Norfolk and Suffolk's attractions continue to invest in new projects demonstrating significant confidence in the region’s tourism offer. English Whisky’s St George’s Distillery is developing a new restaurant and shop, which will open in the autumn, as will Dinosaur Adventure’s explorer-themed restaurant.
City Sightseeing Norwich is unveiling an upgraded DDA compliant bus, with easy wheelchair access in April. Banham Zoo will be opening its new £400,000 Californian sea lion enclosure later this summer and Amazona Zoo is opening Cromer Camping in July, the only campsite in the heart of Cromer.
On the events front, the legendary Tom Jones will be at Holkham Hall on July 23, Houghton Hall is hosting an exhibition by acclaimed British sculptor, Richard Long from April 30 and, once again, the Thursford Christmas Spectacular, the largest Christmas show in the country, returns on November 8.
Martin Dupée, Chairman NSTA said: “This is looking like a fantastic year for all of Norfolk and Suffolk’s attractions. The Great Days Out booklet features 51 excellent reasons for day trips and short breaks in the region. It's such good news to see both large and smaller attractions continuing to invest in new facilities and innovative events, improving the visitor experience and giving a boost to our £4.8 billion tourism economy in Norfolk and Suffolk.”
The Great Days Out booklet offers an unrivalled menu of activities from boat trips on the Broads, family theme parks, top museum collections and country houses and gardens to zoos and animal collections, heritage railways, fabulous live shows and much more.
Some 400,000 booklets will be distributed across the six counties of the East of England and to Tourist Information Centres nationwide.
Great Days Out in Norfolk & Suffolk can also be downloaded from www.
Further information about new projects and events
Cromer Camping, the only campsite in the heart of Cromer, situated next door to Amazona Zoo is opening the last week of July and for the month of August 2017. The campsite is just 10 minutes walk into the seaside town. www.cromercamping.com.
BroadsbyCycle Bike Hire Scheme
A new cycle hire scheme has opened on the Broads at three locations near the River Bure. This is an exciting and innovative bike hire system, operated and managed by Broadland Cycle Hire. It is an extension of their existing services from the hire centre in BeWILDerwood’s car park.
The bikes are locked in electronically controlled docking stations in Hoveton outside the TIC, in Horning near the Swan Inn and at Ludham Bridge. Bookings can be made on-line at www.broadsbycycle.co.uk.
Castle Acre Priory
Enjoy Medieval Life and Laughter at Castle Acre Priory on July 15 and 16, 11am to 5pm. Journey back in time and immerse yourself in the sights, smells and sounds of medieval England. Discover the lives of the prosperous and the poor as you meet a monk, as well as the craftsmen, cooks and comedians in the encampments. Swords will be wielded and helmets battered as medieval combat is displayed in front of your eyes. Sharpen your swords for a day out to remember.
City Sightseeing Norwich
City Sightseeing Tours Norwich is celebrating the start of the 2017 season on April 1 with an upgraded bus that is fully DDA compliant, with easy access to securely take a wheelchair. Running daily until September 30from 10.30am, with the last tour departing 3.30 from Theatre Street opposite the Theatre Royal, the tours last 45 minutes and take in nine stops around the City. From October 3 to 28 tours run Tuesday to Saturdayonly. www.city-sightseeing.com
East Anglia Transport Museum
New this year is the Larry Lodekka Kids’ Club, for children aged 3 to 14. Membership costs £12 and includes free entry on all open days, special meet and ride days with Larry Lodekka, a club badge, birthday card and gift and three newsletters packed with fun facts and puzzles. www.eatransportmuseum.co.uk
A new explorer-themed family restaurant is being developed in the Secret Garden and a new permanent building is being planned for The Dark, part of Primevil, Dinosaur Adventure’s Halloween attraction www.dinosauradventure.co.uk
Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden
Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden is running a Summer Season St Benet's Abbey Boat Trip and Tour, every Saturday afternoon from June to the end of September. The round trip, which lasts just over two hours, includes a guided tour of St Benet’s Abbey. www.fairhavengarden.co.uk
St George’s Distillery – the home of English Whisky
New visitor facilities at St George’s Distillery include a larger shop and an 80-seater restaurant/bistro. The distillery offers tours on the hour (lasting an hour). The new facilities will open in the autumn. www.englishwhisky.co.uk
Grimes Graves English Heritage – Prehistoric Mineshaft Opens for First Time
A prehistoric mineshaft at Grime’s Graves is opening to the public for the first time in 2017. Greenwell’s Pit, one of over 400 pits dug at the vast prehistoric flint mine at Grime’s Graves, will be one of only two of the site’s 4,500 year-old shafts currently open to the public. It fell out of use around 2100 BC, as people turned to bronze.
Now, via special tours, English Heritage members and the public will use a ladder and a newly installed winch to descend 12 metres below ground. Grime’s Graves is one of only ten known prehistoric flint mines in England and the only such site in the British Isles open to visitors. Tours of Greenwell’s Pit for English Heritage members begin in April, with public access from June. Visitors will climb down to explore the mysterious space where unusual objects such as a greenstone axe from Cornwall, antler picks and the skull of a bird were discovered curiously arranged.
What The Butler Saw is the special exhibition for 2017. It delves into the fascinating archives at Holkham to take a look behind the scenes at the lives of the staff who have lived and worked there. Using unseen photographs and original uniforms, alongside historic documents, the exhibition tells the personal experiences and colourful stories of the people who have helped to keep this great house running over the last 200 years to the present day. The exhibition is available to view during normal hall opening times and is included in the admission charge.
The legend that is Tom Jones will be performing an open-air concert at Holkham on July 23. www.holkham.co.uk
Houghton Hall is hosting a major exhibition by highly acclaimed British sculptor Richard Long from April 30. The artist will create a number of site-specific works in the grounds in addition to the slate work Full Moon Circle, which was commissioned specially for Houghton in 2003. There will also be mud paintings and smaller-scale works in gallery spaces, as well as historic material relating to the artist’s career. The exhibition will be curated by Lorcan O’Neill, in association with Richard Long who won the Turner Prize in 1989.
The exhibition runs on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays until October 26. Gates open at 11am and the house opens at 12noon. Tickets are on sale and cost £18 per head. For more information and to book online visit www.houghtonhall.com
Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary
Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary is enhancing the visitor experience in their Rainforest Ranger room. From Easter, Rainforest Rangers will show visitors some of their jungle beasties, lizards and creepy crawlies at daily handling sessions. Discover the mighty leaf cutting ants at they forage for leaves and explore their surroundings. These incredible creatures can lift up to twenty times their own body weight. www.visitsealife.com/
Merrivale Model Village
New models for 2017 are the impressive Merri 1 space rocket and MASA scene and the Merri Car Company car show room. There is also a new supersaver ticket, £1.00 discount per person on four or more paying visitors in one transaction. www.merrivalemodelvillage.co.
SEA LIFE Great Yarmouth
Step beneath the waves at SEA LIFE Great Yarmouth and get closer than ever to the creatures and features of the world’s oceans. From the colourful to the curious, the majestic to the mystical, get ready to be amazed as you discover the stories of the oceans’ most fascinating inhabitants. New for 2017 is the £300,000 investment, Under the RAY-DAR. Step into the research submarine and come face to face with native rays. Interact with the multi-sensory touchpoints to learn more about other sea creatures from the UK coastline and find out how to get involved in the amazing conservation projects that SEA LIFE supports. www.visitsealife.com/great-
Stories of Lynn
King’s Lynn’s stunning new attraction, Stories of Lynn opened in April 2016. New for 2017 the ‘Stories of Lynn’ mobile App will provide visitors with added insight to the stories told at the attraction as well as providing a brand new guide to explore all the fascinating sites and buildings throughout the historic town of King’s Lynn.
Thursford Christmas Spectacular
Thursford Christmas Spectacular Show returns for its 41st season from 8 November to 23 December (daily at 2pm and 7pm). Santa’s Magical Journey will be open on 25 and 26 November, 2, 3, 9 and10 December and 16 to 23 December daily.
T. 01328 878477, www.thursford.com