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HEAD EAST – Norwich UNESCO City of Literature

National Centre for Writing is located in Norwich, England’s first UNESCO city of literature. If a visit to Norwich is on the agenda, there’s plenty to enjoy art and sculpture exhibitions, theatre and performances, creative writing workshops, walking tours and so much more


The theme for this year’s City of Literature weekend at Norfolk & Norwich Festival is ‘the power of conversation’. Join the NCW for panel discussions, interviews and creative writing workshops that encourage open discussion and new ways of looking at the world.




To find out more and to book tickets click here

Intricate Worlds: Caleb Azuman Nelxon and Jyoti Patel

Fathers, sons, secrets and sacrifices are explored in two beautiful new books by Caleb Azuman Nelson, the award-winning author of Open Water and #Merky Books debut novelist, Jyoti Patel.

VENUE National Centre for Writing, Norwich (10.30am / £10.00 & concessions)


Handle with Care: Roopa Farooki and Fiona Mason

Dr Roopa Farooki and Fiona Mason drawn on their personal and professional experiences to demonstrate how storytelling through fiction and memoir can address difficult conversations around life, death and grief.

VENUE National Centre for Writing, Norwich (2.00pm / £10.00 & concessions)



To find out more and to book tickets click here

Loving and Living Alone: Amy Key and Sarah Perry

With profound candour and intimacy, Amy Key and Sarah Perry discuss the realities of a life lived in the absence of romantic love.

Adnams Spiegeltent, Chapelfield Gardens (10:00am / £10.00 & concessions)


Harriet Martineau Lecture with Charlotte Higgins

This year’s Harriet Martineau Lecture will be delivered by award-winning author and arts journalist Charlotte Higgins on the power of art during difficult times.

VENUE: Adnams Spiegeltent, Chapelfield Gardens (12:00am / £10.00 & concessions)


From Toy Flights to Poetic Heights: Don Paterson

Legendary poet Scottish Don Paterson OBE, discusses his new memoir Toy Fights, an uproarious, tender-hearted tale of growing up in working class Dundee in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

VENUE: National Centre for Writing, Norwich (2.30pm / £10.00 & concessions)


A Republic of Poetry: 100 Issues of The Rialto

The Rialto poetry magazine celebrates its 100th issue with the launch of a new anthology. Featuring poetry performances by Raymond Antrobus, Hannah Lowe, Laura Scott and Richard Scott

VENUE: National Centre for Writing, Norwich (6.00pm / £10.00 & concessions)



To find out more and to book tickets click here

Sir Thomas Browne: The Opium of Time with Dr Gavin Francis

Bestselling writer and doctor Gavin Francis examines the extraordinary life and writing of Norwich-based physician, writer and polymath, Thomas Browne through a personal 21st century lens.

VENUE: Adnam’s Spiegeltent, Chapelfield Gardens (12:00am / £10.00 & concessions)


City of Literature Publishing Fair

Drop in and celebrate the vibrant independent publishing culture of the East of England. Meet the publishers, browse and purchase their work, take part in writing workshops, and listen to lightning talks from authors and publishers.

VENUE: National Centre for Writing, Norwich (10.00 till 4.00pm / FREE)


For the full Norfolk & Norwich Festival line up click here

(Runs from 12 till 28 May 2023)



What to explore in Norwich

During your visit Norwich, enjoy some of Norwich’s best kept secrets, and take tea or meditate in the beautiful Plantation Gardens or visit and enjoy a guided tour of historic Dragon Hall.  Book a walking tour with an expert guide taking you around the city to discover its fascinating history from the Viking invasion to its medieval success as England’s second city.  Venture out to Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts Sculpture Park and download a trail map and explore art, architecture and the natural environment and see inspiring works by notable artists such as Usagi Kannon, Henry Moore, Lynn Chadwick, Elizabeth Frink and Antony Gormley.  Below are some other summer suggestions … enjoy!


Highlights include:


Wandering Words – a UNESCO City of Literature literary trail

Pick up a map at The Book Hive, DNA Books and Waterstones Norwich
Plantation Garden, London Street, St Martin at Palace Plain, Tombland and St Julian’s Church

Wandering Words is as much about your sensory experience as it is about exploring Norwich on foot. Pick up a map, scan the QR code for each of the five locations and listen. Each location offers its own immersive audio recording of a poem, as well as sounds of the people and settings that inspired each writer’s work. All you need is a mobile phone.

This literary walk has been created to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Norwich becoming England’s first UNESCO City of Literature. Each poem has been commissioned by the National Centre for Writing with writers who have a connection to Norwich. Each was asked to respond creatively to a particular place in Norwich or to an event in its history. These works represent the breadth of new writing happening in, around and inspired by the city.

To find out more click here


Things to do on a summer’s evening

Plantation Garden

Known locally as ‘The Secret Garden’, there really is no better way than to spend an summer evening at Plantation Garden. Experience big band to theatre and puppet shows – the programme is varied and fun and great for all ages. Bring along a picnic and some blankets and spend time in natural surroundings, feeling good.

To find out more and to book tickets click here (Events programme runs till 11 September)


Sunset at Mousehold Heath with an evening picnic at St James’ Hill, Norwich

To find one of the best views of Norwich’s skyline head to Mousehold Heath (St James’ Hill), which is only a short walk to reach through Norwich Cathedral grounds, and over Bishop Bridge. The Heath has over 184 acres of woodland and heathland and is the perfect place for a walk with a view in all seasons. The area is rich in wildlife and locally is very well known for the history of Kett’s Rebellion which took place in 1549.

To find out more, click here


Marriott’s Way – walking and cycling from Norwich city centre
Where Barn Road meets Barker Street

This is a lovely evening walk or cycle ride following two disused railway lines (26-miles long) between Norwich and the historic market town of Aylsham.   Marriott’s Way offers plenty of wildlife, woodland and wild meadows. Heading into summer the whole route is lush green and dense in places due to canopies of overhanging ancient trees. Butterflies and darting dragonflies are plentiful, whilst geese meander in nearby fields; look out for kestrels, owls, magpies and ducks. Orchids, cowslips and wild strawberries flourish in this habitat – make time for a bit of foraging!

Public art plays its part along the railway with signs made from old track to show distances and directions to villages and towns. To mark your progress, at each mile there’s a piece of rail sculpture – each is unique with its own metal rubbing plaque with aspects of the track’s history. Under three bridges there are wind-up boxes playing past railway sounds, and there are also pieces of art inscribed with poems and verse as well as concrete sculptures about the railway’s heritage.

To find out more, click here


Whitlingham Country Park (2 miles from the city centre)

Enjoy over 280-acres of fantastic circular walks surrounded by nature, wildlife and water just outside of Norwich city centre at Whitlingham Country Park gateway to the Norfolk Broads. There’s plenty of great space to take a seat, go for a walk, cycle or run plus you can watch the swans and possibly any rowers out on the water too. Don’t forget to check out the remains of the old Chalk works! There’s also a great café. Hire a Beryl Bike to get there.

Free entrance/pay and display car park. To find out more click here



Visit St Julian’s Church

St Julian’s Church – one of the oldest churches in Norwich – is home to the cell of Lady Julian of Norwich, the first woman to write a book in the English language. This beautiful church is open every day for prayer, quiet visits, and daily worship, and is a lovely place to honour Lady Julian and her book, The Revelations of Divine Love.


Explore independent bookshops in Norwich

Norwich is an essential destination for literature lovers, and our independent bookshops are a true reflection of this. The city is home to many wonderful bookshops, including The Book Hive (a favourite of Margaret Atwood) and the 2022 Regional Bookshop of the Year Bookbugs and Dragon Tales. Take a gentle walking tour through the city and discover the tender atmosphere, friendly staff and excellent selection of books our independent bookshops have to offer.


Visit Millennium Library

The Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library is the busiest library in the country, and once you visit you will see why! With tens of thousands of books, DVDs and video games, there is something for everybody. Millennium Library has a jam-packed programme of activities, events, and groups, making it the perfect location to meet like-minded readers and writers in Norwich.


Take a stroll around the UEA campus

Take a walk around University of East Anglia and experience the campus where some of the greatest writers of today have lived and studied. UEA prides itself on being the place where literature lives, proven true by their alumni. Incredible authors such as Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Elizabeth MacNeal, and many more, have all developed their skills and gained confidence in their writing during their time studying at UEA, making it a must-visit location for all literature lovers.

For more local literary hotspots, writing trivia and bookish experiences, visit the National Centre for Writing website and their UNESCO City of Literature page.

To discover more about the City of Literature and the National Centre for Writing click here.




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