A Norfolk Christmas
With the fine city of Norwich now awash with Christmas lights and a solid rotation of festive adverts starting to build momentum, it is very much starting to look a lot like that time of year again.
After a turbulent eleven months that even included a summer, Christmas gives us all a chance to sign-off the year with friends and family and plenty of festive fun. What better place to spend the Yuletide season than Nelson’s own fair county? However you wish to spend it, in this beautiful part of the world, you can. Here are just a few ideas about how to make the most of your very own Norfolk Christmas.
Norfolk has a long-running and successful heritage of breeding turkeys and these free-range beauties are two of the most desirable to have as the centre piece of your festive feast.
The famous Norfolk Black is one of the best known of all turkey breeds. Renowned for its highly flavoursome taste and prominent breast bone, this bird is easily recognised by its black legs. A classic choice for Christmas dinner and held to be the eldest breed in the UK, its heritage is as rich as its taste. First brought to England in the 1500’s by Spanish explorers this prized breed developed from the Aztec turkeys of Mexico. Traditionally considered to be a premiere breed in Norfolk where discarded grain from deep harvests provided an excellent food source, the Norfolk Black has always been popular. In the 17th Century flocks of the birds were driven all the way to London for market with their feet clothed and tarred for protection. Furthermore, Norfolk Blacks were sent back across the Atlantic and it is likely that the very first Thanksgiving meal may have been from European birds; possibly even from stock bred in Norfolk!
With a sweeter, less gamey taste than the Black, the Bronze is ideal for the table come the big day. A larger breed with plenty of white and brown meat to offer, it is an excellent choice for a traditional Christmas dinner. A quality bird which isn’t quite as dear as the Black, the Norfolk Bronze is a fantastic option for a delicious and satisfying meal for every size of family.
THE BUILD UP
The magnificent Norwich Cathedral was completed in 1145 and is home to the second largest cloisters in England. A truly awe-inspiring building with a large and active community. There is a rich programme of events running throughout December which cater to all tastes. For the full schedule check out the website but a few highlights include;
Christingle, (08/12/18) – A traditional service and in support of The Children’s Society. Full of candles and oranges and Christmas warmth. 15:30-16:30
Messiah by Candlelight, (22/12/18) –
The spine-tingling annual performance of Handel’s celebrated or oratorio. This is a ticket only event but well worth it.
Established by local man, George Thomas Henry Cushing in the 1970s, the Thursford Collection is home to the world’s largest collection of steam engines and organs. The Christmas Spectacular is a truly unique experience. Boasting a cast of 130 singers, dancers and musicians, the three-hour long shows are a treat for all ages. Running until the 23rd of December and highly popular, The Thursford Christmas Spectacular will blow you away.
Back for its 14th run and now established as a mainstay in the Norfolk festive calendar and a definite family favourite. Held annually on the famous Cromer pier, this Christmas extravaganza is a guaranteed joy for the. Featuring Norfolk’s very own Olly Day and a whole host of singers, dancers, magicians and comics, this treat runs until the 30th
For many of us, Christmas just isn’t the same without a trip to the panto. It seems to be a perfect distillation of the season; the kids joining in with fizzy enthusiasm and the elder generations with perhaps something more akin to stoicism. But regardless of age, we all enjoy a good dame, oh yes, we do! There are many to choose from around Norfolk at this time of year, included here are a few from various areas.
Aladdin at Norwich Theatre Royal – December 12th to January 13th
Snow White at Hunstanton Princess Theatre – December 1st to January 1st
Sleeping Beauty at Kings Lynn Corn Exchange – December 7th to December 31st
Beauty & the Beast at Sheringham Little Theatre – December 8th to January 1st
Of course, it is well known that the Queen herself loves a Norfolk Christmas and traditionally spends the period with her family at the beautiful country retreat of Sandringham House. Built between 1870 and 1892 and drawing its inspiration from the not too far away Blickling Hall, Sandringham is a stunning example of Jacobethan architecture. Although not open to the public when the Queen is in residence, those full of festive cheer and of a monarchist persuasion can catch a glimpse of the Royal Family as Prince Phillip leads them to their traditional Christmas day morning service at the nearby Church of Saint Mary Magdalene.
After too much turkey and too many trimmings, a walk can be just what is needed to gain a second wind. Those familiar with this beautiful county will know what a wide range of opportunities there are to enjoy nature in all its various glories.
A stroll along the beach may seem to be more of a warm weather pursuit, but along the perforations of the North Sea coast the beauty is all year round. Visitors new to the area can pretty much find whatever type of walk they want. From pub-to-pub sections of coastal path to ancient woodland rambles, it really is a case of whatever you fancy. Some old
Blakeney National Nature Reserve – Where dramatic sea views meet painterly skies. Blakeney is an area of outstanding natural beauty and is home to some of Norfolk’s most picturesque views.
The Blickling Estate – A walk through the great wood and surrounding parkland is a great choice should the North Sea breeze prove a little too bracing. With wonderful views of the grand and stately Blickling Hall it is a treat for everybody’s inner aristocrat.
Sheringham Park – The perfect place to try out those new Christmas bicycles! With an array of pathed and signposted routes of varying lengths and difficulties, you will be able to find the perfect one for you.
A part of what makes Christmas such a special time is the rich tapestry of traditions that are gathered up and draped across the whole month. A Boxing Day swim may not appeal to everyone, but all around the edges of the country people will be diving in for charity. Here in Norfolk, the Cromer Boxing Day Dip has become quite the local tradition. Taking place on the promenade next to the pier at 10:00 and organised by the North Norfolk Beach Runners, this year’s dip is raising funds for the Stroke Association. If you don’t fancy taking part, or you ‘accidentally’ forget your costume, it is still an event well worth watching and a cause worth supporting.
These are just a few of the great things going on around this beautiful and varied county over the festive period. I hope that whether you are lucky enough to live here permanently, or visiting on a special holiday, that you can find something truly special to fuel your cheer and to help you enjoy your very own Norfolk Christmas.
Article By Stuart Webb