Leiston Abbey

Christmas in Norwich

Out & About

It’s Christmas in Norwich, the City of Past and Presents…

The most magical month of the year is upon us and there are some wonderful new things to do in Norwich this season

says Melanie Cook of www.VisitNorwich.co.uk  

Norwich is where cobbled streets lead to a Norman Cathedral, where carollers sing on Gentleman’s Walk, where shoppers bustle through pedestrianised walkways and where – after dark – a centuries-old Castle is illuminated with spectacular projections.

See the city’s historic landmarks adorned with pretty lights, and shops dressed in their finest, filled with enticing things to buy. Discover Christmas markets offering festive food, warm (and mulled!) drinks, and artisan gifts. It’s no wonder Norwich is such a popular city to visit, dine and shop. 

Plan lots of exciting things to make the most of your time, whether you have a day, night or want to stay over. Norwich has seen a lot of change over the last 12 months, so there’s probably lots of new things to see and do since your last visit. Mix your time with a bit of shopping, some leisurely food and drink, perhaps see a show or visit an attraction too. A fun, festive few hours will soon have you in the mood. And with parking starting at £7.50 for the day, or cheaper still with Park & Ride, as well as trains and buses into the city centre, Norwich is accessible whichever way you choose to travel.  

Presenting Norwich as the city of ‘Past and Presents’, pick up a free, seasonal map which can be found around Norwich and the county,
or downloaded from visitnorwich.co.uk. Norwich’s friendly City Hosts also have plenty to give away.

Izzi Johnson, Head of Marketing at VisitNorwich said: “This year our festive map is designed to paint a picture of Norwich as a unique, atmospheric festive destination: a place to eat, shop and play in one of the most historic cities in the UK. A city of past and presents!

“The map contains a breadth of information – from some of the city’s most historic landmarks, to unmissable shopping destinations across Norwich. It’s also packed full of ideas for things to do during the festive season – including free events and that all-important list of pantos to see!’

The ‘Christmas in Norwich’ map is also a celebration of shopping in Norwich. From retailers who have permanent shops, to undercover shopping centres, to pop-up Christmas markets which take place most weekends. Christmas markets are a must for unique stocking fillers and gifts for ‘the person who has everything’, with many markets specialising in products made locally whilst also offering jovial music, warming winter food and delicious drinks.

In Magdalen Street, Norwich Lanes, the Cathedral Quarter and Elm Hill, The Royal Arcade and Norwich Market, discover a myriad of independentshops along pretty streets and winding lanes. Vintage fashion and collectables are more popular than ever, and sourcing one-off presents including second-hand books, antiques, homewares and jewellery.  These shopping areas are also bursting with specialist retailers and people selling locally made and handcrafted items. They are also full of independent cafes and restaurants if you need sustenance along the way – which I highly recommend stopping for!

At Chantry Place and Castle Quarter, you can spend the day dipping in and out of all your favourite high street
shops – plus they have their own car parks and Thursday late night opening until 8pm (as well as on other selected dates). Not forgetting regional flagship stores for John Lewis and Marks and Spencer and our independent department store Jarrold.

Chantry Place has welcomed some fantastic new stores this year – look out for Rituals, Hobbs, Whistles and Phase Eight as well as a move for Lisa Angel to larger premises – next door to Oliver Bonas. There’s also a new Hotel Chocolat cafe for those with a sweet tooth (spoil yourself with a velvety hot chocolate and whipped cream – I can highly recommend it). In addition, Chantry Place is glowing with new Christmas decorations for 2022 including a glittering sleigh you can sit in for selfies and a ‘trio of twinkling trees’ on Chantry Square. Their food hall is perfect for grabbing a bite to eat, alternatively enjoy some lovely restaurants located around their festive twinkling trees.

Castle Quarter has also continued to grow with a host of fantastic leisure activities (as well as shopping) if you want to play with – or maybe challenge – your friends and family! Enjoy Boom Battle Bar, Escape Hunt, Putt Putt Noodle – a concept where epic oriental-themed crazy golf meets Asian street food (it’s fantastic), or Retro Replay, Si5 Spy Missions and Superbowl UK. 

In November, Castle Quarter also launched Castle Social: an exciting new independent-led, street food hall and entertainment venue, taking over the top floor of Castle Quarter. Centred around a stunning bar, called Pinker and Green, it’s been designed to evoke memories of traditional gin palaces. See plate glass windows, metalwork and greenery transforming the former food court, with its stunning domed glass roof, into an urban oasis. Here you will find a fantastic range of drinks and food, with a focus on local suppliers, growers, brewers and distillers from lunchtime until late, seven days a week. There’s also a full programme of live entertainment including music, quizzes and family events. 


Norwich’s Victorian/art nouveau Royal Arcade linking Gentleman’s Walk and Back of the Inns is another example of huge change and is looking resplendent and inviting whichever way you turn. So, I recommend heading here for a good look around. Filled with independent shops and eateries there’s retro fashion from Lady B Loves, fine jewellery at Sonkai, interiors and homeware from Lauren Rose, Artisan Chocolate from Saffire, macarons at Macarons & More, a gin academy and bottle shop from Gyre & Gimble, and two new shops: Juni & Co dedicated to skincare and beauty, and Izola for skincare, fine fragrance and grooming.

Finally, located in the old Jamie Oliver building, is a fabulous new food hall called Yalm. Spanning over 10,000 sq ft over two floors, find six kitchens and three bars, all local independent businesses, showcasing the best food in the region. This eating and drinking experience is about “communal dining and celebrating good food with good people in a progressive environment”, states Dan Searle, the man behind Yalm, who previously brought us Mysabar when we were socialising outdoors, coming out of various lockdowns.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without exciting things to do and shows to see. Days and nights out across Norfolk are calling us. At Cromer Pier get well and truly in the Christmas spirit with their annual Christmas Show running until 30 December. Whilst over at The Bure Valley Railway, there’s the Festive Express (3 – 24 December). On the Broads you can enjoy a Santa Cruise River Trip with Broads Tours (various dates in December, £22 per person, under 3’s £5) enjoy festive music and activities as well as a visit to Santa’s new grotto for the children.

Thursford, Roarr! Dinosaur Park and Holkham all have full programmes of wonderful seasonal activities, shows, light trails and more.

Back in Norwich the choice is yours for Christmas entertainment at some of Norwich’s most iconic and well-known venues. See visitnorwich.co.uk (or individual websites) for details of everything happening at Norwich Puppet Theatre, The Garage, Norwich Theatre Royal, Norwich Playhouse, Norwich Cathedral, The Forum, St Peter Mancroft and Norwich’s charming museums – Norwich Castle, Stranger’s Hall and the Museum of Norwich.

Full details of everything mentioned here and loads more ideas can be found at www.visitnorwich.co.uk