Thursford Christmas Spectacular

The Thursford Christmas Spectacular has made a grand return after last years hiatus. The Yearly Variety performance has entertained more than 6 million visitors since the show began on Christmas eve 1977. The 1500 seat venue hosts two shows a day from mid November until the 23rd of December and has a cast of 120 talented performers from all over the globe.

National Treasure

Coaches line the car park some from as far as Yorkshire, Scotland and Wales. Andys mum only visited a couple of years ago from Nuneaton near Birmingham. Her trip included a stay and day out in Norwich which she thoroughly enjoyed. Importantly as businneses all over Norfolk benefit from this yearly attraction. Thursford Christmas Spectacular employs over 350 people each year. Dancers, singers, musicians, variety acts, technicians, wardobe teams, ushers, caters and production staff are all required for your entertainment. For many this is a yearly tradition, pilgrimage if you will that marks the start of the festive period.

Journey of Light

Last years cancelled performance gave birth to a new spectacle, one of light and sound. The enchanted journey of light. It included one of the biggest kinetic light displays in europe and the most beautiful illuminated installation art. Tigers, lions, sea creatures and some well known characters are all brought to life against a backdrop of ambient sound. We absolutely adored it. We danced for ages in the auditorium until it was time to be politely asked to leave. This year the journey is back, albeit slightly smaller to house the Christmas Spectacular. It’s still a wonderful experience on top of the spectacular or as a standalone event from the 19th of November. Look out for my separate review coming soon.


The Christmas Spectacular is a variety performance of epic proportions. Vaudeville meets Christmas at St Pauls is the best way I can describe it. The talent is unrivalled with many of the cast having performed on the West End and trained at prestigious conservatoires. The choir is incredible! There’s something about the converted barn setting and candle-lit carol singers filling the aisles that’s deeply touching. And I’m not usually one for carols. I’ve sat through many a church service in support of Andy’s singing, and can tell you with confidence that this was something truly unique.

Act One

This show has huge heart and all the excess of Christmas dinner with the trimmings, I mean all the trimmings. The decorations are huge. Fairy lights don every corner and the famous Wurlitzer organ takes center stage only offset by the gregarious golden gondala. The show starts with a huge cast of white feather clad showgirls and raptuous song. We are well looked after in the hands of Armenian-born Kev Orkian and reminded about the diversity of the cast. Kev is not only a fantastic compere and comedian but a skilled pianist. He has a natural charm and raport. He doesn’t miss a beat or slur a word, well not intentionally anyway!

Best Bits

There’s a number of exciting variety acts including Mums personal fave, Billy George and his CYR wheel. The shirtless gymnast wowed the audience with a dynamic performance up and down the extended stage. The lolipop duo weren’t as easy to see from our vantage point at the very back of the hall but later showed great strength and expertease with a romantic balancing act of jaw dropping proprotions. The Christmas cake monologue was very funny and I thoroughly enjoyed the ostentatiousness of the Lambeth walk before a rousing performance of Blow Gabriel Blow sent us into the interval.

There is a 25 minute break half way through the three hour extravaganza. During which you can stretch your legs and grab an ice cream. The gift shops are open or you can take in some of the beautiful steam engines from the Thursford Collection. We shouldn’t forget that first and formost Thursford was a steam museum. Home to some of the most beautiful engines and established in 1970 by the late George Cushing MBE. The Spectacular was born on Christmas Eve in 1977 and had humble begginings. His son, John Cushing OBE developed the show further into the spectacle it is today. He also added the hugely succesful Christmas Fantasyland. Now, third generation George Cushing is spearheading the Enchanted Light Journey with much success and delight to the Norfolk crowds.

Act Two

The second half sees the orchestra take center stage. Wonderful carols and a very enjoyable version of unchained melody follow. I cant help be reminded of THAT pottery scene which ever version I hear. All That Jazz and Be Our Guest were particularly well recieved by the enthusiastic crowd. The costumes are themselves a spectacle and like the rest of the show perfectly executed. There are some lovely touching dialouge and reference to the difficult 18 month journey we’ve all been on. The show gradually builds to a climatic end with a fantastic Irish Dance performance and some quick costume changes. The bagpipes return with cyclical conclusion as the show finishes with Old Langs Syne and a standing ovation. Thouroughly deserved by cast and crew alike for putting together this seamless extravanganza.

Final thoughts

The Thursford Christmas Spectacular keeps filling audiences of doting fans year on year. It holds a very special place in my heart after visiting as a child with my late grandmother and I can see why families make it a yearly tradition. It’s a unique and nostalgic experience of the highest calibre and has all the Christmas feel-good factor you could wish for. Under four’s are not permited and younger children may find the three hour performance too much. Older children and those interested in the arts will both enjoy and appreciate the artisty.

The venue has been made easily accesible for disabled and older guests. There is lots of help on-hand should you need it. Prices start from £36 and we had a great view even at the back for the majority of the show. It was lovely to be able to take my mum and will be a very special memory for years to come.

Thanks for having us Thursford you were spectacular.

Love Cookie x

*Disclaimer: We were gifted our tickets for the performance and light journey but as always my words are my own.