A spectacular show that lifts the spirits at Christmas time

Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

Santa's Magical Journey at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Wow! The Thursford Christmas Spectacular really seems to have outdone itself this year on its 40th anniversary .

Nothing beats heading out from the city via the Fakenham road on a dull dreary cold winter's day driving deep into the middle of our north Norfolk 'sticks', leaving the gridlocked cars heading into Norwich city centre for Christmas shopping behind.

While making a beeline to Thursford passing Norfolk country villages such as sleepy Little Snoring, you may suddenly find yourself behind a convoy of luxury coaches travelling from all four corners of England, decked out in their Christmas trimmings glistening like jewels in the reflection of your car headlights.

This is the first sign that there's something special going on ahead, a bit like the nativity when the three kings and shepherds follow the star to get to the stable, except you're following our elusive county signposts to get to a barn in the middle of nowhere.

And then before you know it, those dark winding country lanes light up before you into what can only be described as north Norfolk's very own 'Winter Wonderland'.

Catching your first glimpse of the millions of multi-coloured fairy lights twinkling from every bush, branch, twig and tree is certainly an amazing sight to behold as you are ushered through the muddy car park by smiling fluorescent jacketed attendants .

I first attended the Thursford extravaganza about 20 years ago and after what seemed like an age, I have become a late convert again, and wouldn't miss it for theworld .

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Why I waited so long heaven only knows.

Maybe it had been a struggle to fit it in during the run-up to Christmas, what with all the Christmas shopping, and Christmas hustle and bustle.

Or more likely I just left it too late to book as when November and December finally arrive, it's already booked up.

And I can understand why it's always so fully booked, as this Christmas extravaganza is like no other Christmas show in England, Great Britain or Europe.

Thursford certainly has Christmas by the bucketload, topped up with a delicious dolly mixture of gloriously OTT colourful costumes, beautifully groomed dancers, singers and musicians who all professionally perform to perfection in voice, step and time.

This variety show captures the spirit of Christmas perfectly, by balancing a 'Father Christmas wish list', full of everyone's favourite familiar Christmas carols, songs with quirky poems, a novelty act and an excellent compere whose topical jokes and perfect comedy timing warm up this adult audience from head to toe.

Thursford's stocking full of song and dance numbers from your favourite famous musical theatre classics is West End and Broadway standard.

Plus it's performed by a quality line-up of fresh faced up-and -coming stage school trained professional artists, who genuinely appear to love performing to the Thursford audience .

With the performers' warm sunny smiles, interactive routines and friendly eye contact, they warm the cockles of even the loneliest visiting soul.

And Thursford never fails to melt the hearts of even the most 'bah humbug' Christmas cynic.

I'm certain if Scrooge and the Grinch attended they, too, would be joining in the sing-a-long, feeling that welcoming warm glow, and before they knew it they would be toasting the season with a warm cup of mulled wine and a mince pie in the interval like everyone else.

Is it any wonder this show is packed to the rafters year after year?

If you could bottle the Thursford atmosphere you would label it the 'spirit of Christmas'.