Harleston Overview

Harleston is an ancient market town nestling on the Norfolk/Suffolk borders close to the river Waveney. It is ideally placed for those wanting to explore the beautiful Waveney Valley but is also a thriving, working rural centre. Harleston has been voted Norfolk Town of the year on several occasions. We would recommend that you look at the many images of the town in this website's gallery by clicking here.




The town centre’s narrow streets and quaint alleys hint at its long history, if you look closely you will discover timber framed buildings and signs of town life over the centuries. Past residents include some of the first Pilgrim Fathers who travelled to settle in the United States of America.


Find out more about the town’s history at Harleston museum which has displays relating to the life and times of the people of Harleston and the immediate surrounding parishes from pre-historic times to the present day. This free museum, is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from May to the end of September and is located next to King George's Hall, Broad Street, Harleston. 


The town's free audio trail can be picked up in MP3 form at the information centre, 8 Exchange St or app downloaded from www.explorewaveneyvalley.com  Local people provide commentary on the trail guiding you around the town, to places often overlooked by visitors, giving a potent mix of history, memory and gossip.


Wednesday has been market day in Harleston since 1259 when the town was granted charter status, today it is still considered by locals to be the place to trade and shop with many coming in especially from the villages for market each week. Harleston’s excellent individual speciality shops include butchers, bakers, women’s wear to kitchenware, antiques to chocolate. You are spoilt for choice by the large selection of catering establishments covering from a quick coffee and cake or take away, to gourmet dining. 



The town has a strong sense of community offering many local clubs, organisations and activities. Harleston's motto is 'Time for Everyone'. During the year there are several cultural events including the Harleston and Waveney Art Trail and the Harleston and Waveney Festival. In July people line the streets as the Pink Ladies tractor run comes thorough the town, 150+ tractors driven by women to raise funds for Cancer Research.  


There is something going on in the town most weeks, even during winter the Christmas lights switch on celebration is an event not to be missed. The town has a community group called Harleston's Future that works to improve the quality of life for all, their events team runs an outstanding events programme that includes an annual pancake race and antiques fair. Details of all local events can be found by clicking here.


The Community Leisure Centre (plus Gym) and excellent play facilities at the Recreation Ground are well worth a look. Harleston has the bonus of free parking so you can take your time to explore.


A short walk or cycle from the town and you are into the Waveney Valley, an area of great beauty and tranquility with plenty to interest keen photographers, artists and those wanting to see wildlife close at hand.


The neighbouring area has something for everyone including fishing, watersports, golf, Harleston Magpies Hockey club, animal parks, an aviation museum, World War 2 airfield history, two breweries offering tours, timbered pubs and village stores. For futher ideas of places to visit and things to do call in at the Information Centre, 8 Exchange Street, or use the links on the right of this page. 

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8 Exchange Street, Harleston, Norfolk, IP20 9AB

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