Norfolk and Norwich Festival reveals full line-up of events for May arts extravaganza

From huge theatrical spectacles to music and the Adnams Spiegeltent, there is lots in store for audiences at this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Arts correspondent Emma Knights reports.

Audiences are set to enjoy an eclectic mix of cultural treats when the Norfolk and Norwich Festival takes to the city and county stage this May.

The full line-up of events was revealed at a launch at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich last night.

The 17-day arts extravaganza covers music, theatre, literature and more, and the festival's artistic director William Galinsky, inset, said this year there was a 'really special' programme of events.

'I think that we have got a great programme of world premières, unique commissions, great gigs, fantastic outdoor events which will appeal to people from all walks of life and of all ages,' he said, adding that the festival featured all manner of weird and wonderful performances.

'There are a lot of exciting things to see. Where else can you see a production of The Tempest in a circus venue with a floor that you can flood? Only in Norfolk, you can't do that in London!' he said, referring to the theatre production he is directing at the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome Circus to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.

The free outdoor programme is always a key part of the festival, and this year it will kick off with a large-scale show outside the Forum in Norwich.

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'I'm really excited about the opening show Flat. It is this big outdoor piece, a great 3D animation and aerial work about this guy living in a flat and his dream world which is amazing,' said Mr Galinsky.

'We have got some really bonkers things for our free outdoor programme this year. One of the most bonkers is the Public Jukebox which is going to do a tour through the city.'

The festival suffered a substantial funding cut last year, but Mr Galinsky said it had tried to address this by working with more partners, doing more original work, and having more productions with longer runs.

'We are still able to deliver a brilliant programme,' he said. 'I'm really proud of the work that we have done.'

Some of the highlights of the 2016 Norfolk and Norwich Festival include:

Free outdoor events

The free outdoor programme kicks off at the Forum with Flat, an aerial spectacle aiming to leave audiences questioning their perceptions of time, space and gravity.

The Garden Party will return to Chapelfield Gardens during the festival's middle weekend with weird and wonderful performances for all the family. Other free events include The Public Jukebox which will wander around the city offering an eclectic mix of tracks, the Dennis Design Centercor which will see an unusual creation spring up in Chapelfield Gardens, and The Beethoven Safari which will see Aurora Orchestra do pop-up performances. Tarmac sponsors the free outdoor programme.

Theatre and performance

Shakespeare's The Tempest, directed by festival director William Galinsky, will be at Great Yarmouth Hippodrome and young singer-songwriters will present Wild Life at Norwich Playhouse. Norwich theatre company Curious Directive will perform sailing-inspired Spindrift at The Garage, and an Elm Hill merchant's house is the setting for video-storytelling performance It's All Happening in Norwich. The Theatre Royal will be the stage for futuristic show Sans Objet as well as The James Plays. People will have the chance to have opera singers perform in their homes as part of Opera Helps. Walk With Me is a 'create-your-own-performance-experience' at Felbrigg Hall.


Some of the musical highlights include avant-garde jazz band Sun Ra Arkestra celebrating its 60th year at Open, Dutch band The Analogues re-creating The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour at Norwich Theatre Royal, and modern jazz group Tin Men and The Telephone who will be giving the audience control of the show via an app at Norwich Playhouse. The Festival Chorus and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra will perform a brand new commission by composer Kemal Yusuf at St Andrew's Hall and Norwich Philharmonic will celebrate its 175th anniversary at the Norfolk Showground arena.

Adnams Spiegeltent

White Nights is the headline show this year for the Adnams Spiegeltent in Chapelfield Gardens.

Created by Race Horse Company, the show is described as a sophisticated circus cabaret featuring a soulful singer and some fearless circus performers.

There is also a late night music festival which is jam-packed with an eclectic array of acts ranging from exuberant African guitar player Moh! Kouyate to quirky French musician Broken Back to the FB Pocket Orchestra which plays a mix of blues, ragtime and hot jazz.

The ever popular Ragroof Tea Dances are back with two dances, one with a Tutti Frutti theme and the other Top Hat and Tails.

City of Literature

Writers' Centre Norwich is presenting a wide-ranging City of Literature programme.

The major co-commission Fierce Light will see poets take to the Norwich Playhouse stage with work reflecting on the Battle of the Somme 100 years on.

Dragon Hall will be transformed into The Story Machine, described as an immersive literary event like no other, and it will also house a City of Literature Weekend looking at the world as it is and has been, and as we might make it. This year's Harriet Martineau Lecture will be by Linton Kwesi Johnson who is said to be the world's number one dub poet.

Visual Arts

Alberto Giacometti: A Line Through Time is one of the two main visual arts elements of the festival.

The show is a major exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

It commemorates the 50th anniversary of the artist's death and explores the work of one of the giants of 20th century art who is celebrated as a sculptor, painter and draftsman.

Fierce Light, which is also part of the City of Literature strand of the festival, features an exhibition at the East Gallery at NUA.

The poignant project brings together Simon Armitage and other poets as well as film-makers and visual artists to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

Children's shows

There are two shows specifically for youngsters in this year's festival.

Musical Journey, at Norwich Playhouse, invites five to seven-year-olds to explore the rhythms and sounds of the world with Brazilian composer Catapluf.

Mary English, at Norwich Puppet Theatre, is for children aged four to 11 and centres around a trunk found in a dusty attic that carries secrets and tales of adventure and revolution from across the globe.

There are lots of events for young people in the free outdoor programme and there will be two special festival editions of Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library's Bounce and Rhyme Time in the Adnams Spiegeltent.

The festival runs from May 13 to 29. For more, visit

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