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Experience Norfolk - 20 inspirational ideas to enjoy in 2020

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The days are slowly but surely getting longer and brighter so what better time to start thinking about new memories to make than now. That’s why we want you to Experience Norfolk!

Here are 20 amazing experiences you could have in Norfolk in 2020. Some are time specific, others can be enjoyed most of the year, but all are perfect for putting images on your Instagram account.

Snowdrops at Walsingham

Snowdrops

If you’re a galanthophile, a snowdrop enthusiast, then you can’t miss the flowers at Walsingham Abbey. From January to March you can wander 18 acres of deciduous woodland and along the banks of the River Stiffkey carpeted with snowdrops.

Famous for the wonderful ruins of the Priory of our Lady of Walsingham, one of the medieval world’s most important places of pilgrimage, there are both Anglican and Roman Catholic Shrines. While you’re here you could enjoy a ride on the world’s smallest public railway to Wells-next-the-Sea.

Walsingham Abbey Grounds

Enjoy Art Deco by the Sea at the Sainsbury Centre

Art Deco by the Sea

From February, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts outside Norwich have Art Deco by the Sea, an exciting new exhibition examining British coastal culture between the First and Second World Wars and the Art Deco style. The exhibition will explore how Art Deco transformed the British seaside in a new age of mass tourism.

Art Deco by the Sea

Best birdwatching in the UK

Birdwatching in west Norfolk

We think that Norfolk is the birdwatching capital of the UK, with Premier League birdwatching locations such as NWT Cley Marshes, RSPB Snettisham on The Wash  and Titchwell.

There's also the unique Broads National Park which has a nunber of reserves, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Welney, Pensthorpe Natural Park and Thetford Forest in the Brecks.

Birdwatching in Norfolk

More waterways than Amsterdam or Venice

Family on the Broads

With over 125 miles of navigable, lock-free waterways, the Broads are unique in that they’re the only National Park that is man-made! The result of the flooding of medieval peat diggings, the Broads are now a completely naturalised environment of lakes and rivers, with stunning scenery and wildlife. You can take a picnic boat for a day or hire a cruiser for a few days or a longer holiday. The Instagram image is at St Benet’s Abbey on the River Bure, the only one not officially dissolved during Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Explore the Broads

Head out on the Pingo Trail

Pingos in the Brecks

Pingos, not Pingu, the aminated South Pole penguin. Don’t what a Pingo is? They are circular lakes, uniquely found in Thetford Forest, that were created at the end of the last ice age 20,000 years ago. Now you can walk an 8-mile trail an explain to your friends that the Pingos were originally low hillocks formed when underground water froze and expanded upwards and then melted and collapsed!

Pingo Trail

Count beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea

Beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea

There are 200 of them, all higgledly-piggledy and painted bright colours. Perfect for Instagram. Come at low tide and you’ll be able to walk along a mile of beach before you finally get to the sea. This is the sand that Gwyneth Paltrow walked on for the final credits of Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love.

Explore north Norfolk

Cycle on Quiet Lanes

Cycling at Kelling Heath

Yes, we know everyone thinks Norfolk is flat but on the Cromer Ridge you’ll be on the highest point of East Anglia, with stunning views along the coast. The ridge was created by the terminal moraine of a glacier from the last ice age. Bring your own bikes or hire them and you can cycle along on Quiet Lanes where very few cars dare to go.

Cromer Ridge

Walk in the footsteps of the first tourists to the UK

Happisburgh on the Deep History Coast

The earliest evidence of man found outside the Great Rift Valley in Africa was discovered in 2013 at Happisburgh beach on the Norfolk coast – 850,000-year-old human footprints from a time when we were still linked by land to the Continent. Effectively, they were the first tourists ever to come to the UK – and they came to visit Norfolk!

This is part of Norfolk’s Deep History Coast, which has two other claims to fame – here was found the world’s best-preserved and biggest mammoth skeleton and a 550,000-year-old flint axe that was the Swiss Army Knife of its day.

Deep History Coast

Come and meet the locals

Royal Norfolk Show

We’re a welcoming bunch any time of the year, and always happy to see visitors, but if you come for two days in June you can experience the Royal Norfolk Show, one of the largest agricultural shows in the country. This is when the county all gets together in one place and you’ll get a pretty good idea what makes Norfolk so special.

What's On in Norfolk

You can’t miss Dippy the Dinosaur

Dippy the Dinosaur

In more ways than one… after all, who wouldn’t want to see a hulking great dinosaur in a cathedral? And from July to October, that’s what you’ll be able to enjoy in Norwich Cathedral when Dippy the Diplodocus enjoys the final residence of his two-and-a-half year tour of the UK.

The National History Museum hosted the famous 22-metre long dinosaur from 1905 but here’s your chance to get up close and personal in Norfolk.

Dippy at Norwich Cathedral

Traditional English seaside

Great Yarmouth's Golden Mile

Great Yarmouth’s Golden Mile has everything you could wish for in a traditional English seaside, including amusements, rides, two piers, a water chute, as well as fabulous shows at The Hippodrome, including a water spectacle. Don’t miss the wooden rollercoaster at the Pleasure Beach and take your choice of freshly-made donuts, ice cream or candyfloss as you walk along the prom, prom, prom.

Explore Gt Yarmouth

Visit a Pyramid without going to Egypt

Blickling Mausoleum

The National Trust’s Blickling Hall is worth a visit on its own, with an Escape Room in the local church, a superb country pub, the Bucks Arms, and a majestic Jacobean house and gardens that were built on the site of Anne Boleyn’s birthplace, but it’s the Pyramid you need to discover, waymarked out in the stunning country park. Like those in Giza, it’s a mausoleum, built in 1794 for the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire.

Blickling

Fish and chips on the seafront

Fish and chips

Cromer, the pivotal point of the coast from north to east, is a gem of a Victorian resort. Catch a show at the Pavilion Theatre, the world’s last end-of-pier theatre – there are long-running variety shows in Summer and Christmas. Get fish and chips from Mary Jane’s or No 1 Cromer (with lashings of salt and vinegar… you’re on holiday), settle down on a bench on the Esplanade or clifftop, and watch the world go by. Or sit in the restaurant at No 1 with unrivalled views of the seafront and pier.

Story of fish and chips

Go down the only flint mine in the UK

Grimes Graves

At 57 feet below ground, this is a must-experience in Norfolk and something few people are aware of. 4,500 years ago, Neolithic man created the first industrial works in Europe, digging more than 430 mines, pits and excavations to extract hard black flint which was used to make knives, axes and spearheads. There’s only one now open to the public but it’s an underground adventure worth having.

Flint was knapped here up to the Napoleonic Wars, when flintlocks were made for British muskets.

Flint in Norfolk

Snap the sunset at Sunny Hunny

Hunstanton

Sunny Hunny, otherwise known as Hunstanton, is the only west-facing resort on the east coast so it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset. Try and convince your Instagram followers that the land in the distance is Holland… there’s always someone who’ll believe you. It’s actually Lincolnshire.

Explore west Norfolk

Hide in a Priest Hole

Oxburgh Hall

This a great picture for your social media. The Catholic Bedingfield family have lived at moated Oxburgh Hall since 1482 but not without some sticky moments, particularly during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and the Civil War. To keep practicing their faith and to protect Jesuit priests, they built a hidey-hole which you can get into today. Mind you, it’s a tight squeeze!

Secret Norfolk

Historic houses

See the flaming forest

Thetford Forest

Autumn is the time to experience Thetford Forest in the Brecks, when the trees turn a firey mix of copper, bronze, brown and orange. There are waymarked routes for walking and cycling. Look out for red deer and the wild horses or explore the Pingo Trail. Try archery and enjoy the aerial ropes at High Lodge.

Explore the Brecks

See the biggest seal colony in England

Seals at Blakeney Point

From November, when the Grey seals start pupping, the colony that live on the end of Blakeney Point can grow to number over 1000. In December 2019 there were 3000 seal pups! Take a boat trip from Morston Quay for the full experience.

Seals in Norfolk

Enjoy the Thursford Christmas Spectacular

Thursford Christmas Spectacular

One of Europe’s largest Christmas shows takes place in a tiny village in Norfolk throughout November and December. With a cast of more than 120 dancers, singers and musicians, the show has a production budget of £2m and features a cornucopia of showtunes, classic carols and chart toppers and balances beautifully between contemporary and traditional.

Thursford Spectacular

Rub shoulders with Royalty

The Royal Family at Sandringham church, Christmas

Sandringham House and Estate is open all year round, along with its museum and visitor centre, except at Christmas and New Year when the Royal Family are in residence. However, on Christmas Day, you can get up close and personal to the Royals when they visit St Mary Magdalene Church for the morning service. This has been a Royal tradition since Queen Victoria’s times.

Sandringham

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