20 things to do in 2020

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Words by Harriet Cooper

The new year is just around the corner, but there’s no need for January blues. There is a wealth of exciting events to look forward to across the network in 2020, from must-see shows and exhibitions to don’t-miss concerts and festivals. We fill in your diary, so you don’t have to…

1 Andy Warhol

Tate Modern, London; 12 March to 6 September

A major Andy Warhol exhibition – the first in 20 years for the gallery – which will see some of the pop artist’s key works displayed alongside rarely-seen pieces, all giving a compelling insight into the remarkable life and times of an American icon.

Nearest station: London Liverpool Street

Debbie Harry by Andy Warhol

2 Dippy On Tour

Norwich Cathedral; 11 July to 31 October

The cathedral is one of only a handful of venues chosen to host the awe-inspiring Dippy the Diplodocus as part of a special UK-wide tour organised by the Natural History Museum, which has hosted the famous 22-metre dinosaur skeleton since 1905.

Nearest station: Norwich

Dippy the Diplodocus

3 Alice: Down the Rabbit Hole

Victoria and Albert Museum, London; 27 June to 10 January 2021

This show focuses on one of the most inspirational, iconic and imaginative tales of all time: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which was first published in 1865. From original illustrations to early concept art for the Walt Disney 1951 film adaptation, the exhibition will chart the much-loved story from manuscript to global phenomenon.

Nearest station: London Liverpool Street

4 The Suffolk Show

Trinity Park, Ipswich; 27 and 28 May

A two-day extravaganza celebrating the county and its local produce, farming and agriculture. From getting up close to thousands of animals and admiring the impressive displays of farm machinery to a Flower & Garden Show, Lifestyle Pavilion and Food Hall, there really is something for everyone.

Nearest station: Ipswich

The Suffolk Show

5 Destination Star Trek

ExCel London; 13 to 15 November

Europe’s official Star Trek convention returns, inviting visitors “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before!” Expect to meet the cast and crew, explore interactive exhibits, and learn about Star Trek’s impact on science and technology.

Nearest station: London Liverpool Street

6 Crowns and Gowns

Ely Cathedral; 1 February to 15 March

A fabulous collection of costumes, jewels, props, behind-the-scenes footage and memorabilia has been brought together for this exhibition, which celebrates all the major Hollywood movies which have been filmed at Ely Cathedral, including Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Other Boleyn Girl, The King’s Speech, Macbeth and The Crown.

Nearest station: Ely

Ely Cathedral

7 Essex Pride 2020

Central Park, Chelmsford; 20 June

This annual celebration of LGBT+ life in Essex and beyond, sets out to inspire everyone to embrace diversity and inclusion. Saski and Nina Ambrose will be back hosting and, as ever, there promises to be a huge array of entertainment, including a dog show and a buzzy after-party.

Nearest station: Chelmsford

Essex Pride 2020

8 Red Rooster

Euston Hall, near Thetford; 28 to 30 May

A foot-stomping, toe-tapping weekend of rhythm and blues, Americana and country music. Sounds of the Deep South aside, feast on mac and cheese and slow-cooked barbecue ribs washed down by Southern cocktails such as Alabama Ice Teas and Boilermakers.

Nearest station: Thetford

9 Summer Saturday Live

Newmarket Racecourse; 29 August

Taking place on the August bank holiday, Summer Saturday Live at the Racecourse is a fun-filled, family event. This year sees McFly headlining with a spectacular live show of all their hits including All About You, Obviously, Star Girl, One for the Radio and Shine a Light. The perfect end to summer.

Nearest station: Newmarket

Newmarket Racecourse

10 Cambridge Folk Festival

Cherry Hinton Hall; 30 July to 2 August

This is the country’s leading (and longest-running) folk festival, established in 1965. Aside from world-class music from big name musicians and those a little more under-the-radar, there are mindfulness workshops and talks, children's concerts, ceilidhs, face-painting, storytelling, street theatre and wandering performance artists.

Nearest station: Cambridge and then a free bus journey

11 Elton John

The O2, London; 2 to 7 November

Rocket Man, Your Song, Candle in the Wind... Elton John brings his colossal Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour – his final before retiring from touring – to London. The glittering show celebrates the singer’s six decade-long career, with plenty of emotion, lots of fun and, of course, all the hits.

Nearest station: London Liverpool Street

Elton John

12 Ipswich Festival of Running at Fit East

Trinity Park, Ipswich; 4 July

The first ever Festival of Running takes place at Fit East. In addition to the Breakfast Run, the 5k and 10k, the 1k family fun run and the early evening colour run (during which participants get covered in paint), there’ll be fitness activities including Zumba, boxing and goat yoga, as well as music, food, and plenty more.

Nearest station: Ipswich

13 Love Light Norwich Festival

Various venues; 13 to 15 February

For three days in February, Norwich will be resplendent with light as the inaugural Love Light Norwich Festival dazzles and shines across the city. Expect large-scale installations, projections, pyrotechnics and performances, plus a light trail and a parade, all of them along the theme of love and belonging.

Nearest station: Norwich

14 Great Yarmouth Comic Con

Great Yarmouth Racecourse; 30 and 31 May

Everyone’s favourite comic characters from the world of TV, film and comics gather at this fun-packed, two-day convention. There’ll be Q&A sessions with well-known actors, movie props to pose for photos with, a free gaming area, and stalls selling merchandise. Don’t forget to dress up as your favourite character!

Nearest station: Great Yarmouth

15 Art Deco by the Sea

Sainsbury Centre, Norwich; 9 February to 4 June

A major new exhibition looking at the coastal resorts of the 1920s and 30s, and the key role Art Deco played in the sports, activities and amusements of the seaside between the wars.

Nearest station: Norwich

Art Deco by the Sea

16 Essex Book Festival

Various venues; throughout March

This ever-popular annual festival is a must-do for the literati. The packed programme takes place in more than 45 venues across the county, in theatres, libraries, cafes and art galleries, with author talks, writing workshops, challenging panel discussions, crafting and story-telling.

17 Blithe Spirit

Cambridge Arts Theatre; 10 to 15 February and Norwich Theatre Royal; 24 to 29 February

A new stage version of Blithe Spirit, directed by Sir Richard Eyre and starring Jennifer Saunders, returns in 2020 for a tour around England, which will see performances of Noël Coward’s comic play in both Cambridge and Norwich, before a limited six-week run in London’s West End.

Nearest stations: Cambridge and Norwich

18 Dark Skies Festival

Across North Norfolk; September

The inaugural festival last year was a huge success, so much so, a repeat is planned in 2020. The purpose of the fortnight is to celebrate the night skies of the Norfolk coast through a series of events, talks and guided walks, as well as raising awareness of light pollution issues.

Nearest stations: Sheringham and Cromer

Dark Skies Festival

19 Pretty Woman

Piccadilly Theatre, London; from 13 February

We all remember the classic 1990 film, but now one of Hollywood’s most beloved romantic stories is coming to the West End. Pretty Woman: The Musical premieres in London with all those iconic moments from the movie recreated on stage, set to a soundtrack by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance.

Nearest station: London Liverpool Street

20 Abbey of St Edmund

Bury St Edmunds; throughout the year

In 2020, it will be exactly 1000 years since the foundation of the Abbey of St Edmund by King Canute. There are a number of events planned throughout the year to mark the occasion – a highlight will be the gathering of 100 Benedictine monks and nuns on 23 and 24 May, joined by Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury.

Nearest station: Bury St Edmunds