Skip to main content Skip to site map (in footer)

Norfolk & Norwich Festival

  • Date: 10 May 2011
  • Artform: Combined arts
  • Area: South East
woman covering ears surrounded by people blow brass instruments Always Drinking Productions, Photo: Juan Miguel Morales

Norfolk & Norwich Festival (NNF), one of the most diverse and dynamic arts festivals in the UK, will be part of the Arts Council's National portfolio of funded organisations from April 2012. 

Its aim is to present work at its annual multi-arts festival that is locally relevant, international in its reach, innovative in its approach and a showcase for new talent. The festival also presents a year-round programme of activities aimed particularly at engaging children, young people and hard to reach groups. 

Last year's event was the most successful to date. It saw audience numbers leap by 390 per cent from 2009, with 320,000 people attending events as part of the festival. The festival featured 350 performances at 50 different venues. Highlights included a set by former Velvet Underground maestro John Cale, a spectacular fireworks display by French pyrotechnics company Ephémère choreographed to Stravinsky and Folkine's ballet The Firebird, and the UK premiere of La Vie, a stunning circus/cabaret show performed by the renowned French-Canadian company les 7 doigts de la main

Around 1,000 performers took part in the 2010 festival pushing the number of participants up by 43 per cent. It helped provide a platform for artists to showcase their work to new audiences ensuring talent and excellence are celebrated. 

2010 presented a record number of first performances, with no fewer than 15 world and UK premieres. Highlights included Fuel's unforgettable Electric Hotel and Dan Jones' Music for Seven Ice Cream Vans, a choreographed fleet of ice cream vans 'performing' a specially commissioned piece as it travelled around the city. 

34,000 tickets were sold compared to 11,932 in 2006 and nearly of fifth of those visitors travelled to Norfolk from further afield. In all, the event contributed an estimated £9.2 million to the local economy. 

In addition to the events happening in Norwich during the festival, the organisers worked with Creative Partnerships to engage 15,000 schoolchildren across Norfolk in year-round projects and activities. 

Lisa Christensen, Director of Children's Services, Norfolk County Council said: 'NNF is a unique resource for Norfolk's schools, helping to raise aspirations, improving academic attainment and attendance in schools and developing skills for careers in the creative and cultural sectors.' 

The festival also coordinates Norfolk Open Studios, a county-wide scheme, which provides an opportunity for more than 300 of Norfolk's visual artists to showcase their work and practice to the public. 

Helen Lax, Regional Director, Arts Council England, said: 'Norfolk & Norwich Festival will be a valuable part of our new National portfolio, providing a world class programme and building on its success in growing new audiences. 

The organisation will showcase the best international artists and provide new opportunities to create original work. They will also support new talent and provide performance platforms for participatory work, to really put the region on the map. 

The organisation will also take a leading role in delivering high quality arts activities for schools and communities in its locality. We look forward to working with the festival over the next three years.' 

NNF11 programme highlights

NNF11 has begun in earnest with a programme that boasts exciting performances by artists from every corner of the globe, making it a truly multi-national festival.

There will be Congolese street musicians Staff Benda Billili, show-stopping circus performers from Australia headlining the Spiegeltent with Cantina, beautiful Thai dance from Pichet Klunchun Dance Company, engaging political theatre from Iran's Mehr Theatre, work from Ballet Nacional de España, the Bolshoi Symphony Orchestra from Russia and jazz from America's Charlie Haden and Kyle Eastwood.

Artichoke's Dining with Alice will offer audiences a unique, fantastical entertainment experience created on home turf. The company specialises in large-scale events full of spectacle and imagination and excels at engaging large numbers of people, many of whom do not usually attend arts events. Dining with Alice will be an opportunity for guests to be transported into Lewis Carroll's imaginary world in the company of the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter and even Alice herself. The evening includes an al fresco banquet and culminates in musical entertainment under the stars.

This year's festival offers more opportunities to get involved than ever before and a programme that offers something for everyone.

Artistic director and chief executive William Galinsky said: 'Festivals can turn the world upside down and NNF11 is a 16-day adventure which will see our city and region transformed by great artists and world-class events with the power to move, delight, enrich and amaze'.

'This is my first year as artistic director and I'm thrilled to be taking the helm of one of the UK's most diverse and dynamic arts festivals.  We are quickly becoming an international destination festival attracting some of the world's best artists to our region and increasing numbers of visitors keen to experience what we have to offer'.

Norfolk & Norwich Festival 11 is funded by Arts Council England, Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council with its principal sponsor for the 20th year, National Express East Anglia.  Its outdoor performance programme is supported by May Gurney.

To find out more go the to the NNF11 website.