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Welcome Weekend

Saturday 11 May – Sunday 12 May

Norwich City Centre


We’re popping-up across the city centre with a programme of free performance. From theatre and dance to circus and comedy, we bring a little playful fun to the city’s streets as we celebrate the opening of this year’s Festival.

Full programme information available from mid-April.

Important information

The Shows

Raggle Taggle Arts - Betty Brown Bags

Inspired by a traditional folk play from Lancaster, Betty Brown Bags and her musical side-kick Billy celebrate the strength and resilience of Northern working class culture. This interactive show is a physical theatre piece with a pantomime flair, featuring live music, clog dancing, singing, a synchronised spoon playing routine and is something for all ages! Let Betty and Billy tell you their tale of the evil Sir George and how they need all of YOU to defeat him.

NoFit State Circus - Bamboo

The artists arrive at an empty stage, bringing bundles of bamboo. They build towering sculptures which morph, transform and become an improbable, delicate circus playground that seems to defy the laws of physics. Inhabited by world-class circus artists and acrobats, the structures bend, and flex, adding to the tension, drama, and sense of jeopardy that lies at the heart of great circus. A meaningful, joyful performance with live music, comedy and amazing feats of strength and agility. We celebrate what’s possible when humans and the natural world trust each other and work in harmony.

Mechanimal - Crap at Animals

Crap at Animals does what it says on the tin. One guy tries heroically and fails epically to do impressions of 50,000 rare animals in under an hour. How do you do a Darth Vader Giant Pill Millipede? Have you ever heard of a Miss Kerala Look-a-Like? What kind of animal is a Problematic Flasher???
Come and explore the madness and diversity and beauty of life with wildly playful solo performance artist Tom Bailey. Tom takes audiences on a clowning, physical theatre and VR rollercoaster ride into a bonkers-big world of currently extinct and endangered species.

Bureau of Silly Ideas - Island Storms

Catastrophic coastal erosion has destroyed a once beloved family-run amusement arcade.

The survivors are now travelling around the country scratching a living with what they managed to salvage from the wreckage, to offer their fun, action-packed seaside arcade, live on your doorstep!

You will be moved by more than emotions as you help this surviving family rebuild their watery empire.

Expect circus, wet fun, hilarity and stunts as you enter this magical arcade action world.


Variable Matter - World Kiosk

Bringing the world a little bit closer

Picture this: a street kiosk disrupting the fabric of everyday life. An intimate and enchanting digital sound and light installation where communities collide. Sip tea amidst a calming atmosphere, engaging in thought-provoking conversation, encouraging new connections. Enjoy our special edition newspaper and be transported to a place where stories come alive. Connect with the life journeys of what makes people all over the world who they are.

We invite you to find out about your global neighbours in a whole new light…

From Variable Matter, the artist led collective behind The People’s Kitchen and The Rising Sun, and directed and designed by award-winning artist David Shearing

World Kiosk is supported by Without Walls and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Commissioned by Brighton Festival and Havering Changing.

Tit for Tat Circus - Now I Am Become d/Deaf (Destroyer of Words)

With physical comedy, eccentric juggling, and absurd acts of balance; Ryan explores his own degenerative hearing loss as a celebratory source of play and invention.

Living between hearing society and Deaf Culture, whilst feeling a part of neither, he explores cultural boundary and personal identity through moments of chaos, sincerity, and total nonsense. Immerse yourself in a world where the loudest actions are lost in translation, and the tiniest looks become deafening.

A visual spectacle that tears down barriers, celebrates silence, and fires an ear-splitting laugh in the face of frustration – as this clown tears our world of language apart, just to say “hello!”

Jeanefer Jean-Charles - Patois

Patois explores what happens when two unwritten languages meet: the spoken language of patois (French Creole) and the movement language of dance. British-Caribbean choreographer Jeanefer-Jean Charles MBE reawakens the unwritten language of Patois, telling a story of culture, lost languages, longing and belonging.

Freshly Greated - Joyland Snails & Postcards From Yarmouth

A celebration of the people and places of Great Yarmouth.

Dot Howard & Sorrel Muggridge - A Handful of Time

A travelling exhibition of tactile clay artifacts.

Tickets: This is a non-ticketed event


Supported by the Paul Bassham Charitable Trust


Free Outdoor Programme Partner



Norfolk & Norwich Festival is a partner in Without Walls, a consortium of festivals and arts organisations bringing fantastic outdoor arts to people in towns and cities across England. Find out more on Shows at the Welcome Weekend are co-commissioned by Norfolk & Norwich Festival and a number of partners.


Bureau of Silly Ideas

Watercycle is supported by Without Walls and commissioned by Stockton International Riverside Festival and Brighton Festival. The R&D for Watercycle was supported by Blueprint: Without Walls R&D Investment Fund.

Jeanefer Jean-Charles & Associates

Patois is supported by Without Walls and commissioned by FESTIVAL.ORG for Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Brighton Festival.

NoFit State Circus

BAMBOO. A NoFit State production directed by Mish Weaver, in collaboration with Orit Azaz and Imagineer Productions. It is supported by the Arts Council of Wales, the Foyle Foundation, and Without Walls, and commissioned by Stockton International Riverside Festival, Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Hat Fair and Timber Festival.     

Phoebe Ophelia Company

Betty Brown Bags is supported by Without Walls.

Tit for Tat Circus

Now I am Become Deaf (Destroyer of Words) is supported by Without Walls and commissioned by Just So Festival and Hat Fair.

Tom Bailey – Mechanimal

Crap at Animals is supported by Without Walls and commissioned by Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

Variable Matter

World Kiosk is supported by Without Walls and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Commissioned by Brighton Festival and Havering Changing.

Image credit: Bamboo © Jon Street

Arts make life better

Norfolk & Norwich Festival brings tens of thousands of people together in celebration – it has been doing this for 250 years. Through our May Festival and our year-round arts education work, focusing on children and young people, we lead and support celebration, creativity and curiosity in communities across Norfolk and the region.

This year we begin an exciting new initiative, Festival Connect & Create that will bring creative opportunities to those schools and communities with least provision. Creativity transforms people’s lives. It builds cohesive communities, develops vital skills and supports health and wellbeing. We want more people to have access to creative opportunities.

Please consider donating to support and develop this work. With your help we can increase access to the life changing power of the arts.

Registered Charity No. 116442

Amount to Donate £ 0