All year, in all seasons, and around every corner there’s something going on in ‘Norwich, the City of Stories’. During the summer months in particular, the streets, parks and beer gardens all come alive again, the riverside walkways bloom, and you’ll spot the odd canoe on the lazy Wensum.
Written by Visit Norwich | www.visitnorwich.co.uk
What’s on in Norwich
Through June, July and August, the city’s story is one of free and affordable cultural activity, Which means saving some spare cash for a beer or a cocktail in a pretty outside space – of which Norwich has many.
The Degree Shows at Norwich University of the Arts are one of the city’s summer highlights (25 June and 3 July). These shows are nothing short of genius. The university nurtures such immense creative talent from film, fine art, textiles and fashion, to photography, animation, graphic design, VHX, branding and marketing. Anyone interested in any of these subjects won’t be disappointed, and anyone who isn’t might just surprise themselves. Free to enter, the shows take place into the early evening.
If you can, do the shows over a few days; there’s so much to see, it’s hard to take everything in over one visit – and families are very welcome. And just next door, the terrace by the river at Norwich Playhouse is perfect for a drink afterwards.
From June, Sunday afternoons will never be the same again (or at least until June next year): it’s the start of the free Bandstand Concerts in Norwich parks, organised annually by Norwich City Council. Taking place every Sunday at 3pm, in a different park until the end of August – pack up a picnic, round up some friends and family and enjoy the outdoors – all to the soundtrack of live music. It truly does put a smile on your face.
Cycling in Norwich
Sports fans – especially cycling fans – will be welcoming the first HSBC UK National Road Championships to Norfolk and Norwich between 27 – 30 June. On Sunday 30 June, the races for both the men and the women will be on the road simultaneously – a first in the championship’s history. Hot on their heels will be the public race, which starts and finishes in Norwich. And if this kind of thing is up your street then there are several city cycle routes to enjoy after this, including Whitlingham Country Park and – if you’re serious about your cycling – The Marriott’s Way.
Arguably one of the best cycle routes in Norfolk, The Marriott’s Way was named after William Marriott: Chief Engineer and Manager of the Midland and Great Northern Railway – M&GN -for 41 years. This lush green route, bursting with wildlife, follows two disused railway lines between medieval Norwich and the historic market town of Aylsham for 26 miles, beginning in the city centre where Barn Road meets Barker Street (only minutes from Norwich Cathedral).
Norwich Carnival Weekend
Carnival fever hits the streets of Norwich in July at the annual Lord Mayor’s Celebrations (5 – 7July) where local residents take to the streets for a day (6 July) of free entertainment, performance and a sparkling parade through city centre. Expect music, dancing, street food and some awesome spectacles as the parade passes by. And at the end of July, Norwich celebrates Pride on the 27July with all the colours of the rainbow. Another reason to get your dancing shoes on.
Seeing It Differently
‘Seeing It Differently’ at Norwich Cathedral is the must-see event this summer. For 12 days only between 7 and 18 August, ride a vintage helter skelter in the West End of the Nave (yes, inside!), 40ft high.
The idea behind ‘Seeing it Differently’ is to explore the cathedral from different angles. Over 1,200 roof bosses feature throughout the cathedral and the cloisters, each one unique, each with its own religious representation. Beautifully carved and around 900 years old they’re quite a sight. Looking up from the helter skelter, visitors will enjoy the craftsmanship in more detail. Meanwhile, in the East End of the Nave, everyone’s invited to lie on a yoga mat and enjoy the view.
Explore the city
Aside from special one-off events, Norwich is full of hidden gems like Marble Hall in Surrey House (open Monday to Friday during office hours). Home to Aviva, its commanding Palladian exterior looks out over the Surrey Street, and its interior is adorned with 15 varieties of marble, classically inspired frescos and a stunning glass atrium is not to be missed.
Upper St Giles in The Norwich Lanes is a delightful street with handsome Georgian architecture and small independent stores. On the edge of The Lanes, it’s easy to miss so plan a visit and don’t get side-tracked!
Plantation Garden (£2 entry in an honesty box, close to Upper St Giles) is Norwich’s secret garden, a Victorian oasis in summer. And if you visit on a Sunday, take advantage of their homemade teas – sometimes with live musical performance.
Finally, Norwich Cathedral Quarter is one of the most historic areas of Norwich, where you’ll find Norwich’s most complete medieval street – Elm Hill. And England’s smallest cloisters at The Great Hospital is a stone’s throw from England’s largest cloisters at Norwich Cathedral. Wander around Quayside from Wensum Bridge – one of Norwich’s oldest bridges – and take in the influence of Dutch Strangers’ architecture. In Magdalen Street find stonemasons keeping faith in an age-old tradition at St Clement Church and further along, forage for vintage, upcycled and antique collectables in warehouses bursting with eclectic finds.
For loads more ideas, things to do, places to stay, eat and shop go to www.visitnorwich.co.uk.