Norwich parks provide the perfect setting for family fun this summer

Norwich's parks and wild open spaces will come alive with the sound of music, drama and laughter this summer, so why not pack your picnic, grab a blanket and get the family together for one of the many free outdoor shows happening on your doorstep?

Whether it is the rich, layered sounds of a classical concert in Mousehold Heath or the fun and excitement of children's theatre in Waterloo Park, there can be few things more enjoyable than the atmosphere of watching an outdoor show on a warm sunny day.

This summer, Norwich's many parks and outdoor spaces will be transformed into fantastic open air venues for all the family to enjoy – and best of all, the shows will be completely free.

All you need to bring is a blanket, a picnic and keep your fingers crossed for some sunshine.

This year's programme of outdoor cultural events aims to appeal to everyone and offers everything from big bands performing modern classics to the fun and madness of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as part of the popular children's outdoor theatre season.

It kicks off with the 2011 Bandstand Concert series, organised by Norwich City Council with events running from this Sunday to the end of August. Performers include the Broadland Brass Band, who are playing this weekend at Chapelfield Gardens; the Simon Youngman Quintet at Waterloo Park; Norfolk Wherry Brass at Eaton Park and the Pavilion Brass Quintet at Waterloo Park and also Mousehold Heath. All the concerts start at 3pm and will be every Sunday from now until the end of August.

Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council and cabinet member for events and culture, said: 'These concerts give everyone the opportunity to get out and enjoy the city's parks, listen to some uplifting music, and just enjoy the summer. The events are free so why not take the whole family along with a picnic, make a day of it and enjoy Norwich's great parks?'

Most Read

Along with the Bandstand series, throughout the summer the council is again running a host of family events, encouraging as many people as possible to get outdoors with their children.

Continuing the success of previous years, the free outdoor children's theatre will run from July 29 until August 28 – on Fridays at 3pm at Waterloo Park, and on Sundays at Heigham Park, starting at 11am.

At Waterloo Park, youngsters will be treated to a fantastic variety of shows suitable for children of all ages. Performances include the Magic Moon, by the Magic Carpet Theatre Company; Little Red Riding Hood and Friends by the Booster Cushion Theatre and Hiccup the Hippopotamus by the Jactito Theatre.

At Heigham Park, audiences will be treated to weekly performances by the Yarnsmith of Norwich, telling 'Terrible Tudor Tales for Kids'.

The Neighbourhood Playdays scheme will also be running throughout the summer, offering free children's activities at outdoor venues, play areas and village greens throughout Norwich.

This year, the city council has also launched a Play Out scheme encouraging families to get out and explore some of Norwich's hidden open spaces for free at any time during the summer.

The idea is to provide something to do outdoors for youngsters and their families which is less structured and in some cases adds an element of adventure.

Alongside the wild and natural wonder of Mousehold Heath, nestled in the heart of the city, another area highlighted is Danby Wood, on Marston Lane, of Ipswich Road, which has hidden narrow valleys and steep slopes to explore and is great for wildlife watching and a good game of hide and seek.

The nearby Marston Marshes is also suggested as a great place to go – with wellies – for a wild adventure, with plenty of dragonflies, frogs, birds and even grass snakes to be spotted.