Top 10 Arts & Culture Experiences

Explore the Masters in Constable Country

With its dramatic open spaces, varied woodlands, huge skies and picturesque waterways, the scenic Suffolk landscape has always fired the creative heart of artists down the centuries. The most famous of these being John Constable & Thomas Gainsborough. Gainsborough’s House is a must-see, including works of his art, the house where he grew up and the mulberry tree he planted to grow silk in the 1700s, although the wrong type!

Where to stay: Just down the road from Gainsborough’s House is The Mill Hotel, situated on the banks of the River Stour.

Where to eat: To be truly authentic, dine in one of the buildings that existed around Gainsborough’s time, such as The Black Boy Hotel or The Angel.

Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios

Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios comes from the organisers of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival, and takes place in late May/early June across the county, mainly in Norwich, featuring over 250 different artists. One of the largest and most successful open studio schemes in the country, this is a great chance to see art, buy art and meet the artists.

Where to eat: A lot of the pleasure of dining in Norwich is walking around the small city centre to see what’s on offer and what you feel like – all tastes accounted for.

Where to stay: Sprowston Manor Hotel is a quintessential county retreat set in 170 acres of parkland surrounded by an 18 hole championship golf course.

Ipswich's Cultural Revolution

Once a hive of activity and trading hub, Ipswich’s marina has transformed in recent years to embrace its cultural achievements. The waterfront, which is situated on the River Orwell, is host to the striking home of DanceEast: bringing world-class dance to Suffolk. A 10-minute walk away is the New Wolsey Theatre which offers an eclectic mix of musicals, plays, concerts and experimental art. Which leads nicely into SPILL: a festival that is so original it embraces some of the most influential creative people in the UK and takes place in the autumn.

Where to stay: Right on Ipswich’s marina waterfront stands the Salthouse Harbour Hotel. Expect modern art and design, and knock-out views.

Where to eat: The Mariners is a floating French brasserie moored in Ipswich’s iconic marina.

The Pavilion Theatre on Cromer Pier

At Cromer Pier you can enjoy the last end-of-pier theatre in Europe! As well as regular one-offs, the Pavilion Theatre hosts fantastic Summer and Christmas Variety Shows, with comedians, illusionists and song and dance. Voted Pier of the Year in 2015, it’s also one of the 7 Wonders of Norfolk.

Where to eat: It’s more a case of what to eat in Cromer – look out for menus that have the Cromer Crab on the menu, or go for that other local delicacy – fish and chips!

Where to stay: The Grove is a secluded Georgian holiday home 10 minutes’ walk from the centre of Cromer and set in its own 3 acre garden of the guest house. Amenities include a swimming pool.

The world of Britten

When you talk about Suffolk and music, there is no greater name than Benjamin Britten. One of the major influences in 20th century music, he casts a long shadow across the pebbled beach of Aldeburgh and beyond. Take in a concert at the famous Aldeburgh Music, founded by Britten in 1948, amble along Aldeburgh beach where Peter Grimes was born and head to the Red House, home of Britten for some 20 years.

Where to stay: Located on the beachfront at Aldeburgh is the whitewashed White Lion Hotel, ideal for recharging the batteries and experiencing the surroundings which once influenced Britten.

Where to eat: The Seafood & Grill restaurant at The Brudenell Hotel not only offers panoramic sea views and al fresco dinning and has recently been awarded 2 AA rosettes.

Majestic Holkham Hall, North Norfolk

Holkham Estate

Holkham Hall – one of our top stately homes - has amazing Palladian architecture, historic furniture and paintings, an extensive collection of European art, and a glorious Marble Hall – it’s over 50 feet from floor to ceiling, dominated by a large white marble flight of stairs, and inspired by both the Temple of Fortuna Virilis and the Pantheon in Rome. Open air events at Holkham involve theatre and cinema during the summer. 2016 theatre includes Peter Pan and Much Ado About Nothing.

Where to eat and stay: You don’t have to go far – The Victoria is on the Holkham Estate, just a stone’s throw from the beach.

Have a literature-themed holiday...

If there’s anywhere in the world to be a reader, it’s Suffolk. It’s not just the literary events that fill its cultural calendar, the inspiring landscape, nor the hundreds of cosy cafés that invite you in to read. Tread in the footsteps of some of the greatest writers that ever lived (and even sleep in their beds!). Sail the river that gave George Orwell his name, go boating on the lake at Thorpeness which inspired J.M. Barrie to write Peter Pan, or sleep in Charles Dicken’s favourite bed at The Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds.

Where to stay: The Swan at Lavenham or The Great House are two exquisite hotels, serving award-winning food and drink.

Where to eat: The Great House in Suffolk, this year received the Good Hotel Guide for Editor’s Choice Award for Gourmet Hotels and ‘One of Britain’s Best Stopovers’.

Golden Mile in Great Yarmouth

Spending time at the seaside is very much a part of English culture, and in Great Yarmouth we have one of the best traditional seaside resorts in the country. Ride the wooden rollercoaster at the Pleasure Beach, take in a show at the Hippodrome Circus, have a game of Crazy Golf, walk along the Golden Mile and enjoy an ice cream or some freshly-made donuts (try not to lick your lips – it’s impossible!). Why not build a sand castle on the huge beach, or take a dip in the sea!

What to eat: You’re at the English seaside – fish and chips, obviously.

Where to stay: The Burlington Palm Hotel is on the seafront, just a few minutes’ walk from the action, and if you don’t want to go in the sea, it has its own swimming pool!

The Lookout Tower in Aldeburgh

The bonds between Aldeburgh, art, and the sea have always been strong ones. The Aldeburgh coastline has captured the hearts of many artists through the centuries, and The Lookout on Aldeburgh beach is a place where artists can spend the week, stay in basic living conditions and absorb the influences of the Suffolk coast. At the end of their residency, spy the art they have created and get a chance to grab a memento from your holiday.

Where to stay: The Landmark Trust offers unusual holiday properties. One that sticks out is Martello Tower at Aldeburgh: the biggest of these defensive towers ever constructed.

Where to eat: The Seafood & Grill restaurant at The Brudenell Hotel not only offers panoramic sea views and al fresco dinning and has recently been awarded 2 AA rosettes.

The Real Ale Trail

Beer and brewing are a big part of our culture, particularly in Norfolk which has more micro-breweries than any county in the UK. We think our malting barley from north Norfolk is the best too, mainly because it’s grown high over the coast and benefits from moist sea mists. Look for coastal pubs where you can get sea views or find a traditional village pub with thatched roof and roaring fires. Here’s some advice from Norfolk brewer Woodforde’s on what to look out for.

What to eat: Look out for local delicacies such as crab, oysters, mussels and cockles, as well as samphire, and game when in season.

Where to stay: Depends where you are in the county, so take a look at Visit Norfolk’s Where to Stay.