Culture in Norfolk

Whatever your age, interest, background or view of culture, Norfolk is right up your street.

Food is the cornerstone of many cultures, and Norfolk is no exception to the rule. Famous for Cromer Crab, Great Yarmouth Bloaters and the birthplace of fishfingers, seafood and fish are prominent local dishes. Ingredients from every culture can be found in international food shops all over the county and restaurants serving cuisine from every corner of the world found in every town. Norwich’s famous permanent market sells colourful fruit and vegetables from all over the world. Local produce is available in farm shops and weekly town centre markets across Norfolk.

It’s said that in Medieval times, you could attend a different church every Sunday of the year in Norwich, many with very distinct architecture. Whatever your faith, you will find a welcoming place of worship in Norfolk.

Norwich was named as England’s first UNESCO City of Literature in 2011 and boasts not one, but two creative universities. The University of East Anglia’s creative writing course has produced many renowned authors. Norwich University of the Arts provides courses in subjects ranging from architecture to design and fashion.

The Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library has repeatedly been named as the UK’s most popular library, issuing more books in a year than any other library in the country. It is one of 47 libraries and eight mobile libraries run as a free service by Norfolk County Council.

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival is one of the UK’s oldest surviving arts festivals and is held annually in May. Additional arts festivals are held in King’s Lynn, Holt and Great Yarmouth. Black History month takes place in October with lots of events. Norfolk celebrates PRIDE in July, with a large parade around Norwich.

There are theatres in Cromer, Gorleston-on-Sea, Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn, Norwich and Sheringham, including the renowned Theatre Royal in Norwich, the Maddermarket, Playhouse, and the Puppet Theatre. The Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth is one of only three in the world where the ring sinks into a swimming pool mid performance.

Norfolk boasts a range of museums, 10 of which are run by the multi award-winning Norfolk Museums Service (NMS). This is a national portfolio organisation receiving investment from Arts Council England. NMS museums are located in Norwich (Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Strangers’ Hall, Museum of Norwich), Great Yarmouth (Time & Tide, Elizabethan House, Tolhouse Gaol), Cromer, King’s Lynn, Thetford (Ancient House) and Gressenhall (Farm and Workhouse). 

National Trust sites can be found across the county, with large stately homes at Blickling, Felbrigg and Oxburgh, and spectacular outdoor sites at the coast in Sheringham, Horsey and West Runton. Many outdoor English Heritage sites can be found in Norfolk including Castle Acre Priory, Burgh Castle and Grimes Graves. Independent stately homes with large art and sculpture collections can be visited at Holkham and Houghton.