Norfolk and Norwich Festival set to explode into life

Rachel Buller With the curtain set to rise on this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Rachel Buller brings you a quick reminder of some of the amazing performers and innovative events you can enjoy over the next two weeks.

Rachel Buller

It promises to be bigger and better than ever before, showcasing top artists from across the globe and tempting in audiences of all ages.

And with this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival already breaking previous box office records, it looks as though the eclectic line up has captured the public's imagination. So far more than 13,000 tickets have been sold and many of the events are already a sell-out.

The festival opens tomorrow evening with a free city centre 'Mascleta'. Traditionally part of fiesta celebrations in Spain, it will see a dramatic daylight firework display that uses sound rather than light to entertain the crowds, with a barrage of gunpowder percussion and rocket whistles.

What follows is 16 days of exciting, diverse and one-off events featuring artists from Spain, Israel, America, Japan, the Czech Republic, Russia, France and Cuba together with some of the most renowned and innovative companies and artists from the UK.

As well as hosting some of the biggest names in classical music, jazz and dance, there are a number of world premieres and the festival will also showcase a mix of contemporary performances and a series of events aimed at younger audiences.

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One of the most exciting events in this year's festival is 'Tabu', a combination of incredible circus skills, performance, live music and video produced by the award-winning Nofit State Circus.

It promises audiences a “turbo-charged, 90-minute, life-changing rollercoaster ride” and with 16 performances during the festival there is plenty of opportunity to see the show at Earlham Park in Norwich.

Another feature of this year's festival is the organiser's commitment to younger audiences in the hope of engaging them in creative arts, music and performance.

Among the innovative events are the Baby Rave for under-4s at St Andrew's Hall, complete with a DJ, lights, projections and sensory flooring; the Circo de la Sombra acrobatic circus for older children and the Tall Stories Theatre Company performing the spectacular tale of Monster Hits.

On May 10, the city will also be alive with dozens of free mini performances for children - the catch is, you will need to pick up a treasure map and search for the venues yourself. With the help of the clues, you could find up to 50, free, secret performances hidden in places all over the city, indoors and out.

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival is the oldest single city festival in the UK, dating back to 1772 when it was an annual service and concert in Norwich Cathedral to raise money for the N&N Hospital. Last year, audiences totalled more than 40,000 in just two weeks and it is now one of the top 10 festivals of its type in the country.

Jonathan Holloway, artistic director and chief executive of the festival, said: “Norwich is a thriving city of culture, growing in population and creativity - the perfect mirror for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. The scale of the festival's ticket sales proves just how much people here want to engage with the best international arts performances and make the most of an exceptional 16 days.”

Among the shows that have already sold out are the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, John Williams and John Etheridge, Roberto Fonseca, the Russian State Symphony Orchestra, Stan Tracey and Teatro de los Sentidos.

At least 5pc of tickets for all performances have been discounted to £5 for those aged under 26. You need to book in person at Norwich Theatre Royal and bring proof of age documentation with you. A number of the events are also free.

For a brochure with full listings and more information, phone 01603 877750 or visit www.nnfestival.org.uk. To book tickets, phone the box office on 01603 766400.