The GTW team look at what is on offer for groups in the eastern counties of Norfolk and Suffolk.

With its array of hotels, plethora of shops and attractions, Norwich is widely accepted to be the capital of East Anglia – and thus is a prime location to base your group visit to the region. However, an array of attractive destinations lie within easy reach.

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The North Norfolk Railway (NNR), which operates heritage steam and diesel services from Sheringham to Holt, was voted into the top three Best Attractions in Norfolk in 2013. The main station at in Sheringham town centre provides a great starting point for the picturesque journey, which stops at Weybourne, before travelling through to Holt. The latter is situated at High Kelling, a mile east of the town.

During the year many special events take place, including a visit from Thomas in early May, followed by Dads Army at the end of the same month. In June there is the Diesel Gala, followed in July by the Vintage Transport event and the ever-popular Beer Festival. There are also two Steam Galas – one in March the other at the end of August when visiting locomotives supplement the home-based fleet. In September the major event of the year – the 40’s – takes place with the town of Sheringham turning back the clock to the early 1940s. The railway leads the event with a comprehensive timetable featuring steam locomotives and various displays at the stations including opportunities to buy memorabilia from the period.

The railway offers pre-bookable dining services along with Sunday Lunch trains and Murder Mysteries. Group rates are available for parties of 20 or more – but they must be booked and confirmed seven days in advance, with a 25% non-refundable deposit paid. Single journey tickets are available to groups and ample coach parking is available at either end of the line.

T: 01263 820800                                                                            W: www.nnrailway.co.uk

Located a short distance along the coast from the NNR is a trip with a difference – to see the spectacular seal and bird colony at Blakeney Point. Operated by Bean Boat Trips, cruises leave Morston or Blakeney Quay daily from April 1 to October 31. Group rates vary depending on the size of the party, ages and time of year. Lasting about an hour, the trip comes personally recommended by GTW’s Managing Editor and his better half.

T: 01263 740505                                                                    W: www.beansboattrips.co.uk

BureValleyRailway-BVR Boat TrainIn a similar transport vain, albeit further south, the Bure Valley Railway (BVR) is Norfolk’s longest 15-inch gauge steam railway and operates between the old market town of Aylsham and the bustling Broads’ town of Wroxham and is within easy reach of Norwich and the coast. The nine-mile line runs through the picturesque Bure Valley countryside.

Trains operate on a daily basis from the beginning of April to the end of October, with special events throughout the year. Seasonal train packages are also available during November and December, making this an ideal additional excursion if in the area for Thursford or over the Christmas period. Of particular note for organisers of group itineraries is the availability of a ticket combining a train trip and 90-minute cruise on the Norfolk Broads. Marketed as the Broadland Boat Train, it operates from Wroxham between April and October. The adult group rate this year is £14.10.

Group discounts are available for 20 or more. Coach drivers receive a complimentary coffee and cake. There is free coach parking at both stations. Trains are wheelchair accessible.

Facilities at the BVR include a café, a model railway, toy and souvenir shop and a railway workshop at Aylsham, along with a souvenir shop at Wroxham. The Whistlestop Café seats up to 80 people and can provide everything from a cup of tea to a full meal. A specially priced two-course group menu is also available.

T: 01263 733858                                                                                       W: www.bvrw.co.uk

Potters Resort, the first five star holiday village in the UK, is the perfect venue for groups and coach parties. Set in 65 acres located on the border of Norfolk and Suffolk, Potters offers exceptional value weekend breaks throughout the year.

Guests can choose from a variety of entertainment filled short breaks, including fun packed weekends, relaxing midweek breaks and spectacular one night specials. Themed breaks are always popular at Potters, from bridge to bowling and dancing to big band breaks, the choice is extensive and all detailed in the Potters Resort 2014 brochure.

New for 2014 is mind sports midweek leisure breaks. A great way to relax, challenge the mind and enjoy a little friendly competition, board games are an age-old pursuit which bring generations of friends and families together. Four classic board games will feature during these breaks; Go, Chess, Backgammon and Scrabble. The next break is on June 23 for four nights. Fun and friendly competitions will run throughout the day, culminating on the final day of the break with an awards presentation for the winners.

Potters offers a unique experience with almost everything included in the price from bungalow accommodation, full board, sport and leisure activities, a full programme of daytime activities and first class entertainment each evening in the state of the art Atlas Theatre.

T: 0845 437 9891    E: groups@pottersholidays.com    W: www.pottersholidays.com

2. Sainsbury Centre - East End, Pete HugginsThe Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at Norwich’s University of East Anglia is currently exhibiting Sense and Sensuality: Art Nouveau 1890-1914.

The exhibition, which runs until December 14, 2014, explores the drama and spectacle of early 20th century life. The majority the of works are on loan from the Victor and Gretha Arwas Collection. The show also marks a collaboration to establish the Victor and Gretha Arwas Foundation, dedicated to the study and presentation of Art Nouveau.

The Sainsbury Centre welcomes visits by schools, colleges and adult groups, though booking is essential. Admission is free to the centre’s permanent collections.

T: 01603 593199             E: scva@uea.ac.uk              W: www.scva.ac.uk

Set in the heart of Thetford Forest, Britain’s largest lowland pine forest, the first ever Go Ape course is centred around 30 miles of bike and walking trails from which to explore 50,000 acres of forest. The course features the classic Tree Top Adventure, Forest Segways and Tree Top Junior for under 10s.

The Tree Top Adventure features a new Tarzan Swing, back-to-back black crossings and an Alpine zip which goes from tree to tree. The experience lasts two-three hours and is a great way to get outdoors and try something unique. Visitors can go off exploring the forest on all-terrain self-balancing electric segways. The experience lasts an hour, including a brief bit of safety and instruction before heading out into the forest. Riders must be both over 10 years old and over seven stone.

Tree Top Adventure costs £32 for over 18s and £24 for 10-17 year olds over 1.4m tall. The tree top junior is £17 and has a one metre height requirement. Forest Segway costs £35 per person. Group rates and discounts are available.

T: 0843 249 7305         E: questions@goape.co.uk          W: https://goape.co.uk

Conveniently located off the A12 between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, Pleasurewood Hills theme park offers a wide variety of attractions to appeal to all visitors.

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For thrill seekers, attractions include Wipeout, the region’s largest rollercoaster, and Runaway mine train Enigma, along with tower thrill rides Fireball, The Jolly Roger and Tide Traveller. The park also has plenty of family and child-friendly rides and attractions.

For group visits, the park offers discounted entry, with the option to be fast-tracked into the park on arrival. Safe meeting areas can also be allocated on arrival and the park can help promote and plan the day on request.

Pre-visits and catering facilities are available where required. Groups can be pre-booked or pay-on-day, although the discounts are more substantial for large, pre-booked parties

T: 01502 586000                                                         W: https://pleasurewoodhills.com