What can families do over the rest of the summer holidays around Norfolk - whatever the weather?
PUBLISHED: 18:59 22 August 2020 | UPDATED: 18:59 22 August 2020
With so many attractions being closed over the summer, it has sometimes been a struggle to find anything to do with the family – especially on wet or cool days.
However, now more venues are opening up, including some indoor sporting venues, pools and now indoor play, meaning children can let off steam, come rain or shine.
Here are suggestions for things to do over the rest of the summer holidays and during weekends in September, most of which don’t depend on the weather.
Remember to check opening hours and other requirements in advance – face coverings will normally be required in all indoor settings. Centres will also have social distancing and safety measures in place, and you will need to pre-book in most cases.
Bowling and indoor play
• Superbowl UK Norwich: Bowling is reopening at the site in the Castle Quarter. For details and to book, visit www.superbowluk.co.uk
• Strikes Bowl and Planet Zoom soft play, Dereham: The centre has reopened both for bowling and for adventure soft play for children. To see available slots and book, visit @Strikes.Bowl.Dereham on Facebook.
• Namco Funscape, Norwich: Ten-pin bowling has reopened, and the centre also includes arcade games. To book your lane, visit @NamcoFunscapeUK on Facebook
• Fakenham Superbowl and Megafun Soft Play: The centre has reopened its bowling and escape rooms, with advance booking strongly recommended. The soft play area is now also open, with numbers restricted. For more details, visit @fakenhamsuperbowl92 on Facebook.
• JR’s Strike Bowling and Stomp indoor soft play, North Walsham: This centre is currently offering “Stomp Indoor and Out”, with its Pirate Maize Maze, sand play and giant chalk board as well as indoor soft play. Its bowling centre has also reopened. For full details • The Wonder Wood, Watton, Norwich: This adventure soft play venue and cafe have now reopened. Pre-bookings are currently not needed, but sessions are limited to 90 minutes. For full details, search for The Wonder Wood on Facebook.
Pools and leisure centres
Here is a selection of pools and leisure centres which are opening to the public again. Others are set to open in the coming weeks.
• South Norfolk Leisure Centres: Wymondham Leisure Centre’s pool is reopening on Saturday, August 22, following the earlier opening of its gym and classes. Long Stratton Leisure Centre, Kett’s Park and Framingham Earl Sports Centres have already reopened, but some facilities are still closed, including Bananas soft play at Long Stratton. For more details, visit www.south-norfolk.gov.uk/visitors/leisure-centres
• Fakenham Sports and Fitness Centre, Splash Leisure and Fitness Centre, Sheringham, Victory Swim and Fitness Centre, North Walsham and Stradbroke Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre: All these centres have reopened, with activities including gym sessions and group fitness studios, Splash, Victory and Stradbroke are all now taking bookings for lane swimming in their reopened pools. For more details on these centres, visit their Facebook pages or www.everyoneactive.com
• Alive Downham Leisure in Downham Market, Alive Lynnsport and St James in King’s Lynn, Alive Oasis in Hunstanton: Classes, activities and swimming are now available, but with some changes. For instance, if pools reach capacity, a band system will be operated and swims limited to one hour. To find out more, visit www.alivewestnorfolk.co.uk
• Waterlane Leisure Centre, Lowestoft: The gym and classes have started up again, but the pool is not open again as yet.
• Sportspark UEA, Norwich: The sportspark has reopened to members for a range of fitness activities, and has now announced that it is also opening non-member bookings. Lane swimming only is currently allowed to ensure safety. For more details, visit www.sportspark.co.uk
• Riverside Leisure Centre, Norwich: The centre is set to open on September 1, with lane swimming, gym and studio class sessions available from that date, and swimming lessons starting from September 7. For more details, visit www.placesleisure.org/reopening/norwich
• Highball Climbing Centre, Twickenham Road, Norwich: The centre is currently only open to over-14s who are already registered with the centre and are competent climbers. If you are registered with Highball, you can book for a two-hour climbing session between Tuesday and Saturday. For more details, visit www.highballnorwich.co.uk/
• Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth: The museum of Great Yarmouth life includes galleries telling the story of Great Yarmouth from sandbank to thriving port and seaside resort. It is now open daily, with online booking essential. To book, visit www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/time-tide
• Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, near Dereham: Discover the history of the workhouse, as well as looking at the thousands of objects in the Museum of Norfolk Life and visiting the working farm, with its litter of Large Black piglets. The adventure playground has not yet reopened. To book your slot, visit www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/gressenhall-farm-and-workhouse
• Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich: The centre and its sculpture park have now reopened. Booking for special exhibitions is essential before visiting. The Art Deco by the Sea exhibition has been extended until September 20 and the Art Nouveau: The Nature of Dreams exhibition has been extended until January 3, 2021. Visit sainsburycentre.ac.uk/
• Anish Kapoor exhibition, Houghton Hall: The famous sculptor’s largest-ever UK outdoor show has now been extended to November 1. Tickets must be prebooked, and numbers are strictly limited in the inside sections. Visit www.houghtonhall.com/
• Muckleburgh Military Collection, Weybourne: The museum is open daily, with its extensive range of tanks and armoured cars, most of which are maintained in working condition. It is open daily from 11am to 5pm, with no booking needed. A military vehicle display planned for August 22-23 has been cancelled, but a military vehicle rally will be held over the weekend instead.
North Walsham Motorcycle Museum: The museum has a large collection of vintage bikes on show, and has been proving extremely popular since reopening. For more details, visit @norfolkmotorcyclemuseum on Facebook.
National Trust properties
Oxburgh Hall, near Downham Market, was one of the first National Trust houses to open its doors, in a pilot programme. There is scaffolding up around the house at the moment while works are carried out on the roof, but there is still plenty to see. The gardens and parkland are also open, including a den-building area, as well as the Pantry Cafe.
A number of other National Trust sites in the area currently have gardens and parks open, but currently buildings are still closed.
These include: Blickling Estate, Felbrigg Hall, Sheringham Park, Wicken Fen, Wimpole Estate, Dunwich Heath, Ickworth and Sutton Hoo. Visitors need to book a place in advance for all properties, gardens and parklands and some car parks, including Dunwich Heath and Beach and Sheringham Park.
While many theatres are sadly closed because of social distancing requirements, a few shows are still being staged, including:
• Cromer Pier: The famous end-of-the-pier show sadly had to be cancelled because of coronavirus restrictions, but the team are returning with a show called Strictly Variety to run every Thursday to Sunday from August 23 until the end of September. Organisers say it will be the first socially distanced variety show to be staged in a UK theatre following lockdown. Performers will include magicians, impressionists, singers and comedians. For more details, visit www.cromerpier.co.uk.
• Great Yarmouth Hippodrome Circus: The circus reopened last weekend with limited capacity within the auditorium to allow for safe spacing of audience members. While a little shorter than usual, it still includes amazing acrobats, aerialists, daring stunts, dancers, swimmers and its famous Water Spectacular. To book and for more information, visit www.hippodromecircus.co.uk/
Theme parks and zoos
Planning a big day out for the end of the holidays? Here are some options.
• Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach: The popular attraction is open daily until September 6, and also during weekends in September, with a range of white-knuckle and child-friendly rides. Visitor numbers will be limited and you can book in advance online at www.pleasure-beach.co.uk
• Pleasurewood Hills, Lowestoft: This top theme park will be open daily until August 31, and will also be open during weekends in September. Most rides are open, but a few are closed either for refurbishment or social distancing reasons. Pre-book online at: pleasurewoodhills.com
• Africa Alive, Kessingland: All visitors, including pass holders, are required to pre-book a timed arrival slot. You can do this in advance online, or it is possible to book on the day, turning up and booking your etickets from your car via the zoo’s wi-fi. For full details on what’s available, visit the zoo’s website: www.africa-alive.co.uk/
• Banham Zoo, near Diss: Like its sister attraction Africa Alive, Banham requires all visitors to book a timed slot. Again, you can either do this in advance online or turn up and book your etickets from your car, although this does mean you may have to wait. For full details, visit www.banhamzoo.co.uk
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Great Yarmouth Mercury. Click the link in the orange box above for details.