Summer of Circus 2021: When is the circus coming to town?

The circus may not have been able to come to town for a large part of the last year, but with things slowly returning to something resembling normality, it’s time for circus performers to dust off the wheel of death, slip on the spandex and get on the road once more. In this guide, we bring you news of some of the UK’s biggest and best circus companies who you can catch doing their thing this summer.

Lost in Translation: 10th anniversary tour

Lost in Translation, one of the UK’s leading contemporary circus companies, celebrate their 10th anniversary with an exciting London tour this summer. The tour kicked off at Wandsworth Arts Fringe this weekend with work-in-progress fairytale, Above (ages 6+) on 26 and 27 July. Designed to delight audiences of all ages, this comical and exciting  production features high-flying aerial stunts, amazing acrobatics and hilarious knockabout slapstick juggling.  Next up is Cabaret Unlocked (ages 15+) on 29 June. This new show, curated by Katharine Arnold (Olympics Opening Ceremony 2012, aerialist and choreographer; La Soiree, Sydney Opera House, Roundhouse) is an exclusive night of high thrills, high spills circus featuring  death-defying aerial stunts, stunning acrobatics, jugglers, hand balancers and more.

Above. Credit: Samuel Mills Photography

From July, audiences can check into the much-loved Hotel Paradiso at both Rose Theatre, Kingston (9 to 11 July) and Underbelly Festival, Cavendish Square (17 July to 5 August). A laugh-out-loud circus caper, Hotel Paradiso is a hilarious and boisterous family show for all ages, featuring amazing aerial stunts, floor acrobatics and juggling alongside clowning and a stunning soundtrack by renowned composer Peter Reynolds. This thrilling  production includes Company Director and Performer, Massimiliano Rossetti and core artist,  Roisin Morris, the Guinness World Record holders for most catches on the Korean Cradle – a  discipline rarely seen on UK stages. For this summer only, Hotel Paradiso will also feature a  special guest performance from award-winning circus and cabaret artist Abigail Collins (La  Clique, West End).  We’ll be seeing this at the Underbelly Festival, so look out for our review!

Hotel Paradiso. Credit: The Other Richard

The Revel Puck Circus: The Wing Scuffle Spectacular – a celebration of fear

The Revel Puck Circus – the fresh face of British circus – are coming home to East London to present their brand new show The Wing Scuffle Spectacular – a celebration of fear (29 July to 8 August). Embracing The Revel Puck artistic mission of redefining the circus’s place in culture, The WingScuffle Spectacular explores what circus ordinarily tries to hide. After a year of anxious uncertainty, The Revel Pucks believe it is time to celebrate fear, to laugh with it and to revel in it together. Without fear how can we learn or grow as people? Circus is the art form that teeters  closest to the brink of danger, yet most companies mask the associated fear in their work. The Wing Scuffle Spectacular is a joyous, absurd flirtation with danger, rejoicing as we confront fear, and laugh in its face. 

The Revel Puck company, renowned for their mockumentary Don’t Join The Circus, will be the  only contemporary circus show in the UK to feature large-scale circus disciplines such as teeterboard, cloud swing and tightwire in a big-top this year. Audiences will escape into this immersive universe, being led through the artists’ village of  caravans, maybe catching a glimpse of the company preparing for the show, and perhaps even being offered a cup of tea. Food vendors equipped with candy floss and popcorn along with a  well-stocked bar complete this escapist world. We’ll be heading to this one too, so keep an eye out for our review next month!

Zippos Circus: Carnival

Zippos Circus. Credit: Piet-Hein Out.

Zippos Circus is back on the road again with their latest show, Carnival, featuring jaw-dropping acts from around the globe. Taking over as Ringmaster for the first time is Brazilian showman Paulo Dos Santos, a multi-talented comic, acrobat and martial artist who has been performing with Zippos for the last few years. The show also sees the return of the popular (and terrifying) Globe of Speed, which we saw when we caught Zippos Circus in their 2020 show (which you can read about here). After a return visit to Blackheath this month, the tour is currently playing its first ever Oxted dates (24 to 28 June), followed by a trip to Streatham Common (1 to 6 July). Slough (9 to 11 July), Hampstead Heath (14 to 18 July), Wallington (22 to 16 July) and Brighton (29 July to 15 August) are also in the diary, with further dates to be announced.

Giffords Circus: The Hooley

Giffords Circus (home to our favourite funny man Tweedy the Clown) are also out on the road again with their latest show The Hooley which promises “fairies, trolls, pixies, leprechauns, wild horses, Celtic music and dancing and all the madcap magic for which Giffords is synonymous”. Plus Circus Sauce, Gifford’s travelling, licensed restaurant which opens for dinner after the show. Giffords are currently at Chiswick House and Gardens, London (24 to 11 July) ahead of dates in Borwood House and Gardens, Wiltshire (15 to 19 July), Stonor Park, Henley on Thames (22 July to 2 August), Barrington, Oxfordshire (5 to 16 August), Minchinhampton Common, Gloucestershire (19 to 31 August), Marlborough Common, Wiltshire (3 to 6 September) and Stratton Meadows, Cirencester (9 to 13 September).