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Hostry Festival - Our Highlights

27 September 2017

Hostry 2


Norfolk’s Hostry festival is back again, building on its success in 2016 with a diverse and exciting programme for its seventh year.

Title image credit: Simon Findlay

Held against the spectacular backdrop of Norwich Cathedral, the Hostry Festival is an annual event which began life in 2010 simply as a performance of Tennesee Williams’ The Night of the Iguana, in Norwich Cathedral’s newly opened Hostry. In the seven years since then, the festival has grown into an almost month-long arts festival, and its patrons now include Melvyn Bragg, Bernard Hill and Olivia Newton-John.


Hostry Festival Painting by Gennadiy Ivanov2

Hostry Festival Painting by Gennadiy Ivanov


The Hostry Festival spans a wide range of events, kicking off with a special Radio Show on the 3rd of October, and culminating on the 29th of October with a beautiful performance by Hayley Moses. Below are our highlights of the festival, but for a complete festival programme please see the website.

So, here are our five picks of what not to miss this year:


Paint Out Norwich

The UK’s only juried ‘Plein Air’ (out of doors) art competition, Paint Out Norwich is a real test of creativity, artistic stamina and ability to adequately prepare for inclement weather. Dozens of carefully selected national and international artists will descend on the city for the festival, in order the paint the city in all lights and conditions, concluding with a Gala Private View and Exhibition.

Paint Out is renowned for innovation and invention, challenging anyone who competes to produce their artwork within a matter of mere hours and days, whatever the weather. The result is hundreds of fresh and diverse views of the city, the likes of which will never have been seen before. That is especially true this year, as Paint Out will also be operating from the top deck of an open air bus – be sure to look out for it around the city.

The Private View is on the 18th of October, but if you want to try your hand at your own interpretation of the city, there is a public paint out on Sunday 15th of October.


Autumn VisitNorwich Paint Out Norwich Market1



The Eagle has Two Heads - 23rd - 28th October

“On a wild autumn night circa 1910, a reclusive Queen dines alone in one of her many castles mourning the loss of her late husband. An assassin appears – he has come to kill the Queen but instead he falls hopelessly in love with her. For a brief moment in time their love blossoms, but it is not long before the corridors of power begin to echo with disapproval. And so, it must all end even before it has begun…but how?”

This melodrama has been described as ‘stunningly passionate’ and ‘highly charged’, and certainly promises to be a spell binding performance. Added to this, the play hasn’t been performed in Norfolk for 70 years, so this is a rather a special occasion. It will also be performed fully in the round in the beautiful Hostry, so is sure to be a dramatic evening both in terms of scene and story. Tickets are £15 (£12 concession), and can be purchased via the Hostry Festival website.


It’s a Wonderful Moon, George - 21st October

Total Ensemble Theatre Company is a unique and exciting group of performers. Championing inclusive theatre, the company works with a diverse and dynamic ensemble of performers, many with disabilities, and challenges the narrow definition of talent perpetuated from an industry that draws heavily from the ‘mainstream’.

It’s a Wonderful Moon, George is sure to get you in the wintery spirit, as it’s inspired by the famous scene from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. Not only does it tell the story of George and Mary’s moonlit meeting, but this play was commissioned in response to Luke Jerram’s spectacular hanging moon instillation, which you might have seen at the Forum during this year’s Norfolk and Norwich festival (if you didn’t see it here’s what you missed…). The play was originally performed outside the Forum to open the festival, and as part of the Hostry Festival, you can now see this enchanting tale performed in the shadow of Norwich’s magnificent Cathedral.

Tickets are £10 (£8 concession), and to book please visit the Hostry Festival website.


Hostry 1

Photo credit: Simon Findlay


Dr David Starkey – Have we been here before? The reformation 500 years on - 29th October

Join the festival for an audience with the UK’s most respected historian (and force to be reckoned with) Dr David Starkey as he delivers this fascinating lecture in The Hostry.

This year, we celebrate the 500th year of the 95th Theses, Martin Luther’s bold declaration of independence for the Protestant Church. Almost 100 points of debate, Luther was inviting fellow academics to a ‘Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences’, however the debate caused such uproar it was never held.

Today, we are experiencing another, and in some ways similar religious upheaval in the world. The parallels between then and now are used to re-examine the English response to Martin Luther, and illustrate how it transformed Henry VIII’s divorce.

Doubtless this will be a lively and stimulating event, and one that’s sure to encourage conversation both during the event and after it has taken place. It also includes a Q&A and booksigning, in association with Jarrold of Norwich.

Tickets £15, and available from the Hostry Festival Website.


Hayley Moyses, and Friends in Concert - 29th October

Apart from a pre-release concert in Nashville late last year, this is the first public performance of Hayley Moyses’ recently released album. Together with friends Mike King (dobro guitar), John Bates (banjo), Steward Aiken (bass), Chris Bell (drums) and John Copling (Mandolin), Hayley will performing her most recent work: a ‘searingly honest’ and soul-bearing collection of songs, all written by her. Described as ‘sparing nothing’, the power of the lyrics is almost disguised by the warmth of the  melodies, making Hayley a fascinating storyteller.

The concert will also feature innately talented local musicians Bill Downs and Felix Simpson, who – for residents of Norwich – you might recognise as one of the most popular and respected duos on the Norfolk music scene. Completing this fantastic line up will be singer/songwriter Ron Upton, who will be bringing his unique music stylings to the Hostry.

This is sure to be a beautiful end to another wonderful year for the festival, and special evening of music performed in one of Norfolk’s most unique venues. Tickets are £15 (£12 concession), and are available from the Hostry Festival Website



Greater Anglia has Advance fares from £10 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Greater Anglia also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.

East Midlands Trains runs services from Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.

Flights into Norwich served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, Aberdeen, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.


To plan a trip to Norwich check out our website