Ho, ho, ho, it’s almost the holidays and if you are planning a Norfolk break before the big day, or to celebrate the season at Heacham Manor, there is plenty to get you into the festive spirit. The fun begins as the lights get switched on around the county this month, and with Christmas markets, entertainment, and even a chance to meet the jolly old fella himself, it’s time to book a break and enjoy the run up to Christmas, Norfolk style!
Nothing says festive quite like the Christmas lights switch-on, and you can enjoy a great weekend getaway at Heacham Manor and catch the big moment at two of Norfolk’s best lighting up events at Holt on Friday 17 November and Burnham Market on Saturday 18 November. With live entertainment at both, don’t miss the Panto Horse Race that takes place along Holt High Street, keenly hard-fought by local businesses and hilarious to watch, and anticipate a classic Victorian Christmas theme at Burnham Market.
Don’t worry if your trip doesn’t coincide with the towns’ big switch-on, as the festive sparkle runs all season long at Sandringham where a mile of lights, music, mulled wine and marshmallow toasting await at Luminate, which runs from 11 November to 24 December. Wrap up warm and follow the trail through the royal parkland to see the woodland come alive and reward yourself with a warming cup at the end.
Further afield, Thursford has two twinkly light trails to enjoy from 19 November to 24 December – choose from the Enchanted Journey of Light or splurge on Santa’s Magical Journey to meet Father Christmas and his elves, snap a selfie and receive a gift. Famous for its Christmas Spectacular – the biggest in Europe and said to rival New York’s Radio City Rockettes Christmas Show – Heacham Manor is offering a return trip with a deluxe show ticket from £65 per person, so treat yourself and enjoy this superb seasonal production.
If you prefer your Christmas light display indoors, head along the coast to experience Holkham Hall by Candlelight, a tour of the decorated state rooms which have been magically turned into a series of festive scenes by Lady Leicester herself and co-creator Catherine Zoll. This year sees the arrival of Luxmuralis, a large-scale art installation previously displayed at Westminster Abbey and Winchester Cathedral, with an immersive wintery scene in the statue gallery and a beautiful reflective space in the chapel. Heacham Manor is offering a Holkham Hall by Candlelight Break on 17 December, including a three-course dinner at our Mulberry Restaurant, so plan a pre-Christmas getaway.
Of course where there is Christmas, there must be gifts, and Norfolk is the perfect place to get all of your shopping wrapped up. If you are looking for original, unique gifts, head to Dalegate Market at Burnham Deepdale where a host of artisan makers and producers will be opening pop-up shops throughout November and December at its annual Christmas Market.
For more handmade presents, book a break at Heacham Manor and spend a day at Fakenham Racecourse for The Norfolk Artisan Fair at Christmas on 11-12 November where there will be more than 100 indoor and outdoor stalls to shop. Entry is £5 booked in advance or £6 on the day, with free entry for under 16s.
Just a week later, Sandringham is hosting the Living Heritage Christmas Craft, Food & Gift Fair on 17-19 November, where you can catch the unique sight of an opera-singing Santa and an elf on a bubble bike! Entry is £12, £11 for 65+ and £5 for children (5-15).
The big fella will also be putting in an appearance at the Wells Christmas Tide Festival on 24-26 November, arriving from the North Pole in the quayside by boat with his penguin pals on 25 November, followed by a fireworks display over the marshes. The Maltings at Wells is also hosting a Craft Fair on 1 December with more handmade goodies to stuff their stockings.
For foodies, Creake Abbey’s free Christmas Gift Fair from 10am-3pm on 25 November is bursting with tasty edibles and celebratory bottles, along with handmade jewellery, beauty products, art and dapper dog accessories.
Make a weekend of it and head to the Pensthorpe Christmas Market next day, where Santa is sure to stop by, a brass band will be playing carols and there are marquees to browse as you enjoy a warming cup of hot chocolate – guaranteed to get you into the spirit!
Extend your stay for the week and join us for our own Festive Evening Market at The Pavilion on 30 November and enjoy mince pies and mulled wine as you shop, enjoy live music and raffle. Entry is free and all ages are welcome.
Slipping into early December, Holkham is back with its Christmas Food, Drink & Gift Market on 9-10 December from 10am–4pm. Held in the Lady Elizabeth Wing and courtyard, entry is free, there will be street food and the Fakenham Town Band and Nelson’s Shantymen will be playing.
The season seems to stretch every year, but we’re not complaining as nothing beats the peculiar British tradition of pantomime – men dressed as dames, two grappling in a horse costume and actors bursting into song at the drop of a hat, what’s not to love!
Hunstanton’s Princess Theatre’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk kicks off on 2 December and runs until 1 January with plenty of fee fi fo fum fun for all ages.
Or head to King’s Lynn’s Corn Exchange where Dick Whittington and his cat will be leaving London for Morocco with his knapsack, in search of fame and fortune from 8-31 December.
While not quite a panto, enjoy the entertainment abroad the North Norfolk Railway, aka The Poppy Line, which is running its Santa Specials from Sheringham to Holt, via Weybourne where there is a chance to meet the jolly fellow, from 25 November to 23 December. The railway is also running The Norfolk Lights Express after dark from 10 November to 1 January – the steam train is illuminated by thousands of lights and as it rolls along the track, the countryside is lit up.
A truly magical time of year, the team at Heacham Manor look forward to welcoming you for a well-earned break and to enjoy the festive season with us – cheers!