Photo gallery: Artistic director William Galinsky gives his top tips for the 2013 Norfolk and Norwich Festival

William Galinsky, Norfolk and Norwich Festival artistic director. Picture: Denise Bradley

William Galinsky, Norfolk and Norwich Festival artistic director. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2013

When the 2013 Norfolk and Norwich Festival opens this month, the cultural extravaganza will be the culmination of a huge amount of planning, and artistic director William Galinsky cannot wait to hear what festival-goers think about the eclectic programme his team has put together.

'There are things in the festival we have been planning for two years. Probably this time last year we knew about what 70pc of it was going to be and we had the festival more or less finalised by September,' said William.

'I am really excited. I love festival time and I love seeing the audiences – that's the best thing. I like listening to people coming out of the performances and eavesdropping during the intervals. We've already seen the programme so it's lovely to hear what the audiences think.'

While the 17-day festival is in May, the NNF entertained audiences in April by bringing war drama Black Watch to the UEA Sportspark.

William said: 'The response to Black Watch was extraordinary. The National Theatre of Scotland said they had never had so much feedback on Twitter as they had in Norwich. I think the work we bring here is eagerly anticipated and we have a fantastic audience.'

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He said with the May festival there was something for everyone – free family events, interesting art installations, street theatre, classical and contemporary music, circus spectacle, and the popular Spiegeltent all feature in the 2013 programme.

When asked to pick 10 festival acts not to miss (see the accompanying panel), William said: 'For me all the events are must see shows, but I know people cannot see them all, so I wanted to draw attention to the rich variety of the programme.

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'I think we are going to have a great opening night in Cathedral Close over two nights with Compagnie des Quidams' Reve D'Herbert.

'Tales of Magical Realism, they are wonderful cinemas powered by penny farthings and old bicycles, and The Soul Rebels brass band is a great night out, a great crowd-pleaser and real feel good evening.

'Then there are some of the more unusual events like Nature Theater of Oklahoma and Dance Marathon which are quite radical and exciting. With Nature Theater, their first UK performance is not London, it's Norwich, and that is a real coup. People will be coming from all over the country to see them for the first time. Dance Marathon is one of the few things I did previously in Cork [Cork Midsummer Festival]. I saw it on its opening night in Toronto and I took it there and then for Cork. They are a great company and it's a really unique show. You can compete for real prizes and the performers are great. I hope to be taking part on one of the nights.

'There's also some great work for children. My 13-month-old daughter likes to dance and I'm very excited about Baby Disco Dance Hall.'

Whatever events people pick to watch, William said he hoped as many people as possible would get into the festival spirit.

He said: 'It's about having great experiences you can only have at the festival. It's about coming together as a community and seeing our city and county in an entirely new light.

'I think there's something of carnival about a festival. It's a chance for people to enjoy living in such a vibrant place and for visitors it's about seeing what a great and rich cultural life we have here in Norwich and Norfolk.'

And while the 2013 festival is just over a week away, William already has his thoughts on the next two festivals. He recently travelled to Cornwall to visit a company the festival hopes to work with in 2014, and is in talks with a partner in Canada for a possible 2015 project.

He paid tribute to the hard-working festival team putting the finishing touches to the 2013 festival and enabling him to look further into the future. 'It is a slightly crazy time because the festival team are finishing organising the 2013 festival but a lot of my head is in 2014 at the moment,' he said. 'At any given time we are working two festivals ahead. It's a big journey.'

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