Cross City Cultural Celebrations by guest writer and photographer, Erin Patel.

Yesterday saw a fantastic day for culture and arts across Norwich. I decided to take little Bea’ on a little adventure to check out the cross city celebrations whilst visiting some of my favourite haunts for the first time with a nine month old child in tow!

First port of call was the African and Caribbean Craft market. The market was part of the currently occurring Black History Month and, true to the annual event, was a real celebration of the cultural diversity to be found in Norwich. There were simple stalls draped with beautiful, colourful fabrics and a fine selection of interesting and exotic crafts available to buy. As Bea’ and I strolled around, the sound of afro-beat funk music kept my ears more than happy whilst the sweet and spicy aroma of Jamaican fare satisfied my nostrils.

The event is usually to be found within the setting of The Forum but was moved to Earlham Road for the first time this year and found a new home in St Thomas’ Church Hall. There were lots of families all having a fun time dancing and eating whilst stocking up on excitingly patterned shawls and lovely woven baskets. I found it a little difficult to negotiate through the crowds with a pushchair but enjoyed seeing a lot of my neighbours and friends all rallied into a vibrant community event. Bea’ seemed to enjoy soaking up the sounds and textures.

After the market, we made the short walk to the Green Grocers for lunch. With no shortage of high chairs and a recently expanded menu, I was very pleased with my decision to cave into my weakness for Chorizo pizza and would definitely rank them up at the top end of quality food in Norwich!

A walk across town to check out the 6th annual Magdalen Street Celebration was rewarded with a great Flat White in the Dandy Horse coffee shop / Bicycle repair shop. I was able to fit the pushchair around the table and Bea’ had a good time exchanging silly faces with the friendly staff.

The brand new and exciting Freight gallery was celebrating its opening day and hosting the wonderful This is the place; a collection of photographic portraits by Katherine Mager. The series is compiled from images of Magdalen street business owners and was most timely in the context of the celebration.

Live music from a selection of bands and painting project, The big doodle, was to be found sheltered by the Flyover and created a strong urban festival vibe. I couldn’t be happier to see this usually derelict space being used in such a positive way with people of all ages having a great time dancing and painting together!

Once we made our way to Anglia square, we were greeted by an exciting looking tent that contained a pretty impressive 6ft high cardboard dragon! This was a sensory craft project by the highly creative Common Collective. Bea’ had a great time riffling through the mountains of egg boxes and wrapping paper tubes whilst whole families merrily cobbled together their contributions to the dragon.

I shall certainly be attending the Magdalen Street Celebration next year and was thrilled to see the creatives of Norwich come together in such a successful way. Bravo you Fine city!

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