Virtual Reality Playground at Norwich station provides curtain raiser to 2017 Norfolk & Norwich Festival

Thursday, 14 December 2017

This year’s Norfolk & Norwich Festival will be launched at Norwich Rail Station on Thursday with an opportunity for people to take part in a virtual reality playground.

A woman using VR

The curtain raiser event takes place at Norwich station concourse at 10.45 on Thursday 11 May, ahead of the festival which begins on Friday 12 May.

This world premiere involves a thrilling ride on a playground swing, wearing a virtual reality headset, with exciting trips and experiences atop anything from a lumbering robot to a giant mechanical jellyfish.

The installation will be in place at a number of locations around Norwich during the festival, including Castle Mall shopping centre, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Chapelfield Gardens and the Forum.

In addition to providing an unexpected experience for passengers using Norwich station, the occasion also marks the key partnership between Greater Anglia and the festival.

Greater Anglia is the Principal Travel Partner for the major regional arts event, extending a relationship between the festival and the region's train operator which now stretches back 27 years to 1990.

Over the last quarter of a century, the train operator has helped the festival expand from a medium-size classical music festival, to an internationally recognised arts festival that is one of the four biggest in the UK. It is now an annual celebration that includes jazz, theatre, dance, outdoor events, visual arts and classical music.

At the station on Thursday, Jonathan Denby, Head of Corporate Affairs for Greater Anglia and the festival's Artistic Director, William Galinsky will briefly outline the benefits of the partnership, along with the highlights of this year's event.

The partnership, which began with a locomotive train naming has included a special train livery, previous curtain raiser performances at the station, community events, employee involvement in the festival, promotion and marketing to a wider audience, special rail travel offers, train tickets for artists, opportunities for corporate hospitality and building wider stakeholder links.

There is also still an Intercity train named Norfolk and Norwich Festival which powers trains between Norwich and London, promoting the festival through the region and in the capital.

Brochures and posters promoting this year's programme have been on display at a number of Greater Anglia stations and the two organisations' marketing teams have been working together to promote the festival.

The train operator is sponsoring two concerts – the renowned cellist Steven Isserlis at St Andrew’s Hall on 12 May and the Super Sunday circus performance by the Race Horse Company circus troupe at Norwich Theatre Royal on 16 May, with Archant.

With direct train services to Norwich from London, Ipswich, Cambridge, Sheringham, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, festival-goers from across the region can take the train to events. Late night trains operate on Mondays to Saturdays from Norwich to Cambridge (at 22.40), Lowestoft (at 22.40), Sheringham (at 22.45 - or 23.05 on Fridays and Saturdays), Great Yarmouth (at 23.00) and Ipswich (at 23.05).

Jonathan Denby, Head of Corporate Affairs for Greater Anglia said: "Greater Anglia is delighted to be the travel partner for the 2017 Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

“We are pleased to be holding a curtain raiser event at the station again. We have been actively helping to promote the festival, providing tickets for artists and taking a proactive role in this year's event, extending and expanding our partnership from our first links as Greater Anglia which began with the start of our franchise in 2012.

“Our partnership helps the festival to go from strength to strength, with a fantastic annual celebration which is fun for audiences and the local community, whilst at the same time supporting the local economy and building Norfolk and Norwich’s reputation. We hope that this year's festival is a great success and that many people will travel to events by train."