Visit Norwich – March 24

From honing the skill of distilling to baking your best soufflé or perfecting your creative writing, to learning how to silversmith, here are some wonderful ways to spend your free time whilst increasing your knowledge. All taught by experts in their field.

Whisky making at The English Distillery

The Nelstrop family have been pioneers in English whisky making and own the oldest registered whisky distillery in England. Proudly from Norfolk, they pride themselves on making extraordinary whisky, in fact, nothing less will do. All made in the old-fashioned way using artisan skills.

An award-winning company with sustainability at their heart, they use locally grown barley, fresh water from underneath the distillery, onsite solar panels, and recycle paper, glass, and spent grains.

Whisky is serious business. And those with a penchant will spend a pretty penny on a great bottle, so with the award-winning English Distillery on our doorstep, it makes sense to take a ‘Create your own Whisky Experience’ with the experts.

Taking place on Saturdays and costing £100 – in two hours you will tour the distillery, taste three English whiskies, and blend your very own 50cl bottle of whisky to take home.

The Gyre & Gimble Gin Academy

There is no stopping the popularity of gin, so when Gyre & Gimble opened their Academy, it’s no wonder so many people passed through their door and ‘graduated’, taking home a delicious tasting gin of their own recipe.

This is a great experience, and you learn a great deal. Gyre & Gimble even keep your recipe, so you can ask for it to be made again when you run out! The cost for two hours is £75 and for that you get four gin and tonics to sip whilst you create, and the expert tuition from a master distiller taking you through the process of making your own tipple. This includes choosing your own botanicals (from over 30) and weighing them accurately. Reviews on their site are 5* and I can vouch for this having done it myself – it was really great fun.

Again, we have another local award-winning business with Gyre & Gimble winning at the 2023 International Wine and Spirits Competition, walking away with the UK Gin Producer Trophy.

Jewellery Making Masterclass at Sonkai with goldsmith Craig Snape

Craig Snape is a goldsmith from South Africa, who after school became an apprentice for the esteemed Master Craftsman and South African jeweller,
Sid Forman. So, you are in very good hands with this masterclass which is new for 2024.

I’m pretty excited about this one as during a two-hour class (on a 1:1 basis) you make something beautiful in silver to take home. So be it a ring, or a pair of earrings, you’ll have something utterly unique to keep forever, having also learnt how to roll out silver ingots, annealing (softening the silver using heat), bending, shaping, soldering, filing, papering and polishing!

Classes take place on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday 6pm – 8pm.
Book at

The National Centre for Writing

You can’t have escaped the fact that Norwich is a UNESCO City of Literature – and has been now for over a decade. The National Centre for Writing at Dragon Hall is a one-of-its-kind in the UK and an incredible organisation for supporting writers and creating wonderful events around literature and writing for all ages and abilities.

12-to-18-week creative writing online courses with the National Centre for Writing and the University of East Anglia start at £475 and include regular, meaningful critique from a tutor, and a unique opportunity for you to receive personalised, one-to-one feedback on your writing. Subjects include fiction, poetry, crime fiction, memoirs and more, and are designed for beginners and intermediates.

They also offer in-person learning and one-off workshops with prices starting at around £45. There are also concessionary rates and bursaries for writers facing financial barriers.

Plus, they offer a host of free resource packs for beginners to download – supported by Arts Council England – written by award-winning writers and industry experts including Eimear McBride, Sarah Perry and Okechukwu Nzelu. Each pack contains advice, practical tips, and writing exercises. There are also hugely helpful podcasts to listen and learn from! 

The Richard Hughes Cookery School

In the early 2000s Richard opened his cookery school, having started in the hospitality business when he was just 15 years old as a pot washer. Richard then went on to open his first restaurant in 1991 in Wymondham.

In 2017, the Cookery School relocated to The Assembly House in Norwich in a brand-new kitchen and the rest, as they say, is history. Today his year-round programme of teaching covers many subjects and also includes guest chefs, such as Richard Bainbridge (Benedicts) and Julia Hetherton – a legendary chocolatier!

From how to bake the best soufflé, to bread, fish, and chocolate-filled Easter eggs, the choice for learning is diverse. Classes also include ‘The Generation Game’, designed for adults to cook with small family members, which are huge fun. The cost for two is £140 and includes tuition, ingredients, recipes, afternoon tea, drinks, and recipe notes, and, of course, you take home what you make. Note these courses are extremely popular, so watch the website for when tickets get released.