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HEAD EAST – Norwich UNESCO City of Literature

National Centre for Writing is located in Norwich, England’s first UNESCO city of literature. If a visit to Norwich is on the agenda, there’s plenty to enjoy art and sculpture exhibitions, theatre and performances, creative writing workshops, walking tours and so much more


What to explore in Norwich

During your visit Norwich, enjoy some of Norwich’s best kept secrets, and take tea or meditate in the beautiful Plantation Gardens or visit and enjoy a guided tour of historic Dragon Hall.  Book a walking tour with an expert guide taking you around the city to discover its fascinating history from the Viking invasion to its medieval success as England’s second city.  Venture out to Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts Sculpture Park and download a trail map and explore art, architecture and the natural environment and see inspiring works by notable artists such as Usagi Kannon, Henry Moore, Lynn Chadwick, Elizabeth Frink and Antony Gormley.  Below are some other summer suggestions … enjoy!


Highlights include:


Wandering Words – a UNESCO City of Literature literary trail

Pick up a map at The Book Hive, DNA Books and Waterstones Norwich
Plantation Garden, London Street, St Martin at Palace Plain, Tombland and St Julian’s Church

Wandering Words is as much about your sensory experience as it is about exploring Norwich on foot. Pick up a map, scan the QR code for each of the five locations and listen. Each location offers its own immersive audio recording of a poem, as well as sounds of the people and settings that inspired each writer’s work. All you need is a mobile phone.

This literary walk has been created to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Norwich becoming England’s first UNESCO City of Literature. Each poem has been commissioned by the National Centre for Writing with writers who have a connection to Norwich. Each was asked to respond creatively to a particular place in Norwich or to an event in its history. These works represent the breadth of new writing happening in, around and inspired by the city.

To find out more click here


Things to do on a summer’s evening

Plantation Garden

Known locally as ‘The Secret Garden’, there really is no better way than to spend an summer evening at Plantation Garden. Experience big band to theatre and puppet shows – the programme is varied and fun and great for all ages. Bring along a picnic and some blankets and spend time in natural surroundings, feeling good.

To find out more and to book tickets click here (Events programme runs till 11 September)


Sunset at Mousehold Heath with an evening picnic at St James’ Hill, Norwich

To find one of the best views of Norwich’s skyline head to Mousehold Heath (St James’ Hill), which is only a short walk to reach through Norwich Cathedral grounds, and over Bishop Bridge. The Heath has over 184 acres of woodland and heathland and is the perfect place for a walk with a view in all seasons. The area is rich in wildlife and locally is very well known for the history of Kett’s Rebellion which took place in 1549.

To find out more, click here


Marriott’s Way – walking and cycling from Norwich city centre
Where Barn Road meets Barker Street

This is a lovely evening walk or cycle ride following two disused railway lines (26-miles long) between Norwich and the historic market town of Aylsham.   Marriott’s Way offers plenty of wildlife, woodland and wild meadows. Heading into summer the whole route is lush green and dense in places due to canopies of overhanging ancient trees. Butterflies and darting dragonflies are plentiful, whilst geese meander in nearby fields; look out for kestrels, owls, magpies and ducks. Orchids, cowslips and wild strawberries flourish in this habitat – make time for a bit of foraging!

Public art plays its part along the railway with signs made from old track to show distances and directions to villages and towns. To mark your progress, at each mile there’s a piece of rail sculpture – each is unique with its own metal rubbing plaque with aspects of the track’s history. Under three bridges there are wind-up boxes playing past railway sounds, and there are also pieces of art inscribed with poems and verse as well as concrete sculptures about the railway’s heritage.

To find out more, click here


Whitlingham Country Park (2 miles from the city centre)

Enjoy over 280-acres of fantastic circular walks surrounded by nature, wildlife and water just outside of Norwich city centre at Whitlingham Country Park gateway to the Norfolk Broads. There’s plenty of great space to take a seat, go for a walk, cycle or run plus you can watch the swans and possibly any rowers out on the water too. Don’t forget to check out the remains of the old Chalk works! There’s also a great café. Hire a Beryl Bike to get there.

Free entrance/pay and display car park. To find out more click here



Visit St Julian’s Church

St Julian’s Church – one of the oldest churches in Norwich – is home to the cell of Lady Julian of Norwich, the first woman to write a book in the English language. This beautiful church is open every day for prayer, quiet visits, and daily worship, and is a lovely place to honour Lady Julian and her book, The Revelations of Divine Love.


Explore independent bookshops in Norwich

Norwich is an essential destination for literature lovers, and our independent bookshops are a true reflection of this. The city is home to many wonderful bookshops, including The Book Hive (a favourite of Margaret Atwood) and the 2022 Regional Bookshop of the Year Bookbugs and Dragon Tales. Take a gentle walking tour through the city and discover the tender atmosphere, friendly staff and excellent selection of books our independent bookshops have to offer.


Visit Millennium Library

The Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library is the busiest library in the country, and once you visit you will see why! With tens of thousands of books, DVDs and video games, there is something for everybody. Millennium Library has a jam-packed programme of activities, events, and groups, making it the perfect location to meet like-minded readers and writers in Norwich.


Take a stroll around the UEA campus

Take a walk around University of East Anglia and experience the campus where some of the greatest writers of today have lived and studied. UEA prides itself on being the place where literature lives, proven true by their alumni. Incredible authors such as Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Elizabeth MacNeal, and many more, have all developed their skills and gained confidence in their writing during their time studying at UEA, making it a must-visit location for all literature lovers.

For more local literary hotspots, writing trivia and bookish experiences, visit the National Centre for Writing website and their UNESCO City of Literature page.

To discover more about the City of Literature and the National Centre for Writing click here.




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