June sees a royal takeover as we celebrate Her Majesty’s incredible 70 years as our monarch says Melanie Cook of  www.VisitNorwich.co.uk

It seems that we’ve had one bank holiday after the other this spring and now we have another. Hurrah! The Platinum Jubilee Big Weekend – the beginning of summer – is a wonderful four whole days of incredible celebration, fun and free time to fill from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th June, however we see fit. This is a momentous occasion and one to not pass us by. So, what can we do in Norwich and Norfolk?

The Assembly House (01603 626402) in Norwich, is going all out by offering a delicious Queen’s Teatime Afternoon Tea until 30 June. Priced at £24.95 per person or £49.50 for two, you can luxuriate in splendid Georgian style whilst tucking into dainty finger sandwiches bursting with local produce, accompanied by lashings of tea or coffee. The sweet treats that make this a Queen’s Teatime includes the Queen’s favourite Chocolate Biscuit Cake, crowned with gold leaf and made to her chef’s special recipe. Plus, delights such as Pink Wafer Gateau Opera, Jaffa Cupcake, Jammy Dodger Macaron and a Biscoff Cheesecake (my mouth is watering). This is a tea to dress up for like a queen!

Families can have fun next door at Chantry Place which is transforming temporarily into Chantry Palace! On Chantry Square find The Royal Guard on sentry duty (2 – 5 June) where you can take royal themed selfies. There’s also a chance to win £300 in their corgi self-led character trail. The free ‘Walkie corgi trail’ takes place from Monday 30th May until Sunday 5th June, with families tracking the Queen’s corgi characters which have escaped the palace! Finally, don’t leave without visiting the royal throne and red carpet on the lower ground floor, complete with an incredible royal backdrop (2 – 5 June).

Music can make a joyous celebration very special and is an emotive component of any coronation, so it’s fitting there are some great activities from classical music to a big sing-along to join in with. Norwich Cathedral’s Handel’s Coronation Anthem takes place 4 June at 7.30pm with tickets priced between £15 – £30 (0333 666 3366). This concert in a very special venue will be performed by Norwich Cathedral Chamber Choir and Norwich Baroque and includes Handel’s famous Coronation Anthem; Zadok the Priest.

Later in the month add to your diary the spectacular Big Sing which takes place during The Royal Norfolk Show on Wednesday 29 June at 5.20pm and Thursday 30 June at 5pm. Entry to the Showground is free after 4pm so everyone is invited to come along to a never-to-be-repeated performance. The Big Sing includes The Royal Salute, two original pieces of music especially commissioned which will see a chorus of 150 voices, over 1,600 Norfolk schoolchildren, Norca Sistema’s Samba band, the 60-strong Norfolk Music Hub Ensemble and the Norfolk African Choir. 

There will also be a specially commissioned fanfare, followed by an invitation for the entire Showground community to sing in unison a chorus of God Save the Queen (I’ve goosebumps already at the thought of this). It will be incredible with possibly up to 45,000 people taking part. At this point I’ll also mention that the Royal Norfolk Show has its own celebrations; it turns 175 this year and is the country’s largest 2-day agricultural show.

Some of our big attractions are also joining in the festivities. At Pensthorpe Natural Park there’s a Real Tea Party Trail (28 May – 5 June). Looking for ‘nature’s royalty’, families are encouraged to hunt out spectacular wildlife on this brand-new trail. Look out for ‘natural guests’ for a tea party fit for a queen. Hunt out kingfishers to a red-crowned crane –the second rarest crane in the world. Looking high and low, how many will you find? 

Or how about a Jubilee Journey with the Bure Valley Railway? This is going to be a jolly and very patriotic event between 28 May – 5 June. The station will be decorated to the nines with red, white and blue, and there will be a royal activity for children to complete on their journey with each child being given a Union Jack flag to wave out of the window. As always, it’s best to book in advance to avoid disappointment, tickets are £16 for adults, £8 for children 0-15, and under 5’s are free. 

In North Norfolk, Holkham Hall has a smorgasbord of activity for its Jubilant Half Term which includes all manner of Jubilee fun with a ticket to their Holkham Stories & Walled Garden experience. There will be crafting in the Ed Shed, and a Jump, Jive, Twist and Shout Trail (sounds like a lot of energy will be burned off). And, on selected dates (www.holkham.co.uk for details), try the Ridgeline Climbing Wall and Penalty Shoot Out, Caving Experience or Obstacle Course. This is in addition to all the usual things to do including the Deer and Wildlife Safari (£5.50, pre-booking advised), Woodland Play Area, Ropes Course (£21, pre-booking advised) and bike hire from £10.

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Beacons is one of the official big events of the weekend and the first community event of the Jubilee. After dark on 2nd June across the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man (all 9.45pm), UK Overseas Territories and each of the Commonwealth countries there will be over 1500 beacons lit. And there will be over 80 in Norfolk including in Norwich at Norwich City Hall. Follow this with a visit to the pub for celebratory drinks (as pubs have seen their opening hours extended until 1am until Saturday 4th). The beacon chain will include Community Beacons, Commonwealth Beacons and Principle Beacons. And many will have choirs too and other activities to enjoy. 

And with 4-days to fill, why not gather friends, neighbours and family together and get involved in The Big Jubilee Lunch. Join millions across the UK who will be organising street parties and smaller events for food, fun and fabulous times. Bake some great cakes, treat yourself to some fantastic local food – we have an abundance of producers and raise a glass with Norfolk’s newest wine. Bullards has just launched an English Sparkling Rosé made from Seyval Blanc, Auxerrois and Pinot Noir grape varieties, handpicked from their Norfolk vineyard in Spooner Row. Sounds perfect to me.

The reign of Queen Elizabeth II is the first time a British monarch has marked such an occasion. It’s time to show our patriotism. This is a big event – celebrating a Platinum Jubilee will not happen for most of us in our lifetime again. 

Congratulations and thank you for your service your Majesty. Have a fabulous long weekend everyone, however you choose to celebrate.

For more inspiration for wonderful things to see and so in Norwich and Norfolk as well as places to stay, eat and shop go to  www.visitnorwich.co.uk