Norfolk and Norwich Festival launch

Mary HamiltonAn enormous big top, a full circus rig and a three-storey hotel outside the Forum are just a few of the strange constructions springing up around the city in preparation for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.Mary Hamilton

An enormous big top, a full circus rig and a three-storey hotel outside the Forum are just a few of the strange constructions springing up around the city in preparation for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

The Festival, which begins on Friday, is already having its best ever year, with tickets selling at record speeds even before the programme has begun.

More than 20,000 advance tickets have been sold and the value of this year's sales has already exceeded the total made last year.

And with the official launch just two days away, preparations have reached a manic pitch at the Festival offices.

A spokesman said: 'The Festival office is overflowing with equipment and props.

'People march past carrying huge silver flight cases, scores of semi-shorn hairdressers' mannequins or kit boxes and hard hats.

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'In every room, perched at the edges of other people's desks new team members are working on laptops and talking on mobile phones.

'Yesterday the crew built - in one day - a three story 'hotel' on Millennium Plain for our new show Electric Hotel which has its first ever performance on Friday night.

'The excitement is palpable and the energy is thrilling. Our artistic director Jonathan Holloway says that working at a festival is like extreme sports for arts professionals.

'He's right and at the moment, we're loving it.'

The packed programme of events will be kicking off on Friday with Haircuts by Children and a big evening launch.

City council leader Steve Morphew, county council leader Daniel Cox, Evening News editor Tim Williams and Festival chief executive Jonathan Holloway will be among the first clients to have their hair cut by nine- and 10-year-old children from Catton Grove primary school.

In the evening a public drumming performance will announce the beginning of the Festival, followed by a colourful confetti and streamer decoration of the streets of Norwich.

The packed programme of events lasts until May 22.

For more information, to buy tickets and for full details of the programme, visit or call 01603 766400.

Keep up to date with Festival news, reviews and events every day in the Evening News and online at

Two days to go: what you should know

The Festival kicks off outside the Forum at 4.45pm on Friday with drumming from the Dhol Foundation. From 5.30pm Les Vernisseurs will be decorating the streets of Norwich with streamers and confetti.

On Friday and Saturday between 11am and 5pm children from Catton Grove primary school in Norwich will be cutting and styling hair at Flint in Bridewell Alley. No appointment is necessary and haircuts are free.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 10pm there will be a show at the newly-built Electric Hotel outside the Forum. The show is free but tickets are required. They can be obtained from the tourist information centre in the Forum or from the box office at the Electric Hotel from 8pm on performance nights.

From 2.30pm on Friday tickets for Spiegel Late shows in the Spiegeltent can be bought at the Festival Gardens box office in Chapelfield Gardens. Tickets cost �5 or are free on Sundays.

Festival fireworks will be going with a bang on Saturday at 10.15pm in Earlham Park. A bus service is available from Thickthorn Park and Ride from 8.30pm with a return service from 10.45pm. The bus service costs �2 for adults and is free for people under 16.

From Saturday until Tuesday NoFit State will be running free Open House sessions in Eaton Park. These include talent spots, circus taster workshops including unicycling, capoeira, whip cracking for women and men only hula hoop. You can find out more information and sign up at an open evening in Eaton Park on Thursday at 6pm, by visiting during the Festival, or at