More free fun for Norfolk families

As the school summer holidays steam into August ROWAN MANTELL takes the pressure of the family purse by focussing on another fortnight of fantastic local freebies.


Classic cars.

Gleaming classic cars will process from the Cathedral Close at 9.30am, and chug, roar and purr their way to Raveningham via churches at Caister St Edmund's, Shotesham , Chedgrave and Loddon.

The rally is the launch event for the annual Norfolk Open Churches Week, which includes events at churches across Norfolk and Waveney.

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Norfolk has over 600 historic church buildings, more per acre and per person than anywhere in the world.

Just one of the huge number of churches hosting special events is Heacham parish church. Its Open Churches programme includes music at midday from Monday to Friday this coming week, plus an exhibition on Heacham's links to Pocahontas, who married the local squire in the 1600s.

For full details of events near you visit


Carnival at Lowestoft

The Carnival Fete at Royal Green, Lowestoft, will include children's sports, donkey rides, a mascot race, fancy dress competitions for adults and children, the Lowestoft dog agility team, vintage car display, stalls, dancing and entertainments.


Pack some lunchtime entertainment.

LunchBox is the perfect place to enjoy your city centre lunch break. The now-traditional summer serving of top street theatre comes to the Millennium Plain, outside the Forum, every weekday lunchtime this week.

Today, at 12.30 and 1.30pm, marvel at an epic tale of derring-do, featuring incredible feats of strength, cuddly toy carnage and the best sword fight since 600BC.

Tomorrow there is unicycle juggling comedy, on Wednesday see Calamity Jayne and her trusty steed, and on Thursday Turbo Jonez and the Temple of Boom bring phat beats and a 25-foot inflatable cobra.

Friday's finale features a Buster Keaton-inspired silent movie from the Bash Street Theatre Company with falling buildings, dare-devil escapology, slap-stick humour and live piano accompaniment.


Going wild at Ranworth.

Search for boatmen, nymphs and water scorpions beneath the surface of Ranworth Broad.

This free two-part session includes an hour-long walk through some amazing wildlife habitats at 11am, followed by an afternoon of dyke-dipping from 1.30-3.30pm.

No need to book, just turn up for the morning or afternoon session - or both.

The event is repeated on Tuesday August 23.


Creatures of the night – fireworks and moths.

Fireworks light up the Great Yarmouth night sky at 10pm every Wednesday of the school summer holidays.

The annual free firework extravaganza also includes two hours of music and entertainment from 8pm, at the Central Beach. Before that enjoy the wonderland of free summer fun which is Yarmouth beach.

Up on the north coast the moth trap at Titchwell is opened every Wednesday at 9am. Join some RSPB experts and meet some marvellous moths. The free hour-long event runs every Wednesday until September 14.


Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival (or moths at Cley)

The spectacular seafront festival takes to the skies above Lowestoft beach from midday.

From war-planes to aerobatics and from rescue helicopters to restored vintage aircraft, the skies will be pulsing with planes today and tomorrow.

The Red Arrows will perform both days, as part of around 4.5 hours, each afternoon, of precision flying. In previous years the programme has included the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, parachute displays, all kinds of aerobatics, the Avro Vulcan and much more.

The sea-front will also be packed with funfairs, stalls, simulators, music, entertainment and military displays and exhibitions.

And there's night-flying over Cley Marshes every evening.

The magical world of moths is explored at Cley Marshes at 9.30am.

A beginner's introduction to the night flying moths includes a chance to see the Visitor Centre moth trap opened at 9.30am and the night's catch released back into the wild. The event is repeated on August 25.


Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival (or theatre in the park in Norwich.)

The massive air show continues along Lowestoft seafront, with another packed programme of thrilling flying from around midday until 4.30pm. The Red Arrows are expected, alongside many more internationally renowned aircraft. The full souvenir programme will be available from August 1 and although the event is free, organisers ask for a donation of at least �3 per adult to help pay for a fantastic two days of flying.

The drama in a Norwich park continues with Little Red Riding Hood and Friends in Waterloo Park at 3pm.


Live music at Beccles.

Bring a picnic and enjoy the sun during the Beccles Harvest Moon Festival. This local free festival of music (plus circus tricks, face painting, picnicking and a bar) is now four years old and runs from midday to dusk.


Are you sitting comfortably?

The Yarnsmith of Norwich pitches his tent in Heigham Park, Norwich, every Sunday to tell stories of long, long ago. Hear tales of terrible Tudors, and mind-mangling riddles, at 11am every summer Sunday through to August 28.

Norwich parks are also the venue for free band concerts at 3pm each Sunday. Today Norfolk Wherry Brass plays in Eaton Park.

Next Sunday the Dereham Band play the Mousehold Heath bandstand and on Sunday August 28 the Pavilion Brass Quintet will be playing in

Waterloo Park.

Or perhaps it's time for teddy to enjoy a day out too. Bring your bears to Great Bircham Windmill for a special teddy day from 10am. Free admission for teddies and their families. Look out for teddy bear games, stories, and activities and lots of furry fun.


Escape to the circus – in a book.

Fun days and story sessions are just some of the circus-themed activities on offer at your local library this summer. The kids'

summer reading challenge includes a Circus Stars folder, and stickers to collect for every book read.

Look out for details of circus-themed events in your local library all summer.


Wherry fun.

Once upon a time wherries were the work-horses of the Norfolk Broads. Today they are a graceful reminder of our early industrial age. The

Wherry Albion is the iconic 113yr old sailing barge which once carried all kinds of cargos through the Broads. Today she is registered with National Historic Ships as a craft of national importance.

She has been beautifully restored and will be moored at Lower Street, Horning, from 10am to 4pm, to welcome visitors aboard.

Find out about her history

The Wherry Albion moves on to Ranworth tomorrow, where she will be moored beside Woodbastwick Road from 10am to 4pm.


Cromer Carnival and city cinema.

Cromer Carnival and associated fun runs through most of August – but one of the soaraway highlights of the packed main week is the visit of the Red Arrows. This year they will be performing their incredible aerobatics over the sea at 11.30am. Carnival events will be taking place all over Cromer, with another big free extravaganza this evening as the Grand Carnival Parade, complete with floats, music, dancing and fancy dress, winds its way through the town from 7pm.

Free city centre cinema

The Big Screen on Chapelfield Plain, Norwich, has been showing family films on Wednesdays through the summer. Today's treat is Despicable Me – with showings at 10am, 12 noon, 2pm and 4pm.


Roam with the Romans.

It's not quite the Eternal City but Norfolk has some great Roman remains.

Out on the marshes beyond Yarmouth lies Burgh Castle.

Three sides of a massive Roman fort remain, the fourth tumbled into the river centuries ago. It's an atmospheric place which, almost 2,000 years ago, housed a garrison of elite cavalry troops. After the Romans left it was used first as a monastery and then a castle (now almost entirely destroyed) was built within its walls.

The fort is reached by a footpath and is open any reasonable time.

For more information visit

There are more Roman remains at Brancaster, and just outside Norwich is the site of the once-bustling Venta Icenorum. It was a thriving town centuries before Norwich even existed – but today the grassy ramparts of this 2000-year-old town are a pleasant walk, taking you past a river, woodland, ruins and (usually) grazing sheep, in the space of a mile or so. A once-navigable river is little more than a stream and the streets and houses, temples and theatres are simply meadow land. It's just outside the village of Caister St Edmund, south of Norwich, and completely free.


Outdoor theatre.

The traditional summer season of free alfresco drama in Norwich's parks continues this afternoon with the Foolhardy Circus Clowns, Bert and Bert, at Waterloo Park at 3pm.

The clowning, comedy and slapstick of Bert and Bert Sweep the Boards is ideal for everyone from the age of 4 to 104.

Tomorrow – from fireworks and festivals to bushcraft and beaches, we continue our cut-out-and-keep guide to a bumper budget break.