Norfolk Passport

Top 5 | Family days out

The long term at school is almost at an end. Everyone’s tired and wrung out, tempers are frayed from the heat and we’re all just about summoning enough energy for end of term plays and performances. But the finish line is in sight!

Strangely though, after the first magic Saturday morning of the holidays, when everyone has had enough of lazing about and rejoicing for the lack of lessons, the kids are suddenly BORED with NOTHING TO DO (apparently) and boundless energy to burn.

There is no end of activities for the little ones for the summer and beyond, indoors and out- but as every parent knows, they all involve some sort of cost, albeit it won’t break the bank but times it by six weeks and the money mounts up. The list I’ve put together are some of the more affordable or free events happening in Norfolk, and more importantly some of the most fun; where there’s enough scope for children to have their own games around them.

GoGoHares (Norwich)

There have been elephants, gorillas, dragons and now in 2018 there are GoGoHares! Springing up mostly around Norwich but also across the county, the beautifully painted hares created by artists and schools are now on view to see. 

There are 50 hares in the city to celebrate 50 years of the children’s charity Break which all proceeds will go to. There’s a further 18 around Norfolk and smaller ‘Leaping Leverets’ to follow.

The sculpture trail is a fantastic way of discovering Norwich and taking children’s interest away from the usual shops and outlets. By ticking off the hares on the map, they’ll see parts of Norwich they might never have discovered, and perhaps pick up a few historical facts. 

It has become a new tradition to have selfies beside the sculptures and kids will love looking at the decorative hares, sometimes finding hidden pictures in the detail. 

The trail is free to do and all one needs is a map which you can pick up from any public leaflet stand or free to download from the GoGoHares website

GoGoHares is on until 8 September 2018.

How Hill Family Fun Days (How Hill Trust, Ludham)

With it being summer and the weather enticing us outdoors (we hope) there is a plethora of fun and interesting activities for children, a lot of which involve connecting with nature and our surroundings. From bat walks to nature trails, butterfly safaris and pond dipping you’re sure to find an event near you (some of which are listed below).

How Hill has stood out for me as it is affordable and in the most spectacular setting, plus they have a few dates to choose from as opposed to focusing on just one day.

How Hill is an environmental educational charity established in 1984. Based in How Hill house and surrounded by managed gardens, wetlands and woodlands, it is mostly used for schoolchildren to learn about surrounding habitats.

The family fun days run on 1, 3,7 and 9 August with activities such as den building, making reed rafts, thatching, jewellery-making and exploring the gardens. On most dates you also have the chance to board the Norfolk Wherry boat, Hathor. The activities are mostly aimed at 4 to 12 year olds and cost £7 per person, and under 3s go free. Advance booking is essential, call 01692 678555.

As I mentioned, there are more nature-based family days out in Norfolk than you can shake a whittled stick at; here’s just a few throughout the summer.

Carnivals 2018

Who doesn’t love a traditional town carnival? Historically, they hail from the Western Christian and Greek Orthodox festive season which would occur before Lent, enjoying festivities before the abstinence of the 40 days of Lent.

Nowadays they happen mid-summer but still hold with the idea of the community shedding its everyday habits; wearing masks and costumes, music, dancing and generally indulging themselves.

Carnivals bring the community together, the streets close to traffic and everyone can enjoy the buoyant atmosphere. Each town will have its own traditions and individuality so why not check out a few, they’re all for free and guarantee an enjoyable day out.

 Later in the year, look out for Festival of the Dead in Norwich on 24 November 2018.

Maize Mazes and other a-MAZE-ing Mazes

Yes, it’s the usual pun to describe them, but there’s a host of mazes to explore in Norfolk. Let’s kick off with a type of maze which I’d never seen before until I moved back to East Anglia; the Maize Maze! Obviously only in existence when the sweetcorn is in season, the most well-known in Norfolk is the Wizard Maze & Play in Metton. The maze itself covers 12 acres and (I can say this through experience) gets you well and truly lost! Once you’ve finally made your way out, you can enjoy the café and a large play area for the kids. This is a lovely rustic farm based site, complete with tractor rides, hay bale towers and a beautiful view of Norfolk fields and skies stretching out around.

On the smaller side, there is the Priory Maze in Sheringham, and by smaller I don’t mean any less challenging! Unite the family in trying to get out the other side, as well as enjoying the beautiful gardens. If you still want more confounding meanders, check out the Squirrel Maze in Thetford Forest, where there’s a giant wooden squirrel to climb into as well as all the other fantastic activities on offer.

Firework displays (Great Yarmouth)

To round off a fun packed day (and to make sure the kids are tired at the end of the day) why not take a trip to Great Yarmouth for a free firework display? Running for six weeks with live entertainment and seaside attractions open late, the displays are every Wednesday from 25 July. Check out www.great-yarmouth.co.uk for more details.

So I hope the above top 5 have filled a few dates on your summer holiday calendar. Don’t forget to keep checking Norfolk Passport for other highlights coming up. 

Enjoy the summer and great family days out in Norfolk!

Article contributed by author and ‘The Village Gardener’ Fritha Waters.