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​101 Things to Do in Bury St Edmunds and Beyond

From theatre to windmills and festivals to parks, visitors say how surprised they are at the wide variety of things to do in the Bury St Edmunds area. Here are 101 of our favourites. What are yours?

1. Relax in the stunning Abbey Gardens in the heart of Bury St Edmunds and discover the ruins of the 11th Century Benedictine Abbey of St Edmund. 1000 years since the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund will be marked with a year of celebrations in 2022. Find out more with our 'Abbey of St Edmund 1000 Guide!'

2. Attend an event at The Athenaeum, a wonderful Grade I listed building with a Georgian chandeliered ballroom this is where the likes of Charles Dickens came to give readings of their novels.

3. Discover more about children’s author Beatrix Potter at the National Trust's Melford Hall with a fantastic collection of memorabilia from her time in Long Melford.

4. See where scenes for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 were filmed in Lavenham. Look out for De Vere House, the 14th century cottage filmed as the birthplace of Harry Potter.

5. View displays and artefacts from the Bronze Age, Roman times and Middle Ages as well as changing exhibitions that bring to life Bury St Edmunds’ more recent history at Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds.

Abbey Ruins at dusk credit Tom Soper resized for blog

6. See wildlife up close at Lackford Lakes, from iridescent kingfisher and dazzling dragonflies to elusive otter an oasis set within a landscape of lakes, reeds, meadow and woodland.

7. Experience the exhilaration of an auction at Lacy Scott Auctioneers in Bury St Edmunds.

8. Savour a mouth-watering wide selection of restaurants and cafes in Bury St Edmunds to cater to all tastes. Known as Suffolk's Foodie Town - you will not be leaving Bury St Edmunds hungry!

9. Take a ‘behind the scenes’ brewery tour at Greene King in Bury St Edmunds followed by a tasting session in their popular Beer Café.

10. Uncover scandals, tales and the town’s incredible history on a fantastic walking tour with the experienced Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides.

Couple on a walking tour with Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides credit Rebecca Bacon 55 resized for blog

11. Unwind in the enchanting and tranquil waterside and woodland Fullers Mill Garden on the banks of the River Lark at West Stow.

12. Explore the 30 acres of Brandon Country Park, including the famous arboretum, 'haunted' mausoleum, lawns and pond, historic walled garden and miles of nature trails.

13. Experience what it was like to go to the theatre in pre-Victorian times at Britain’s last surviving Regency playhouse, the Grade 1 listed Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, the country’s third oldest theatre.

14. Peer into the past history of Clare and find out about the Lords and Ladies who once lived in this beautiful town at the Ancient House Museum. Don’t miss the town trail and explore Clare’s stunning architecture.

15. Catch a show at The Apex in the heart of Bury St Edmunds with a diverse range of artists performing everything from classical music to rock.

Fullers Mill Garden credit Marcus Harper 180327 125638

16. Explore one of three nature trails, cycle along forest tracks, enjoy the eight mile Poachers Trail, visit a historic Walled Garden and enjoy two play areas for toddlers to teens at Brandon Country Park.

17. Take a stroll around Nowton Park and visit the wildflower meadow, the arboretum and maze.

18. Watch history unfold at West Stow Anglo Saxon Village. With extensive indoor galleries and a stunning recreation of an Anglo-Saxon village, it is a fascinating and enjoyable day out for all the family.

19. Enjoy the wide-open spaces of Hardwick Heath. A favourite with our four legged friends and their owners as dogs are allowed off lead.

20. Find out about the Herveys who for 200 years this eccentric, and sometimes infamous, family added to the treasures inside and out at the National Trust's Ickworth House, Park and Gardens.

Ickworth Hall Resized for Blogs

21. Drink in the café culture in Bury St Edmunds with an excellent choice of cafés. Relax with a newspaper or watch the world go by.

22. Play crazy golf, go fishing, visit an owl sanctuary, have a go at pottery and shop at Stonham Barns near Stowmarket.

23. Medieval Moyse’s Hall Museum’s ground floor makeover not only features six Terrible Tales by Terry Deary, best-selling author and creator of the hugely popular Horrible Histories books, but also some grisly and gruesome interactive displays for children and adults.

24. Discover the oldest continuously-used civic building in Britain. The Bury St Edmunds Guildhall proudly boasts a World War Two Royal Observer Corps Control Centre – the only surviving room of its kind in the country. Plus there's interactive displays and collections taking you on a journey through time and history.

25. Have fun at Bury St Edmunds two-day Whitsun Fayre when the town centre is transformed into a sea of colour with plant, flower, home produce stalls and a beach.

Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre resized for blog

26. Appreciate the agricultural history of East Anglia through a mixture of exhibits and living history demonstrations at the Museum of East Anglian Life.

27. Indulge yourself at Bury St Edmunds Food and Drink Festival in August with cooking demonstrations from top celebrity chefs, the chance to taste and purchase food and drink from over 100 stalls and a popular farmer’s market.

28. Enjoy an exhilarating karting experience for the whole family at Red Lodge Karting.

29. Uncover Lavenham’s rich history at the National Trust's beautiful Lavenham Guildhall.

30. Learn about the medieval cloth trade, see the former cloth Merchants’ houses and hear how the village survived almost 200 years of neglect and poverty. The Blue and Green badge Lavenham Tour Guides will take you on an information packed walk around the village of Lavenham.

Lavenham Guildhall Resized for Blogs

31. Relax and rejuvenate in the many spas and retreats in Bury St Edmunds and surrounding area.

32. Take a trip back to the 1940s at The Swan at Lavenham’s Airmen’s Bar which takes its name from the many servicemen from RAF Lavenham and beyond who would come to relax, drink and socialise. A fascinating collection of signatures and mementos adorn the walls, turning the bar into a living piece of history.

33. At the Suffolk Regiment Museum hear the personal stories of the soldiers of the Regiment told through medals, uniforms, photographs, weapons, equipment and personal memorabilia.

34. Get close to nature at Clare Castle Country Park, a beautiful quiet area to relax, play, and learn about Clare's fascinating history. The park contains the remains of the 13th Century stone castle.

35. Get outdoors and try 4x4 Off Road Driving, Clay Pigeon Shooting, Archery, Crossbows and Survival Challenges at Explore 4x4.

Suffolk Regiment Museum Resized for Blogs

36. See the wealth of wood and stone carvings at Lavenham’s St Peter and St Paul Church, a glorious building of cathedral-like proportions dating from around 1500 at the height of Lavenham's period of prosperity as a wool-cloth manufacturing town.

37. Find out about the ghosts of Bury St Edmunds with Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides on their Ghostly and Macabre Walk.

38. Enjoy afternoon tea in the many tearooms in and around Bury St Edmunds including The Angel Hotel and Harriets in Bury St Edmunds, and The Swan at Lavenham Hotel & Spa.

39. Discover the final resting place of Mary Tudor, Queen of France and sister of King Henry VIII after whom the Mary Rose was named, St Mary's Church, a hidden treasure.

Mary Tudor at St Marys Church credit Rebecca Austin 3 BLOG

40. Real ale and craft beer enthusiasts can explore 22 of the town’s licensed premises with the Bury Ale Trail, giving visitors the chance to try ales brewed in the town itself or from further afield.

41. Find out about the legend of 'The Green Children of Woolpit' – two mysterious green children who appeared in the village in the 12th Century. There’s much to explore in this pretty village which is in a conservation area and has its own museum.

42. Watch top name teams compete at Greene King IPA Sevens Tournament at Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club held every May.

43. Enjoy spectacular and rare views of the town from the Tower Tour and its wonderful vaulted ceiling, a visit to St Edmundsbury Cathedral is a ‘must do’ when visiting Bury St Edmunds.

44. Enjoy speedway racing as well as stock and banger car competitions at Mildenhall Stadium.

45. While away an afternoon at The Apex Gallery enjoying the latest exhibitions in the town's only public art gallery.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral credit Shawn Pearce 3 BLOG

46. Get on board a steam train and learn about the history of the railway at Mid Suffolk Light Railway Museum at Brockford Station, Wetheringsett, in Stowmarket.

47. Go for a swim at Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre. 4 pools to choose from plus flumes. Don’t miss the mural outside which celebrates the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

48. Check out the Rougham Control Tower Aviation Museum, a small, friendly Aviation Museum, dedicated to the American Airmen and women who served in the 322nd BG and the 94th BG of the USAAF 8th Airforce during WWII.

49. Enjoy handmade crafts at British Crafts at Blackthorpe Barn on weekends every November and December. Visitors can meander through the barn and be delighted by the absolute best of our country’s talented artist and skilled crafts makers as they showcase their individually hand-crafted items.

50. Hear the sound of hooves and enjoy all the excitement of a day's horse racing at Newmarket.

Newmarket Horses BLOG

51. Spend a day out at the beach, Bury St Edmunds is just an hour away from the beautiful Suffolk Coast with charming seaside towns to explore.

52. Soak up the atmosphere at East Anglia’s waterfront town of Ipswich with its bars and café culture and take a strip on a sightseeing boat or enjoy a meal at a river cruise restaurant.

53. Go laser tagging at Planet Laser in Bury St Edmunds.

54. Join in a guided tour of Pakenham Water Mill, the last working watermill in Suffolk, and see milling in action and bread being baked in the traditional ovens of the restored kitchen.

55. See equine stars at work and meet trainers, mares and foals with a behind the scenes tour at Newmarket’s racing headquarters with Discover Newmarket.

Pakenham Watermill BLOG

56. Step inside Little Hall, one of the oldest timber framed buildings in the best preserved of the Suffolk wool towns. Its history mirrors the changing fortunes of Lavenham.

57. Get a strike at ten pin bowling at Bury Bowl with its 12 lanes.

58. Take a tour of Middle Earth! Middle Earth Adventures offers a tour for Lord of The Rings fans which reveals the fascinating Anglo-Saxon origins of Tolkien's story in a visit to a reconstructed Anglo-Saxon Village on its original site at West Stow. You can walk on the real Middle-earth and take part in your own riddle battle. The Anglo-Saxon Village was also a set used as a Dunedain Village and the birthplace of Aragorn son of Arathorn in the Born of Hope fan film. The film is set before The Lord of the Rings epic trilogy and has been watched by millions worldwide on YouTube.

59. Go on a quest. Lord of the Rings fans will also love Ring Quest held at West Stow Anglo Saxon Village every February half term. Find the rings and runes to save Middle Earth, visit the Village and the Hobbit Hole, meet Halbarad the Ranger and try your hand at archery.

60. Have a picnic at Long Melford Country Park and then stroll a few miles into Sudbury along the Valley Walk pathway.

West Stow Ring Quest resized for blogs

61. Take a trip to Kentwell Hall, a romantic moated redbrick Tudor mansion with extensive gardens and rare breed farm. It’s been a much-loved family home for 500 years and holds famous Tudor Re-Creation events.

62. Enjoy the company of owls and other birds of prey at Suffolk Owl Sanctuary at Stonham Barns. There are over 80 raptors at the Centre.

63. Go on an adventure at West Stow Country Park with the Beowulf and Grendel Adventure Trail. A wonderful interpretive trail, inspired by the ancient saga of Beowulf and Grendel - it takes you on a journey through parts of the unique Breckland landscape including, heathland - where you will meet the sleeping dragon - woodlands and lake settings.

64. Spend a relaxing day wandering around the 150 stalls at Clare Priory Craft Fair. Many of the crafts are made locally. Held annually in July.

65. Curl up on the sofas and see the latest film or take in an arthouse or independent movie at the unique and charming Abbeygate Cinema.

Abbeygate Cinema Andy Abbott resized for blog

66. Take a tour of Giffords Hall vineyard in Hartest and enujoy a tutored tasting of some of their wines.

67. Shop for fresh produce at the twice-weekly award-winning Bury St Edmunds Market, which is as old as the town’s Abbey.

68. Peek behind the gate of some of Bury St Edmunds’ most stunning private gardens in the town’s centre. The Hidden Gardens of Bury St Edmunds event takes place every year in June.

69. Discover Constable’s river with a boat trip along the River Stour in Sudbury.

70. Stay in Charles Dickens bed. Dickens stayed in room 215 at The Angel Hotel opposite the Abbey Gardens and visit the stunning hotel three times. You even sleep in his four-poster bed.

Dickens Room 2 Resized for Blog

71. Have a drink or two in The Nutshell, one of Britain’s smallest pubs.

72. Take a bike ride through the beautiful Suffolk countryside and stop at Maglia Rosso for their purpose built cyclo cross country circuit for testing and training and then enjoy a cuppa at their cycle cafe.

73. Re-live your youth and go roller skating at Curve Motion in Bury St Edmunds.

74. Head into the forest for a high-wire Tree Top Adventure and Segway experience at Go Ape.

75. Enjoy a forest adventure at High Lodge Thetford Forest. Unwind with beautiful forest trails or try the excitement of their bike trails.

Curve Motion resized for blog

76. Catch a guided tour of The Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds which was designed by renowned architect William Wilkins – also famous for designing the National Gallery and University College London.

77. Improve your swing at the many golf clubs in Bury St Edmunds and beyond. Set in stunning locations, an ideal way to relax with friends.

78. Spend a morning or afternoon shopping for local produce at a Suffolk Farmers Market in Bury St Edmunds, Lavenham and Sudbury.

79. Make your own gin at the Stillery Bar and Adnams shop in Bury St Edmunds.

80. Grab a bargain at the many regular car boot sales. Check out Woolpit, Needham Market and Stonham Barns, to name a few.

The Stillery

81. Shop till you drop in Bury St Edmunds. The town has a great mix of more than 200 independent stores and boutiques and High Street brands and weekly street markets which are as old as the Abbey.

82. Take a step back in time and explore a Tudor kitchen, Georgian saloon, and the beautifully detailed Victorian wing at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich.

83. Gain a unique insight into the world of professional football with a 'Behind the Blues' official stadium tour of Ipswich Town Football Club.

84. Get on your bike and explore the beautiful Suffolk countryside on two wheels with fantastic scenery and a wide range of cycling routes to follow.

85. Ensure you get your 10,000 steps in with one of the many scenic walks in Bury St Edmunds and beyond. Amazing scenery, cosy pubs and fascinating history, and the fresh air is free.

Shopping Couple credit Rebecca Austin BLOG

86. Uncover the history of Long Melford through photographs, stories and artefacts at Long Melford Heritage Centre.

87. Learn to fly a plane at Rougham Airfield with Skyward Flight Training.

88. See Bury St Edmunds and beyond from the air with a hot Air balloon flight from Nowton Park with Wizard Balloons.

89. Visit the Suffolk Show - Suffolk's annual two-day event in May celebrating everything that is great about Suffolk.

90. Find your inner Yoda at Moyse’s Hall Museum’s annual Science Fiction and Action Festival held in October in Bury St Edmunds.

Stormtrooper and Judge Dredd in Abbey Gardens resized for blog

91. Experience fantastic live music at Leestock, a festival unlike any other set against the spectacular backdrop of the National Trust's Melford Hall.

92. Stand in awe and watch the annual Bury St Edmunds fireworks set in the stunning setting of the Abbey Gardens and organised by Bury St Edmunds Round Table in November.

93. Shop for arts and crafts and local produce and enjoy a wide range of country activities at the annual South Suffolk Show in May.

94. Watch a movie outdoors at one of the many events held in Bury St Edmunds and beyond.

95. Find a hidden treasure and maybe a bargain antiques shopping in Long Melford.

Melford Hall Long Melford Tom Soper resized for blog

96. Enjoy a beautiful evening’s racing and a concert in the incredible and unique setting of Newmarket Racecourse. Past acts at Newmarket Nights include Kylie Minogue, Olly Murrs and Tom Jones.

97. Sample East Anglian beers plus award winners from around the UK at East Anglia Beer and Cider Festival held annually in Bury St Edmunds.

98. Celebrate all things dragon from folklore to dinosaurs across a weekend of fun activities for all the family at Dragon Fest held every June at West Stow Anglo Saxon Village.

99. Get a rare chance to see historic Thelnetham Windmill in action during an open day. Open days are held between May and September.

100. Learn about the history of horse racing at Newmarket’s National Horse Racing Museum at Palace House.

101. Learn from the best and take a cookery class with two masterchefs at Infusions Culinary Experience (ICE).

Dragon Fest credit West Suffolk Council BLOG

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