Norwich heading for busy weekend as events sell out and tables book up

Busy Norwich Market with most of the stalls open as people are out and about enjoying the easing of

Busy Norwich Market with most of the stalls open as people are out and about enjoying the easing of the Covid restrictions. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Norwich is heading towards what is expected to be a busy weekend as more pubs reopen and outdoor events return - including one which is fully booked for five weeks.

The city was heaving on Monday, April 12 when lockdown rules first eased, allowing people to visit restaurants and pubs outdoors and go shopping for good previously deemed non-essential.

Footfall in the city climbed 444pc on the week before - and this weekend is expected to be even busier.

The weather is likely to be warmer than on Monday, with temperatures creeping up to between 10C and 13C and remaining sunny.

Busy Norwich Market with most of the stalls open as people are out and about enjoying the easing of

Busy Norwich Market with most of the stalls open as people are out and about enjoying the easing of the Covid restrictions. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Certain venues, including the Rooftop Gardens in the Union Building on Rose Lane, are already fully booked, while others are holding back slots for walk-ins on the day.

Some outdoor events are also set to resume this week, including the popular Junkyard Market, at St Mary's Works, which will host its first session back on Friday, April 16.

And food and drink festival Mysabar is also set to return to the Castle Gardens on Thursday, April 15.

Mysabar winter beer garden has opened in Castle Gardens in Norwich, pictured is one of the organisers Seth Maclot.

One of the Mysabar organisers Seth Maclot. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

Rumsey Wells landlord Danny Searle, who runs the event with fellow landlord Katie Searle and Seth Maclot and Chris Howard of Lunar Stretch Tents, said demand for Mysabar had been enormous.

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If the government's roadmap goes to plan, people will be able to visit friends and restaurants indoors - but until then the focus will remain on al fresco dining.

"We are really excited to be getting back to it," he said. "We are fully booked for the next five weeks, which is pretty amazing."

He said there would inevitably be some people who didn't turn up for bookings, and said they were holding back some tables for people who just wanted to walk in.

"All this time we've just been itching to get back to business, in a safe way when everybody was comfortable," he said.

Mysabar has outdoor heaters and blankets to keep groups warm 

Mysabar pictured before its Christmas opening. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

The Rumsey Wells, on St Andrews Street, will also reopen on Thursday, for Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only initially. 

Other popular Norwich names will be reopening towards the weekend - The Black Horse, on Earlham Road, which has a sizeable beer garden, is reopening on Thursday, April 15. 

It is not accepting bookings for its outside space.

And Redwell Brewing, at Trowse, is opening on Friday, April 16, with its first opening weekend already fully booked and phone calls coming in regularly with more requests.

Busy Gentleman's Walk in Norwich as people are out and about enjoying the easing of the Covid restri

Busy Gentleman's Walk in Norwich as people are out and about enjoying the easing of the Covid restrictions. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

But they, too, are holding back some tables for walk-in customers on a first come first served basis.

On Monday, footfall in Norwich reached 49,956, compared to 9,167 the week before - and it is expected to climb this weekend.

Stefan Gurney, executive director of Norwich Business Improvement District Picture: Sonya Duncan

Stefan Gurney, executive director of Norwich Business Improvement District (BID). - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Stefan Gurney, executive director of the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID), said: "With the predicted good weather this Saturday and it being the first weekend this year everyone can get out to shop, eat and drink in stores and venues they haven’t visited for months, we are expecting good footfall in Norwich.

"Norwich BID and businesses in the city having been working hard to make sure everyone can come back with confidence and we are all looking forward to welcoming families and friends back safely this weekend. We are encouraging everyone to remain socially distanced and observe the Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air national guidance.”

Several restaurants have introduced booking waitlists to cope with demand and to fill empty seats that are left by no shows.

People enjoying the Rooftop Bar as Covid restrictions are eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

People enjoying the Rooftop Bar as Covid restrictions are eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

During the pandemic, restaurants have seen a rise in no show diners, who make bookings but then fail to turn up.

At the Rooftop Gardens, manager Glenn Walker said they now ring every booking 48 hours before the day to check they are still coming, and had a cancellation wait list.

He said with demand high it helped to reduce empty seats.

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