Festive spectacular is worth millions to Norfolk economy

There's just one more week to go for Norfolk's unique's Christmas spectacular, staged in the tiny village of Thursford, near Fakenham.

And the show is again proving an amazing draw to visitors from all corners of the country as well as pumping millions of pounds in to the county's economy.

By the time the curtain comes down next Sunday on the 36th annual festive extravaganza in the converted barn in rural North Norfolk, about 130,000 people will have seen it.

People flock to Thursford from across the country to capture the magic of the production, which costs �3m to stage and is the brainchild of Thursford owner John Cushing.

It has grown and grown from humble beginnings as a carol concert in the 1970s.

The spectacular is generally recognised as being the largest show of its kind in the country, if not Europe. Coach parties arrive from as far afield as Devon, Wales, Lancashire and Scotland and some visitors even come over to Norfolk from Holland and Germany.

Estimates are that about �8m goes in to Norfolk's economy and it has even been given its own name – The Thursford Effect.

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The region's hospitality industry benefits with hotels booked by tour operators and dozens of holiday cottages –- that would otherwise be empty at this time of the year – are hired by Thursford's 120-plus cast of actors, singers and musicians.

Norwich, King's Lynn, Swaffham and Holt are the places which particularly benefit, with spin- offs for shops, hotels, restaurants and bed and breakfast accommodation.

The show is put on in a 1,500-seat auditorium and the vast array of entertainment includes can can dancers, monkeys stepping out of spaceships, comedy routines, jugglers, a jubilee tribute, traditional carols and an ABBA barbershop routine.

General manager Geraldine Rye said: 'It has been absolutely fantastic this year.

'Everywhere is in recession but we decided not to cut anything back and have actually spent more this year.

'We try to give a really good quality event and people still enjoy it.'

She was delighted with the knock-on benefit for the county. 'Everywhere around us is getting the value from Thursford which is brilliant for the area.' The weather has also been very kind to the show this year – with no repeat of disruption caused by snow which has happened in previous years.

Santa's Magical Journey – which is a walk through winter wonderland at Thursford – has attracted 50,000 visitors.

The Thursford Christmas Spectacular runs until Sunday with two shows a day at 2pm and 7pm. For more information, call 01328 878477 or visit www.thursford.com

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