What’s new in Norwich Summer 2018

Norwich is buzzing this summer with a host of wonderful new experiences

New tours on foot and over the water, an historically accurate and authentic 14th century undercroft escape room, the county’s first National Centre for Writing, and the world’s first parallel sky rails. Plus two world-class exhibitions and a city sculpture trail – these are just a few of the wonderful new things to do in and around Norwich this summer.

The Broads National Park is the country’s only national park to incorporate a city, and this summer for the first time Norfolk Outdoor Adventures is offering 1:1 and groups kayaking on the river Wensum in Norwich. Stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking at dawn and sunset are also new experiences to enjoy in areas of the Broads few know about.

Paddle boarders on the broads at twilight
Norfolk Outdoor Adventures. Credit Visit Norwich

The Great Market is the theme of a new guided walking tour around Norwich Market incorporating tastings from some of the market’s artisan food stands. People on Norwich Market have been buying and selling for 940 years; learn all about the history of the market including it being a place of execution and entertainment. 


The Merchant’s Vault is a new escape game in Norwich’s largest undercroft. The game has been created with the input of museum curators to ensure it’s historically accurate. From 2 players to 8 the game uses inventive storylines drawing on the collections from The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell and inspired by Norwich’s four key industries.

Summer exhibitions and trails include a rare opportunity to see five actual objects reunited with an enigmatic painting which chronicles one of the greatest private art collections of 17th century England – The Paston Treasure: Riches and Rarities of the Known World (at Norwich Castle). Whilst meanwhile at The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Brian Clarke: The Art of Light presents the debut of stained glass screens made without lead, considered to represent the most significant artistic and technical breakthrough in the history of this thousand year old medium. The centrepiece of the exhibition is 30 stained glass panels or screens which the artist has produced over the last three years. 

Finally, GoGoHares features 50 giant Norfolk hares through Norwich city centre bringing added colour and fun to the streets; free outdoor sculpture for all ages to enjoy.


NEW! National Centre for Writing 

Dragon Hall, 115 – 123 King St, Norwich

The National Centre for Writing (NCW) is now open, following a £2m extension and restoration of the historic 15th century Dragon Hall. The new centre, backed by patrons including Margaret Atwood, Sarah Perry, Ali Smith and Rose Tremain will be a physical and digital space for the enjoyment of words, ideas and books. The NCW aims to engage 20,000 young people in its opening year of activity and be a place for locals and visitors to discover stories from all over the world.

The campus includes a new education room for workshops with children and adults, a refurbished events venue in the magnificent Great Hall, a Writers-in-Residence Cottage and several spaces available for hire.  

Event Saturday 4 August:
 Family open house at Dragon Hall with writing and storytelling activities.

The Patrons of the National Centre for Writing are – Margaret Atwood, John Boyne, JM Coetzee, Anthony Horowitz OBE, Jon McGregor, Sarah Perry, Elif Shafak, Ali Smith CBE, Rose Tremain CBE.

NEW! Norfolk Outdoor Adventures

Potter Heigham, Norfolk.
07968 083334

Enjoy the Broads from a different perspective. Norfolk Outdoor Adventures is offering intimate experiences which will take you into parts of the Broads you never knew existed. Fully equipped and safe, each experience is fully tutored, plus for £50 enjoy a 1:1 experience for 3.5 hours on the river in Norwich. Fully bespoke tours/experiences available.   

A Nature Kayaking Safari – Witness nature waking up from its slumber and feel the warmth of the sun as it rises.  This trip takes you on a journey out and beyond the normally accessible parts of the Broads where you’ll not only soak up and admire some of the best that nature has to offer in the Broads National Park, but also to get out of the boat and have a freshly brewed coffee (or tea) with pastries for breakfast on the banks. Duration 3.5 hours, £35 per person.   

A Paddle & Sunset (Stand-Up Paddle – SUP) – During this session participants are progressively guided through all the basics of SUP (by a qualified ASI SUP Instructor) – then they’ll head out for a ‘Sunset SUP Adventure’ to a resting point, enjoy a well earned beverage on the riverbank and get ready to see the sun going down before a paddle back and then a well earned good night sleep!  This experience has been said to be one of the best in the Broads area! (no prior experience needed – all basic level tuition included). Duration 3.5 hours, £35 each.

NEW! The Great Market guided tours 

Price £7.50 per person. Book: 07801 103737

A one-hour guided tour in and around Norwich Market, celebrating 940 years of buying and selling at the heart of the city, including sampling the food on offer at today’s market stalls.

The tour looks at the impact of the Normans; the growth of the Medieval Market and the Paston Letters; the great church of St Peter Mancroft; the role of the Tollhouse and later the Guildhall; the market as a place of execution and entertainment; the long lost Market Cross; the coaching era, the inns and the diaries of Parson Woodforde; pubs, banking and the Victorian era; shoemaking and the story of Start-Rite; the building of City Hall and redevelopment of the market in the 1930s and 21st century changes.

NEW! The Merchants’ Vaults

The Museum of Norwich at The Bridewell
01603 327515
Prices from £30 for 2 players off-peak, up to £130 for 8 players.

A man with a lantern pointing into a medieval vault at Norwich Museum
History Mystery escape room at the Museum of Norwich, Merchants Vault

An exciting new Escape Game has opened at the Museum of Norwich in a first for Norfolk Museums Service. Curators at the Museum of Norwich have teamed up with historical escape games experts, History Mystery, to develop a new game that allows players to experience history hands-on in the evocative surroundings of the largest undercroft in the City, the museum’s 14th century undercroft. Historically accurate, the team at History Mystery have used aspects of the museum’s collections to create inventive storylines and brain-teasing puzzles. 

NEW! Paston Treasure: Riches and Rarities of the Known World

Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Castle Meadow, Norwich NR1 3JU
23 June – 23 September 2018
Exhibition tickets included in entrance to the Castle: adults £9.15, child (4 – 18) £8.10, family with 1 adult: £25, family with 2 adults: £33.40.

In partnership with Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT. and Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery an incredible exhibition brings together rare works of art originally featured in an enigmatic painting which chronicles one of the greatest private art collections of seventeenth century England.

Central to the exhibition is a large (1668 x 2475mm), mysterious oil painting, dating circa 1665 by an unknown Dutch artist. Entitled The Paston Treasure, the painting’s unique and cryptic subject has mesmerized and puzzled art scholars and historians world-wide for centuries. A visually stunning work of art, it dazzles us with a lavish display of gold and silver, exotic objects, musical instruments, fruits and flowers, a lobster, a monkey and a parrot, in addition to portraits of a young girl and an African youth.

The treasures depicted in the painting represent a fraction of what was one of the most remarkable, privately assembled cabinets of rarities and curiosities in seventeenth century England, owned by a famous Norfolk family – the Pastons, whose country seat was Oxnead Hall outside Norwich. The Paston Treasure was clearly commissioned to promote the family’s wealth and sophisticated artistic taste.

This is a rare opportunity to see five actual objects from The Paston Treasure (circa 1665) for the first time in three centuries reunited with the painting. Also in the exhibition will be significant loans from the period from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Chicago Institute of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal Collection.

This exhibition is not touring and will be a one-off chance to view something quite extraordinary.

NEW! Brian Clarke: The Art of Light

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ
17 June – 14 October 2018
Tickets £7

Brian Clarke is celebrated as the greatest stained glass artist in the world today and has collaborated globally with the most radical architects of our time. His pioneering and bold stained glass has earned the artist fans including Paul McCartney, East Anglia’s own Ed Sheeran and the late architect Zaha Hadid.

His stained glass screens which will debut in this exhibition are considered to represent the most significant artistic and technical breakthrough in the history of this thousand year old medium.

The centrepiece of the exhibition will be 30 stained glass panels or screens which the artist has produced over the last three years.

Over the last five decades, the artist has consistently pushed the boundaries of stained glass as a medium, both in terms of technology, and its poetic potential. His reputation is based on major installation projects all over the world, as well as individual works.

Curated beautifully as a ‘forest of light’, this is a really immersive, visually stunning exhibition to lose yourself in. 

NEW! GoGoHares

Norwich City Centre. Free
24 June to 8 September 2018, pick up a free map at the Tourist Information Centre

Take a magnificent new sculpture trail – this year featuring the energetic yet graceful Norfolk hare. Enjoy 50 city sculptures forming the main trail plus for the first time, several across the county taking in the beautiful Norfolk countryside.

Norwich’s incredible Cathedrals, the Castle, and it’s charming cobbled streets plus many other delightful locations will play host to one of three hare designs. The trail will take visitors across Norwich and back again so it’s a great excuse to discover the city whilst stopping for coffee, cake or even a cocktail in one of Norwich’s many eateries and cafes – many of which are independent artisans.   

NEW! Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure (30 minutes drive from Norwich)

Lenwade, Norwich, Norfolk, NR9 5JW

This wonderful family attraction has just launched their NEW Predator High Ropes, the World’s first parallel sky rails. Roarr!  is an 85 acre park offering a host of exciting and fascinating attractions including animatronic dinosaurs in natural surroundings, Dippy’s Splash Zone, Norfolk’s largest indoor play area, dinosaur trail, secret animal garden and plenty more.

The High Ropes are a 34 metre long sky rail course with two levels of difficulty and complete with scrambling nets and wobbly walk ways. The High Ropes and newly opened steam punk themed ‘Explorers’ restaurant is part of Roarr’s expansion to the park’s offer, designed to appeal to older children.    

Pensthorpe Natural Park

Pensthorpe, Fakenham Road, Fakenham, Norfolk, NR21 0LN

A woman working through a garden at Pensthorpe, Norwich

Pensthorpe is celebrating three decades of nature conservation as the reserve toasts its 30th anniversary on 11 July 2018. Opened in 1988 as a waterfowl and wetland park, the 700-acre estate has grown to become one of Norfolk’s largest visitor attractions, having welcomed over 3million visitors through its doors.

Opening on 19th July, the new interactive Wetland Discovery Area will feature an epic pond-dipping zone and the brand new home for Pensthorpe’s resident flock of 29 bright and beautiful flamingos!

The reserve boasts a host of natural habitats from ancient woodland, wetlands, lakes, five gardens, play areas, wildflower meadow and farmland. Nature trails, boardwalks, bird feeding, bird-spotting and pond-dipping are just a handful of the activities set-up to encourage families to engage with nature.

It’s also home to the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust [PCT], a charity set up in 2003, The PCT counts conservation heavyweights including environmental campaigner David Bellamy and conservationist George Archibald amongst its Trustees and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh remains its Patron.

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