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Suffolk - Calendar
Savour a seasonal craft beer
Earl Soham is a sprawling, laid-back place with nice old cottages set back from the road. The village is home to the Earl Soham Brewery which started life in an old chicken shed at the village’s Victoria pub but now brews in an old forge building opposite the village green. The brewery produces a cross section of ales that give fellow producers Adnams and Greene King a run for their money and range from Victoria, a light ‘session beer’, to winter-only Sir Roger’s Porter and Jolabrugg, a stronger, Christmas-only ‘Yule Brew’.
Experience Bury St Edmunds during the beet season
A well known Bury St Edmunds landmark that is considerably less refined (although you cannot say the same thing about its product) is the BSC sugar beet factory on the A14. This is the biggest of its type in the country and in season – around midwinter – is the destination for hundreds of clanking lorries delivering beet from the frozen fields of west Suffolk and beyond. Sugar beet is hardly the most beautiful of crops and its processing machinery is anything but lovely too. So, if you detect a slightly cloying smell in the air during your visit then this is its source.
Bury St Edmunds's Abbey was destroyed at the time of the Dissolution but the Abbey Gardens are still in tact © chrisdorney, Shutterstock
Visit a renowned fort that dates back to 1744
Landguard Fort is first class attraction which was taken over by English Heritage in 1997, who carried out structural repair work before opening it to the public. It is now open over the February half term so it can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Explore the Waveny Valley by foot
The Angles Way route in the wintery months is a wonderful opportunity to see winter wildlife, frozen marshes and ponds, and take in the bright and crisp winter air.
Attend the The Aldeburgh Literary Festival
The Aldeburgh Literary Festival takes place every year in March. It is run by the owners of Aldeburgh Book Shop.
Besides the literary festival, Aldeburgh is renowned for its fresh array of seafood © Magdanatka, Shutterstock
Smell the bluebells at Freston
Freston Wood, located near the churchyard in the small town of Freston is an atmospheric ancient wood with gnarled pollarded oaks and many species of bird, flower and butterfly. If you come here in spring you’ll be greeted by the delicious garlicky aroma and pretty white flowers of ramsons that cloak the bottom part of the wood. Walk a little higher, towards the church, and the aroma morphs to the sweet hyacinth smell of bluebells that festoon the wood in late April and May.
Visit Framsden’s Fox Fritillary Meadow
Towards the north of the village of Framsden is a six-acre unimproved meadow, owned and managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, known as Fox Fritillary Meadow. It is the largest known site for snake’s head fritillaries in East Anglia. It’s undoubtedly a spectacular sight but you’ll need to be exact with your timing if you want to see it in its full glory as the meadow is only open to the public on a single annual open event in mid- to late April.
Witness the birdsong at Wolves Wood
This RSPB reserve, three miles east of Hadleigh just north of the main Ipswich road, is a rare remnant of ancient woodland that is managed by traditional coppicing. The dawn chorus is said to be quite something here in spring, with up to 30 species of bird singing, including garden warblers and nightingales, best heard in late April and early May.
If you're lucky enough, you may spot a bittern among the reedbeds during your stay © Ben Andrew, rspb-images.com
Get active as summer approaches
Most summer activities start to open their doors in May. Canoeing, for example, can be enjoyed at Iken Canoe, in the natural environment near The Maltings and opens to the public in May.
Likewise, Beccles Lido is another prime place to visit in May. It represents a real local success story in terms of community action. This outdoor pool was purchased by a community-run charity from the local council and since reopening in 2010 has been comprehensively refurbished, with leaks repaired and a solar power system installed to heat the water. Clean, warm, good value and fun for families, the Lido is open late May to September and gets very busy in hot weather and during school holidays. With good views and nice places to sit around the pool area, it’s a popular picnic spot; refreshments are available at the cafeteria.
Take part in a guided tour around the residence of an old Saxon family
West of Fressingfield is the village of Wingfield. The Wingfields were an old Saxon family who gave their name to the village. Wingfield College itself is a private residence but the house and gardens can be visited on pre-booked guided tours at roughly monthly intervals from May to September.
Pop by a local street fair
Experience a large village street fair in Mendlesham on May Day bank holiday.
Visit a historic train station
The Mid-Suffolk Light Railway Museum Brockford Station in Wetheringsett opens in May for the summer and is another great place to visit with the family.
Enjoy first-class classiscal music at The Aldeburgh Arts Festival
The Aldeburgh Arts Festival, an annual June festival of mainly classical music founded by Benjamin Britten in 1948, has become famous over the years. Most of the action takes place along the estuary at the purpose-built concert hall at Snape Maltings but some events use other venues like Blythburgh church.
Take the family out for the day at Henham Park’s Latitude Music Festival
The Latitude Music Festival is a family-friendly rock music festival, taking place at the end of July, that also features theatre, comedy, poetry, literature and cabaret. The estate is also used as the location for summer food festivals, steam rallies and game and country fairs.
The Latitude Festival is a great day out for the family and has a wide range of activities and performances for all ages © Jen O'Neill
Participate in some night-cylcing in The Dunwich Dynamo
For a bicycle ride with a difference, you might want to consider participating in the annual Dunwich Dynamo. You’ll need legs of steel, and night vision would be a distinct advantage too. The ride takes place each year on the Saturday night closest to the full moon in July. The ‘Dynamo’ leaves Hackney in London on the Saturday night and arrives in Dunwich the following morning – a gruelling 120-mile overnight ride, part of the way marked by decidedly low-tech tea lights in jam jars, and ending up with breakfast on the beach.
Compete in the events at Peasenhall’s Pea Festival
The village of Peasenhall instigated its very own Pea Festival in 2008 and it has since become an annual event. This takes place in July and includes such leguminous events as the World Pea Podding Championships, the East Anglian Pea Throwing Championships and the Great Pea Draw. The really enthusiastic can also enter the pea-eating competition – using chopsticks. It is an admirably green event – you certainly get the impression that the proceedings are pea- rather than po-faced. The dress code, although not compulsory, is of course green.
Enjoy a day out at Yoxford Arts Festival
The small Yoxford Arts Festival takes place in August.
A small but perfectly formed seaside town with an old-fashioned, well-heeled resort feel to it, Southwold seems still to belong to the 1950s © Viseslav Raos, Shutterstock
Attend a lecture in Southwold
The Southwold Museum and Historical Society can be found in a Dutch-gabled cottage on Victoria Street. This covers the whole span of history of the town with a range of interactive displays. The museum, which has equal-access facilities, also organises Tuesday evening lectures throughout August at the Methodist hall on East Green.
Cheer at the annual regatta in Thorpeness
Thorpeness is home to an artificial boating lake called The Meare that was inspired by Peter Pan, whose author J M Barrie was an Ogilvie family friend. A regatta takes place here each August in the week after Aldeburgh Carnival.
Devour local goodies at the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival
Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival takes place in September. In part sponsored by Adnams Brewery and Suffolk County Council, it as been running since 2006 and takes place both in the town and at Snape Maltings. The festival’s purpose is to celebrate the abundance of local produce and to help people reconnect with the local countryside and the food it produces – consistent with the Slow philosophy. There’s a different slant to proceedings each year: recent themes have included food security for the nation and for Suffolk, and helping children and their parents reconnect with food, where it comes from and how it is produced.
Enjoy some freshly caught lobsters on Aldeburgh beach © www.thesuffolkcoast.co.uk
Quench your thirst at Geldeston Locks’ Beer Festival
Geldeston Locks Inn is an isolated, traditional pub with a sunny garden on the Norfolk bank of the River Waveney three miles west of Beccles. It has locally sourced food, Green Jack ales from Lowestoft, regular musical events and a beer festival in September.
Sample real Suffolk apples on Metfield Apple Day
October is the month for apples in Suffolk! The Metfield Stores, a community shop in Metfield village, just west of St James South Elmham, specialises in local produce that includes some rare varieties of apples like Darcy Spice. The store celebrates Apple Day (and Apple Week too) each year in October, often with a local nurseryman on hand to dispense advice. The Metfield Stores, which is, in fact, the only shop in the village, is staffed by volunteers and is very active in promoting local suppliers and produce.
Enjoy the Halesworth Arts Festival
The arts centre in Halesworth is the focus of the annual Halesworth Arts Festival in October, an eclectic mix of folk, jazz, classical, dance, theatre and comedy.
Listen to poetry readings in Aldeburgh
This annual poetry festival is worth a visit if you enjoy listening to or writing poetry, as it hosts talks, readings and workshops in November.
See modern Molly dancing on Christmas Eve
Molly dancing is the East Anglian version of Morris dancing. It mostly existed in the Midlands and East Anglia and, before the recent revival, the tradition was last witnessed in Cambridgeshire in the 1930s. It is possible to see the modern Molly dancing teams, known as Plough Monday, the Cutty Wren Hunt and Old Glory Molly dancing at Southwold and Walberswick on Christmas Eve.