Every year, I look forward to the decorations and special events during the Christmas season. Whether you are looking for indoor or outdoor holiday events, have a tight budget (some events are free), or need to please a wide range of ages, there are some festive options in Norfolk.
It’s probably not too early to start thinking about what you would like to do during Christmas in Norfolk. These events areo popular and many sell out in advance.
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Christmas in Norfolk
Christmas is a special time of year in Norfolk. While there isn’t a big Christmas market like in other cities around the UK, the shops are buzzing with activity. The sparkling decorations add a bit of magic to the air.
Unfortunately, the weather may not always cooperate during this time of year. For outdoor Christmas events, you should be prepared for low temperatures and rain. There may be some snow, but usually not enough to last long. It gets dark early, which works well if you want the little ones to see the lights.
Note: I will add details as events for the 2021 Christmas season are confirmed. Join our email list here to stay up to date.
It’s fitting that the place where the Queen spends Christmas has a wonderful light trail. While Luminate Sandringham happens during the holiday season, it is not Christmas-themed. It is more of an enchanted forest experience with roasted marshmallows. The 1-mile long trail through Sandringham Country Park has special effects, music, and interactive installations in addition to the lights.
Read our 2020 Sandringham Luminate review.
2021 Dates and Tickets: Luminate Sandringham will run nightly beginning Friday 12th November 2021 to Sunday 19th December 2021. Tickets must be pre-booked online in advance here. It is a bit cheaper if you can go Monday through Wednesday before 8th December. There is also the option to get a family ticket.
Blickling Estate Holiday Lights
Blickling Hall, the birthplace of Anne Boleyn, does an excellent job with their holiday decorations. When you visit, you can tour the House to see some holiday displays then walk around the gardens and see the lights on the trees and the House. Grab a cup of mulled wine or other Christmas treats to enjoy as you explore the grounds.
For 2021, Blickling Hall offers the option to visit during the day (“Christmas Morning at Blickling”) and see the house or visit once it’s dark (“Gardens of Light”) and see the gardens (each requiring separate tickets). During both events, the cafe and shop will also be open.
The House will be all decked out for Christmas. You will find a Christmas tree surrounded by presents in the Great Hall. There will also be a Twelve Days of Christmas scene in the Long Gallery.
National Trust members can go to the daytime event for free and get a discount for the evening event. Get more information about National Trust membership here.
2021 Dates and Tickets: The Blickling Christmas events will take place 29 November – 19 December 2021. Tickets must be booked in advance, even if you are a National Trust member. Book for the Gardens of Light here and Christmas Morning at Blickling here.
**You will also want to plan a trip to Blickling in the spring as it is one of the best places to see bluebells in Norfolk.
Norwich Tunnel of Lights
Since 2016, The Norwich Tunnels of Lights has mesmerized visitors of all ages. It uses more than 57,000 LED lights and 5.6 miles of cabling to create animated Christmas-themed scenes. The light show is always changing so you will want to walk through it more than once.
The Tunnel of Lights is located next to St. Peter Mancroft and is free to visit. Go during the week if you can, as it can get quite busy especially on Saturdays.
2021 Dates and Tickets: The Tunnel of Lights will be in the Norwich city centre from 16 November until the new year. No tickets or advanced booking required.
**Read about more free things to do in Norwich.
Thursford Christmas Spectacular
Thursford is a small village in North Norfolk that is home to the Thursford Collection, one of the world’s most important steam and fairground museums. It also hosts popular summer and winter shows that attract visitors from around the UK.
To date, Thursford’s Christmas Spectacular has entertained over 5.8 million making it the largest Christmas show in the country. Many of its 120 cast members have performed in London’s West End. The three-hour show combines non-stop singing, dancing, music, and humour. Expect to hear popular chart toppers along with traditional Christmas carols. The finale even includes white doves flying across the auditorium.
Prices start at £38 for weekday evenings and Sunday evening performances.
2021 Dates and Tickets: While the 2020 show was cancelled, it will be returning this year. The 2021 show will run from 9th November 2021 to 23rd December 2021. There are shows at 14:00 and 19:00. Book tickets in advance here.
Norwich Theatre Royal Panto
An all-star cast will take the Norwich Theatre Royal stage to perform the panto, Dick Whittington and his Cat, which was originally scheduled for 2020. It tells the rags to riches story of a young man leaving home with only a spotted handkerchief and his cat to search for fame and fortune!
You can expect all the traditional pantomime ingredients including energetic songs, a live band, magic, mesmerizing dance routines, slapstick comedy, and plenty audience participation. The show is perfect for all ages.
2021 Dates and Tickets: Dick Whittington and his Cat will run from 11 December 2021 to 9 January 2022. Purchase tickets here.
Cromer End of Pier Christmas Show
The historic Cromer Pier is home to the Pavilion Theatre. While it hosts fantastic entertainment, like the famous Seaside Special, all year long, during the holiday season they have a special Christmas-themed show. Expect a high-energy variety show with singing, dancing, comedy, and more. It’s family-friendly too.
2021 Dates and Tickets: The 2021 Cromer Pier Christmas show will run from Saturday 27th November to 30th December. You can get more information on the times of the shows and buy tickets here.
Norfolk Festive Gift & Food Show
The Norfolk Festive Gift & Food Show at the Norfolk Showground is the region’s biggest festive shopping event, packed with Christmas gifts for all ages, entertainment, and delicious seasonal food and drink. There are hundreds of stalls inside the Main Exhibition Hall and some outdoors too. It’s a holiday event that the whole family can enjoy.
2021 Dates and Tickets: The 2021 Norfolk Festive Gift & Food Show takes place 12th November to 14th November 2021. Timed entry tickets are required and you can save a bit by buying them in advance. Get more information and buy tickets here.
Fairhaven Water Gardens Bauble & Light Trails
It’s lovely to walk around Fairhaven Water Gardens any time of year. Around Christmas they have special themed trails that both kids and adults will enjoy.
During the day, you can do the Bauble Trail. Hunt for the colourful Christmas baubles in the woodland garden and learn more about the birds that live in the area during the winter. The Bauble Trail is included with normal admission.
If you like Christmas lights, the evening trail at Fairhaven Garden won’t disappoint. It’s much more affordable than other larger trails, but you will need to book in advance as it is popular.
2021 Dates and Tickets: The Christmas Lights Walk at Fairhaven is scheduled for select evenings from 27 November to 23 December. It’s only £ 3 for adults, £1.50 for children, and free for those under 4. Get tickets here (it sold out quickly last year so don’t wait).
While the bauble trail took place in 2020, nothing has been announced about 2021 yet.
North Norfolk Railway Christmas Lights Express
The North Norfolk Railway runs a heritage trainline from Sheringham to Holt via Weybourne. During the holiday season, they offer a special evening train ride called the Christmas Lights Express. It’s a fun holiday event for the whole family!
The buffet at Sheringham will be open so you can purchase hot and cold refreshments for the ride including alcohol, soft drinks, cakes and savoury snacks. The 5.25 mile-long route passes by beautifully lit festive displays and the train itself is covered in lights. There is also a soundtrack tailored for the experience. Once the train arrives in Holt, it will turn around and take you back to Sheringham.
2021 Dates and Tickets: The Norfolk Lights Express will be operating daily from November 15th 2021 until January 3rd 2022, with the exception of December 6th, 24th, 25th, and 26th. On most days, trains will depart at 17:30 and 19:30. Check the schedule and get tickets here.
Holkham by Candlelight
See Holkham Hall, home to the Earl of Leicester, all decorated for Christmas. You can tour the hall by candlelight to see the magnificent state rooms at their festive best. Lady Leicester and Christmas-connoisseur Catherine Zoll, has been working the entire year to get it all ready.
They have collaborated with popular makers and artists including Claire Owen, Emma Thorburn, Alice King, FX-Live and Natalie Boon to create unique decorations. Expect to see everything from frozen and jungle scenes to lavish jewelled opulence and a surprising canine masterpiece when you visit Holkham for Christmas. You can also enjoy a glass of bubbly and mince pie in the Courtyard Café and check out the gift shop.
Your Holkham By Candlelight Tour will last around 45 minutes. It’s recommended for ages 10 and over. A parking charge of £5 is payable in Holkham Park, but that can be put towards purchases of £20 or more in the gift shop.
2021 Dates and Tickets: Holkham by Candlelight will take place select days 1 December to 29 December 2021. Tours are £28 for adults and £14 for children. Get timed-tickets for the tours here.
Thursford Enchanted Journey of Light
The Christmas Spectacular is not the only special event happening in Thursford during the holidays. There is also a light trail called the Enchanted Journey of Light which returns for its second year.
The journey takes you into Santa’s Magical Journey Building (sadly Santa is STILL ICE-olating so will not be attending the event) and past the penguins and polar bears to the giant-sized teddy bears. You can see how the elves have loaded Santa’s sleigh and watch them hard at work in the toy factory using the wondrous wrapping machine. You will come across lots of fantasy land characters including the snowman family, so make sure you watch out for their snowballs!
As you venture outside to the Lantern Light Extravaganza, there will be lots of new creatures for you to see in your journey from a fantasy underwater world to the wilds of the North Pole. Watch out for the naughty mushroom gnomes!
They will also have an outside bar, food, and a vintage funfair. Note that the funfair rides are not included in the admission price.
2021 Dates and Tickets: Select evenings 19 November to 23 December. It’s 18 per person, kids 2 and under are free. Get tickets here.
Christmas Experience at Wroxham Barns
The popular Santa Experience at Wroxham Barns has been expanded and renamed the Christmas Experience. Tickets include almost three hours of Christmas-themed fun perfect for kids aged 2 to 10 plus unlimited play at the Fun Park and walks around Junior Farm either before or after your Christmas Experience.
*Get more ideas for things to do in Norfolk with kids here.
Children get the opportunity to spend quality time with Santa, Mrs Claus, and their Elves. They can go to Elf College and receive an Elf School Diploma Certificate and an Elf Hat to take home! There will also be a fun Christmas craft that the children can make and take home too.
At the real animal Nativity, they can see donkeys and other animals. They can visit Mrs Claus’ Kitchen workshop to see how great (or not) she is at baking and decorate their own Gingerbread person to take home.
Then it will be time to meet Father Christmas for story time and Reindeer Food making. After that, they will head to the Christmas tree lined Snow Storm Barn and walk through a snowstorm (courtesy of snow machine). Finally they get to go to the Toy Shop to choose a gift. If you like, there is the option to also add Build a Teddy with the elves to make the day out even more memorable.
2021 Dates and Tickets: The Christmas Experience will take place every weekend in December, plus the 20th, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd December. There will also be exclusive, limited Christmas Eve sessions too. Admission price goes up a bit for visits starting 21st December. Purchase tickets here.
Bure Valley Railway Festive Express
Take a one hour festive steam ride. Grab refreshments and board the train at the Aylsham Station. You will get your own private heated compartment. The train will take you to the Brompton Station, which is decorated for the occassion.
It will turn around and take you back to Aylsham where Santa will be waiting in his sleigh. Each child will receive a personalized gift.
2021 Dates and Tickets: The Festive Express will run select days from 4th December to 24th December. Admission price is £15 per person, but babies on your lap are free if they don’t need refreshments or a present. Advanced booking is essential, get tickets here.
Dippy’s Christmas Celebration at Roarr Dinosaur Adventure
After selling out in 2020, Dippy’s Christmas Celebration will return in 2021 with individual time slots and a free adult with each child. There are two event options – Jingle all the Day and Sparkle in the Dark.
Jingle all the Day
Children start the experience by meeting elves and receiving a magical passport. Then they get to meet Mother Christmas and have some of her delicious gingerbread. The elves will take you through the festive wintery route and get a candy cane before meeting the most important man of all – Father Christmas.
The Jingle all the Day experience includes a digital photograph with Father Christmas and hot chocolate for all members of the family. Each child receives a golden ticket to exchange for a gift of their choice from Father Christmas’s toy shop.
Since the Jingle In The Day is a separate immersive Christmas experience to the Dinosaur park, you will also need to purchase your park tickets when you book.
Sparkle in the Night
You get to meet Father Christmas in the evening after the park closes when the it looks more sparkly and festive.
2021 Dates and Tickets: The Christmas festivities at Roarr Dinosaur Adventure take place on selected days 4th December to 24th December. Admission price for the daytime event is £15 per child (includes one adult, additional adults are £2) and the nighttime event is £17.50 per child (includes one adult, additional adults are £4). Advanced booking is essential, get tickets here.