This Christmas Norwich, the City of Stories presents a stunning 7-week festive furore in which the UK's first 'tunnel of light' is the centre piece of the city's celebrations. Light is the theme of the city in 2016 with the launch on 17th November (as the city lights switch on takes place) of Norwich's lead seasonal attraction, the UK's first immersive 'Tunnel of Light'. Inspiration for the tunnel has been taken from Nagashia Resort's theme park Nabana no Sato in Japan. Visitors will experience a wonderland display; 45-meters long, 4 meters high and 6 meters wide made from 50,000 pulsating LEDs. The sequenced lights will reflect the patterns and colours of the Northern Lights for visitors to experience a display of mesmeric dancing beams, the likes of which the city has never seen before.
In addition, three commissioned original film projections, each with a distinct Christmas story set to music, will be broadcast nightly between 5pm and 9pm. The projections will appear onto two iconic city buildings: Art Deco City Hall and Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. At City Hall the projection will be a sensational 280 ft long and 20-minutes in duration, telling a traditional Christmas narrative. At Norwich Castle there will be two 70 ft high, 10-minute films of contemporary Christmas adventure; powerful, graceful, artistic and absorbing. And with a 28ft high Norwegian Spruce featured outside City Hall, Norwich at Christmas has never looked so good!
From 19 – 29 November The Forum amphitheater (Millennium Plain) will introduce two very different Christmas markets housed in traditional winter chalets, celebrating the festive season. The first will be a pop-up artisan Norwegian Handcrafters Christmas market (19-24 November); chalets will spill with crafts, drink and continental food with Christmas music playing in the background. The second is The Enterprise Market (26-29 November), an initiative specifically for young entrepreneurs featuring young talented people from Norwich selling their creative products, designs and innovations to a hungry seasonal audience. This will be the first time such a market will have taken place in East Anglia and is supported by Norwich University of the Arts (NUA), The Teenage Market and Young Enterprise.
All of the above is new, and in addition to the annual convivial Christmas offer built around music and performance; a priority at Christmas, taking place in iconic buildings such as candlelit Norwich Cathedral, Norwich Theatre Royal, St Andrew's Hall and Norwich Playhouse.
Traditional Christmas activities also taking place includes; ice-skating in Castle Gardens under the shadow of Norwich Castle, pantomime featuring Wayne Sleep in Jack in the Beanstalk, Festive Afternoon Teas with music at the Georgian Assembly House, Hansel and Gretel at Norwich Puppet Theatre (one of only 3 dedicated puppet theatres in the country), visits in a Tudor setting to Father Christmas at Strangers' Hall museum plus much more.
With Norwich's distinct medieval street pattern and compactness, shopping, dining and things to do are only a stone's throw away from each other. Norwich's independent stores are located in The Royal Arcade and Timberhill, The Norwich Lanes, and the historic Cathedral Quarter with their network of ancient cobbled streets, alleyways and pedestrianised walkways. Find historic buildings as well as Norwich's most complete medieval street, Elm Hill, with its thatched merchant's house, today The Britons Arms Coffee House plus numerous Tudor buildings. It's chocolate box pretty and not to be missed at this special time of year.
Fashionistas, both male and female, are well catered for within two shopping malls if high street fashion is the desire, at Castle Mall and intu Chapelfield. And for those who love a mooch around a good department store there are 4-regional flagship stores from John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, House of Fraser and Debenhams, as well as Jarrolds independent department store featuring top brands such as Charlotte Tilbury - the only retailer in the East of England stocking this much coveted cosmetics range.
Those looking for delicious Norfolk local produce can choose from rare breed sausages and freshly caught fish to winter vegetables, Mrs Temple's cheese, artisan bread and divine fudge on Norwich Market (the UK's only 6-day-a-week permanent outdoor market). It's also a great place for people watching with a steaming espresso followed by a look around second-hand books or vintage clothing stalls.
And capturing this cosy Christmas offer in Norwich and wrapping it up for all to devour is our blog; Norwich, the City of Stories (www.cityofstories.co.uk/tag/christmas), featuring content and images which candidly give an insider's view to the city with new posts published every week. Since rebranding and redesigning the blog in May 2016 it has experienced 126% growth in traffic with a strong increase of 56% signups for the City of Stories weekly e-newsletters. A further chapter in the story are social media posts through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook using hash tags; #CityofStories, #Christmas, #Norwich.
Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) is the organisation behind Norwich's much enhanced Christmas offer in 2016 with an investment of £250,000. Executive Director, Stefan Gurney says “Come and illuminate your Christmas with the launch of the new awe-inspiring lights in Norwich. Experience the amazing Christmas offer in Norwich this year with the best ever shopping, lights and spectacular projections!”
Head of Tourism at VisitNorwich, Nick Bond says, “Latest tourism figures from the Economic Impact of Tourism report 2015 shows that, during November and December in 2015, overnight trips in Norwich increased by 7.3% and 10.7% respectively. Whilst overall spend was also up 6.6% and 10.4%, which is great news. With the launch of all these fantastic new attractions in Norwich over the Christmas period, coupled with the already great shopping, events, food and drink and seasonal performance, we hope even more people will travel to Norwich this year.”