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Holkham Country Fair Unveils Grand Ring Timetable

With just a number of weeks to go until north Norfolk’s much loved, biennial weekend event, Holkham Country Fair will be treating its thousands of visitors with a platinum line-up of performances in the Grand Ring.

Alongside the firm favourites of traditional countryside activities and displays on 22nd and 23rd July, Holkham Country Fair has unveiled a number of firsts for the Grand Ring including:

  • Dzhigitovka! – The Way of the Cossack Warrior – The Dzhigits of the Cossack people are legendary warriors, masters of the Shashka sword in knife throwing and pistol shooting with outstanding gymnastic skills all performed on the back of galloping horses.
  • The Red Arrows – The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team will take to the skies to demonstrate the speed, agility and precision of the RAF. As one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams, visitors can enjoy their trademark close formations and precision flying. (Sunday Only. Weather conditions permitting. All activities, especially those in the air, are subject to weather conditions).
  • The Battle of Britain Memorial Flypast – Visitors will have the opportunity to see the iconic World War Two Spitfire, Hurricane and Dakota take to the skies on both days of the event. The RAF BBMF aims to maintain the priceless artefacts of our national heritage in airworthy condition to commemorate those who have fallen and to inspire future generations.

Sarah Green, organiser for Holkham Country Fair, comments:
“The Grand Ring is the heart of the Fair and I’m thrilled to be able to showcase a number of new additions to this year’s line-up of attractions. It’s important we encourage new visitors to the event and I am confident this year’s line-up will have a wide ranging appeal. The Red Arrows for example, always attract a big crowd so we’re delighted to have secured a display for the Sunday.”

To mark the opening of the fair, visitors can enjoy a parachute display by Jump4Heores – The Royal British Legion Extreme Human Flight Team before watching a number of countryside favourites including a Gamegoer Gundog Display with Graham Watkins and Allcomers’ Dog Racing with Adrian Francis. Children will also have the opportunity to get involved by joining The Band of the Parachute Regiment for Holkham’s Children’s March Past.

Sarah continues:
“Holkham Country Fair is all about being accessible and enjoyable for everyone so we’re really looking forward to welcoming visitors and families to the event. It’s a great Grand Ring line-up bursting with some serious talent accompanied with lots of other things going on around Holkham Hall. It’s simply not to be missed!”

All of the performances, minus the Red Arrows, will take place on both days of the fair between 10.45am and 6.30pm.

Day, weekend and camping tickets are available to purchase online and day tickets will also be available to buy on the gate. For more information or to book tickets please click here.

3rd July 2017 - The Holkham Estate to manage the Holkham National Nature Reserve after receiving ‘Approved Body Status’ from Natural England

Natural England announced today that one of the UK’s leading rural estates, the privately-owned, Holkham Estate, has been awarded Approved Body Status under Section 35 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. This will make Holkham one of a select few privately owned estates in England to hold this status and follows a lengthy application process. This special status will enable the estate to manage the Holkham National Nature Reserve, which has until now been managed by Natural England.

National Nature Reserves (NNRs) include some of the best examples of England’s wildlife and geology. There are 224 National Nature Reserves in England covering 94,000 hectares. Natural England manages 143 of the National Nature Reserves on its own, or jointly with others, and the remainder are managed by Approved Bodies. Section 35 1(c) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 empowers Natural England to approve other organisations, known as Approved Bodies, to manage National Nature Reserves. The reserves were established under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, which specified that they were for “preserving flora, fauna or geological or physiographical features of special interest in the area and/or for providing opportunities for the study of, and research into, those features.” The Natural Environment & Rural Communities Act 2006 extended the role of NNRs to include the provision of opportunities for public enjoyment of nature and/or open-air recreation.

The Holkham National Nature Reserve covers an area of the north Norfolk coastline from Blakeney to Burnham Norton and comprises a number of rare and precious habitats including salt marsh, sand dunes, pine woodland, beach and grazing marsh. The present landscape is largely man-made, having been reclaimed from saltmarsh between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, much of it by the Coke family. A small team led by the Conservation Manager is responsible for the daily management of the reserve. Holkham Estate has long been recognised as a leading farming business and the management of the reserve demonstrates how modern farming and high standards of nature conservation can thrive together.

The Earl of Leicester commented, “I am very proud the Holkham Estate has been awarded this special status. We have been running the reserve now for over four years under the watchful eye of Natural England, who have been really helpful and supportive, and of course we managed it for over 300 years before it became an NNR. That custodianship led to it being designated as a nature reserve. I am delighted Natural England have also been impressed by the way our team of three wardens, led by manager Sarah Henderson, have set about their business. Together with staff from the farm (topping and flailing), our game keepers for vermin control and local specialist contractors (ditching, fencing and scrape maintenance by the RSPB), they have been working on improving, protecting and creating a greater variety of habitats. Sarah regularly meets up with colleagues from other conservation bodies along the coast such as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, National Trust and RSPB. Together they share ideas and successes, and discuss how to mitigate failures and problems (such as protection of little tern nests). We are acutely aware of the popularity of Holkham and Wells beaches and the pressure large visitor numbers can have on the NNR, so the estate’s experience of managing tourism businesses will be of benefit as we develop our Visitor Management strategy. As well as being a tourist destination for birdwatchers and beachgoers it is also important for academic research and school visits. The reserve sits at the heart of the estate and it is right and proper that we manage it with our qualified, locally-based team, of whom I am very proud.”

Natural England’s Area Manager for Norfolk and Suffolk Sarah Dawkins commented “I am so pleased to celebrate not only the 50th anniversary of Holkham National Nature Reserve but another major milestone. It’s a real testimony to the commitment and the vision of the estate that we’ve awarded them approved body status and a huge recognition of Holkham’s achievement as stewards of this special place. The opportunities to see amazing wildlife here are endless; from spoonbills to the antlion to the vast flocks of wintering pink footed geese, it is no surprise Holkham attracts so many people. The estate’s expertise as a visitor attraction will ensure visitors can enjoy the wildlife spectacles and leave with a newfound knowledge. It is great to know that this National Nature Reserve is in such good hands and I very much look forward to working with Lord Leicester and his team in their new guise.”

The Holkham NNR is part of the Holkham Estate but is overseen by an independent advisory board, chaired by Lord Leicester and comprising – Dr Paul Dolman of the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia; Richard Carden keen ornithologist and retired civil servant (MAFF/DEFRA); Philip Merricks farmer and owner of Elmley National Nature Reserve in Kent and David Lyles 2016 winner of the Ian MacNicol Memorial Trophy; a top conservation Norfolk farming award. The announcement coincides with the 50th anniversary of the designation of the Holkham National Nature Reserve.

One month to go until Holkham Country Fair

With just one month to go until North Norfolk’s much loved biennial weekend Country Fair, preparations are underway to provide a weekend full of countryside fun.

In a matter of weeks, Holkham Country Fair will be welcoming visitors of all ages from across East Anglia for an action packed line up of attractions and displays. The two day event, which takes place on 22nd and 23rd July, aims to incorporate entertainment and education through a whole host of demonstrations and activities.
Set in the surroundings of Holkham Estate by kind permission of the Earl and Countess of Leicester, the fun-filled weekend boasts a huge array of Grand Ring entertainment and Showground events including:

• Jump4Heroes Extreme Human Flight Team – Dropping into the arena with smoke trailing and flags flying will be Jump4Heroes, the Royal British Legion Extreme Human Flight Team. All serving or former members of the Army, Jump4Heroes support charities which help the Armed Forces.
The Red Arrows* – As a first for Holkham Country Fair, representing the speed, agility and precision of the RAF, the Red Arrows will be displaying their trademark close formations and precision flying.
Get Hooked on Fishing – Whilst providing expert fishing advice from experienced anglers, Get Hooked on Fishing gives visitors of all ages the opportunity to enjoy fishing lessons and pond dipping sessions.
Dzhigitovka! – The Way of the Cossack Warrior – The Dzhigits of the Cossack people are legendary warriors, masters of the Shashka sword in knife throwing and pistol shooting with outstanding gymnastic skills all performed on the back of galloping horses. This new addition to the line-up promises to thrill visitors with a daring performance.

Sarah Green, Organiser for Holkham Country Fair, comments:
“Following months and months of planning, it’s exciting to know that we’re drawing closer to the event. The attractions at this year’s fair really are spectacular and with the weather warming up we’re keeping our fingers crossed for a weekend full of sunshine.”

Dotted around the Showground will be various trade stands providing a range of different products and services as well as the new Woodforde’s Food Village where visitors can meet artisan food producers and enjoy a selection of local produce including cheeses, pies and chocolates.

Sarah continues:
“We work hard to ensure Holkham Country Fair is a fun, educational yet affordable event. It’s the perfect excuse for spending some quality time out in the beautiful North Norfolk countryside with friends and family especially when children aged 14 and under gain free entry. Even your four-legged friends are invited too! We really are looking forward to welcoming you all next month.”

Day tickets will be available to buy on the gate or visitors can purchase day, weekend and camping tickets online. For more information or to book tickets please click here.

* Sunday Only. Weather conditions permitting. (All activities, especially those in the air, are subject to weather conditions).

20th June 2017 - World-class musicians at Holkham Hall in north Norfolk for an autumn series of Chamber Music Concerts

The Marble Hall at Holkham has been filled with the sounds of international musical talent during 2017 and the final three concerts of the year are no exception. Enjoy an enchanting evening of chamber music at its finest in a magnificent setting. Guests can complete their concert evening with a stay at The Victoria Inn, located just five minutes from Holkham Hall, and take advantage of special concert rates.

Friday 15th September at 7pm Carducci Quartet and Simon Roland Jones, viola to complete a programme by Haydn, Shostakovich and Dvořák. The Carducci Quartet is recognised as one of today’s most successful string quartets, performing over ninety concerts worldwide each year. Described by The Strad as presenting “a masterclass in unanimity of musical purpose, in which severity could melt seamlessly into charm and drama into geniality.” The quartet also run their own record label Carducci Classics; an annual festival in Gloucester and, in September 2014, directed their first Carducci Festival in Castagneto Carducci (Livorno, Italy): the town from which they took their name. Winners of several international competitions, the Anglo-Irish quartet regularly appears at prestigious venues across the globe including Wigmore Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York. The Carducci Quartet was recently gifted with the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Award for chamber music and song for their Shostakovich 15 project. At the centre of their programme at Holkham is the anguished but stunningly beautiful 4th quartet by Shostakovich, flanked by Haydn’s ‘Sunrise’ and Dvořák’s delightful string quintet, composed immediately after the ‘American’ quartet and of a very similar joyful and uplifting nature.

Saturday 21st October at 7pm, pianist Tim Horton will perform a programme by Schumann, preludes by Rowland-Jones and Schubert’s sonata in B flat D.960. Tim takes to the stage at Holkham once again following his memorable recital in 2013. He is well known to Norfolk audiences from his multiple performances at the North Norfolk Music Festival, both as a solo recitalist and as one of the top chamber music pianists in the country. Tim is the pianist of Ensemble 360, formed in 2005 to take over the residency at the Crucible, Sheffield from the Lindsay Quartet. He also has a duo partnership with cellist Adrian Brendel with whom he has given tours of Spain, Germany, Italy and the UK, including appearances at Wigmore Hall. Tim has collaborated with leading chamber musicians Paul Lewis, Peter Cropper, the Elias String Quartet, the Vertavo String Quartet and members of the Kungsbacka Piano Trio. He also performs regularly as guest pianist with the Nash Ensemble. Tim gave his first solo recital at Wigmore Hall in July last year. His programme at Holkham includes some new preludes by Simon Rowland-Jones especially composed for him and concludes with Schubert’s final masterpiece for solo piano, the deeply affecting Sonata in B flat D.960.

The Castalian String Quartet perform a programme by Haydn, Schumann and Beethoven at Holkham on Friday 10th November 7pm. The Castilian Quartet is rapidly emerging as the exciting new voice on the international chamber music scene. Over the last three years they have won top prizes at major international competitions including first prize and three special awards at the 2015 Lyon International Competition, both first prize and the audience prize at the Kammermusik Hannover Next Generation Competition in 2013 and third prize at the prestigious 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition. Engagements this year include recitals at Wigmore Hall, concerts in Germany, France and Italy as well as appearances at the North Norfolk Music Festival and the Aldeburgh Festival. Their programme comprises three of the greatest string quartets in their repertoire, closing with Beethoven’s late Op.132 and its luminous ‘Song of Thanksgiving of a Convalescent to God’.

Tickets for the chamber music concerts cost £25 and include a glass of wine in the Saloon during the interval and an opportunity to view some of the other state rooms in Holkham Hall. To book online click here

To complement Holkham’s 2017 season of Chamber Music, ticket holders can take advantage of a special offer to continue their evening with a stay at The Victoria Inn. Ticket holders have the opportunity to stay two nights with the second night half price. This special offer includes breakfast and is based on two people sharing a standard double room. Rates at The Victoria start from £155 per night. For further information guests can call 01328 711008 or email

For more information please visit the Chamber Music Concerts page click here

9th June 2017 - Play equipment makes farming fun

Holkham Estate in north Norfolk has recently entered into a unique venture with East Anglia’s premier agricultural, construction and grounds care equipment retailer, Ben Burgess. The partnership aims to inform visitors to the estate’s latest visitor attraction, the Field to Fork Experience, about the importance of farming and where your food comes from.

Two new, exciting pieces of play equipment have been installed for families to interact with. The latest edition can be found at the children’s woodland adventure play area at Holkham and is a scaled model of a combine harvester. The play equipment was built by Dersingham based company Flights of Fancy as a bespoke piece and has been handmade from sustainably-sourced FSC certified timber and aluminium. Ben Burgess has also generously donated a John Deere tractor cab which the team at Holkham has modified to create a virtual tractor driving experience for visitors to the Field to Fork Experience. It’s a chance for to climb on board and to learn how to steer a tractor along the road and over fields, changing gears and ploughing a furrow

Sue Penlington, Holkham’s Education Manager comments, “The Field to fork Experience is a great way of getting over a very important message; where your food comes from. Having the tractor driving experience is a fantastic way of showing young people how high-tech the agricultural industry is and gives our visitors a real insight into farming practices and managing the countryside. Hopefully it highlights the various opportunities of a future career in agriculture. We hope the combine harvester play equipment will sow this seed at an early age as well as providing more for toddlers to do here.”

Martin Fuller, Director of Ben Burgess said, “As a company, we are very keen to educate the next generation and get them excited about farming and agriculture. This is something we share with Holkham Estate and our partnership allows us to achieve this together. We were therefore very happy to support their introduction of a John Deere combine and the tractor simulator. Both projects are an excellent addition to the unique experiences Holkham offers.”

The Field to Fork theme has also extended to Holkham’s 18th century walled garden where the team of volunteers have taken the story further and have built a new tractor-shaped chicken coop for the flock of chickens housed in the garden. The wheels on the coop were kindly supplied by Ben Burgess.

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