Norwich is set to shine brighter than ever this Christmas
Youngsters eagerly lining up at fairy-tale grottos, shops and markets bustling with trade, friends huddled with mugs of mulled wine clasped in gloved hands.
Christmas is the most magical time of year and this year's festive season in Norwich is set to be our best yet.
The team at Norwich BID (Business Improvement District) has unveiled plans for show-stopping light displays, handcrafters' markets and a magnificent tree to transform the Fine City into a winter wonderland.
Stefan Gurney, Norwich BID executive director, said the idea was to turn the Norwich into the country's Christmas capital.
Mr Gurney said: 'The business community told us they wanted to see something that would be a huge draw for the city – something that would bring in visitors not just from the east of England but from across the whole country.
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'We're going to put on an fantastic show this year. Norwich is an amazing community, and this will really bring it alive for Christmas.'
Norwich Castle and City Hall will be used as a canvas for stunning projections, and for the first time a 'tunnel of light' will use thousands of light beams to recreate a true spectacle of nature – the aurora borealis, the northern lights.
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Mr Gurney said: 'This will be something we've never seen in the city before.'
Christmas lights will also be put up around the Norwich Lanes and other popular shopping quarters, and a 28ft Norwegian spruce will become a focal point at the corner of Bethel Street.
The Nordic theme will continue with a Norwegian market outside the Forum for a week in November, which will then make way for an enterprise market where budding entrepreneurs will offer and unique gifts handmade in the city.
Mr Gurney said: 'Norwich has so much to offer, from boutiques up to big multi-national chains.
'There's everything you could want for your Christmas shopping and you also have an experience you could never get anywhere else.'
It will soon be time to get your skates on again at Norwich's Castle Gardens.
A true highlight of spending Christmas in Norwich is sure to be the spectacular ice rink, set against the backdrop of the spectacular Norwich Castle.
Suitable for novices and experienced skaters alike, the rink is sure to once again become a magnet for families and friends enjoying a day out in the city, as well as couples on romantic dates.
This will be the second year the ice rink will be bought to you by the Norwich Evening News and its sister paper, the Eastern Daily Press. And because of the huge popularity of the rink in 2015, this year the surface will be bigger than before, with the capacity for 100 people to skate around at the same time, up from 70 last year.
And for those who prefer jumping to skating, a 50ft-tall snowman bouncy castle will also be at the gardens.
The ice rink is being sponsored by Jack the The Beanstalk, this year's pantomime at the Theatre Royal.
The rink will be open from December 16 to January 8.
Tickets are not yet on sale, but you can receive updates and special offers from the Norwich Ice Rink Team by signing up online at icerinknorwich.co.uk
Tunnel of light
The mesmerising hues of the Northern Lights will be projected in this illumination – the first of its kind in the UK. The tunnel will be 45m long, 4m high and 6m wide and be powered by 50,000 pulsating LED beams of light. The tunnel will be along Hay Hill by the side of St Peter Mancroft Church, and will be switched on nightly from November 17 to January 5.
Traditional wooden chalets will house artisan Norwegian handcrafters from November 19-24. The market, sponsored by Norseland, will offer gifts and continental food and drink.
Then, from November 26-29, young entrepreneurs will move in for an 'enterprise market' offering creative gifts and products fresh from our own city.
Every night during the festive period there will be three 40-minute shows awe-inspiring projections on the iconic Norwich Castle and City Hall. The shows will be set to original music and will take place between 5pm and 9pm.
This will be an excellent opportunity to see some the city's most famous edifices in a new light.
Christmas lights suspended from trees and strung across streets will have the city aglow. The big switch-on night will be November 17, and the lights will run until January 5. A stunning Norwegian Christmas tree will be also dazzle with thousands of lights, creating a beacon of festive cheer from its perch next to the City Hall.
Help will be on hand during the festival season to visitors and Norwich residents alike from a small army of city hosts. The volunteer hosts will be at popular spots to give directions, give tips on where to shop, eat and drink and hand out specially-made maps/flyers. The scheme is organised by Norwich BID, visit www.norwichbid.co.uk for more.