Arts & Culture

Summer is on…

Confidence is a big factor for everyone getting back to some sort of normality this summer says Melanie Cook of

Reconnecting is the buzz word this summer and with venues, hospitality and attractions being prepared and experienced in keeping us safe, we should feel confident in getting out to enjoy ourselves once again.

Last month’s column was a smorgasbord of things to do this summer, in fact I was tripping over my words with the excitement of writing about things actually happening. My inbox was and still is bursting with news about events, attractions, and ways to enjoy ourselves. So here we go.

In May, VisitEngland launched their summer £5 million domestic tourism campaign Escape The Everyday. Domestic tourism spending is estimated this year to be worth £51.4 billion, just over half of the £91.6 billion in 2019. These are not surprising figures. As I said in last month’s column, the spotlight over the past year has been on discovering our own lands and VisitEngland’s message of course, is just that but with the added message of reconnection. Reconnecting with the places you love, reconnecting with loved ones and reconnecting with you.

I talk endlessly about how lucky we are in Norfolk to have such choice in how we spend our leisure time. We have incredible local food and drink, high quality attractions, a beautiful coastline, an abundance of natural spaces, the Broads, massive amounts of cultural experiences and our welcoming and walkable capital – Norwich, the City of Stories. We also have great people behind them, making places special, to have fun in, to relish and appreciate. People have struggled immensely through the pandemic to keep their businesses open or have had to close entirely, but they have still worked tirelessly to make sure they can come back when the time is right. So we need to support them as much as we can – now’s the time to invite friends and family over to visit if they are located outside the county. Hotels and other accommodation providers are open and safe to stay in once again.

VisitEngland’s campaign messaging is about what we can escape to: “to new views with old friends; to scenes not screens; to eating out, not cooking in; to the summer you’ve waited for”. And we will all have a different idea of what this is. It can be as small or as big as we want – depending on our mood and pocket. Mine sometimes is as simple as sitting down quietly with a delicious latte from an independent coffee house and striking up a conversation with the barista – albeit behind a mask! I’ve mastered the art. You probably won’t be surprised how nourishing it is to chat with a stranger even if it’s about the weather. The pandemic has taught us that.


So where can we escape to a view, or a scene, to eat out and to enjoy summer? Many venues and attractions are still working hard on special events and putting things into place – for obvious reasons there is a lot of catching up to do so with that in mind I recommend you look at which is packed full of ideas. The City of Stories blog publishes weekly new posts each written to inspire us to venture (escape) more into our city and county. The What’s On section is also good to keep an eye on with new events and updated information being added all the time. So don’t miss out!

Summer is on… views for breakfast, lunch and dinner picnics. Mousehold Heath for sunsets; Ziggurats and sculpture at the University of East Anglia; Holkham Beach; Beeston Bump; Sheringham Park; Houghton Hall for graceful lawns and spectacular sculpture; the Bure Valley Railway for countryside; Plantation Garden for summer afternoon teas; plus the new Walsingham Way walk from Norwich – all 37 miles!

Summer is on… scenes for relaxing, walking, browsing and sailing. Holkham Hall for manicured grounds, deer, boating on the lake and of course the house; Cromer beach and pier; the Norwich Lanes for independent shops and winding pathways; Norwich City Sightseeing Tours on the open top bus; the Broads; Fairhaven Woodland and Water Gardens; Pensthorpe Natural Park; Roaar! Dinosaur Adventure; Thrigby Halll; AmazonaZoo and BeWILDerwood for children going mad and letting off steam.

Summer is on… eating out for taking our time enjoying great food and company. Many eateries are proud to be ambassadors of our county’s local produce so we can eat seasonally in an abundance of places. And there’s more al fresco dining than ever before. But whether in or out, independent or national chain, beach café or indulgent fine dining, the choice is endless. Just remember, please cancel bookings if you can’t make it!

Summer is on… the summer we’ve waited for safely getting out and about, having fun. Dinomania in Norwich – Dippy On Tour at Norwich Cathedral plus many other dinosaur-themed events soon to be revealed; T.rex sculptures with GoGoDiscover; Brick Dinos at The Forum; the dinosaur themed City Food Trail; outdoor free entertainment with Head Out, Not Home; Interlude theatre in a big
top tent.

And finally, Summer is on for…
The return of: Norwich Ghost Walks; indoor and outdoor escape games with History Mystery, Cryptic Escape and City Escape Games; Bowling House; The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell and Crazy Golf at Eaton Park.

And hot off the press – The Forum has again teamed up with LEGO artist Warren Elsmore to bring Brick Dinos (19 July-31 August, free) to Norwich. Ideal for families, Brick Dinos is an incredible educational and entertaining exhibition of dinosaurs made entirely from LEGO. From tiny insects to a raptor-like Masiakasaurus that’s four metres long – every age is going to love this!

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

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