Norwich – not to mention, next February marks the final time that CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival Winter will make its way to the city, taking place at St Andrews & Blackfriars Hall.
If you’ve been putting off a visit, don’t miss the Festival’s last appearance in this picturesque city – make February 2019 the time to go! If you need more convincing, check out our list of fantastic Norwich attractions:
1) Norwich Castle
It’s hard to miss Norwich Castle when you visit: sat atop a hill looking over the city, this Norman fortification dominates much of the skyline, and has done so for over 900 years.
Originally built on the orders of William the Conqueror as a royal palace, and enduring a stint as the County Gaol in the 14th century, the Castle has been home to the Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery since 1894. In addition to learning about the Castle’s history, you can spend a fascinating day exploring galleries on Boudica, Anglo Saxons and Vikings, Fine and Decorative Art, and the Royal Norfolk Regiment.
Find out more: https://www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/norwich-castle
2) Norwich Cathedral/St John the Baptist Cathedral
Norwich is a city steeped in history and ancient architecture – and besides its castle, this is perhaps best exemplified by not just one, but two beautiful cathedrals.
Norwich Cathedral has the second largest cloisters in England (just behind Salisbury Cathedral), and the second tallest spire, which is 315 feet high. A fine example of Romanesque architecture, the Cathedral dates back to 1096 and is the most complete Norman Cathedral in England.
Just a 20 minute walk from Norwich Cathedral lies the Roman Catholic Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist. A more recent building, St John the Baptist Cathedral began construction in 1882 and achieved Cathedral status in 1976. It is home to the Duckett Library, a lending library home to around 5,000 religious publications on a wide range of topics. You can also take a tour up its tower – the 280 step climb to the top reveals a 360 degree view of the city.
3) Historic Norwich
Are you a keen history buff? There are plenty of historic, picturesque areas of Norwich to tide you over (and snap up on Instagram too!)
The area of Tombland was the activity centre of historic Norwich prior to the Normans arriving in 1066. It was once the main marketplace and hub of community life; the name itself derives from two Old English words meaning ‘open ground’, or an empty space. A stone’s throw away from Norwich Cathedral, nowadays, it is home to plenty of pubs and cafes, as well as nearby shops. Here, you can see the Erpingham Gate, the southernmost entrance to the Cathedral, decorated with figures of saints, a memorial to Edith Cavell, and the Tudor house that belonged to Augustine Steward, a wealthy cloth merchant and once Mayor of Norwich.
If it is the Tudors you are interested in, you would do well to visit Elm Hill, a historic cobbled lane less than five minutes from Tombland, dubbed ‘the most famous street in Norwich’. Here, you can explore quaint craft and antique shops, galleries, bookstores, tea shops, coffee houses and delis. Many of the buildings date back to the Tudor era, and it has even been talent-spotted by Hollywood – you might recognise the area from the 2007 film, Stardust.
4) Theatre Royal
The Norwich Theatre Royal has been bringing excellent theatre to East Anglia for over 250 years. Over 400,000 people visit the theatre annually, to watch 400 performances, ranging from shows for pre-school age children to grand opera, and everything in between.
In February 2019, the theatre will have a range of shows on, from Romeo & Juliet, to Calender Girls: The Musical, performances by the Richard Alston Dance Company, and an evening with the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes – perfect for a cultural excursion!
If you’re interested in a fun fact about the Theatre Royal – the magician Ching Lau Lauro, who was hugely popular in the 19th century, received his only bad review there, from the Norfolk Chronicle in 1828.
Find out more here: https://secure.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk/Online/default.asp
📝 If you're coming to see @glyndebourne's production of La Traviata: Behind the Curtain tonight, read information on road closures in the city centre for the Christmas Switch-On: https://t.co/WQKKDzzDsA pic.twitter.com/BCgCHtO9VO
— NorwichTheatreRoyal (@TheatreRNorwich) November 15, 2018
In addition to the historical and cultural sites of Norwich, there’s also plenty of opportunity to partake in a little retail therapy.
Norwich is home to Jarrolds, an independent flagship store that has been open since 1770. Here, you can find everything from fashion and food to books and beauty. The team of buyers work with local artisans, producers and brands to give a unique shopping experience.
You can also stop by The Lanes, a mainly pedestrianised series of alleyways, courtyards and open spaces not far from the City Hall. Here, there are over 300 independent retailers, cafés, restaurants, pubs and bars – guaranteed to have something for everyone.
6) Museum of Norwich
Dedicated to showing visitors the story of the city of Norwich, the Museum of Norwich features exhibits on the area’s industrial heritage, the Jacquard Loom, and even a recreated early 20th century chemist’s shop.
You can also learn about the building housing the museum – the Bridewell, which was once a house of correction and a prison – the exhibit even tells the tales of a few individuals who spent time there.
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Visit our sister museum The Museum of Norwich at The Bridewell. Open today 10am – 4.30pm The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell – discover the stories of a fine city. From Medieval to modern day, the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell tells the story of the city’s industries and the people who lived and worked here. From the textile trade which was at the heart of the city’s wealth, to the production of shoes, chocolate and mustard, the story of how Norwich constantly adapted to changing fortunes, and coped with two World Wars is told in ten galleries over two floors. A major refurbishment project completed in 2012 saw the installation of lifts, making the museum accessible to all. The galleries are packed with fascinating objects and engaging displays, with plenty of chances to get hands-on. Listen to audio diaries, watch an archive film in a recreated cinema, or play board games in a retro 1950s living room. Whether you are visiting for the day and want to an insight into the history of the city, or you have lived here all your life, the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell, at the heart of the @norwichlanes is a must-see. #museum #norwich #history #norwichlanes #heritage #architecture #medieval #norfolk #norwichcity #city #art #gallery
7) Visit Historic Pubs
Norwich is certainly not short on pubs – according to a recent study, it is in joint third place in the country for number of pubs per square mile, with a whopping 152.
25 of these establishments have made it into 2019’s Good Beer Guide – including the Murderers, a city centre free house with up to 10 real ales and a regular blues night. Officially, this pub is called The Gardener’s Arms – however, since a 19th-century landlord was convicted for the murder of his wife, it has been better known by its macabre nickname.
Other popular pubs are the Coach & Horses, a coaching inn not far from the football ground with a distinctive balcony, home to the Chalk Hill Brewery which you can book to tour, and Fat Cat, a beer-lover’s paradise that no visitor to Norwich should miss out on. The Cat has won CAMRA National Pub of the Year twice, and in addition to serving ales from the Fat Cat range, there are 10 regular and 20 guest beers from all over the UK, plus real ciders and several craft keg beers.
8) Dragon Hall
Don’t miss out on a trip to this fascinating, intriguingly-named attraction in Norwich. Yes, you really can see a dragon on your visit!
The Dragon Hall is a Grade 1 listed medieval trading hall, believed to date from roughly 1430. The Hall has a spectacular timber crown-post roof. There is also an intricately carved, painted dragon to be seen.
Aside from ancient historical connections, the Dragon Hall is also home to the National Centre for Writing – as such, it is not open to the public every day of the week. Be sure to check out their website if you are interested in a visit: https://www.dragonhallnorwich.org.uk/
9) The Broads/Wensum Walk
If you are an outdoorsy type, and love exploring the beauty of nature, Norwich has got options for more al fresco activities too.
Norfolk is of course home to the Broads National Park, a network of navigable rivers and lakes.
One such river is the River Wensum, which can be navigated through the urban centre of Norwich and past the Cathedral.The nearby University of East Anglia is also home to one of these broads, which is well known for its bird life and intersects with the UEA Wildlife Trail, which follows existing paths on the edge of the campus and along the banks of the River Yare. It explains the biodiversity of the area, identify wildlife and show how the conservation of the site is managed.
10) Great British Beer Festival Winter
Of course – how could you miss the Great British Beer Festival Winter’s last year in Norwich?
The medieval City of Norwich hosts the Great British Beer Festival Winter 2019 for its third and final year, across 19-23 February. Having been hosted at the Halls, Norwich since 2017, the festival will move to a different CAMRA location in 2020. Don’t miss out on your last chance to enjoy Norwich’s hospitality!
From popular summer golden and light ales to ruby and dark ales, foreign beers and ciders, you can find beer for every taste served in the magnificent medieval friary halls in the heart of Norwich. Local pubs will also be hosting The Fringe event, with special events throughout the month of February. Enjoy the music nights, and make sure you sample winners of the Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition, including the 2019 winner.
Get your tickets today: https://winter.gbbf.org.uk/
— GBBF Winter (CAMRA) (@GBBFWinter) February 24, 2018
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