Full line-up revealed for 2018 Norfolk and Norwich Festival

PUBLISHED: 08:23 01 March 2018 | UPDATED: 08:23 01 March 2018

NNF18. Transe Express Festival Launch.
Photo: Ville de Dijon

NNF18. Transe Express Festival Launch. Photo: Ville de Dijon

Ville de Dijon

All the fun of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival will once again be heading to the city and county this May. Arts correspondent Emma Knights takes a look at the full festival line-up announced today.

The new Norfolk and Norwich Festival director, Daniel Brine with the 2018 brochure. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe new Norfolk and Norwich Festival director, Daniel Brine with the 2018 brochure. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

From an opening spectacle that will see Norwich city centre transformed into a fantastical open air opera house to an unusual installation and performance project at Wells beach, there is a wide array of cultural treats in store for audiences at this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

The annual arts extravaganza will this year run from May 11 to May 27, bringing 17 days of weird and wonderful entertainment to the city and county that spans theatre, music, visual arts, literature, circus, outdoor events and more.

New festival director Daniel Brine said: “The festival is a wonderful time to celebrate our city and county, to bring communities together to experience great art and performance, and to welcome artists and visitors from across the UK and around the world. Our programme is broad and rich and we’re proud to be presenting world premieres alongside celebrated productions not previously seen in Norfolk.

“This year the festival has been put together by all of our team. My predecessor, William Galinsky, laid the foundations with major commissions and partnerships and the team, along with our principal programming partners Britten Sinfonia, Serious and Writers’ Centre Norwich has given flesh and life to the programme.”

NNF18. Gandini Juggling's Sigma.
Photo: Arnaud StephensonNNF18. Gandini Juggling's Sigma. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson



The festival will kick off with an elaborate opening spectacle by Transe Express which will see carnivalesque drummers and larger-than-life singing dolls weave their way through the city ahead of a spectacular aerial finale.

Other free Norwich events include Marco Barotti’s robotic woodpeckers which will pop up across the city, the Voice Project choir performing new choral work Timepiece at Norwich Cathedral, and the festival’s traditional Garden Party in Chapelfield Gardens.

NNF18. The Garden Party act Ockham's Razor - Belly of the Whale.
Photo: Mark Dawson PhotographyNNF18. The Garden Party act Ockham's Razor - Belly of the Whale. Photo: Mark Dawson Photography

Wells beach will be the setting for Wayfaring, a community installation and performance project inspired by the ancient routes of the Icknield Way, meanwhile in Great Yarmouth Stopgap Dance Company will celebrate our relationship with the sea in the show The Seafarers.


Improbable’s The Paper Man will take to Norwich Puppet Theatre’s stage to ask the question, what do we do when facism comes to town?

Other theatre highlights include: Frozen Light’s multi-sensory show The Isle of Brimsker which is for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities and will be staged at The Garage; Provisional Figures, a new show at Great Yarmouth’s The Drill House inspired by Portuguese immigrants who arriving in the coastal town in the mid-2000s; and Forced Entertainment’s Real Magic show which is coming to Norwich Playhouse.

NNF18. Les Amazones d'Afrique
Photo: Real World/Laura FerreiraNNF18. Les Amazones d'Afrique Photo: Real World/Laura Ferreira

Dance highlights include the return of Hofesh Shechter Company to Norwich Theatre Royal with the show Grand Finale, meanwhile Gandini Juggling is heading to Norwich Playhouse with new show Sigma that blends juggling, classical Indian dance and multimedia projections.


Contemporary music highlights include the legendary South African a capella male choir Ladysmith Black Mambazo, five-time Grammy Award winner Mary Chapin Carpenter, and singer-songwriter and pianist Ben Folds who are all performing at Norwich Theatre Royal. Mercury Music Prize winner Talvin Singh will present a brand new project featuring beatboxer Jason Singh at Norwich Cathedral, meanwhile Norwich Playhouse highlights include David McAlmont’s Billie Holiday at Carnegie Hall, Jyotsna Srikanth & Bollywood Brass Band and Maya Youssef Trio.

Classical music highlights include Britten Sinfonia returning with Thomas Adès to perform a Beethoven concert at Norwich Theatre Royal.

NNF18. Mary Chapin Carpenter
Photo: Aaron FarringtonNNF18. Mary Chapin Carpenter Photo: Aaron Farrington

St Andrew’s Hall will host a programme inspired by Songs of the Sea as well as a London Philharmonic Orchestra concert featuring works by Mahler and Rachmaninov. Norwich Cathedral Choir will also be joined by Ely Cathedral Choir and Peterborough Cathedral Choir for a special Three Cathedral Choirs concert.


Circus company Barely Methodical Troup headlines the Adnams Spiegeltent programme with the show Shift. There will be cabaret from Le Gateau Chocolat as well as late night gigs including performances by West African supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique, MOBO winners Binker & Moses, and jazz influenced afro-beat band Maisha. Ragroof Tea Dances are also returning.


NNF18. Transe Express Festival Launch.
Photo: HervePetitbonNNF18. Transe Express Festival Launch. Photo: HervePetitbon

There is a vast NNF18 literature programme including a three-day City of Literature Weekend in Chapelfield Gardens.

Judy Murray - former international tennis player and mother to tennis champions Andy and Jamie - will also be taking to the Norwich Playhouse stage to talk about her memoir Knowing the Score meanwhile master of suspense Jeffery Deaver will be talking about his latest book The Cutting Edge in the Adnams Spiegeltent. Norwich Arts Centre will host events including Jack Dean’s Nuketown, described as a storytelling and protest art show, and poets Tim Clare and Mark Grist’s Voted Out which gives the audience the chance to drive the show.

Yes, We Can! with special guest Ben Okri will see Norwich City Hall’s council chamber host a day of community debate.


NNF18. Barely Methodical Troupe's Shift.
Photo: Chris NashNNF18. Barely Methodical Troupe's Shift. Photo: Chris Nash

World-renowned artist Damien Hirst will presenting a major exhibition at north Norfolk’s Houghton Hall, featuring brand new paintings as well as outdoor sculptures. Turner Prize-shortlisted artist Nathan Coley’s will have a show at Norwich University of the Art’s East Gallery, meanwhile sculptor Lynn Chadwick’s work Beasts will see three new sculptures installed at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.


As well as the array of outdoor events for families to enjoy, Britten Sinfonia will be presenting a performance of Alice Through The Looking Glass at Norwich Playhouse, and Kid Carpet and the Noisy Animals will be taking audiences on a Noisy Holiday in the Adnams Spiegeltent. There will also be free storytelling, dancing and music events for young children in the Spiegeltent.

• Visit

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press