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What’s On This Month in Norfolk

Spring is sprung and there's a whole lot of good stuff coming into flower! We've cherry picked the best of what's on around Norfolk in the merry, merry month of May!

ARTS FESTIVAL: Norfolk & Norwich Festival, across Norfolk, 17 – 30 May

Always a shining star in Norfolk’s cultural calendar, this year’s 14-day event is a specially created one-off adaptation including outdoor and socially distanced performance, art and music plus a digital strand. All events need to be booked, though in response to the wildly uneven impact of the last year, for 2021 everything is either free or ‘pay what you want’. Just what’s needed – beautiful thinking Festival people!

The programme, slightly smaller than usual, is designed to be as adaptable as possible given the ongoing You Know What, and is created to provide employment ops for artists, as well as world class entertainment and strong sense of community pride.

The Vanity of Small Differences by Grayson Perry

Right, wow! Where do I start with all the brilliant creative energy zinging about Norfolk and Norwich at Festival time? First let’s hear it for The Vanity of Small Differences, a series of six large-scale tapestries by Turner-Prize winning artist Grayson Perry. Did you watch Grayson Perry’s Art Club on Channel 4? Of course you did! “Art is good for you, whoever you are,” says the best dressed man in art…at the East Gallery, NUA from 18 May – 3 July.

The Mum Show

Next, I reckon The Mum Show, a new project from acclaimed performance company Hunt & Darton (H&D Café, Radio Local) sounds like a must-see – or must-do since you can get in on the act. They’re inviting a group of non-performer mums to collaborate in a series of workshops leading to a podcast exploring the cultural experience of motherhood. Then the new Mum Army will attempt a flash mob performance. LOVE a flash mob!

The People’s Cabaret: Sheringham Little Theatre + The Corn Hall, Diss

So what else is on? OK, get ready for: sci-fi dance shows, enthralling interactive digital theatre, groundbreaking history walks, innovative media hybrids, immersive installations, inspiring literary experiences, brilliant workshops, cycling experiences, contemporary and classical music, kinetic sculptures, cutting edge song cycles and of course the always magical Garden Party!

I also love the sound of Something for your Shelter, a poetic journey through nature created by an all-Norfolk team and designed for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities and their families. It’s from multi-sensory theatre makers Frozen Light so please spread the word as it’s going to be something pretty special!

Full programme here.

EVENT: Spring Garlands, around Norwich, Bank Holiday Weekend 1-3 May

St Giles Pantry, flowers by Rambling Rose Florist

The doorways of Norwich city centre will burst into flower with the May Day revival of a centuries-old tradition. The first Florists’ Feast was in 1631 when the city was festooned with garlands of spring blossom to welcome “Gentlemen of birth and quality” for a load of feasting and green fingered high jinx in the Fine City. We hear there’ll be some strange and interesting plants in the windows…paper roses and beer can bouquets? So long no shrubs start answering to the name Audrey, it’ll be a lovely weekend for a colourful city stroll.

POP-UP SHOP: Lalita’s Wardrobe at Studio 20, 20 Wensum St, Norwich NR3 1HY, Fri 7 & Sat 8 May, 9-6pm

For festival season you need a fabulous kimono from Lalita’s Wardrobe. Even if the festival’s in your garden. Or your kitchen. Whatever, you just need one, trust me. Luckily her Playful Free Spirit (that’s you, right?!) pop up is happening at the relentlessly cool Studio 20. The antidote to fast fashion, each piece is a one-off wonder made of recycled vintage sari fabric. Just gorgeous. And the earrings! Go big or go home…we’re going big. See you there! Read more here!

Psst! If you miss the Norwich pop-up, she’ll be in Cambridge 22 May at Pharmacie Cafe Pizzeria. Que Bella!

FAIRGROUND: Funderworld, Norfolk Showground, Norwich, NR5 OTT, until 9 May.

I’m sucker for the gaudy glitz of a fair, greasy onions, shrieking teenagers and all. Funderworld’s ‘Out of Lockdown’ has more than 25 Rides & Attractions making it the UK’s largest mobile Theme Park. Plenty for thrill seekers and families too, with a load of Children’s Rides, Inflatable Attractions, Side Shows, Game Stalls, Bumper Cars and all that jazz. 

Pay once for up to 4 hours of unlimited riding – good value for families on a budget. They’re COVID compliant with free car parking on site. And there’s fairground food – fluffy things, fried things, sugary things, melting things. The diet can wait. Wristbands can be bought there or in advance online. And there’s a 30% discount to NHS staff. The rule of six applies and you need to wear masks while riding which should muffle the screams. Step right up and enjoy the ride!

GAME: Clued Up! Escape Rooms, 66 Prince of Wales Road, Norwich, NR1 1LT, Hope to re-open 17 May

Fed up with family board games and listening to your kids explain Minecraft? It’s time to go live. This is an action game for small groups of sleuths. You get one hour to escape a room by solving puzzles as a team of master criminals, secret agents or innocent prisoners. You’ll need a sense of adventure and communal competitive streak as you work together to beat the game. So if your life is ‘School Run’, ‘The Dog Walk’ and ‘Out of Rinse Aid’, ramp up the excitement with ‘Nuclear Countdown’, ‘The Bank Heist’ and ‘Prison Breakout’. 

We love that Clued Up! Is a small family business run by founder Andy and his fiancée Treena, with a small team of amazing Games Masters. Their print and play games were a great lockdown innovation but real pretend games are so much more fun! 

ART EXHIBITION: New Work by Maria Pavledis & Anna-lise Horsley, St Nicholas Church, Grouts Lane, Salthouse. 22 May – 6 June, 11am- 5pm daily.

Maria Pavledis

Invest in your art collection with work by two of Norfolk’s most distinctive artists. Like me, Maria’s an East London/Essex Girl who nipped up the M11 and never left Norfolk. She’s part of the old Norwich printmaking collective Print to the People and a member of LOOP (London Organisation of Original Printmakers). Her work connects the stories and symbols of folk and fairy tales with contemporary and personal narratives. I particularly love her beautiful smoke images. Absolutely haunting.

Anna-lise Horsley

And internationally-collected Anna-lise’s riotous abstractions of natural forms stem from a childhood spent on islands in Norway, exploring tidal pools, beachcombing, diving through seaweed, looking at reflections and underwater life. She says “I look at the natural order and create my own unnatural disorder”. Our kinda woman.

Also, Salthouse is a gorgeous village, the clear coastal light in the church is sublime and The Dun Cow is a great pub for lunch (book though!).

CONCERT: Viento Sur Ensemble, St. Andrews Hall, Norwich NR3 1AU, 7pm 27 May

The Viento Sur (South Wind) Ensemble play traditional Latin and South American music. This lovely sounding concert is presented by Music Worldwide as part the Connecting Cultures project, exploring the sacred music, rhythms and voices of different communities that have settled in this region.

With support from Arts Council England working with Norfolk Music Hub and Norwich City Council to involve children at local schools, there are plans for a larger annual World Sacred Music Festival event in Norwich with future concerts including African, Middle Eastern, Asian and East European artists who will perform across the City.

EXHIBITION: Bill Brandt | Henry Moore, The Sainsbury Centre, Norwich, 18 May-22 August

If all’s well, this fantastic exhibition should re-open on 18th May. It explores the crossing paths of two great 20th century artists, the German photographer Bill Brandt and the British sculptor Henry Moore who first met in World War 2, when both created images of civilians sheltering from the Blitz in the London Underground.

This show focuses on their shared subjects including coal miners, Stonehenge and the undulations of the body. Ranging across sculpture, maquettes, photographs, drawings and collage, there are almost 200 works in a a show of sombre beauty. If you need to lighten the mood afterwards, take a wander through the Sculpture Park – 350 acres of art, architecture and natural beauty. Lush.

Tickets must be pre-booked before arrival with a specific time slot.

BEER FESTIVAL: Wildcraft Brewery and Churros & Chorizo, Wildcraft Brewery, Foragers’ Rest, Coltishall Road, Buxton, Norwich, NR10 5JD, Saturday, 29 May, midday until 10pm (£7)

Join Mike and Mark’s Wildcraft’s first ‘Brewery Sessions’ gig of 2021 with East Anglia’s No.1 tribute band Get Loaded. Britpop & Hacienda classics from resident DJ Hipology Sounds, epic bar with Wildcraft drinks and others sourced from around Norfolk, plus food from the Churro and Chorizo street food van!

PS. We love Wildcraft’s passion for keeping it local, giving back to the surrounding area by planting hedgerows, working with local farmers, schools and groups and supporting independent local pubs in any way we can. Also, forget making crumble, you can swap foraged blackberries, sloes, elderflowers, nettles etc for beer. Mad for it lads!

CIRCUS: Continental Circus Berlin, Norfolk Showground, NR5 0TT, 28 May – 6 June

Remember reality? That thing we had before CGI, filters and auto-tuning… If you miss the rush of beautiful people in tights performing death-defying stunts before your very eyes, this is for you.

From the producers of the Moscow State Circus and Circus Extreme comes an international cast of breathtaking performers including clowns, sequinned aerialists, high wire walkers, motorbike balancers, Hula Hoop queens (I’m a Pom Bear queen in case anyone’s wondering), whirlwind acrobats & the death defying Globe of Death where riders inside a mesh dome travel at G force speeds like a woman heading to a cocktail bar. Also the Rotating Wheel of Destiny, which is surely a metaphor for our times…

For a discount, call the box office on 07494774008 or online with Ticketmaster and Quote  ‘ACROBAT’ at least 24 hours before show time. The theatre-style Big Top is climate controlled, socially distanced and Covid Secure ready for Ladies, Gentlemen and Children of All Ages… Damn everything but the circus!

HOPPING OVER THE BORDER TO SUFFOLK? HOW ABOUT THIS?

EXHIBITION: Moments Modern Art Exhibition, Moyse’s Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds, 23 May- 30 Sept

Bunny Girl by Pure Evil

In association with Brandler Galleries, Moyse’s Hall Museum has brought together all the best modern artists for this exhibition that includes, Banksy, Tracy Emin, Damien Hirst, The Connor Brothers, Blek Le Rat, Pure Evil, Rachel List and Kaws. There will also be workshops, live art demonstrations,  and talks themed around the concept of ‘moments’. Advance booking is essential. Tickets £5 per adult.

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