Proud of its past and present status
s Britain’s most complete medieval city, a visit to Norwich is inevitably dominated by 2000 years of history. There’s a magnificent cathedral, a Norman castle and enough cobbled streets to unseat a peloton of cyclists. But don’t make the mistake of thinking the city is only defined by the past. A lively cultural scene has evolved in recent years, while fine restaurants and sophisticated shopping complete the picture.
History and Heritage
With two millennia of history to draw from, Norwich has plenty of treasures in the kit bag. Foremost among them is the Norwich 12 , a group of buildings that span 1000 years of architectural heritage and help to demonstrate why East Anglia’s capital has been one of England’s most important cities for much of that period.
Arts and Culture
You can also explore Norwich’s rich past through its museums, and 12th century Norwich Castle, packed with hands-on exhibits and historic treasures, is a good place to start. And just to prove that not everything in the city is metaphorically coated in cobwebs, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts houses contemporary art from around the world in an iconic building.
Must See Attractions
Norwich is the unlikely location of the Forum , Europe’s biggest digital gallery, yet another architectural treat. Elsewhere, Dragon Hall ’s superb crown-post roof has remained unchanged since the cries of medieval merchants filled the air, while the 1200 characters carved into the roof of the Cathedral are another eerie glimpse into the city’s vibrant past.
Food and Drink
Chocoholics will enjoy getting their fix at Caley’s Cocoa Café in the 14th century Guildhall, although if you’re after something a tad more substantial, Norwich’s range of award-winning restaurants, trendy bistros and homely gastro-pubs should hit the spot. You’ll also find a variety of specialist shops selling delicious local produce.
As you might expect from a city slap bang in the middle of farming country, Norwich is home to England’s largest open air market, and after you’ve bartered for some organic meat, you might want to slather some of the county’s iconic condiment all over it - bought from the Colman’s Mustard Shop at the Royal Arcade, naturally. While you’re there, make sure you leave enough time to browse the eclectic mix of independent shops in the Norwich Lanes . With such variety, it’s easy to understand why Norwich has been voted one of the top 10 places to shop in the UK.
If the kids have an excess of energy, take them to the Whitlingham Country Park and let them try out some watersports. With any luck, by the end they’ll be in the mood for some intellectual stimulation at Inspire, which makes science fun with hands-on activities. Finally, the Norwich Puppet Theatre is a million times more enjoyable and a thousand times less violent than a Punch and Judy show.
Music and Nightlife
Medieval Norwich liked a drink and today, so do the town’s modern occupants - although mead is thankfully off the menu. Today, the city is spilling over with excuses to stay out late, with venues offering everything from DJs spinning dubstep to live poetry readings. Start off at Norwich Arts Centre and Waterfront to catch the latest bands, then chat to the friendly punters to see where to head next.
Doing exactly what it says on the tin, the Lord Mayor’s Celebration is an annual civic knees-up, while the Norfolk and Norwich Festival is a lively celebration of music and performing arts. If you visit at Christmas, prepare to have your cockles warmed by markets and special events that see the place transformed into a veritable winter wonderland.
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Visit Norwich - The official guide to Norwich, Norfolk and the Norfolk Broads.
Things to do
From events and attractions to fine dining and nights out; discover all things to do in Norwich.
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