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The festive season is upon us, here are some of the best things to enjoy in the month before the big day itself says Melanie Cook of

If like many of us, you feel you missed out last Christmas, then worry not. Christmas 2021 sees the return of some old favourite festive things to do and the welcome addition of some new ones. 

If you are wandering around Norwich from the beginning of November and you pass The Assembly House, you might just glance twice into their gardens – there is some unusual activity taking place.  Situated at the front of the House you’ll find a collection of pop-up igloos!

The good news is that you can reserve them for your very own private get togethers to enjoy Prenoon Tea (breakfast version of the traditional afternoon tea) or a Narnia themed afternoon tea. Teas are bookable November right through until 2 January. Don’t hang around though to book, they are popular!

Narnia evokes feelings of nostalgia in me so to be enjoying perfect finger sandwiches, lashings of warm beverages and delights such as ‘Raspberry Snowflake Dodger’, and ‘Snowy Black Forest Cheesecake’ in an igloo makes me imagine warm and cosy times with friends or family. You can also complement your tea with extras such as Turkish Delight cocktails, mocktails and hot chocolate. Teas are priced at £35.00 per person and £22.00 for under 12s.

If, however you fancy dining in glorious Georgian surrounds under shimmering crystal chandeliers you can do that too. Afternoon Tea inside the House is £23.95 per person or £47 for two. Not forgetting you can also have Cakeaways to be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.

In October we saw the welcome return of Mysabar in Castle Quarter Gardens. Its latest iteration sees bigger tents, extra seating and heaters, new floors and décor plus more choice than ever of craft beers, local drinks and food. And as Christmas gets underway there will be winter warmers and festive dishes plus some special one-off events and live music. Keep an eye on their website (, and Instagram (@mysabar_) for details of what’s coming up as tables need to be booked for 2-hour sittings (tables of 2, 4, 6) though some tables are available for walk-ins.

It wouldn’t be Christmas in Norwich without the Tunnel of Light and this year it’s runs from 16 November until 5 January. It remains one of the most popular sights in the city along with Norwich Castle projections. So, pop along and grab yourself a festive selfie.

Christmas 2021 is extra special because there’s a 900-year-old anniversary to celebrate! In 1121 one of the most powerful medieval kings, Henry I, used Norwich Castle as the venue for his Christmas court. And so, hundreds of years later Norfolk Museums Service rightly wants to share the story of Henry I and his Norwich Christmas with us all.

Events to celebrate the Christmas court in the City of Stories includes beautiful 70ft projections onto the castle portraying,  through the medium of film, the royal Christmas visit, one of the few recorded visits to Norwich by an Anglo-Norman king. There will also be a programme of Christmas at the Castle: The Story of the King activities – for details take a look at

Inspired by The Story of the King, Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) and VisitNorwich are working in partnership with Norfolk Museum Service to bring a Christmas Crown Trail from the castle to the Tunnel of Light. Following a printed map, look out for crowns of all shapes and sizes in many forms in the windows of participating shops, restaurants and businesses. But you’ll need a keen eye. The trail will take you across Norwich including the 900-year-old market. I wonder if Henry ever visited our award-winning market?

Whilst at Norwich Market look out for a special VisitNorwich pop-up stall located at the top of the market. It has to be Norwich’s smallest Christmas installation. Here visitors will find quirky pictures and photography depicting Christmastime in Norwich over the centuries (17 Nov–17 Dec, during Norwich Market trading hours).

Items on display will include festive family photos, past Christmas events in Norwich, images of decorated shop windows – anything that shows what Christmas represented or was like in Norwich over the years. There will also be Christmas trees and fairy lights and maybe a hidden crown or two. Just around the corner treat yourself to a delicious, mulled wine from Sir Toby’s Beers before you take a look around. On a particularly crisp day why not top it up with a slug of rum or whisky?  I love this charming small bar so much it’s now become a tradition of mine each Christmas to visit with friends.   

It seems most of us love a good old Christmas market, so save the date for the Festive Fair at the Forum to truly get in the mood. In Norwich between 25–28 November with free entry you’ll find wonderful entertainment and music including Norfolk’s own Pavilion Brass Quartet and a traditional fairground organ. Dine on winter food and drink from waffles and gourmet doughnuts to freshly roasted almond pralines. There will be stalls galore inside The Forum for all your Christmas shopping. Get your list ready to buy local: jewellery; pottery; plants; textiles; woodcraft; glassware; art; clothes; tins; preserves; decorations; lifestyle and so much more. The Forum looks particularly lovely when the sun goes down, filled with sparkly lights and decoration.

If like me, you love to make your own Christmas wreath then book the Festive wreath making with Hannah from Fern Flowers experience at The Maids Head Hotel (28 November). For £38 you learn how to craft a stunning wreath to take home plus the price includes a glass of Prosecco and a mince pie, as well as all your materials. To book your place call 01603 272008.

Finally, Houghton Hall last month opened its inaugural Autumn/Winter exhibition – Chris Levine at Houghton Hall 528Hz Love Frequency. I’m really excited by this as it is a major solo exhibition featuring a series of new holographic artworks, print works and large immersive laser and LED installations. All created specifically for the unique environs of the house and grounds. Each distinctive work is characteristic of Levine’s unique and cutting-edge work with the meditative and immersive properties of light and sound.

You may know Levine for his light portraits of famous cultural figures. In 2012 his depiction of the Queen- Lightness of Being was described by the National Portrait Gallery as the most evocative image of a royal by any artist. Along with this royal portrait, iconic meditative portraits of Banksy, and Grace Jones, amongst others, will be shown in the South Wing gallery.

It’s important to say this is not a Christmas event, so those who like to get away from all the festivities will be especially delighted! It runs until 23 December from 4.30pm–9pm, Thursday–Saturday. Tickets cost £18 including parking, under 18s are free.

For events, experiences, places to eat and drink, stories, where to shop and visit in Norwich and beyond go to

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