9 Great Days Out for Christmas in Norfolk in 2023

Christmas in Norfolk is a wonderful reason for a day out. From the Polar Express Train Ride to seeing Santa at Holkham Hall, there are plenty of activities to get you feeling festive. Let’s take a look at the top ones…

christmas in norfolk
Image by Fernando Butcher

Christmas can be a hectic time of year jam packed – or rather cranberry sauce packed – with organising family activities, meals, entertainment, presents… the exciting Christmas list goes on. If you’re wanting to get a little jolly in and around Norfolk this festive season then this list of the top events at Christmas in Norfolk will allow a little of that planning to be done for you.

Take the time to get merry this year with a gleeful Norfolk Christmas Market, lights show, or even get the chance to reenact an old Christmas movie favourite with these Christmas events in Norfolk.

1. The Polar Express train ride, mid Norfolk railway

Since 2004 The Polar Express film has been a household favourite. Imagine what it would be like to sip hot chocolate aboard a festive locomotive with the cheery anticipation of being delivered a gift by Santa!

Well now you can live it. The Mid-Norfolk Railway Polar Express Train Ride now makes this all possible for you and your loved ones. Tickets range from £31.95 – £49.95 with options to snag a table all to yourselves in parties of 4 or, with the premium ticket, parties of 2. All packages include a steaming cup of hot chocolate, a cookie and a hand delivered silver bell.

There are also possibilities of included parking and extra souvenirs if you’re looking to treat yourselves to an all around fun and stress free day.

2. Luminate Sandringham

Looking for a more royal winter experience? Head to Sandringham Estate Winter Light Trail. This fantastical light trail is set up within his majesty’s very own estate. The eye dazzling walk is one mile long and features the most picturesque of lighting decorations accompanied by a specially chosen soundtrack.

This year the trail is open after dark from the 11th of November to the 24th of December. It’s one of the best Christmas days out in England.

From your pre-booked start time you can take all the time you’d like to wander the trail. It usually takes 60-90 minutes to reach the end.

Adult tickets range from £18.25 to £23.25 and child tickets range from £13.25 to £16.75 depending on the day you choose, and there are family ticket options too.

3. Visit Banham Zoological Gardens

Banham Zoological Gardens makes for a great day out for Christmas in Norfolk. The zoo is home to thousands of animals from all over the globe and there’s 50+ acres of stunning parkland and gardens.

Here is the trailer for last year’s Christmas at Banham Zoological Gardens…

It’s a wonderful day out for kids if you check out their Farm Barn for a close-up encounter with the domestic livestock, and explore the Tropical House with birds swooping around you. There are also plenty of daily feeding talks, presentations, and interactive sessions in the Conservation Education Centre. Visit Banham Zoo at Christmas and you can meet Santa in his workshop, ride the Winter Train, watch the Christmas Story Time show, and more.

Your entry to the zoo is included in your Christmas Experience ticket.

If you want to give an extra special early Christmas gift, Banham Zoological Gardens has some amazing up-close-and-personal animal experiences, including:

4. Pensthorpe Natural Park Annual Christmas Market

Having trouble with ticking off your Christmas shopping list this winter?

Get into the festive spirit and find the perfect presents for all your loved ones at our annual Christmas market! Attended by the region’s best food and drink suppliers, artists and craft makers, our Christmas Market provides shoppers with a welcome change of scenery from the high street, with pop-up stalls, all in a relaxed and spacious outdoor environment. Escape the city crowds and discover bespoke creations, creative gift ideas and delicious treats made from boutique producers, many of whom are from the local area.


Pensthorpe Christmas Market has everything you need to get those gifts wrapped, ready and under your Christmas tree. Not only will this market get you in the Christmas spirit and prepped for the big day but you can enjoy a plentiful supply of December’s favourite food and beverages. Feel free to explore plenty of local suppliers and artists’ offerings on this wonderful day out at Christmas in Norfolk too.

The market will be on Sunday 27th of November from 10am – 4pm.

5. Elveden Christmas trees

A classic Christmas celebration, for many families, can’t be complete without a trip to a Christmas tree farm. Whether you’re in need of a sweet smelling tree for your living room this year, or simply fancy a festive wander around, the Christmas trees at Elveden are perfect.

Having a nice winter stroll through the trees this year is a great activity for those who don’t want to add on to those hefty Christmas expenses. They produce Norway Spruce, Nordmann Fir and Fraser Fir trees. Keep an eye on the Elveden Christmas Tree Farm website to find out when their trees will be available to visit and buy.

READ MORE: Do the BIG Norfolk Quiz and see how well YOU know the county!

6. Thursford’s Christmas Spectacular 

If you’re hoping for Christmas to be truly spectacular this year then look no further. If you love a festive show around the holidays then this cast of 130 is sure to make your year. Don’t look to the TV for your entertainment this December. This show really brings Christmas to Norfolk with singing, dancing, a good story and great theatrics.

The outfits alone are worth the visit.

Children need to 8 years or older to attend this event. The show runs from the 8th of November to the 23rd of December at 2pm and 7pm. Ticket prices start at £43. The show gets bigger every year and often sells out so snag your tickets while you can!

7. Holkham Hall’s ‘An Audience with Father Christmas’

For kids and adults alike, it is an all around jolly experience to meet Father Christmas at Holkham Hall. This experience creates the perfect atmosphere, especially for families. Refreshments are supplied to all but the real showstopper is the incredible setting – one of the best stately homes in England. It begins with all anticipating participants congregating in the beautiful hall before the doors are opened and Santa’s magic unfolds.

Holkham Hall is one of the best days out in Norfolk year round, but at Christmas, it’s just that little bit more special.

The 2023 show dates will be the 9th, 10th, 22nd and 23rd of December, so grab your tickets so you don’t miss this wonderful event.

8. Norfolk Festive Gift and Food Show

If you’re looking for a more budget friendly Christmas activity then the Norfolk Festive Gift and Food Show is taking place from the 10th – 12th November 2023, and it’s the perfect opportunity for a great day out in Norfolk at Christmas. With standard adult tickets from £8.50 or less, with free entry for under 5’s you can spend as little or as much as you’d like.

They provide plenty of gifts and shopping opportunities, lots of food and drinks stalls and a merry lineup of entertainment for all ages. This is a must visit for all those who love to support local vendors and creators. Also a great time if you find yourself with a little extra Christmas cash to splash on all the great produce.

9. Wander around wintry Thetford Forest

Sometimes you don’t need all the glitz and glam at Christmas. A wintry walk will do nicely! This is a great way to take in the colder season and say a friendly ‘hello!’ to others who are excited for Santa to arrive. There are lots of great places to do this throughout Norfolk, but a visit to Thetford Forest is always a great day out, with plenty to do.

Winter walk in the forest

They host recreational events, and are likely to do something for the festive season too so keep an eye out. There are over 18,000 hectares of forest to walk around if your legs will take you that far, and an exciting outdoor play facility at High Lodge for the kids to play around in their warm coats and gloves.

It’s totally free to visit Thetford Forest, so this is a nice purse-string-friendly activity for the whole family.

Christmas in Norfolk

No matter what your budget this year, there are plenty of festive things to do in Norfolk this Christmas time. Take your family to a good show, your partner for a romantic winter wonderland wander through one of the markets or simply go alone to witness a dazzling lights show. Don’t forget there’s the Norfolk Coast Path if you want a fresh walk on a bright but cold day, and there’s also some great paddleboarding in Norfolk for anyone who dares in winter!

So many jolly possibilities to make your Norfolk Christmas special this year!

Quick List: 9 Great Days Out for Christmas in Norfolk in 2023

  1. The Polar Express train ride, mid Norfolk railway
  2. Luminate Sandringham
  3. Visit Banham Zoological Gardens
  4. Pensthorpe Natural Park Annual Christmas Market
  5. Elveden Christmas trees
  6. Thursford’s Christmas Spectacular 
  7. Holkham Hall’s ‘An Audience with Father Christmas’
  8. Norfolk Festive Gift and Food Show
  9. Wander around wintry Thetford Forest


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