Arts & Culture

Many of us have been separated from family and friends over the past 18 months so here are some wonderful experiences for reconnecting from ages 0 to 100 says Melanie Cook of

I always think food comes into its own in autumn. During the summer months we consume BBQ, salads, berries and copious amounts of ice-cream. Come autumn, I’m ready for hearty casseroles, Sunday lunches with all the trimmings, puddings with custard and red wine. 

The Assembly House in Norwich knows a thing or two when it comes to themed afternoon teas – as if we need any more excuses to visit! So, this autumn make sure you book a table for their Autumn Hedgerow Afternoon Tea. The tea sums up everything there is to love about autumn: bramble hedgerow trifle, falling leaves cupcakes, harvest apple and salted caramel Gateau Opera, cinnamon foxes and ‘last of the summer’ raspberry macarons. The autumn tea runs until October 13 when The Assembly House of Horrors Halloween Afternoon Tea takes its place between 14-31 October. Prices are £23.95 for one or £47.00 for two with children’s afternoon teas at £14.95 (aged 12 and under). The Assembly House also has beautiful private intimate dining rooms for larger get togethers if there are several of you.

Larger family groups getting together to enjoy days out and activities have become a bit of a national trend.  At St Peter Mancroft in Norwich, Gaia arrives for a month, which I’ve been looking forward to for such a long time. Gaia is an installation by artist Luke Jerram which has been touring the UK. Those who have their ear to the ground culturally may remember Luke’s first appearance at The Forum in Norwich at Norfolk & Norwich Festival in 2017 with Museum of the Moon. I still have the pictures on my phone, it was an incredible piece to see, especially in the setting of The Forum.

Gaia measures 6m in diameter and has been created from 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface. Floating in three dimensions the artwork is an opportunity to see the planet from a very different perspective and has been created to replicate a sense of the Overview Effect, first described by Frank White in 1987. The Overview Effect is experienced by astronauts when a cognitive shift takes place whilst viewing the Earth from space.


To add to the overall experience (which in itself will be amazing in a church setting), BAFTA award winning composer Dan Jones has written a surround sound composition which plays alongside the sculpture. Gaia is completely free to see and is open Monday to Saturday 10am to 3.30pm, Thursday evening 6-8pm and Sundays around the church’s usual services.

Between 16-17 and 23-31 October BeWILDerwood is back with its popular Glorious Glowing Lantern Parade. A delightful autumnal event with a nod to Halloween suitable for all ages including teeny tiny ones under 92 cm (entry free to this group)!

Enjoy crafting your very own lantern to help the Boggles & Twiggles light up the woods, before you take a wonderful twilight walk with everyone invited to join the Twiggle Team sporting their best Halloween garb. Along the way watch out for hints of the BeWILDerwood characters peering out to say ‘yoo-hoo’ and not BOO! Stop for a bite to eat too at the Munch Bar for warming snacks and hot drinks. The event is ticketed separately from a visit to BeWILDerwood itself (timed slots), costs £10 per person and must be booked in advance at

Arts and crafts became hugely popular during periods of lockdown with many of us finding new avenues for our creativity. So it’s great news for artists and art lovers that Norfolk Open Studios (25 September-10 October), returns this year though unusually in autumn rather than spring. A free event, it will see more than 320 artists participating throughout the county, including 81 in Norwich. During this time studios and workshops are throwing wide open their doors to the public to exhibit, sell and talk about their work. Norfolk Open Studios has established itself as one of the largest and most successful open studios schemes in the country, giving visitors the opportunity to see new art, meet artists, and – with many of the works on display being for sale – to buy original artworks directly from their creators. For the full programme go to

Half term takes place this month so families will be delighted that the ever-popular Norwich Science Festival is here for 8 days between 23-30 October with plenty of activities, talks and events. Subjects in the programme include the environment to extinction; fossils to forensics; sustainability to space! And with the United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in November in Scotland, this year’s festival will shine a spotlight on climate change. Norwich Science Festival is a celebration of the ground-breaking scientific research associated with Norwich and is a partnership initiative involving many organisations from across the region, including the University of East Anglia. The festival offers visitors the chance to explore the wonders of the universe, meet the scientists whose research has changed our world and debate some big questions with some big-thinkers. Ticket prices vary and must be prebooked; for full details go to

Finally, pumpkin carving is as much of a tradition at Halloween as mince pies, loud jumpers and Bailey’s are to Christmas. So, with that in mind head over to The Goat Shed at Fielding Cottage. With huge investment last year into what once was literally ‘a shed’, you can enjoy carving pumpkins whilst sipping hot chocolate and tucking into slabs of cake. Tables are available for £30 for up to 6 people and include 4 pumpkins, along with the carving kits, hot drinks for the adults and Cawston juice cartons for the kids, plus a bag of Norfolk cookies to share. There are 5 sessions per day with each session lasting a little over an hour. Book at

The Goat Shed is also a fantastic shop and kitchen bursting with wonderful local produce so it’s also the perfect opportunity to pick up something for dinner, or a few treats, because it is Halloween after all!

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

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