Norwich Forum. © HEART
Tired of the ice and darkness everyday as you come home from work? Despite the apparent bleakness of this time of year, there are plenty of events on in the region to inspire days out and about.
A variety of Norfolk and Suffolk countryside retreats are ideal places to see the sunnier side of winter, with their arts and heritage events, energising walks and stunning settings.
Saturday 25 – Sunday 26 January is the ideal weekend to visit Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk’s 15th-century moated-manor house with a magnificent gatehouse, chapel, attractive gardens and woodland. The national trust invites you to the special event ‘Gatehouse Tours’. An hour and a half woodland walk including a tour of the medieval gatehouse can be combined with an exploration of the great house and a traditional roast lunch. (Tours: 12pm, adults £6.10 and children £3.10, booking is advisable.)
Blickling Hall. © National Trust
Also on Sunday January 25, nearby Blickling Hall, home to early snowdrops, mahonias, hellebores, winter honeysuckle and daphne hosts ‘A Winter’s Trail’. Meet at 11am to take a walk around the Garden with Blickling’s assistant head gardener.
Experience the lovely scented plants and shrubs of winters, learn about planting and enjoy the included soup lunch and pudding in the restaurant. (Tickets £14, to book call 0844 800 4308).
For the more adventurous, crossing the border to Suffolk will be rewarded by a 3hr (4 mile) guided Constable Country Ramble. “These Scenes made me a Painter” is on Saturday January 31 from 10am to 1pm. Visit the period cottages, rolling fields and lush river valleys which inspired the artist John Constable.
Compare the scenes today with those depicted in famous paintings such as The Leaping Horse and Dedham Mill. (£5.00, book on 01206 298260). Make a day of it with a visit to Dedham Arts and Craft Centre or a traditional country-pub meal.
The snowdrops at Ickworth House. Courtesy National Trust
For those who feel more at home in the city, take a walk around Norwich city centre and you can’t fail to see the magnificent Norman Castle, medieval churches and the impressive Millennium Forum.
The C21st modern art building is home to restaurants, the tourist information centre and library and a large Atrium where a variety of events are hosted. This January explore the BBC Local History Fair from January 23 to 25, or the Print Fair with ‘affordable original art’ from the January 26 to 31.
February sees a tour of the Norfolk coast and countryside, with the opening of an art exhibition by Andrew Dibben. View his delicate watercolours, inspired by the diverse landscapes of Norfolk, from Monday February 2 to Saturday February 7.
Finally, don’t miss Norwich’s main event this winter, the three week long Dragon Festival. This unique festival, co-ordinated by Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART), runs from January 31 to February 22.
There be dragons in Norwich this winter. © HEART
Look out for dragon inspired exhibitions, puppet shows, story-telling, talks, films, arts and crafts and more. See 24hr Museum’s Dragon Festival feature article for further information.