Amazing things to do in Norfolk in April

Racing at Fakenham

Racing at Fakenham - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Our guide to the best things to do in Norfolk this month.

DAYS OUT 

Gardens 

Enjoy beautiful gardens, masses of spring flowers, home-baked cakes - and the chance to help charities too as four Norfolk gardens open for the National Garden Scheme (NGS) this month.  

See the gardens at Gayton Hall on Sunday April 3, Mannington Hall on Sunday April 10, Wretham Lodge, East Wretham, near Thetford, on Sunday and Monday April 17 and 18, and The Old Rectory, Catfield, near Stalham, on April 24. The NGS has been raising money for nursing and health charities for 95 years, when the first gardens (including Sandringham) opened for a shilling per person. Today most gardens charge £5-£6 with children free. Book at ngs.org.uk or most gardens sell tickets at the gate too. 

Mannington Hall

Mannington Hall - Credit: Supplied by NGS

Easter

The Easter holidays run through much of April, with Easter Sunday on April 17. Look out for lots of family fun across the county including crafts at Gressenhall Museum and egg hunts at Pensthorpe, Hoveton Hall and National Trust sites. Churches will mark the festival with special services and the Easter story will be retold in Norwich when the Saltmine Theatre Company, joined by local volunteers, performs an outdoor Passion Play in Norwich city centre on Saturday April 16 at 11am and 3pm. 
 

Railways, Vikings, Horses, Countryside, and Boats

The North Norfolk Railway steam gala is from April 1-3 with lots of locomotives running between Sheringham and Holt. The railway will also transform its Weybourne Station into a Second World War Home Guard stronghold from April 30-May 2 for its Dad’s Army Live event, at one of the locations used to film the classic series.   

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The Sheringham Viking Festival on April 9 includes a living history camp and battle display on Beeston Common, a torchlight procession and a beach boat burning.  

Enjoy Easter Monday racing at Fakenham on April 18.  

The Great Yarmouth Racecourse season opens with an afternoon of seven races on April 19. 

The 2018 East Anglian Game and Country Fair taking place on the Euston Estate. The JCB Dancing Digge

The 2018 East Anglian Game and Country Fair taking place on the Euston Estate. The JCB Dancing Diggers display in the main arena. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

The East Anglian Game and Country Fair takes over the Euston Estate, near Thetford, on April 23-24. The phenomenal JCB Dancing Diggers are just one of the many rural life attractions, which include equestrian events from pony scurries to horse-boarding; dog shows and demonstrations; have-a-go clay shooting, rifle range, fishing and axe throwing; and a country cooking kitchen. 

The Horning Boat Show on Saturday April 30, 10am-4pm, includes a discover sailing day with Horning Sailing Club, exhibitors showing luxury cruisers and sailing boats, charity stalls and an auction, classic cars and refreshments. Free entry.  

EXHIBITIONS 

Picasso Plus

See some of Picasso’s earliest paintings in a major new exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia, Norwich. Pablo Picasso: The Legacy of Youth focuses on Picasso’s work from his teenage years to his 30s (1896-1914). It compares his achievements with the artists he admired including Monet, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Gauguin. Runs until July 17.  

Richard Slee: Swans is at the Sainsbury Centre until August 14. The free exhibition by the ceramist and potter focuses on 14 majestic swans.  

Part of the Roman Thetford Treasure is at the Ancient House Museum, Thetford, until April 30. Treasures from the internationally important hoard, found close to the town in 1979, are some of the most impressive Roman objects ever unearthed in Britain and are on loan from the British Museum. The exhibition also features more recent finds from a temple site in nearby Hockwold-cum-Wilton.        

Seymour Dorothy Fleming, Lady Worsley, c. 1780 – 1785, by John Russell, pastel on blue paper

Seymour Dorothy Fleming, Lady Worsley, c. 1780 – 1785, by John Russell, pastel on blue paper - Credit: Image courtesy of the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

Making Up

Painting Faces: The Art of Flattery explores the history of make-up from ancient Egypt to Instagram, at Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth, until June 19. 

Portraits and objects associated with make-up include an ancient Egyptian eyeshadow palette, pictures of the 17th century women who continued to paint their faces despite growing awareness of the poisons in popular preparations, photographs of Hollywood film stars, and a video of a drag artist preparing for Yarmouth Pride.  

Coastal Folk

See paintings by Norfolk coast and countryside artist John Hurst at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Cley Marshes Visitor Centre from March 30-April 26. On April 10 John will be presenting an afternoon of poetry and music, accompanied by stories and pictures from his memoir Watercolour Words. Fifty Years. 

Hear poetry by James Knox Whittet, traditional songs from Anna McCrae and classical music played by Victoria Lee. The afternoon will be live-streamed by the charity Home-Stage, with free admission and a retiring collection at Cley in aid of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Sir Norman Lamb’s Wellbeing Foundation. Tickets and full information from home-stage.co.uk 

MUSIC AND LITERATURE 

Early Music Festival

The first King's Lynn Early Music Festival, April 1-3, is inspired by 18th century musician Charles Burney who, for eight years, was organist at St Margaret’s Church in Lynn and promoted concerts in the town. It will also feature music associated with two other celebrated musicians who lived nearby – 17th century composer and viol player John Jenkins and his patron Sir Roger Le Strange. Performers include the Rose Consort of Viols, viola da gamba virtuoso Ibrahim Aziz and violinist Dominika Feher from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. 

Back to the 80s

See Spandau Ballet and EastEnders star Martin Kemp perform a DJ set at King's Lynn's Corn Exchange on Friday, April 15, spinning classic hits from the 1980s. Shoulder pads, spandex and leg warmers encouraged. 

Shakespeare and All That Jazz

On St George’s Day, and Shakespeare’s birthday, St George’s Guildhall in King’s Lynn presents jazz orchestra Harmony in Harlem, plus special guest artists, for an evening of the iconic music Duke Ellington composed for a Shakespeare festival. Such Sweet Thunder by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, is a dozen masterful musical vignettes of characters including Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Shakespeare himself, plus four sonnets set to music exactly mirroring their iambic pentameter form. It became one of the most acclaimed albums in jazz and will be recreated by Harmony in Harlem in Britain’s oldest working theatre - and the only one that can claim Shakespeare as a past performer. Duke Ellington Meets The Bard, Such Sweet Thunder, is on Saturday April 23. 

Duke Ellington meets the Bard with the Harmony in Harlem jazz orchestra at St George's Guildhall on April 23, St George's Day

Duke Ellington meets the Bard with the Harmony in Harlem jazz orchestra at St George's Guildhall on April 23, St George's Day - Credit: Supplied by Shakespeare's Guildhall Trust

Classical Chorus

The King’s Lynn Festival Chorus presents the music of early 20th century French composer Maurice Durufle at King’s Lynn Minster on Saturday April 23 at 7pm. The concert includes an orchestral version of Requiem, by Durufle  and the 1938 Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani Francis Poulenc, premiered by Durufle. Tickets from King’s Lynn Corn Exchange.  

Literature Festival

UEA Live literary festival features novelist Joanna Cannon on April 27; Shon May, author of The Transgender Issue, on May 4; writer Raven Smith on May 11 and sisters Natalie and Naomi Evans, founders of anti-racism platform Everyday Racism on May 18.   

Christopher Sainton-Clark on the set of My Other Half at Sheringham Little Theatre 

Christopher Sainton-Clark on the set of My Other Half at Sheringham Little Theatre - Credit: Daisy den Engelse

THEATRE  

East Anglian Tour for Young Star 

Playwright, actor, musician and director Christopher Sainton-Clark, still just 22, is taking a tour of his body swap play My Other Half across East Anglia. Chris, who works at Sheringham Little Theatre, founded his own company, Raising Cain Productions, in the first lockdown, in order to stage the play in Sheringham, Yarmouth and as part of last year’s Holt Festival. The dark comedy thriller asks what would happen if you suddenly found yourself living in the body of your friend. Find out at theatres including: 

  • The Carnegie Theatre, Thetford on April 12. 
  • The Fisher Theatre, Bungay on April 14. 
  • The Garage, Norwich on April 19. 
  • St George’s Theatre, Great Yarmouth on April 21. 
  • Sheringham Little Theatre on April 22.  

Norwich Theatres

Nish Kumar brings his new show Your Power Your Control to Norwich Theatre Royal on April 10. Prepare for politics, coronavirus and Nish's capacity to take it all personally.  

The Smartest Giant in Town is an Easter holiday treat for tinies at Norwich Playhouse, April 16-18.  The musical adaptation of a bestselling book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler is a heart-warming tale about friendship.  

The Birds and the Bees will be at Norwich Playhouse April 20-30

The Birds and the Bees will be at Norwich Playhouse April 20-30 - Credit: Norwich Theatre/The New Wolsey Theatre/Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds/John Stalker Productions

The Birds and the Bees at Norwich Playhouse, April 20-30, is a new Norfolk and Suffolk production in which Norfolk writer James McDermott relocates a Canadian drama to north Norfolk. His version is a comedy romp through sex, love, science, family and the artificial insemination of turkeys on a Norfolk farm, produced by The Playhouse with The New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, and Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. 

The Addams Family comes to Norwich Theatre Royal from April 26-30 for a spectacular, hilarious, spooky, kooky and musical story of love, family and friendship. 

QUEEN’S PLATINUM JUBILEE 

One Village, One Year of Celebration

A happy and glorious programme of concerts and events has been put together by the people of Bergh Apton, near Loddon, to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and raise money for the village church and other charities. 

The Bergh Apton Jubilee Festival opens on April 22 with an antiques roadshow valuation day at the church by auctioneers Keys of Aylsham. Plus second-hand book sale and refreshments.  

Royal festivities continue on Saturday April 30 with a concert by East Anglian acoustic folk trio, Rosewood. Tickets £10. Refreshments available.  

Rosewood will perform at the Bergh Apton Jubilee Festival

Rosewood will perform at the Bergh Apton Jubilee Festival - Credit: Rosewood

The festival runs until December. Events include storyteller Ashley Ramsden telling the tale Tistou of the Green Thumbs on Friday May 20, and early music trio Hexachordia with a concert called Gloriana! on June 11, celebrating the first Elizabethan Age in words and music.  

Nashville Christian singer songwriter Andrew Peterson comes to Bergh Apton on July 23 and on October 15 there is a chance to hear the behind-the-scenes story of the making of Netflix film The Dig, about the discovery of the ancient Sutton Hoo royal ship burial with a funny and fascinating talk by dialect coach Charlie Haylock.  

The festival finishes on Saturday December 3 with A Christmas Carol retold by Ashley Ramsden, who plays all 23 characters, from Scrooge to Tiny Tim, in a show he has toured with across five continents.  

All events are in the village’s medieval parish church. Full information at berghapton.org.uk