Six must-see events at Norwich’s City of Literature Festival

Woman reading book at City of Literature Festival in Norwich Plantation Garden

The National Centre for Writing has announced the line-up for City of Literature at Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2022 - Credit: Joanna Millington

An exhibition of the incredible literary heritage and storytelling culture of our fine city will take place from May 27–29, marking 10 years since Norwich became England’s first UNESCO City of Literature

The local literary festival is programmed by the National Centre for Writing in collaboration with Norfolk and Norwich Festival, which is also celebrating its 250th birthday this year. 

“Norwich is a UNESCO City of Literature, which means it has been recognised globally for how rich and vibrant our storytelling and wordsmith culture is in Norwich,” says Flo Reynolds, programme manager at the National Centre for Writing.

City of Literature is a big celebration of books, writing, reading – all the different creative things that go into storytelling, literature and publishing.”  

Read on to discover highlights from this year’s festival, which are available to book now. 

Flo Reynolds, programme manager at the National Centre for Writing

Flo Reynolds, programme manager at the National Centre for Writing - Credit: National Centre for Writing

Wandering Words  

Friday, May 13 – Sunday, May 29 

City Centre, Norwich 

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Wandering Words is a poetic walking tour of Norwich where you can go roving among Norwich’s picturesque cobbled streets in step to the metre of verse. 

“We’ve commissioned five poets who all have a connection to Norwich to write a poem about secret corners of the city,” Flo says.  

Guided tours cost £5 and will feature poets reading their poems live. But you can also embark on your own self-guided tour and listen to soundscapes inspired by the poems from students at Access Creative College. 

“Whether you're on a guided or self-guided walk, you'll be able to experience the poems and compositions through your phone, bringing words and music together into what we hope will be an immersive and fun experience.” 

Festival goers can pick up a free map from the festival box office in Norwich Guildhall from May 13.  

Japanese author Mieko Kawakami

Mieko Kawakami will be discussing her new book, All the Lovers in the Night, on Saturday, May 28 - Credit: Reiko Toyama

Mieko Kawakami 

Saturday, May 28, 10am – 11am 

Adnams Spiegeltent, Chapelfield Gardens 

Born in Osaka, Mieko Kawakami is an internationally acclaimed Japanese novelist who will be discussing her third book, All the Lovers in the Night. Her bestselling novels confront modern alienation and Japanese womanhood with ethereal beauty and philosophical insight. 

“Mieko is a wonderful writer,” Flo says. “She's been something of a protégé of famous writer Haruki Murakami, but Mieko is definitely part of a new generation and is a cult hit with readers in the UK.” 

Mieko has a relationship with Norwich, having attended the British Centre for Literary Translation summer school at UEA. The event will be conducted in Japanese and English with an interpreter.   

Composer Richard Mainwaring

Composer Richard Mainwaring will be discussing his new book on May 28 - Credit: Betty Bhandari Photography

Richard Mainwaring  

Saturday, May 28, 11.30am – 12.30pm 

Adnams Spiegeltent, Chapelfield Gardens 

Richard Mainwaring is a composer, writer and presenter many will recognise from The ONE Show on BBC. His new ear-opening non-fiction book, Everybody Hertz, explores the marvels of frequency – from good vibrations to the melodies of rainbows along the spectrum of an “infinite piano.” 

Flo says: “Richard has written a new book about the power of sound and how, unbeknownst to us, vibrations and frequencies have huge effects on our daily lives. Richard is bringing his keyboard and will be demonstrating some of the fantastic sonic phenomena he's written about.” 

Page Against the Machine 

Saturday, May 28, 12pm – 1.30pm 

Plantation Garden, Earlham Road 

In collaboration with The Book Hive, Page Against the Machine is a free event at the Plantation Garden offering the chance to nestle between the pages of a book in a popular city hideaway. 

“Every year we meet in one of the gardens of the city, switch off our phones and sit down in the sunshine for an hour of detox reading,” Flo says. “There's nothing better than a moment of pause in the middle of the exciting festival weekend to enjoy the power of words.” 

Many people bring their own books, but The Book Hive will also provide titles for browsing. 

Writer Kit de Waal at and near her Midlands home.

Kit de Waal will deliver this year's keynote Harriet Martineau lecture - Credit: Sarah Lee

Harriet Martineau Lecture: Kit de Waal  

Saturday, May 28, 1.30pm – 2.30pm 

Adnams Spiegeltent, Chapelfield Gardens 

This year’s Harriet Martineau lecture will be delivered by Kit de Waal, author of My Name is Leon

“Harriet Martineau was a Norwich native, a fantastic thinker and the first female English sociologist,” Flo explains. “We’ve asked Kit de Waal to take up that legacy and talk about what she feels is pertinent to now.” 

Kit is a literary activist who supports underrepresented and working class writers. The newly commissioned lecture was created specially for the festival. 

“This event would be great choice for anybody interested in politics and society – and how creativity and culture can be part of that.” 

Dragon Hall, King Street, Norwich

The City of Literature Publishing Fair will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the world of publishing and zine making on Sunday, May 29 - Credit: National Centre for Writing

City of Literature Publishing Fair 

Sunday, 29 May, 10am – 4pm 

Dragon Hall, King Street 

On Sunday, the City of Literature Publishing Fair will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the world of publishing and zine making. 

“We'll be opening up Dragon Hall for the public to meet publishers and artists,” Flo says. “There will also be a series of talks throughout the day from creatives in Norwich and beyond.” 

One of the talks is by Kurumuru Books, a local press specialising in translated literature for children. “There will be an interactive session suitable for kids and grownups about animal names and noises in different languages. It’s going to be a lot of fun. 

“Norwich can stand on the global stage when it comes to writing, reading and creativity,” Flo says. “Come along and see what a brilliant home for words Norwich really is.”  

For more information about the National Centre for Writing visit nationalcentreforwriting.org.uk 

For the full City of Literature festival weekend line-up and to buy tickets visit nnfestival.org.uk