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From free parking to panto, West Norfolk has it all this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 09:40 28 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:40 28 November 2017

King's Lynn Christmas Lights Switch on 2014. Picture: Matthew Usher.

King's Lynn Christmas Lights Switch on 2014. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

It's the most wonderful time of the year and West Norfolk is the best place to be for Christmas.

John and Mary Toombs watched the Christmas lights being switched on in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian BurtJohn and Mary Toombs watched the Christmas lights being switched on in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

There will be plenty of events taking place all through the winter season for you to fulfil all your Christmas shopping needs or simply to get into the festive spirit.

• Free parking

The Scrooge in you may wince at the sight of early Christmas decorations and coffee cups already hitting the high streets, but nobody can deny free car parking is the gift we’ve all been asking for.

Every Thursday from November 30 to December 21, there will be free parking in all King’s Lynn council car parks in the town centre (with the exception of St James multi-storey) from 3pm.

A large crowd watched the Christmas lights being switched on in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian BurtA large crowd watched the Christmas lights being switched on in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

• Christmas lights switch-on

Many of us have been feeling the bite of the frosty weather but things have started to warm up with the Christmas lights switch-on.

Festivities began with a Christmas Cracker in Hunstanton on Saturday, November 25 and King’s Lynn sparkled on Sunday, November 26 where huge crowds gathered in the Tuesday Market Place for the Christmas lights switch-on.

Hundreds of people are expected to gather in Downham Market Town Square for the switch-on on Sunday, December 3.

Panto stars (L) Elise Whyte and Seren Whyte at the official switching on of the Christmas lights in Hunstanton. Picture: Ian BurtPanto stars (L) Elise Whyte and Seren Whyte at the official switching on of the Christmas lights in Hunstanton. Picture: Ian Burt

• Christmas Markets

The first ever Christmas market, organised by Discover King’s Lynn, will arrive in King’s Lynn just as most of us get some money in the kitty by the end of the month.

On Thursday, December 7, the town centre will be filled with 40 local stallholders offering unique gifts for loved ones ahead of Christmas.

Chairman of Discover King’s Lynn Darren Taylor said: “We are delighted to be organising our first Christmas Market in the town, there has been a lot of interest already from both traders and attendees which is encouraging.”

Annual Christmas swim at Hunstanton. 
Photo: Ian BurtAnnual Christmas swim at Hunstanton. Photo: Ian Burt

There will also be Christmas market in Burnham Deepdale on Friday, December 1 - Sunday, December 3, and a winter craft fair in Downham Market on Saturday, December 2 - Sunday, December 3, from 10am to 5pm.

• Panto

It is just not Christmas without a family trip to the panto. Fairytale favourites of Jack and the Beanstalk will be in King’s Lynn Corn Exchange from December 8, Cinderella in Hunstanton Princess Theatre from December 2 and Rapunzel in Downham Town Hall from January 12.

• Hunstanton Christmas swim

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they leaves St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk following the traditional Christmas Day service. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA WireThe Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they leaves St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk following the traditional Christmas Day service. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Some people like to relax by the fireplace after a generous Christmas meal while others prefer a dip in the freezing cold water.

Every year since 1972, a team of swimmers take to the waters in Hunstanton on Christmas Day to raise money for charity.

Organised by the Hunstanton and District Round Table, hundreds of swimmers are cheered on by thousands of spectators before they wade into The Wash off Hunstanton Central Prom.

Most are dressed in fancy dress, some sporting the festive look in Christmas onesies while others opt for nothing but swimming gear.

Hot soup is available free of charge to swimmers after they take a dip in the icy water.

Certificates are given out to all participants in the swim, with prizes for best dressed and best group.

For those wanting to brave the waves, visit www.hunstantonroundtable.com to download a registration form.

• Royal family

Even the Royal family prefer to spend their Christmas holidays in the West Norfolk countryside.

For decades members of the Royal family have celebrated Christmas in the Queen’s rural retreat in Sandringham Estate.

On Christmas day, hundreds of well-wishers line up outside the iron gates of Sandringham park in the early hours of the morning, hoping for the best view of the Royal family making their trip to and from St Mary Magdalene church.

Spectators are greeted by some members of the Royal Family on their way back to Sandringham House, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge William and Kate and Prince Harry.

After Christmas dinner, the family watch the Queen’s Christmas Speech, a tradition which began in Sandringham House by her grandfather King George V in 1939.

Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh normally arrive into West Norfolk by train, from London to King’s Lynn, save for a few occasions due to illness.

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