Ruth Cutts takes us through her recommended activities for a fun-packed winter in East Anglia
Experience the opera
The stunning Holkham Hall and Estate is hosting a number of events this winter to get you in the festive spirit, the most prestigious being Diva Opera’s new Christmas show; The Night Before Christmas. The show tells the story of a Scrooge-esque Major and his tale of redemption in the form of carols, dances and opera and is hosted in the breathtaking Marble Hall. Tickets are priced at £38, including a glass of champagne in the interval for the 4th-5th December.
Put your skates on!
There are a number of beautiful venues in the region this winter for you to put down the mulled wine for a few minutes, lace up your skates and practice your version of the bolero. Bury St Edmunds will be hosting it’s first ever outdoor ice rink in Charter Square, from the 5th December- 3rd January (Web: whatsonwestsuffolk.co.uk ) and there will also be ice skating available at Ufford Park on 21st December at their Christmas Market (Web: uffordpark.co.uk).
Shop at a Christmas Market
There are Christmas Markets aplenty in the region this winter but few can compare to the festive Nirvana that is Blackthorpe Barn just outside of Bury St Edmunds. Hosted in a medieval thatched barn, the focus of the market is on top quality British crafts and accessories such as elegant hardware, intricate jewellery designs, gorgeous clothing and unique homeware pieces. Christmas trees have also been sold at the estate for over 40 years so it really is a Christmas utopia.
Go for a beautiful winter walk
A frosty winter walk is one of life’s simple pleasures and as the region is home to some of the country’s most breathtaking countryside, it would seem almost criminal not to don your boots and winter woolies and go explore. Organised walks are a great way to socialise and learn about your surroundings and the RSPB will be hosting a Christmas walk on the 28th December from Ness Point in Lowestoft.
Partake in a Christmas masterclass
A perfect way to impress your friends this winter is to partake in a Christmas masterclass. They’ll be green with envy when they spot your home made Christmas wreath and will marvel at your table decorations over dinner. The Rose House artisan butchery in Ipswich is hosting a ‘Make your own Christmas Hamper’ on the 6th December (Web: artisan butcher.co.uk) and the rustic Assington Mill near Sudbury is putting on a Christmas wreath making & candle table decoration class on the 12th December which includes a wonderfully hearty home made lunch (Web: assingtonmill.com)
Revel in Norfolk’s wildlife
Winter is the perfect time to see the newest Grey seal pups on the Norfolk coast with few settings being able to beat the spectacular Blakeney Point reserve for quantity (it is home to England’s largest seal colony) and sheer stunning scenery. There are some gorgeous local cottages to rent for a couple of days to curl up by the fire after a long day exploring the coastline or if you’re looking for something a little more unique, you can even rent out a converted lighthouse to stay in which provides impressive views of the North Norfolk saltmarsh coast.
Take a balloon ride
It would be difficult to beat the experience of taking a balloon ride over the region’s countryside but what if you could take that balloon ride with a glass of champagne in tow? Broadland Balloon Rides offer a range of champagne tours over Norfolk and Suffolk so wrap yourself up warm, grab a bottle of bubbly and marvel at the aerial landscape views that will unfold before you.
Eat, drink and be merry!
Most people’s favourite part of the festive season is the unadulterated pleasure of stuffing ourselves with luxurious food so make sure that you visit one of the region’s many food markets and fairs this winter to get your share of festive treats. The Colchester Winter Ale Festival on 27th December- 30th January is the perfect spot to try local food and drink, including wine from the Mersea Island Vineyard (Web: colchestercamra.org.uk) or head to Jimmy’s Farm for their annual Christmas Market to warm up with some spiced mulled wine or roasted chestnuts on the 5th- 6th December (Web: jimmysfarm.com)
Go to the theatre
Panto is the obvious choice at the theatre every winter but if you’re not one for shouting ‘it’s behind you’ and singing along to a rock and roll version of Jingle Bells, then perhaps watching The Albion Christmas Band at the Madder Market Theatre in Norwich on the 6th December is more up your street. Performing a mixture of seasonal carols, spoken word, humorous readings and dance, the show is the antithesis of the corny Christmas shows on offer.
Take shelter from the harshness of the winter weather with a spa day at one of the region’s beautiful retreats. The Congham Hall Hotel and Spa is a picturesque, privately owned Georgian Manor most famous for it’s Secret Garden spa which incorporates seasonal herbs and flowers into the treatments. Congham Hall is the perfect getaway for anybody needing a little down time away from the Christmas madness this year.