Norfolk and norwich festival announce a new book to be released about the festival’s history


Ahead of Norfolk & Norwich Festival’s 250th anniversary celebrations next year a brand new book has been launched uncovering it’s long and rich history. With its origins going as far back as 1772, Norfolk & Norwich Festival is considered to be the oldest single-city arts Festival in the UK. Festival for a Fine City by Rob Mitchell is released today and available to buy online at Taking place each May for 17 days, the 2022 edition of the Festival runs 13 – 29 May.

Now recognised for transforming public spaces, city streets, performance venues, parks, forests and beaches the Festival began as a cathedral service fundraiser for the new Norfolk and Norwich Hospital in 1772. It quickly blossomed into an internationally renowned triennial music festival, and Mitchell traces the story of Norfolk & Norwich Festival’s development towards the exciting mixed music and arts celebration that it is today.

Exploring the city’s links with world-class virtuoso musicians and titans of the English music scene like Elgar, Britten and Vaughan Williams, Mitchell takes a whirlwind journey through 250 years that have shaped the city and the Festival, uncovering the tales of the pieces, people and places behind its evolution.

In recent years the Festival has collaborated with, and presented extraordinary local and internationally renowned artists such as Branford Marsalis, Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson and Hugh Masekela, and is well known for its large-scale free, outdoor events.

Since Daniel Brine became Festival Director in 2018, the organisation has also made a move to working on more year-round programmes within the local community and environment.

Author, researcher and local historian Rob Mitchell said: “As a lifelong culture lover in Norfolk, I was keen to tell the compelling story of our county’s biggest and oldest festival. From its beginnings providing funds for the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital the Festival has had a social and cultural role in civic life in the East of England. The celebrations that take place each springtime have their roots in a festival which has always given a platform to new talents, commissioned major composers, theatrical productions and art exhibitions. I look at some of the people that have made significant contributions as well as how the Festival remit has broadened over the last two centuries – often against all odds but always coming back stronger – and how it successfully morphed from a triennial feast of culture to the cutting-edge annual programmes of today.”

The programme for the 250th anniversary Norfolk & Norwich Festival will be announced next year.

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