New festival in Cromer, Sheringham and Wells will take visitors back to Victorian age

History will be brought alive along the north Norfolk coast this spring when the lavish entertainment of the Victorian era is invoked by a host of dazzling performers.

Fire-eaters, escapologists, circus acts and a variety of costumed characters will descend on Cromer, Sheringham and Wells for the launch of Victorian Nights – a two day festival celebrating the glorious era that put the coastline on the tourist map.

The railway boom in the 1800s brought city visitors in their droves to the seaside towns and marked north Norfolk as the popular holiday destination it remains today.

To herald this important period in the district's history, eight venues and organisations across the three towns are teaming up to go back in time and host a programme of themed activities after hours.

Victorian Nights, which takes place over May 18 and 19, is being run as part of the national Museums at Night campaign, which celebrates the arts, history and heritage.

An old fashioned photo parlour, fairground attractions, traditional train rides, cottage craft workshops, guided walks and a traditional lantern show will add to the festival line up.

Laura Crossley, festival co-ordinator, said: 'We liked the idea that north Norfolk's towns were places people went to have fun and be entertained.

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'They still are, but that started in the Victorian age and that's why we're doing things like circus acts.

'It's meant to be a family friendly festival and not just for people who are really into history.'

The festival has been kickstarted by a �35,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and is hoped to become an annual event.

'If this is a success, the idea is that it will continue into the future, so this is to try to galvanise everybody for a big first event,' Miss Crossley added.

'Although there's loads of amazing festivals in north Norfolk this has provided a nice opportunity for cultural and heritage venues to work together.'

Sheringham Little Theatre, the Mo Museum, Cromer Museum, RNLI Henry Blogg Museum, North Norfolk Railway and Wells Maltings are joining forces with Cromer and Sheringham's preservation societies to host the festival.

As arrangements for the programme of activities gets under way, organisers are now on the look out for volunteers to help stage the festival, with various roles available including marketing, photography and even mini-bus driving.

A special scheme set up with Norfolk libraries will offer 20 people the chance to go on a certified literacy and blogging training course, which they will then use to help to promote the festival.

Schools will also be offered the opportunity to join in the fun via a competition and education pack, and businesses are encouraged to get involved by opening late on the festival dates.

For more information about the event, visit www.victoriannights northnorfolk.com, search 'Victorian Nights North Norfolk' on Facebook or you can follow @victoriannights on Twitter.

lucy.clapham@archant.co.uk