The Norfolk and Norwich Festival runs until 27th May and it’s got a jam-packed programme of music, theatre, literature and family events. Read on to find out what magical performances the festival has in store…Yesterday, I spent a thoroughly enjoyable day at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Having never been to the festival before, I didn’t know what to expect but what I discovered when I arrived in the bustling city of Norwich was a truly outstanding selection of visual arts, outrageous performances and exceptional music. And the festival has only just started! It continues until 27th May so check out the event listings on the Norfolk and Norwich Festival website. Read on to find out what we did yesterday, and for information on more must-see events coming up this week…
Even though it was the last thing we did during our day at the festival, I simply MUST talk about it first. At 7:30pm last night, after a lovely dinner in the city, my husband and I headed to the Norwich Theatre Royal to watch… wait for it… Ladysmith Black Mambazo! Yes, the vocal group of Paul Simon’s Graceland (and Mean Girls) fame. If you’re not already a huge fan, you certainly would be after watching the first song of their much-anticipated sold-out performance.The sounds that this a cappella group are able to create with their voices alone is outstanding. Songs were poignant and moving at times, bookended by some thoroughly fun, upbeat tunes that you couldn’t help clapping along with. The group kept up a playful attitude throughout, joking around and teasing each other. By the end of the performance we felt like part of the family and were ready to join in with the last song. It was a simply epic performance of music, and some rather impressive dance too, that thoroughly deserved the standing ovation they got at the end of the show.The theatre auditorium is stunning location itself, with a star-filled ceiling and impressive architecture, yet the layout of the 1300 seats ensures that the space still feels intimate and you’re never too far away from the action on the stage. I’d recommend any of the festival performances that take place in the Norwich Theatre Royal, as it’s such an impressive venue with excellent acoustics. I’ve already booked for more shows later in the year – including the touring production of Shrek The Musical, which is arriving in Norwich at the end of June and runs until the 8th July.
GARDEN PARTY ON SATURDAY 19TH & SUNDAY 20TH
Woohoo it’s party time this weekend! There are countless free events going on throughout the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, and this epic garden party at the Chapelfield Gardens is one not to be missed. There will be circus performances, music, illusions, theatre and even a puppet-making workshop for the little ones. Entry is free of charge, and you can come and go as you please over the weekend. Bring a picnic or enjoy the food and drink available on-site and really make a day of it.
When I decided to make the journey to the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, one of the first events that I add to my ‘must-see’ list was artist Nathan Coley’s exhibition. The artist’s work is on display in the East Gallery at the Norwich University of the Arts, on Saint Andrews Street.The imposing installation of recycled headstones in the East Gallery raises the question of the importance we attach to such objects. They’re positioned on batons, as if in transit, and some stones are ‘laid to rest’ flat. After chatting with the gallery assistant, we were excited to hear about a second installation in St Laurence’s Church and ambled up the road to view it.Heading into the dark, disused church, I wasn’t prepared for the breathtaking installation inside. The ancient architecture and stained glass windows contrast with the bright, colourful light pieces propped up around the space. The thought-provoking words are lit-up with playful fairground lights and the deconsecrated church surroundings add weight and significance to the text.We stayed in the space until the exhibition closed at 4pm, soaking in the hushed atmosphere. Taking photos and videos is permitted, so you can imagine how long we spent wandering around the church, trying to get images of the exhibition, yet none of our pictures seemed to capture the light as it is ‘in real life’. You really had to be there to appreciate the scale of the pieces and the ambience in the room.This exhibition runs until Friday 1st June, and is open Tuesday-Saturday, 2pm-4pm.
The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts can always be replied upon to provide a satisfyingly cultural day out in Norwich, and today was no exception. We enjoyed a breezy walk around the Sainsbury Centre Sculpture Park, taking in the usual array of impressive pieces by Henry Moore and Anthony Gormley, and a new installation by Lynn Chadwick. The light glints off the welded stainless steel sheets that form abstract animal shapes, named Crouching Beast II, Lion I and Beast Alerted I. These pieces intend to gives you a feel of the animal in action. We popped in on our way into the city and it’s well worth a look – ‘Beasts’ will be at the sculpture park until 31st August 2019, so you’ve got plenty of time to make a trip to the Sainsbury Centre. Plus, if you like sculpture, this pig stands outside The Forum on Millennium Plain in Norwich city centre, with an illuminated text banner running inside it. There you’ll also find the huge NN festival sculpture, which is well worth a photo for your instagram story!
ON THE BEACH – UNTIL 27TH MAY
Here’s another not-to-be-missed event that’s taking place at Wells-next-the-Sea over the coming week, until Sunday 27th May. Wayfaring is an installation on the beach, and if you want to join in with the creation of the artwork, everyone is welcome to participate. I’m hoping to head back to the Norfolk coast while this installation is in progress as it sounds right up my street – it’s a celebration of the natural environment and involves illuminations, music and movement to bring the sculptural installations on the beach to life. The artists are creating the installation from Monday 21st – Friday 25th May and the performances/participation will take place on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th May, from 8pm -10pm.I had an amazing time at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, but visual arts is only one facet of the event. The county-wide festival is running until 27th May, so check out NNFestival.org.uk for more event listings, including music, literature, performance, the Adnams Speigeltent, family days out and outdoor events. You’ll be sure to find something fun (and free!) to join in with during the festival fortnight.Let me know if you’ve been to the Norfolk and Norwich Festival and let me know your recommendations for a fun day out in the comments below. And if you go to the festival, I hope you have an amazing time!