L'Homme Debout - Photo: Mathieu Le Gall

A giant puppet roaming the streets of Norwich, a world premiere of a Columbian circus show, and new productions celebrating life across Norfolk are among the highlights of this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

The 17-day festival runs from May 10 to 26, with a mixture of free and paid events across Norfolk ranging from visual arts to dance, spoken word, and music from across the centuries.

French company L’Homme Debout bring their playful and poetic over-sized puppet story of Mo and The Red Ribbon to Norwich city centre on May 10 as part of the opening Welcome Weekend, which features free outdoor performance across the city.

Columbian circus troupe Circolombia present the world premiere of Corazón as the centrepiece to the Adnams Spiegeltent programme, in Chapelfield Gardens.

One of two resident artists at this year’s Festival, harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani will perform a trio of shows, including an all-Bach programme with the Britten Sinfonia. Chamber Choir Ireland will perform a programme featuring the best contemporary choral music.

​A collaboration with Norwich Theatre features dance and physical theatre including Tess by circus company Ockham’s Razor, a new adaptation of the Thomas Hardy classic; Fenland Elegy, a short film by Dan Canham; MOSH, the UK premiere of Rachel Ní Bhraonáin’s high-octane dance theatre; Skydiver, Xenia Aidonopoulou’s playful children’s dance show; and an Accident / A Life, a new collaboration between Marc Brew and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

The festival includes a number of new commissions and local artists, including local poetry collective Toast curating a performance poetry tent in Chapelfield Gardens, and Ipswich’s Spill Festival director Robin Deacon performing his own work Through The Round Window. Venues taking part span the county, including King’s Lynn, Thetford, Sheringham, Diss, and Great Yarmouth.

On Our Doorsteps is an installation exploring local people’s relationships with Sweet Briar Marshes, which was recently bought by Norfolk Wildlife Trust as a new public wild space. The Book of Thetford, created by 8-11 year old children from Thetford schools alongside Andy Field and Beckie Darlington, is a part-factual, part-fantastical local guide book, and Make Me is a work in progress drama piece created by High Tide and Molly Naylor with GCSE drama pupils from Norwich’s Hewett Academy.

Other festival highlights include the world premiere of new eight hour epic organ composition 268 years of reverb, composed by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, and at Houghton Hall, Antony Gormley’s spectacular large scale installation Time Horizon and a series of sculptures by Magdalene Odundo.

​Festival director Daniel Brine said: “We are excited by the depth, democracy and diversity of this year’s programme. There’s an exciting blend of international acts including premieres and new commissions.

“I’m particularly looking forward to presenting Rachel Ní Bhraonáin’s MOSH and thrilled we’ve been able to commission a new circus show from Circolombia – the first time we’ve done so in a number of years.

“Importantly though for us, there’s a strong flavour of the East about the Festival with artists like Laura Cannell, Molly Naylor and Luke Wright but also, with our new community collaborations, we’re bringing to the fore the voices of many, many local people.”

  • For full programme details and ticket bookings visit the Norfolk and Norwich Festival website. Supporter booking opens today, with friends from 29 February and public sale from March 1.