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image of Illuminated Helmingham Hall

Top things to do in Suffolk this winter

It may be a little chilly at times but wrap up warm and enjoy all that Suffolk has to offer in the winter.

It’s festive, bustling, and if it snows it's beautiful.  You can go for walk on a deserted beach, unwind at a spa, visit illuminated gardens, visit Christmas events and stroll through towns decked out for the festive season.

Illuminated Garden Trail at Helminghall Hall GardensIlluminated Garden Trail at Helmingham Hall Gardens

Explore an illuminated garden

The Illuminated Garden Trail at Helmingham Hall Gardens is an unmissable event to start off the festive season.  See the grounds adorned with thousands of lights transforming the gardens into an enchanted winter wonderland.
Start the trail off by crossing Helmingham Hall’s famous drawbridge (pulled up every night since 1510) and warming up with a complimentary mulled wine within the courtyard seeped in over 500 years of historical charm. Continue through the gardens absorbing the magical sights and sounds, gather around the fire pits to toast marshmallows for s’mores and end the evening browsing the Stables Shops where you may be able to find some early Christmas gifts!

Visit a cosy pub with an open fire

There is nothing better than to sit and relax in a cosy pub, maybe with a good book but definitely alongside a roaring fire with a warming drink or a glass of one of the counties best beers. 

Close to the medieval town of Lavenham is The Bildeston Crown a former 15th century coaching inn.  You can choose from an an eclectic menu with plenty of fresh and local ingredients and dine in comfortable and stylish surroundings.  

Meander along the country lanes through the towns and villages and you will come across many typically Suffolk pubs and restaurants, many still with their thatched roofs and painted in the traditional Suffolk 'pink'. 

The Sweffling White Horse in Suffolk

Go on a guided evening walk in Bury St Edmunds

Discover the history, folklore and all things ghostly and macabre as you are taken on a 90 minute guided evening walk in Bury St Edmunds.

Every Friday evening at 6.30pm between October and March walk the streets with your tour guide who will recall stories of murder, execution, riots and sightings of ghostly figures.

You will definitely need some refreshments afterwards so make the most of your evening out and visit one of the many pubs, restaurants and cafes in the town, where you will find an amazing choice of menus.


Family festive fun

Have a bit of ho ho ho! and family festive fun with the children at Ickworth House, nr Bury St Edmunds where they can meet the man in red, listen to stories and enjoy making something crafty to take home.

Head over to the Suffolk Food Hall nr Ipswich, where Santa's helpers are rising early. Join them and Santa's elf for breakfast before browsing the food hall and shops for some foodie treats and presents. 

There are plenty more ways to have some family Christmas fun and other events in Suffolk, take a look here 

Father Christmas at Ickworth House near Bury St Edmunds ©ShowCaptureListen to Christmas stories at Ickworth House

Visit an attraction

Whatever the weather there are still many attractions open throughout the winter. 

Go on an adventure at Africa Alive! and trek through the 100 acre parkland to discover lions, giraffes, meekats, fennec foxes and many other animals from the African continent. The Park is also home some other amazing primates including bushbabies, colobus monkeys, drill and the rare golden-bellied mangabeys.

Little ones with love to climb aboard the free Safari Roadtrain for an entertaining journey around the Park and then have a play in the fun-packed “Discovery Centre” with a chance to meet some of the smaller residents at the animal encounter sessions.

There's lots going on at Africal Alive! over Christmas and Santa's making some visits too.

Browse other attractions to visit this winter.

Fennec foxesSee the fennec foxes at Africa Alive!

Take a walk on the beach

You won't have to worry about the crowds and quite possibly may have the whole beach to yourself during the winter months.  This makes them the perfect place for blowing away the cobwebs, stretching your legs and enjoying the exhilaration of just being out in the open with just nature all around you.

At Dunwich, nearby to the birdwatchers paradise, Minsmere, you can enjoy a coast and countryside walk before or after some delicious food at The Ship at Dunwich.  Dunwich's history is fascinating – look out to sea from the beach and you’re staring at a city, now beneath the waves, which was once a city larger than London!

Aldeburgh is famous for its coloured houses, beach sculpture and freshly caught fish and chips!  Walk from Thorpeness to Aldeburgh where you can view the House in the Clouds, then induldge in one of the nations favourite dishes of fish and chips, wrapped up warm and sitting on the beach.

image of dog on beachYour four-legged friend will love a walk on the beach

Have some 'me time' at the spa

With all the stresses in our daily lives, we all need a little 'me time' to gather our thoughts, plan our lives and well, just be pampered.

Suffolk has some unique and luxurious spa's and retreats where you can truly relax and probably won't want to leave.

Set in the heart of Suffolk is The Swan at Lavenham Hotel and Spa a beautiful medieval hotel steeped in history.  Weavers’ House Spa at The Swan is one of the most luxurious and intimate boutique spas in Suffolk.  Not only can you enjoy the variety of treatments but if you stay awhile you will be able to enjoy the sumptious sofa's where you can indulge in an afternoon tea with champagne.  You can choose to dine in either the contemporary style Brasserie or opt for fine dining in the AA two rosette Gallery Restaurant before heading up for the night in one of the hotel's deluxe bedrooms.

Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa is located in a country setting in the home of horseracing in Newmarket. The award winning luxury spa offers a range of treatments to relax and rejuvenate you.  Staying at the hotel will allow you time to explore the town and the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art.

Niroshina Retreats are located at magical venues in Suffolk, chosen for their pure beauty, grandeur or location in the depths of nature. Many have featured in luxurious glossy magazines such as Vogue – they are utterly unique and enchanting. The retreats are purposely run with a maximum of 7 spaces so that guests can be completely looked after, from the moment they walk through the doors and get offered their Niroshini “chakra mocktails”, to when they leave – feeling refreshed, ready for their next step in life with balance, calmness and full of passion.  

Have a relaxing spa day

See an exhibition

Visit the Winter Exhibition at Sea Pictures Gallery in Clare and find a range of works by local and regular artists on display. There are ceramics, books, gift vouchers, hand-made limited edition prints, original paintings and Welsh blankets.  Have a browse and pick-up a unique and special Christmas treat for a loved one or maybe just a treat for yourself.

The latest temporary exhibition at Palace House, Newmarket is King George IV: Royalty, Racing and Reputation and opens on 28th November 2019 until 19th April 2020.

This new exhibition, all bar one of the exhibits have been lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection, shows George’s legacy as not only a great patron and collector of art, but also as prominent and, at times controversial, patron of horse racing.

image of painting at Palace HouseA picture at Palace House, Newmarket


What is your favourite autumn activity in Suffolk, we'd love to hear about it. Get in contact with us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?