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Norfolk and Norwich Festival hailed most successful ever

PUBLISHED: 08:00 24 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 01 July 2010

Les Vernisseurs at the Festival launch

Les Vernisseurs at the Festival launch

Dan Grimmer

A giant red ball crammed into street corners, a baby rave, a circus and a garden party are just some of the many events which have helped make this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival the most successful in its history.

Norfolk and Norwich Festival official site

A giant red ball crammed into street corners, a baby rave, a circus and a garden party are just some of the many events which have helped make this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival the most successful in its history.

As the curtain came down on the record breaking festival on Saturday organisers were basking in the glory of a fun-packed and colourful 16 days which attracted an audience four times bigger than last year.

Streets, parks, theatres and many other places in the city have been full of excited families eager to catch the next offering of non-stop entertainment.

Altogether the festival attracted 278,000 people, approximately 34,000 tickets were sold and 1,000 performers took part in the internationally renowned extravaganza.

Jonathan Holloway, festival director, said: “This is unquestionably our most successful festival ever but not just because of the numbers.

“This year has been about moments of great celebration and tremendous beauty. It has been about bringing some of the world's leading performers to our region and unleashing the creativity of the people who live in and visit the region.”

The 2010 festival kicked off with explosions of streamers and confetti which sprayed the city with colour and created the carnival atmosphere that continued for more than two weeks.

It marked the start of a packed programme of events from interactive theatre, dance and circus performances to visual art displays and classical music concerts.

A succession of world-class performers and artists showcased their skills during the festival while local children and adults got into the spirit by organising quirky events.

One of the highlights was Haircuts by Children which involved children from Catton Grove Primary School in Norwich hacking the hair off 96 mums, dads, students, politicians and local celebrities.

The volunteers, which included Evening News editor Tim Williams, put their trust in a group of nine and 10 year-old children and some ended up with pink beards and wonky mohican haircuts.

An audience of 450 dance-lovers, theatre-lovers and curious teenagers attended a groundbreaking dance world premiere in a temporary four-storey building on Millennium Plain, some 20,000 attended a festival garden party and learned to hula hoop and watch street theatre.

The legendary viola da gamba player, Jordi Savall and a cast of 38 musicians, stunned audiences with an internationally acclaimed and culturally momentous UK premiere of Jerusalem: a City of Two Peaces in Norwich Theatre Royal.

One of the constant attractions of the festival was a giant inflatable red ball which appeared to capture the hearts and imagination of adults and children.

Kurt Perscke's iconic red ball was crammed into nooks and crannies all over the city as it made its first welcome visit to the UK.

A new rock n roll library opened for 16 days courtesy of the Clash's Mick Jones and a series of insistent Neon Signs in windows stopped shoppers in their tracks.

Korfball players, a man on a bike, a six foot robotic dragon and some breath-takingly talented children from Chermond Gym put together a performance in under a week with the help of NoFit State Circus and the people of Eaton Park, Norwich.

Mr Holloway said personally there were a number of memorable occasions. “My personal highlights were having my hair cut by a brilliant 10 year-old stylist from Catton Grove School, watching the talented residents of Norwich create an extraordinary circus performance with NoFit State for an audience of 3000.

“The glorious cardboard city in Blackfriar's Hall and a red ball which captivated the imagination of thousands.

“But for me the stars of the festival have been the huge team of people who have worked tirelessly to make it happen and the audiences who have appreciated their work so vociferously.”

The festival was closed with Music for Seven Ice Cream Vans, which involved seven vans driving round city streets playing a new piece of music created by composer, sound designer and theatre director Dan Jones.

And on Saturday night the Spiegel Show Down in Chapelfield Gardens gave hundreds of people a journey into sound with vintage vinyl rare grooves from DJ Lord Jazz and special guest Tom Ravenscroft, club DJ, BBC6 Music DJ, son of John Peel and pioneer and champion of new music.

The festival audience is a significant increase on 2009 which was just over 62,000 and ticket sales stood at 28,000. The increase was in part a result of increased ticket sales for music, dance, theatre, circus and children's events but had a huge boost from the extended programme of outdoor performances and eye-catching visual arts installations and exhibitions.

Organisers are keen to get feedback on the festival. Anyone with a comment to make or experience to share should log on to www.nnf10.org.uk and click on the 'Share your NNF10 Experience' panel.

Norfolk and Norwich Festival official site

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