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Snape Maltings (c) Rod Edwards

2016 in Suffolk: New Year, New You

Forget half-hearted New Year’s resolutions, and make 2016 the year you do something you’ve always wanted. Whether your dream is to learn a new skill, take on a sporting challenge, find inspiration in the kitchen, improve your work-life balance, do good for the environment, or become more self-sufficient, you can achieve it in Suffolk in 2016. The year is yours for the taking!
Nia dance at DanceEast in Suffolk © DanceEastLearn to dance this year at Dance East in Ipswich
Photo (c) DanceEast

Learn A New Skill

Learning a new skill is one of the most fulfilling things you can do at any age. There are fantastic skills courses on offer in Suffolk during 2016, where you can learn anything from blacksmithing to beekeeping amid gorgeous surroundings, and with a group of potential new friends.

Stood by a glassy lake on the edge of Constable Country, Assington Mill is a peaceful haven where you can learn rural skills. Courses coming up in the first months of 2016 include willow fencing, bricklaying, wild medicine, soap making, upholstery, how to keep a few chickens or pigs, plus creative courses like blacksmithing and novel writing. There’s no better place to be if you’re ready to become more self-sufficient.

Also deep in the Suffolk countryside is Orchard Barn, a 17th century barn restoration project where you can learn traditional building and restoration techniques, and even how to build your own cart lodge. If your dream is to build with natural, sustainable materials, Orchard Barn could be the perfect place to start.

Enjoy your creativity, and Create!

Whether you consider yourself creatively talented or not, using your creativity to produce something for your own pleasure is an enriching, fun and therapeutic experience. Suffolk’s landscape provides limitless inspiration, making it the favourite place of countless artists and writers, and the ideal place to let your creativity fly.

The great portrait and landscape painter Thomas Gainsborough spent his youth living at 46 Gainsborough Street in Sudbury, a house that now exhibits a collection of his works and possessions. Gainsborough House also offers a range of 3-day and 1-day art courses, including printmaking, woodcutting, and life drawing.

If you’re keen to improve your drawing skills in 2016, DrawEast offers monthly 1-day courses focusing on different approaches to drawing, such as experimental drawing and drawing into colour. The courses are held at The Cookhouse in the Suffolk Food Hall, a stunning food venue that is worth a visit on its own!

Suffolk barley fields (c) Roy Connelly

Painter Roy Connelly paints Suffolk landscapes "en plein air"
Photo (c) Roy Connelly

Exercise And Feel Good

New Year’s resolutions to exercise more can be hard to keep; after a demanding workday, thudding it out on the treadmill seems even less appealing. One way to combat this is by making exercise exciting and productive. Why not learn to dance in 2016, on one of the courses held at DanceEast? This iconic Ipswich dance house offers classes in ballet, belly dance, hip-hop, jazz and more, and is just over an hour away from London by train.

Walking is great way to exercise while experiencing what Suffolk is all about: clean air, big skies, and beautiful views. RSPB Minsmere offer weekly health walks and wildlife walks through the nature reserve; alternatively, you could follow the Suffolk Threads Trails around the Wool Towns, or join the thousands of walkers taking part in the Suffolk Walking Festival in May and June.

Cycling is also incredibly popular in Suffolk, so why not take a self-guided cycling holiday around Suffolk in 2016? Cycle Breaks in Needham Market offer fantastic cycling holidays, complete with mapped-out routes and charming places to stay.

Cycling at sunrise in Suffolk (c) Barney MossCycling at sunrise in Suffolk is an incredible experience
Photo (c) Barney Moss


If you really want to challenge yourself in 2016, why not enroll on a weekend fitness bootcamp with The Suffolk Escape? You’ll be provided with 3 nights of luxury accommodation in the Suffolk countryside, delicious (and healthy) meals, nutrition advice, and a personalized lifestyle plan – all you have to do is the hard work!

Peloton Training also offer challenging sporting weekends, this time deep in Butley Woods on The Suffolk Coast. With a team of highly qualified trainers, chefs, nutritionists and physiotherapists, excellent facilities, and miles of coast to train in, Peloton Training helps prepare you for a triathlon over a long weekend – just in time to return to work on Monday morning.

Be Inspired by Food

As a nation, we’re fast becoming more aware about the quality of our food, and the joy of using great ingredients creatively in the kitchen. If you’re dreaming of becoming a better chef in 2016, there’s nowhere better to learn and be inspired than Suffolk, The Foodie County.

There are mouth-watering food and cookery courses to be found all over Suffolk, such as the rustic courses at Upstairs @ the Market in Lavenham, where you can learn to forage for wild garlic and mushrooms in the countryside surrounding this gem of a Suffolk Wool Town. You can also take part in wild food foraging and cookery at Assington Mill, and various other Suffolk locations.

The Suffolk Food Hall near Ipswich was voted the Best Local Food Venue in the UK & Ireland in the Countryside Alliance Awards, otherwise known as the rural Oscars. As well as a brilliant market, restaurant, and stunning location overlooking the River Orwell and Orwell Bridge, the Suffolk Food Hall offers fun cookery courses and workshops, covering everything from bread making to classic Italian cuisine.

At the state-of-the-art kitchen at Kenton Hall Estate, known as the Food Hub, you can learn culinary techniques under the tutelage of professional chefs, ranging from wild meat butchery to how to throw a show-stopping seasonal dinner party. And as with all cookery courses in Suffolk, you’ll be cooking with fresh, local, and delicious ingredients.

Smoked Suffolk mackerel (c) Rod EdwardsSmoked mackerel is a Suffolk delicacy 
Photo (c) Rod Edwards


Stress is proven to be detrimental to our health, and it’s essential to make time to relax, especially if you have a demanding work schedule. Suffolk is full of peaceful bolt-holes and remote cottages where you can find peace and quiet, if only for a weekend. One of the best is Hex Cottage at the Wilderness Reserve in Sibton, a cosy groundskeeper’s cottage powered without electricity, and surrounded by its own meadow and woodland.

Suffolk has a superb selection of luxury spas, which are ideal for a relaxing getaway in 2016, or a January detox. Weavers’ House Spa in Lavenham, Bedford Lodge Spa in Newmarket, Stoke by Nayland Spa and The Ickworth near Bury St Edmunds are just four of many top-rated spas in Suffolk.

Reconnect with Nature

Switching off the modern world and reconnecting with nature is one of the best ways to de-stress, and remind yourself what’s really important. Journalist Nick Robsinson, broadcaster Emma Freud, novelist Anthony Horowitz and many others see Suffolk as a peaceful oasis to retreat to, and no wonder: with over 60 nature reserves and two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Suffolk immerses you in nature and wildlife. When you’re listening to the thrilling dawn chorus as the sun rises at RSPB Minsmere, or walking through frosted Lackford Lakes, the rest of the world seems a million miles away.

Hex Cottage at the Wilderness Reserve in Suffolk

Hex Cottage at the Wilderness Reserve in Sibton
Photo (c) The Wilderness Reserve


You can take reconnecting with nature one step further in 2016, on a wildlife and conservation holiday in Suffolk. Organised by Wild Days Conservation, the Suffolk Coast Spring Break enables you to give back to the environment by working with local wildlife agencies to protect the Suffolk coast, an area full of rare and unique habitats. You’ll even get to see behind the scenes on the set of BBC Springwatch, filmed at RSPB Minsmere for the 3rd time in 2016!


If you're feeling inspired to visit Suffolk, or want to tell us about your adventures while you're here, why not get in touch via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?