Out There Festival returns with flying sofa, giant lips, and outsized snail

Puppets with Guts are performing in Great Yarmouth for the Out There Festival

Puppets with Guts are among acts adding to the quirky mix at Great Yarmouth's Out There Festival in September 2021. - Credit: supplied by Out There Arts

From a giant snail slithering around the streets to a bizarre box of contortionists Great Yarmouth's Out There Festival is back - and it sounds more baffling and fun than ever.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to make the effort to travel to the seaside this weekend for the three day event, billed as the biggest and quirkiest free festival in the region pumping an estimated £3.1m into the local economy.

Organisers say visitors can expect the same quality atmosphere, but with tweaks in operations such as some areas restricted to bookings only, and social distancing measures.

Here is our rundown of what to expect:

What is it? An entirely free festival taking place at multiple venues across Great Yarmouth.  Now in its 13th year its focus is on outdoor arts, circus and street acts. A flick through the programme reveals more than 40 acts from a poetry shack where bespoke rhymes can be ordered to take away, giant singing lips, Sybil the snail, and interactive installations, shows, acrobatics, and dance all going on simultaneously.

Orquesta De Malabares are performing at Great Yarmouth's Out There Festival.

Orquesta De Malabares is billed as one of the highlights of 2021's Out There Festival. - Credit: supplied by Out There Arts

When is it? This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (September 17, 18, and 19) in Cobholm, St George's Park, The Drill House, The Market Place, and Marine Parade.

It all kicks off in Cobhom on Friday at 5pm at the Lady Haven pub, moving to a beach party with music, workshops and acts at the basketball court in Mill Road.

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Otherwise, its midday til late across various locations with acts performing multiple times over the weekend so you should be sure to catch the ones you want.

Any surprises? Organisers say there are "secret locations waiting to be discovered". 

What are the highlights? The Orquesta De Malabares and Godzillatown get top billing.

Orquestra is a show where jugglers perform dance and a brass band plays punk, funk, pop and blues.

The blurb says: "Absolutely everyone is out of their comfort zone, bringing together sincerity and comedy, and a subversion to all you would expect from six jugglers and a brass band."

Of Godzilla the programme says: "What was born 67 years ago on the coast of Japan, now arrives at the coast of Great Yarmouth. Don your Godzilla mask and act the part as you stampede through a city maze." Frankly, we are none the wiser.

Puppets with Guts are performing in Great Yarmouth for the Out There Festival.

Puppets with Guts will be performing at Great Yarmouth's Out There Festival in 2021. - Credit: supplied by Out There Arts

Brochure pick: The former Beales/Palmers store is becoming a home for retired pantomime horses, Equidae. As well as being able to view them in their supported living, audiences can also look on as they are entertained periodically during the day.  The first resident, Old Paint, will be treated to three shows a day - best to quit while you're a head on this one.

What does the director say? Joe Mackintosh, chief executive for Out There Arts said: “It is a truly intercontinental festival featuring a host of international and UK acts, many of which are UK and world premieres."

Out There Festival 2019 Great Yarmouth

People enjoying an act at the 2019 Out There Festival in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: David Street

Claim to fame: Out There is unique in the UK and they guarantee you will see things in Great Yarmouth that you won’t see anywhere else in the country.

Food and drink? There will be a later licence for the beer tent in the park, sponsored by Lacons who are providing their famous ales plus lagers, ciders and supported by Norwich’s best bar Gonzos, with a selection of their cocktails.

They claim to provide "food for every mood"  with a party in St Georges Park every evening til 10pm with music, performances and drinks.

Sunshine or showers? Hopefully the former, sunny intervals and a moderate breeze are forecast for the weekend so fingers crossed.

Get with the programme For a full programme visit the Out There Arts website where you can plan your day and swot up on who is performing where before the festival launches with jazz hands on Friday.