25 things to do in Norfolk to beat the rain
Rain, rain — please go away. With the summer a wash out so far it could have spoiled the fun. However there is still plenty to do with wellies and an umbrella. SIMON PARKIN picks 25 places to head and stay dry.
Cathedral Close, Norwich, 7.30am-6pm daily, free admission (donations welcome), 01603 218440, www.cathedral.org.uk
For over 900 years this Norman building has dominated the Norwich skyline – though you'd be surprised at the number of people who've never actually visited. Wet weather is a perfect excuse to step inside and soak up the history of this magnificent building. Take a look at the fantastic art from English medieval paintings on wood panels to wonderful carved stone sculptures not to mention the beautiful stain glass windows. There are daily tours with trained guides.
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CIRCUS AND WATER SPECTACULAR
Hippodrome, Great Yarmouth, July 18-September 16, �19-�13 (�15-�12 cons), �12.50-�10 children, 01493780223, www.hippodromecircus.co.uk
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Award-winning comedy duo Clive and Danny return to star in the Hippodrome's brand new summer spectacular to join host Jack Jay, comedian Mick Potts, Scruffy the loveable rogue dog act, stunning aerial acts, dancers, swimmers, special effects and much more.
RNLI HENRY BLOGG MUSEUM
The Rocket House, The Gangway, Cromer, Tues-Sun 10am to 5pm (Mon closed), 01263 511294, www.cromerlifeboats.org.uk
Coxswain Henry Blogg (1876-1954) was the RNLI's most decorated lifeboatman. The original lifeboat museum at Cromer has been replaced with the RNLI Henry Blogg Lifeboat Museum. It has the H.F. Bailey on display on the ground floor, there is an information centre on the first floor and a restaurant on the second floor. There are many things to see and do for with family friendly interactive displays, bringing the story of the RNLI to life.
TIME AND TIDE MUSEUM
Blackfriars Road, Great Yarmouth, until November 11, Mon-Sun 9.30am-4.30pm, �4.90 (�4.20 cons), �3.60 children, 01493 743930, www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk
In a former Victorian herring curing works, the Time and Tide tells the fascinating story of Yarmouth, including shipwrecks, fishwives and saucy postcards. You can still smell the fish in the timbers, as well as wander down a reconstructed 'row' of homes and shops, hearing from the residents of a century ago.
Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth, Wed 4pm-7pm/Sat 11am-4pm/Sun 11am-2pm, �4.50, �2.50 children (2-4), under-2s free, �14 family, 01493 854349, www.retroskate.net
Yarmouth has a long and proud history of roller skating and has apparently produced more national champions per head of population than anywhere else in the country. At Retroskate, on the seafront, the whole family can get their skates on. Public sessions on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sunday, and if you really want to strut your stuff roller discos on Fridays and Saturday 7pm-10pm.
SUMMER SEASIDE SPECIAL
Pavilion Theatre, Cromer Pier, until August 8, �19.50-�10, �10-�9.50 children, �50 family, 01263 512495, www.cromer-pier.com
This year celebrating its 35th anniversary Cromer's annual summer season extravaganza is a traditional seaside variety show. It's actually two shows with different productions running simultaneously. Music, specialty acts and lashings of saucy-postcard humour with comedians Dain Cordean and Ben Langley, contortionist Karina Grigorieva, singers Sophie Bloom and Rob McVeigh and the Seaside Special Dancers.
South Denes, Great Yarmouth, Sundays, �6, 01493 850698, www.nelson-museum.co.uk
During 2012 this Grade I listed monument will only be open every Sunday pre-booked tours. Climb all 217 steps to experience the breathtaking views — Norwich Cathedral can be seen on a clear day — and to learn more about the Monument.
The Forum, Norwich, Sundays, �7.50 (�6.75 cons), �5 children (7-15 years), 0370 9011227, bbc.co.uk/showsandtours
We've watched or listened to the programmes, but have you ever wondered just what goes on in the BBC's Norwich outpost? The BBC offers a fantastic chance to gain access to the rarely seen world on its behind-the-scenes tours every Sunday. Visits include the Look East TV studio, a peek into the presenters' dressing-rooms, the Radio Norfolk studios plus having a go at the hands-on interactive studio experience.
SEA LIFE CENTRE
Marine Parade, Yarmouth, Mon-Fri 10am-4pm/Sat-Sun 10am-5pm, online family saver tickets from �25.80, 01493 330631, www.sealifeeurope.com
Norfolk boasts two Sea Life Centres, one in Yarmouth and another in Hunstanton, home to England's biggest colony of common seals. Highlights in Yarmouth include the rays, seahorses, the Finding Nemo tank and the octopus who enjoys playing with an oversized hamster ball. Staff enthuse about the incredible aquatic life on display and encourage children to learn fun facts like where a starfish's bum is.
Sheringham Station, trains run daily on various timetables, tickets from �6, �4 children, �18.75 family, 01263 820800, www.nnrailway.co.uk
Out of the rain, this has to be the most glorious way to take in the North Norfolk coast. The 10.5 mile round trip from Sheringham to Holt through outstanding rolling countryside, takes in the beauty spots of Kelling Heath and Sheringham Park to the south. North, almost nothing but the sea. They run special events throughout the summer, notably the steam gala on September 2-4.
SHOWTIME SUMMER SPECTACULAR
Pavilion Theatre, Gorleston, until October 2, 7.45pm, �16 (�14 cons), 01493 660830, www.gorlestonpavilion.co.uk
The ever-popular Showtime Summer Spectacular is back at the Edwardian Pavilion Theatre, for what's thought to be the UK's longest summer season (to October). Along with new recruit Olly Day and old boy Nigel 'Boy' Syer the show boasts a full company of singers, dancers and comedians who are guaranteed to fill your afternoon or evening with entertainment. Performances Tues/Wed/Thurs at 7.30pm.
STOCK CAR RACING
Yarmouth Stadium, Sundays/Thursdays�12.50-�12 (�10 cons), �6.50-�6 children, under-4s free, �37-�35 family, 01493 720343, www.yarmouthstadium.co.uk
Thrills, spills, crashes and smashes mean a trip to Yarmouth Stadium is a must for all young petrolheads and you can watch undercover in the Grandstand. Sunday meetings include motor racing and banger action; Thursdays feature the Adrenaline Overload Stunt Show with monster trucks, stunt driving and extreme motorbiking.
LOTUS FACTORY TOUR
Lotus, Hethel, July 18/25/27, 2pm, �39, 01953 608547, www.lotusdrivingacademy.com
We'd all like to get behind the wheel of a Lotus but how about behind-the-scenes of how they are made? The company's hi-tech manufacturing facility at Hethel, is where the world class, high performance sports cars are all individually hand built. The company hosts regular factory tours that shed light on the history and heritage of Lotus.
Turbine Way, Swaffham, Mon-Fri 10am-4pm, free admission, turbine climb �5, �3 children, 01760 726100, www.ecotech.org.uk
You've probably driven past and marvelled at the turbine that looms over the A11 but how about climb to the top — all without getting wet. Admission to the centre is free but should you feel energetic but there is a small charge to climb the turbine and booking is advisable. It's worth visiting simply for the spectacular views you get across mid-Norfolk and as far as the coast.
MUSEUM OF THE BROADS
The Staithe Stalham, 10.30am-5pm daily, �4 (�3.50 cons), �2.50 children, under-5s free, �12 family, 01692 581681, www.museumofthebroads.org.uk
The only waterside museum of Broadland life, in a traditional setting at Stalham Staithe. Discover the boats of the Broads and how people's working lives shaped the landscape. There are displays, videos and a playboat in a tranquil and picturesque location. And if it clears up they do trips on a steam launch too (extra charge).
JAPAN: KINGDOM OF CHARACTERS
Sainsbury Centre, until August 12, Tues-Sun 10am-5pm, free admission, 01603 593199, scva.ac.uk
A celebration the growing interest in Japanese sub-cultures such as manga and anime. This vibrant exhibition offers the chance to encounter characters from television, computer games and comics. Many have become much loved household names around the world including Pokamon and Hello Kitty.
WORLD ART GAME DAY
Sainsbury Centre, July 22, 12pm-4pm, free admission, 01603 593199, www.scva.ac.uk
The Sainsbury Centre's annual family fun day marks the Olympics. It will include games inspired by the peoples and cultures of the world. One of the highlights will be a unique reconstruction of an ancient Mesoamerican ball game (never before attempted in the UK). There will also be a giant cat's cradle from North America, jump-rope games from China and races with special prizes.
Norwich Puppet Theatre, July 28-August 11, �7.50 (�6 cons), �5.50 children, �22 family, 01603 629921, www.puppettheatre.co.uk
When the Pied Piper plays his flute the rats run, the greedy mayor rubs his hands and the children dance in the Puppet Theatre's popular show which returns this summer. The humorous and irresistible one person show combines a skilful mix of puppetry, foot-tapping live music and storytelling.
Millennium Plain, Norwich, July 23-August 3, free admission, www.theforumnorwich.co.uk
Though this summer series of lunch time entertainment is outdoors you can still get a good view under the shelter of the Forum roof. This year's line-up includes the usual mix of comedy, dance, music and theatre with plenty of weird and wacky acts to cheer up your rainy lunch break.
Happisburgh, Sun 11am-4pm, �2 (�1 cons), www.happisburgh.org/lighthouse
The region's oldest working lighthouse, dating from 1790, Happisburgh is also the only independently run one too. There are regular open days and on Sundays you can make the 112-step climb to the lantern room though it is definitely not one for vertigo sufferers (or under-8s). On a clear day you can see 13 miles — and maybe spot better weather.
RAF AIR DEFENCE RADAR MUSEUM
Neatishead, Horning, 10am-5pm Tues/Thurs, �4.50 (�4 cons), 01692 631485, www.radarmuseum.co.uk
It may sound a little dull but believe us this museum is a fascinating exploration of the development of radar from the 1930s to the present day. There are imaginative displays using an original Cold War operations rooms (used until 1993), a nuclear bunker and a Night Blitz room.
Griffin Lane, Thorpe St Andrew, 10am-4pm daily, fares vary, 01603 701701, www.cityboats.co.uk
The River Wensum forms a loop around the city which makes it ideal for a boat trip to see Norwich from a different angle and it can be enjoyed whatever the weather (barring an unlikely hurricane). City Boasts run a selection of daily cruises, lasting from 20 minutes to three hours and depart from three quays.
Earlham Road, Norwich, 7.15am-10.30pm daily, admission rates vary, 01603 592398, www.sportspark.co.uk
What better way to avoid getting wet than by, well, getting wet. Swimming is the perfect family outing to beat inclement weather. The Sportspark boasts an Olympic-sized pool, but if swimming isn't your thing, what about squash, badminton, judo, climbing…?
NORWICH CITY HALL & CLOCK TOWER
St Peter's Street, Norwich, Mon-Fri 8.45am-5pm, free admission, 01603 727927, www.norwich.gov.uk
Another Norwich landmark that a surprising number of people have never looked around. It is worth taking a Blue Badge guided tour around the 1938 building (dates/times from the Tourist Information office) to explore the art deco interior and timber-panelled offices of power. Trips up the famous clock tower are by appointment but are worth it.