25 x spring sights
Published: Tuesday 28th Mar 2017
Written by: Lucy Downing
Spring in Norfolk is truly a sight to behold. Our ancient woodlands give way to blankets of snowdrops, then daffodils, then bluebells. Clumsy lambs begin to dot our fields and blue skies grace our days (which are started by a mighty dawn chorus worthy of the Royal Albert Hall). Read on for our favourite 25 spring sights...
1. Feeding the lambs
What could embody spring more than bottle feeding newly born lambs? Wroxham Barns is the place to head to, with opportunities to feed them daily throughout the season.
2. Stately walks, tea and cake
We have so many stunning stately homes with equally impressive grounds - think Blickling Hall, Felbrigg Hall, Houghton Hall, Oxburgh Hall and Holkham Hall to name but a few. Take your time meandering through woodlands, along clipped lawns and walled gardens before settling down to a well-earned cup of tea and slice of cake!
3. Foxley Wood bluebells
The medieval woodland at Foxley is part of the Woodland Trust, and come May is bejewelled with a captivating carpet of blue. This show of native bluebells is certainly one of the best in the county. Afterwards, 'pootle' down to nearby Reepham for afternoon tea at The Dial House.
4. Norfolk Spring Fling
At the beginning of April each year (4th April this year), the Norfolk Showground plays host to the ever-popular Spring Fling - a celebration of food and farming aimed at educating children and their grown-ups alike. Buzzing with activities, tastings and more, at £9.50 each (including lunch) it's a great day out for all the family.
5. Easter egg hunts
In Norfolk, it's never a case of hunting down a great Easter egg hunt, but more which one you choose from the fantastic offering. You can choose heritage and grandeur and head to Holkham or Hoveton, chocoholics will love the National Trust Cadbury trails, and children are sure to revel in the thrill of riding on the Easter Eggspress at the Bure Valley miniature railway from Aylsham to Wroxham.
6. See the baby seals
If you fancy a change from baby bunnies and fluffy yellow chicks, then hop on a boat and head out to see the baby seals at Blakeney Point. They might not be cuddly, but the sea air will put you in the mood for some chocolate when you return back to land.
7. Take a boat out
On the topic of water, why not celebrate the warmer weather by taking a boat out from Wroxham. No matter whether you opt for a cruiser, kayak, canoe or tour, you'll be guaranteed some headspace and proper peace and quiet.
Having been busy building their nests, the rich birdlife of our county are always exciting by the warmer, longer days. So spring provides the ideal opportunity to dust off those binoculars and see what you can spot. Ideally, head to the Norfolk Broads or one of the RSPB or Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature reserves - although your cottage garden should provide an excellent show too.
9. Norfolk and Norwich Festival
There's no show on earth quite like the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. A riot of varied performances from all over the globe - including circus, opera and more - spring wouldn't be the same without it. This year's festival runs from 12th to 28th May 2017.
10. Asparagus season
My oh my, the onset of the asparagus season here in Norfolk makes a long winter well worth it! On sale throughout the county, it needs nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil or knob of butter, and a sprinkling of seal salt. Bliss.
11. Earth Sky exhibition
Houghton Hall is renowned for showcasing world-class art exhibitions. This year is no different, with internationally-celebrated Turner Prize-winning British Landscape artist Richard Long taking to the stage. The EARTH SKY exhibition will run from 30th April to 26th October, and will be supported with an exhibition of local art in the stables, curated by Norfolk by Design.
12. Frog spotting
A marvel of nature, no matter what your age, the transition from spawn to aby frogs can be seen in lakes and streams throughout the county. Why not go one step further and book yourself onto a pond-dipping morning with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Who knows what you'll catch!
13. Pedal power
As the nights draw out and the air warms, pedal power is the best way to explore the county's hidden gems. Bring your own bike, or hire one, pack a picnic, plan your route (or not if you feel daring!) and off you go. Just remember your green cross code and you'll be fine.
14. Star gazing
Norfolk is perfect for this all year-round, but the warmer nights make it more appealing to the less hardy folk. Find your spot, snuggle under a blanket with a flask by your side, and settle down for the best light show on earth. Just don't forget to make a wish if you see a shooting star.
15. Crab and Lobster Festival
Running on the 20th and 21st May, this festival takes place in Sheringham and Cromer. A celebration of our wonderful shellfish, this weekend is always great fun - a real feast of fun, food, art, music and heritage.
16. Rhododendrons at Sheringham Park
Sheringham Park, and Sandringham too, transforms come late spring, when the almighty rhododendrons come into flower. Visit anytime, or book into one of their walks every Tuesday at 2pm from the 10th May to 14th June 2017.
17. Norfolk shellfish
If the old saying is true - 'only eat shellfish when there's an 'r' in the month' - then you better get cracking and eat all you can during April!
18. Book a table at Rocky Bottoms
One of the most talked about places to enjoy local fish and shellfish is Rocky Bottoms in West Runton. Based in an old 1800's brick kiln, the views out to see are breathtaking.
19. A refreshing pint
With supposedly more micro-breweries than anywhere else in the UK, there's every excuse to stop and relax with a cold pint in a pub garden. We love any ale by Woodforde's, Brancaster Brewery Sharpie, Humpty Dumpty, Redwell and Grain Brewery. We could go on...
20. Spring Steam Gala
Head to The Poppy Line at Sheringham for a steam sensation from the 21st to 23rd April. From two to 92, everyone is sure to get excited! And why not end your day looking out to see whilst tucking into local fish and chips and a Norfolk-made ice-cream from the Ronaldo's shop on the highstreet.
21. Wild garlic
The woodland floors are abundant with this fragrant herb in spring. It's much gentler in flavour than dried garlic, and perfect for sauting with butter, baking with poultry or fish, or making into a delicious soup.
22. Paint the view
North Norfolk has attracted artists for generations - providing inspiration for landscapes, crafts, pottery, jewellery and more. Why not have a go yourself and book onto a painting or drawing course. The Norfolk Painting School near Fakenham is a good place to start.
23. Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios
If you'd prefer to look at someone else's art, then this is the event for you. Running from the 27th May to 11th June, you can make your way round the county popping into local artist's studios for a good nosey. You're sure to come away with something beautiful to adorn your home too.
Who can't wait to get outside as the sun starts to shine. You know the time for a picnic is right, when Gardener's World says it's time to start planting your vegetable garden. Why? Well, because a true gardener will have tested this by sitting on the earth with his or her bare bottom to check the soil temperature. If it's warm enough for delicate seeds, then it's certainly warm enough for a picnic!
This is one of the most important things to do come spring. Just take some time out to stop, breath, look and listen. There's a whole natural world waking up and it's there for your enjoyment.
I enjoy walking along Norfolk's beaches with my family and dog, theatre trips, dancing, laughing and knocking up a scrumptious feast for friends using local produce finished with a tipple of Norfolk Saffron's King Harry orange and saffron liqueur!