Suffolk: Where should we go for a day out? We list the ultimate 50 things to do in Suffolk this summer
14:18 17 March 2014
A thrilling spectacle. The season runs from April to September.
What are the 50 Best Things to do in Suffolk? That was the question we asked you - and what a fantastic response we got.
The original idea came from Mark Murphy of BBC Radio Suffolk, and we teamed up with Mark’s show to invite your ideas of the very best ways to spend time in our glorious county.
From the 100s of ideas, Mark, county council leader Mark Bee and I sifted through and narrowed them down to the final 50 which are listed here. Of course, it’s not definitive - more of a conversation starter, really. I’m sure we can all think of many places and activities which really deserve to be here.
Mark Murphy was delighted by the reaction. “What a response! We could easily have had a top 100. What was lovely was so many Suffolk ex-pats got in touch to share their suggestions with us, as well as locals.
“What it did show is the deep love and affection people have for Suffolk, but also that perhaps we’re not fully aware of what’s on our own doorstep. This list features locations and events county-wide and I hope it will encourage people far and wide to see the true breadth of things to do in Suffolk I’m certainly going to be visiting as many as I can over the next few months.’’
Terry Hunt said: “Having lived in Suffolk for pretty much all my 57 years I really shouldn’t be surprised by how much people love our county. But the strength of feeling was still overwhelming - and delightful. There’s no way you can really narrow Suffolk’s delights down to a mere 50, but here’s the starter for ten. They’re in no particular order.’’
The 50 Best Things in Suffolk will feature on Mark Murphy’s Mid-Morning Show from 9am today.
See a Suffolk Punch horse
No visit to Suffolk would be complete without seeing the magnificent Suffolk Punch horse - the symbol of our proud county.
Suffolk Regiment Museum
One of the best kept secrets is the Suffolk Regiment Museum at the Gibraltar Barracks in Bury St Edmunds. In the year we mark the 100th anniversary of the Great War, this is a chance to see the history of the Suffolk Regiment.
Ipswich Town Football Club
The home of Ipswich Town is well worth a visit on a match day, but even when there’s not a game on why not pop along and grab a photograph with the statues of Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson.
The Suffolk show on May 28 and 29 is a true celebration of the county and all it has to offer. This year there are some great deals where children are free and dogs are once more allowed at the show.
A visit to Leiston
Johnnie Wright, from Leiston, says: “When I saw the 50 Things to do in Suffolk article one place sprang to mind: My home town Leiston. I have always been so disheartened with the bad press that Leiston has, because I see Leiston at a completely different angle. To start with, Leiston has a long and very interesting history: from Leiston Abbey to the Long Shop Museum, showing over 200 years of industrial and rural history - plus the museum is great for all the family! It is also home to Suffolk’s oldest purpose-built cinema (which is celebrating its centenary in 2014). And finally the up and coming Leiston Football Club. So I ask you, when I first said Leiston, did you think about all these treasures?”
Ipswich Transport Museum
The Ipswich Transport Museum has the largest collection of transport items in Britain devoted to just one town. Everything was either made or used in and around Ipswich.
The jewel in the crown of the RSPB. There’s so much to see and hear at Minsmere: splendid woodland, wetland and coastal scenery, rare birds breeding and calling in on their migrations, shy wildlife like otters, the booming call of bitterns in spring, beautiful bugs and colourful wild flowers in summer.
Beccles Lido is a traditional outdoor heated swimming pool next to the River Waveney in Puddingmoor. It is run by community charity Beccles Lido Limited. Many of the staff are unpaid volunteers who saved the swimming pool, which opened in 1959, after the local district council closed it in 2008. After raising over £300,000 for an extensive refurbishment programme, Beccles Lido re-opened in 2010 and has won numerous awards for tourism, sustainability and community involvement. In 2011 Beccles Lido was awarded Prime Minister David Cameron’s Big Society Award.
See the sunrise at Britain’s most easterly point
A trip to Britain’s most easterly point in Lowestoft is somewhat disappointing and is nothing compared to Lands End or John O’Groats! You can marvel at Britain’s most easterly septic interceptor tank and look up at the giant wind turbine called Gulliver. At Ness Point, though, you can see the sunrise before anyone else and if you catch it right, it’s a sight you’ll never forget.
The castle has stood guard over “Fram’’ for many centuries. Enjoy the views while walking round the ramparts.
The Abbey Gardens in Bury St. Edmunds are a real joy to behold. Part of the whole, wonderful “Bury experience.’’
The viewpoint at Felixstowe
Marvel at the giant container ships that come in and out of the Port of Felixstowe. You can also visit the nearby Felixstowe museum and Landguard Fort.
Off limits for so many years, a certain mystery grew up around Orfordness. Now it’s much more accessible, go and see for yourself!
If there was ever a village that deserved to be called ‘fantastic’ it is Thorpeness, built by a wealthy Scottish barrister with a penchant for mock Tudor and Jacobean architecture. Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie was a Scottish barrister who made his money designing railways and bought some land from north of Aldeburgh to south of Sizewell where he created Thorpeness as a holiday village centred around the Meare.
Thorpeness is full of quirky buildings some of which are more than meet the eye. For example, Ogilvie ingeniously disguised the village’s water tower as an overgrown house, the striking ‘House in the Clouds’, lest it offend the eye! This five-storey house is still in use today and overlooks the golf course on one side, with views of the boating lake, village and beach on the others.
The Scores trail
A self-guided, free, tour of Lowestoft’s history and heritage.
The annual Thumb Wrestling World Championships in Lowestoft see competitors from all over the world compete for the coveted title. The event takes place at the Triangle Tavern in St Peters Square, Lowestoft.
Take a moment to look at the little brass plaques that have such wonderful memories on them from people who simply love Southwold.
Fish and chips at Aldeburgh
Many will tell you that eating fish and chips on Aldeburgh beach is the best way to enjoy this traditional British treat.
The Suffolk walking festival
A great way to discover and celebrate Suffolk. This year it runs from May 10 to June 1.
Power boat racing at Oulton Broad
A thrilling spectacle. The season runs from April to September.
Owl at Christchurch Park
Mabel is Suffolk’s most photogenic tawny owl.
St Edmundsbury Cathedral music
Suffolk’s cathedral has a wide variety of musical treats to enjoy.
Peasenhall pea festival
Dozens of pea themed events. It’s on Sunday, July 14 this year.
The Nutshell pub in Bury St Edmunds.
With a bar that measures just 15ft by 7ft, the Nutshell proudly holds the title of smallest pub in Britain as confirmed in the Guinness Book of Records.
Crabbing in Walberswick
Formerly the home of the British Crabbing Championships, Walberswick is a great place to go with the family. It’s a fun and inexpensive day out with the kids. Just remember to look out for the crabs and treat them gently before popping them back to get bigger for next time!
Woodbridge Tide Mill
Experience the sights, sounds and drama of the mill as wheels and stones turn, grinding the grain as they have done for many hundreds of years. At Woodbridge Tide Mill, man has worked for over 800 years harnessing the totally reliable and predictable green energy from the tides to drive a mill producing flour and animal feed.
Enjoy a pint of local beer
Brewed by Adnams, Greene King, or any of the wealth of fantastic micro-breweries.
Under attack from the North Sea, but a fantastic place to visit.
Sudbury Water Meadows
Having never been ploughed, these ancient meadows are a rich sources of wild flowers, insects, birds and mammals.
Newmarket is the home of racing and as such has so much to see and do. The National Horse Racing museum, the National Stud and, of course, Newmarket racecourse itself. Lots of great racing at Newmarket and great music acts performing for the Newmarket Nights including the Beach Boys and Tom Jones. If you want a real treat, head to the Newmarket gallops early in the morning to see the cream of Newmarket’s race horses put through their paces.
The Sailors’ reading room in Southwold
The Southwold Sailors’ Reading Room was built in 1864 as a refuge for fishermen and mariners when not busy at sea, as an endeavour to keep them out of the pubs and encourage them in Christian ideals. Displays of a seafaring nature line the walls and fill glass cabinets. Pictures and portraits of local fishermen and seascapes, model ships and maritime paraphernalia offer a fascinating history of Southwold’s connections with the sea. This year it celebrates 150th anniversary in June.
A beautiful village with a fascinating past. Is this where King Edmunds met his end?
Electric Picture Palace, Southwold
Opened by Michael Palin in 2002, named after the first Southwold cinema.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum, Flixton
Don’t worry, it is in Suffolk! The museum has an impressive array of exhibits for aviation enthusiastis to enjoy.
Mid Suffolk Light Railway
The Mid-Suffolk Light Railway, known affectionately as ‘The Middy’, was a classic case of a rural railway that never paid its way. Built in the Edwardian era, it was a late-comer to the railway scene, at a time when mechanised transport was making an appearance on the roads. It effectively went broke before it opened but still managed to struggle on for almost 50 years! This fine example of quirky English history is remembered in Suffolk’s only railway museum, also called the Mid Suffolk Light Railway Co., which is dedicated to keeping alive the memories of the Middy by conserving historical documents as well as preserving the hardware which goes to make up a working railway. The collection of rolling stock is heavily biased towards the Great Eastern Railway, being the mainline railway with which the Middy connected at Haughley and the passenger carriages all date from the 19th Century. At Brockford the volunteers are engaged in an ongoing project, recreating the atmosphere of a typical Middy station.
Simply stunning west Suffolk town with so much to see and do.
Let’s not forget that a sizeable part of the Broads are in Suffolk!
The East Anglia Transport museum.
An open air transport museum, with numerous historic public transport vehicles (including many in full working order). It is located in Carlton Colville, near Lowestoft.
It is the only museum in the country where visitors can ride on buses, trams and trolleybuses, as a well as a narrow gauge railway.
Walk from Snape Maltings to Iken
The internationally renowned Snape Maltings and concert hall are well worth a visit but so many respondents said that you should walk out from the Maltings and head towards Iken along the River Alde. This offers superb views and is one of the prettiest parts of Suffolk.
The New Wolsey Theatre pantomime
The Rock N’ Roll Panto at the New Wolsey in Ipswich is now a firm favourite with theatregoers young and old. With actor-musicians giving old favourites a new twist the panto regularly sells out, so book early!
There are many music festivals in Suffolk but lots of people singled out Folk East at Glemham Hall as one of the friendliest. This year it’s on 15th, 16th and 17th August and features amongst others Bellowhead. The organisers describe the event as Eclectic, Eccentric and inherently Suffolk.
Helmingham Hall gardens and tea rooms
Helmingham Hall has been the magnificent home of the Lords Tollemache for centuries. Your chance to explore the beautiful gardens.
The Butt and Oyster at Pin Mill
The Butt and Oyster is one of the best known public houses in Suffolk renowned for its good beer, good food and great views, situated in the hamlet of Pin Mill on the River Orwell.
Let the sounds of the Orwell seduce you. Watch the changing tides on traditional timeless shores. Understand an artist’s inspiration with Thames barges, swans and the river, enjoying the finest Suffolk ales whilst being tempted by the wonderful aromas which welcome you.
Backstage Past - Access all Eras at the Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal
During the summer months the theatre becomes an exhibition depicting its 200-year history. You will be guided on a journey from the Theatre’s Regency beginnings to the present day. Stimulate your senses - backstage and onstage, see evocative period settings from different eras, listen to the sounds of times gone by, discover through touch, try on a costume, and even smell the past!
A visit to the hamlet of Shingle street gives you a great feeling for the remoteness of parts of the Suffolk coast. It’s a great place for a bracing walk whilst contemplating its history and mystery.
Conspiracy theories include rumours of a German landing and a shoreline littered with burning bodies, schemes to protect the coastline with an impenetrable barrage of flames and the testing of experimental chemical bombs. Four dead German airmen were certainly washed up on the beach, and weapons testing did result in the Lifeboat Inn being blown up. As for the rest, the conspiracy theories rumble on.
Flatford was immortalised by John Constable, arguably England’s greatest landscape artist - and, of course, a local boy!
The UFO Walk at Rendlesham Forest.
Did aliens really land in Suffolk? Visit the sight of the Uk’s Roswell.
Walk or cycle round Alton Water
The reservoir provides loads of opportunities for fun and healthy exercise - both on, and round, the water.
A must in the year that celebrates the 75th anniversary of the discovery of the Anglo Saxon burial ship and now the experience is being enriched by finds from the recently discovered “Village of the Kings’’ at nearby Rendlesham.
Ipswich Music Day
The county’s biggest free music day takes place every summer in Christchurch Park, Ipswich. Pop along, soak up the sun (hopefully!). enjoy the music and try to spot budding superstars – Ed Sheeran played the event just a few years ago.