9 alternative Christmas holiday ideas

PUBLISHED: 10:14 16 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:15 16 December 2019

Sophie Gordon at the Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham (photo: Jamie Honeywood)

Sophie Gordon at the Alpaca walk experience into Thetford Forest, Wretham (photo: Jamie Honeywood)

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

Here are a few ideas to get you off the sofa over the Christmas holidays

Take an alpaca for a walk

Alpacas are those slightly comical-looking, fluffy gentle beasts of the camel family from South America which are becoming an increasingly common sight around Norfolk. There are a number of places around the county offering alpaca walking, or trekking, as a nice thing to do. Alpaca Trekking at Wells-Next-the-Sea is open all year round and at Wretham Let's Go Alpacas will take you round Thetford Forest. Alpacas are relatively small and docile and generally better-natured than llamas and strolling through the countryside with an alpaca on a lead certainly makes a change from taking Fido out.

Go kayaking on the Broads

Last year Mrs C and I decided to do different on Boxing Day and joined a small group kayaking around Hickling Broad. Billed as a mulled wine and mince pie kayak adventure it was great fun and took us to parts of the broad that you would never normally be able to see. We're not that fit but had no trouble spending a couple of hours paddling around under expert guidance and the kayaks are reassuringly stable, even when we were a bit ham-fisted…

Excited Siberian Huskies race through Thetford Forest at the event organised by the British Siberian Husky Racing Association (photo: Denise Bradley)Excited Siberian Huskies race through Thetford Forest at the event organised by the British Siberian Husky Racing Association (photo: Denise Bradley)

Take a steam train ride

Bure Valley Railways has a Steam Train to Santa ride which runs up to Christmas Eve, setting out from Wroxham and not stopping until it reaches Santa's Grotto 45 minutes later… The North Norfolk Railway also has a Santa special running up to the big day which takes excited passengers from Sheringham to Santa's Station in… well, that would be telling, wouldn't it?

Have a swim in the sea

If you think that a little light suffering is good for the soul then a festive dip in the North Sea will be right up your street. There are a number of events around the Norfolk coastline including ones at Hunstanton on Christmas Day and Cromer on Boxing Day. Norfolk magazine assistant editor Rachel Buller took the plunge in 2018 and says everyone should do it at least once.

Intrepid swimmers brave the waves at Sheringham's annual New Year's Day dip (photo: Karen Bethell)Intrepid swimmers brave the waves at Sheringham's annual New Year's Day dip (photo: Karen Bethell)

You may also want to watch:

Go husky sledding

You don't have to be an Arctic explorer to experience the thrill of hurtling along behind a dog team; you can do it right here in Norfolk. Forstal Siberian huskies have been pulling people around Thetford Forest for over 50 years in specially-designed quad bikes. Teams of six to eight of the hounds do all the work, leaving you to enjoy the ride.

Go skiing

…or snowboarding, or even tubing (zipping around on inflatable giant things a bit like tyre inner tubes) without the hassle of having to travel to the chillier bits of the world. Norfolk Snowsports Club does all of these things at the dry slope at Whitlingham, near Norwich. It's a good way to get acquainted with the world of winter sports in a safe environment and offers tuition for everyone from complete beginners to experts.

New Kayak tours exploring the borads adjacent to Strumpshaw Fen (photo: Nick Butcher)New Kayak tours exploring the borads adjacent to Strumpshaw Fen (photo: Nick Butcher)

Fling an axe

You can unleash your inner Viking by hurling a chopper (at a target, rather than another Viking) at one of the county's growing number of clubs. As a stress reliever it has to be up there and it is rather more physical than darts. Safety is taken very seriously - don't turn up in flip-flops, for instance - and most places offer coaching and guidance. Among the practitioners are Norfolk Flingers - find them on Facebook; and Axes and Escapes at Sculthorpe.

Dine with the swans

During winter you can have a floodlit supper with the wonderful swans at Welney Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. While you tuck into a three-course dinner in the nice warm conservatory you can watch as the swans are fed and listen to a commentary on the wildfowl action. At the time of writing there were dates in January and February still available.

Axe throwing club, Earlham, Norwich (photo: Jamie Honeywood)Axe throwing club, Earlham, Norwich (photo: Jamie Honeywood)

Get away from it all

You've been locked in with the family all Christmas; who wouldn't want to get away? Maybe a spell in an escape room will break the tension. If you've never been in one the idea is that you are locked in a place with clues which will, if you work them out correctly, get you freed before the clock runs out. There are lots of different ones in Norwich and Norfolk, including the Guildhall and Blickling Church.

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