Top 10 quirky Norfolk events
World Snail Racing Championships at Congham
The World Snail Racing Championships are held every year on the Grimston cricket pitch next to Congham Hall in west Norfolk. The competition has been running for more than a quarter of a century (annually, not the same one!) and was started in the 1960s after founder Tom Elwes witnessed an event in France. The 1995 race saw the setting of the benchmark time of two minutes by a snail named Archie and the 2008 World Championships was won by Heikki Kovalainen, a snail named after the Formula One racing driver in a time of three minutes, two seconds. The event is held on the third Saturday of July.
Greasy Pole competition at Blakeney
If you're after a dirty weekend in Norfolk, then the famous Greasy Pole competition at Blakeney Quay in north Norfolk is for you. Imagine walking the plan before ending up in the water – well, this is walking a greasy pole and ending up in a lot of mud (the lower the tide, the muddier it gets!). The event also includes a Gillie (crab) catching competition, sand castle building, aquatic sports including tug of war and swimming races. There's usually a barbeque on the quay too. The competition is held during July or August. Times depend on tides and weather.
Wiggenhall Wave in the Fens
If you've heard of the Severn Bore, you’ll be interested in Norfolk's own version, the Wiggenhall Wave in west Norfolk. When the moon's high over the Fens and the biggest tides turn from ebb to flood, a thunderous torrent of white water more than a metre high can drive inland all the way to Denver. Sometimes the Wiggenhall Wave is no more than a gentle rolling wall of water, but if you're lucky you'll catch what the fenfolk call Eagres, a wave so big it can be surfed. Local legend has it that Fens giant Thomas Hickathrift was wading through the river, catching seals for his tea, when the Eagre came up and carried him to Ten Mile Bank.
Out There International Festival at Great Yarmouth
The Out There International Festival in Great Yarmouth is fast-becoming the UK's leading event for circus and street arts, featuring some of the world's finest, funniest, most mind-boggling, jaw dropping shows. You're guaranteed to leave having experienced the very weirdest and most wonderful acts you’ll ever have seen, with madcap mayhem and explosive carnival celebrations. Events take place in St. George's Park, the Golden Mile and around the town – and are mostly free! Out There 2015 is on September 18-20.
Abbey of St Benet's thanksgiving
The Abbey of St Benet's in the Norfolk Broads was the only one in England not officially dissolved during the suppression of the monasteries under Henry VIII so each year an open-air service is held in commemoration and thanksgiving at the ruins. The Bishop of Norwich is the Abbot and the Vicar of nearby Horning is the Prior of St Benet's and together they hold an ecumenical service at which all are welcome to attend, arriving by Norfolk Wherry (the site is easiest approached by river) to meet the Brothers of St Benet's, members of a variety of local churches and the Salvation Army Band who provide the music. It’s held on the first Sunday in August.
Jack Valentine - unique to Norfolk
Not only did the tradition of sending cards to sweethearts on February 14 start in Norwich, but Norfolk also has Jack Valentine! If you hear a rap on your door late at night on the evening of February 13th and open it to find a present on the doorstep, then it would have been left by Jack Valentine. Some cynics say it’s parents getting their neighbours to leave a present for children, but we think that's like saying Father Christmas isn't real. Pish and twaddle… it's our man Jack. The picture above shows him caught on CCTV in Norwich.
Sheringham Lobster Potties
The Sheringham 'Lobster Potties', dancing the traditional Norfolk Morris style, were formed in 1986 and went on to start the Potty Festival, which now attracts groups from across the UK and Europe. Using the Lobster Public House (of course!) as their headquarters, and being considered by some as 'potty', the name Lobster Potties was obvious! Look out also for Wells Pirate Festival too (a-hah, me hearties!), a three day festival with fun events including pirates on the park, boat trips to pirate island, a pirate fete and a smugglers ball. Get ready to swash your buckle.
Hunstanton Kite Festival
Possibly the most colourful event in East Anglia is the Hunstanton Kite Festival, held annually at Smithdon High School, Downs Road. Of course, you’re saying, 'Kites? In Norfolk? But Norfolk's flat!' Yes, if you believe Noel Coward in True Lives then yes, Norfolk is 'very flat'. But clearly Coward had never been to north Norfolk, where the cliffs at Sunny Hunny are perfect for kite flying. The event also has classic cars and a motor cycle rally and is held in August.
Fairy Fair and Real Halloween
We all know that fairies live in the forest and for two days in May every year Holt Hall in north Norfolk hosts the Fairy Fair, with magical workshops, magic wand and potion making, secret dens, trolls, storytelling, a fairy queen and pirate fete. The fairies also put on the Real Halloween every year too… yes, the fairies, get with the programme... as featured in our Visit Norfolk film above.
Thursford Christmas Spectacular
Where might you think the biggest Christmas Show in England is held every year? West End maybe? Nope, it's in north Norfolk and it's the Thursford Christmas Spectacular… reason enough to visit our county in the festive season. Set in the magical surroundings of mechanical organs and fairground carousels, with a cast of 130 professional singers, dancers and musicians – many of whom are West End performers – this 3 hour performance is an extravaganza of non-stop singing, dancing, music, humour and variety. It's a fast moving celebration of the festive season featuring an eclectic mix of both seasonal and year-round favourites, with famous and much-loved chart toppers being sung alongside traditional carols. It's the perfect way to put you in the mood for the Christmas celebrations.