A new festival of free events across north Norfolk is set to transport visitors back to the days of Victorian Britain.

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Later this month, from May 18-20, Cromer, Sheringham and Wells will host a dozen events ranging from circus acts and train rides to guided walks and craft workshops.

The Victorian Nights programme dovetails into a busy weekend where Cromer and Sheringham are hosting its annual Crab and Lobster Festival - with the Victorian celebrations providing extra evening entertainment.

The action also features fire eaters, a photo parlour and costumed characters - with locals encourage to don period dress too.

It is part of a national Museums at Night annual celebration of arts, history and heritage, which last year attracted 100,000 people nationally, 5,000 of whom had never been to a museum or gallery before, a launch event at Cromer was told.

Festival co-ordinator Laura Crossley, former curator of Sheringham’s Mo Museum, said the programme provided a diverse range of events.

People attending at least eight of them would be in with the chance of winning a giant goody bag, packed full of exciting prizes by getting their leaflet stamped.

Organisers are also looking for people to help with the festival. Volunteers could get involved for fun, friendship, or to learn a new skill and boost a CV through work experience.

A “blogging team” is being recruited through free training sessions at local libraries, to provide people with skills so they can blog about their local town and the festival and on a special website.

The training sessions are: Sheringham April 4 and 18, Wells April 23 and 30, Fakenham April 24 and May 1, Holt April 26 and May 3 and Cromer May 2 and 9 - all from 2pm to 4.30pm.

Organisers are also looking for a lively team people to chat to Victorian Nights visitors to find out what they think about the events, to help keep a tally on visitor numbers and provide feedback.

Organisers are able to pay the majority of volunteer travel expenses to make it easier for them to get to training or events.

To join the Victorian Nights volunteer team, please contact Laura on 07791505045 or victoriannightsnorthnorfolk@gmail.com

EVENTS PROGRAMME

(all events are “drop ins” with no need to book unless stated)

CROMER

Parlour Portraits - RNLI Henry Blogg Museum, The Gangway, Saturday 1pm-9pm.

Dress up in Victorian costume and pose for your very own Victorian photographic portrait. Bring along your family photos to add to a special portrait gallery.

The Pleasure Pier and Promenades of Cromer: the Place To Be Seen - Cromer Pier Pavilion bar, Saturday 4pm-7pm

A new exhibition in the Victorian Pavilion, by the Cromer Preservation Society, about the Late Victorian seafront and pier, and some of the entertainments they offered.

A Stroll Through Victorian Cromer - meet at Cromer Museum, Saturday 4pm–7pm

Join Cromer Preservation Society’s knowledgeable guides and walk in the footsteps of esteemed Victorian visitors to the town, discovering beautiful architecture and stunning landmarks including the 1901 pier.

Evening of Victorian Entertainment - Cromer Museum, Saturday 4pm-9pm:

Daring stunts, escapology and fire breathing plus a magic lantern show first performed in Cromer over 130 years ago. Meet Cromer characters from the past, try on old costumes and handle Victorian artefacts. Learn how to do traditional cottage crafts.

SHERINGHAM

A Victorian Journey - meet at Sheringham Station on Friday for 7pm train departure.

Travel back in time to the inauguration of the railway and find how it transformed the area by bringing trade, tourism and travel to Norfolk. During the evening, you will encounter intriguing characters who could be found on the railway during the Victorian age. Booking essential call 01263 820800.

At The Picture Palace a Century Ago - Little Theatre, Friday 7.30pm.

Watch unique 35mm comedy, news, drama and animation films of the early 20th century, all hand turned on a 1912 restored projector. The films are fully introduced, and include commentary about the films, film making and film projection in the golden age of cinema. Tickets on 01263 822347.

A Walk Through Time: The Victorians - meet at the Mo Museum. Friday and Saturday 6pm-7.30pm.

Join expert guide Tim Groves on a journey through Victorian Sheringham. Hear how the coming of the railways transformed the town from a fishing village to one of the most popular seaside resorts in North Norfolk.

Shipwrecked! Back to 1897 - Fishermen’s Heritage Centre, West Cliff, Friday and Saturday 6pm–9pm

Be transported back to the dramatic events of 23 January 1897, when the brave crew of the Henry Ramey Upcher lifeboat came to the rescue of the storm stricken Ispolen, and meet lifeboatman Tom Barnes Cooper, along with the original restored lifeboat.

Drop-in. Contact: secretary@sheringham-preservation.org.uk

Victorian Shell Artistry - Peter Coke Shell Fine Art Gallery, West Cliff, Friday and Saturday 6pm–9pm

Join the Lady’s Shellcraft Guild to discover more about their absorbing hobby of arranging seashells to create decorative objects to enhance the Victorian home.

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea - Little Theatre, Saturday 2.30pm and 7,30pm.

This 1954 Disney version of Jules Verne’s Victorian novel sees Kirk Douglas playing a trouble-shooting 19th century seaman, trying to discover why so many whaling ships have been disappearing of late. The film’s special effects, including a giant squid, were impressive enough to win an Academy Award. Tickets on 01263 822347.

The Mo’s Tremendous Victorian Circus - Mo Museum, Saturday 1pm-9pm, Sunday noon to 4pm.

Roll up, roll up to be astounded by incredible Victorian acrobats before mastering amazing circus skills with which to impress your friends. Explore the museum’s extraordinary Cabinet of Curiosities.

WELLS

Victorian Family Day - Maltings, Saturday 10am onwards

Travel back in time to the time when stunning Wells Maltings was built to experience a packed day of Victorian treats, take part in craft workshops, handle real Victorian objects, try some tasty Victorian snacks, experience Victorian entertainment and meet costumed characters. Enjoy a tour of the Maltings building and quiz trail for children. Drop in Contact: 01328 839000

● More information on all events is on the festival website www.victoriannightsnorthnorfolk.com

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