Rave reviews for Giffords

Monday 15th July 2019


Giffords Circus is celebrating rave reviews following a celebrity packed two week stand in London, where Hugh Grant said Giffords Circus was “The most fun you can have in a tent”.

The Guardian
“Cal McCrystal brings a woozy vibe to Giffords Circus, though these hippies are versatile performers and formidable athletes” - Michael Billington

The Observer
“There is a familiar loved star in Tweedy the actually funny clown, who arrives tugging his pet – an iron called Keith – on a lead: “Sit! Stay!” Lil Rice is a newer glory: unyielding, glittering, with a voice that shimmies through sandpaper, as she spins round the ring spread-eagled in her cyr wheel. And Nell Gifford, queen of the circus, appears on horseback through white clouds of mist to the sound of the Kinks’ refrain… thank you for the days.” - Susannah Clapp

The Mail On Sunday
“This year’s offering, directed with panache by Giffords regular Cal McCrystal channels a feel good vibe of flower power and free love, set to a euphoric Sixties beat.” - Mark Wareham

The Oxford Mail
“This is the circus for people who don’t really do circuses. It has nothing in common with the big operators. This is circus with a hint of music festival and the sweet flavour of a village fete.” - Tim Hughes

The Stage
“The little circus with a big heart” - Neil Norman

Cotswold Life “On (exceptional) vocals, acting as the night's ringmaster and sporting what is probably the hippest, most sequined suit outside of Liberace's wardrobe (respect to takis), is Michael Fletcher. His vocals really are outstanding (note to self: take a phone book along for him to vocalise some time) and are beautifully complemented by those of Lil Rice.“ - Candia McCormack

Spy in the Stalls
“Witnessing the performers having as much fun as we, the audience, created a special bond through the shared experience” - Pippin

The Chiswick Calendar
“Xanadu is colourful, creative and absolutely not to be missed. Even the programme is a work of art.” - Bridget Osborne

Gloucestershire Live
“…you could be rubbing shoulders with stars in the audience - last year everyone from Jennifer Saunders to Davina McCall caught the Giffords bug.” - Jenni Phillips

Seeing Dance
“They’re back and better than ever!” - Charlotte Kasner

Nell Gifford’s debut children’s book

Monday 8th April 2019


The beginning of May is an exciting time for Nell Gifford and Giffords Circus. On 2nd May, Nell’s debut children’s book Nell & The Circus of Dreams is published by Oxford University Press. The following day, on Friday 3rd May the 2019 Giffords Circus tour Xanadu opens.

About the Story Book:

When a little girl called Nell makes friends with a tiny chick on her farm, it is the start of a journey that leads her into a dreamy circus realm. Was it something real or did it spring from her imagination? Nell will never be sure . . . but she leaves the tent uplifted by the wonderland that she found inside.

Nell & The Circus of Dreams can be bought through the Giffords Circus shop www.giffordscircus.com/shop for £10.

Giffords Circus Annouces Name For 2019 Show

Tuesday 8th January 2019


Giffords Circus is starting the New Year with a bang by announcing the name of their 2019 show – XANADU.

It is midsummer 1973 in Hyde Park and the flower power movement is at its height. Hippies, hipsters, rock stars, musicians, wild women and global nomads with shamanic horses gather to play, sing, dance, protest and perform. Policemen and a family of out-of-towners get caught up in the celebrations. Will they get in the groove? Nell Gifford builds a pleasure-dome and Tweedy has a job in the kitchen as he thought everyone was talking about “Flour Power”. As evening approaches, the ever more chaotic event careers towards a joyful, transcendental finale. Be there or be square!

Xanadu opens on Friday 3rd May in Giffords Circus hometown of Stroud, Gloucestershire, before touring the Cotswolds, Oxfordshire, London, Berkshire and Wiltshire throughout the summer.

Fans of Giffords Circus include Jennifer Saunders and Adrian Edmondson, Helena Bonham-Carter and Vivienne Westwood, but despite a celebrity following Giffords remains a ‘village-green’ style show at heart that continues to sell out shows to all who have fallen under its spell.

“2019 is the new summer of love and there’s a new dawn breaking at Giffords Circus as the big top is transformed into a lush green pleasure-dome,” said Nell Gifford, show producer and founder.

“There will be a hint of the seventies in the styling of this year’s show and we are having great fun drawing inspiration from the music and art of this time.”

Tickets for Xanadu are on sale now: www.giffordscircus.com or by calling 01242 691181

Cirque Berserk! Christmas Season in Hyde Park

Thursday 20th December 2018


After performing in theatres all year, Cirque Berserk! returns to the Megadome at London's Hyde Park Winter Wonderland until 6 January with 'Inferno', performing three 50-minute shows each day that bring together raw thrills, danger, exhilaration and beauty combined.

This year we have an act that confirms the diversity of circus. Rafael Ferreria was born with a congenital condition called arthrogryposis which rendered his legs useless. He uses a wheelchair yet has created a stunning hand to hand acrobatics performance with his circus partner, Alan Farelo. The strength and skill in this act really has to be seen. Alan plays a Shakespearean Caliban character, and Rafael sets him free from his iron mask and cage. And as their hands/friendship grows Rafael leaves his wheelchair and is free too. This duo are from Brazil and have worked on this act for four years.

The full height of the Megadome is used as Abdul dances, skips and rides a bike on the high wire, while fearless sisters Kizzy and Tilly perform their artistry on aerial silks and trapeze. Athough everyone has been asking master-illusionist Kim Kenneth about his act, he's far too professional to share his secrets.

As you might expect from 'Inferno', fire features throughout the show, from the Centners' sensational juggling on a quad bike to Fernanda's amazing fire spinning. And the one act we had to bring back is the Lucius Team's Motorcycle Globe of Death - they reach 60mph as the Globe splits open!


Zippos Circus at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Thursday 20th December 2018


The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland festival has grown during the past ten years into a landmark event for Londoners and tourists alike,and Zippos Circus is proud to have been a part of this success in presenting an all-new circus show each year. As well as the circus shows, this Winter extravaganza includes more than 100 spectacular rides and attractions to create a joyous Winter atmosphere.

Zippos Christmas Circus is presented inside the Circus Megadome, Zippos fully heated theatre-style 'Big Top' and the largest tented structure in the UK. Between the 23rd of November and January 6th, there are three performances of 'Cracker' each day, featuring the finest artistes from around the world.

Hosted by Ringmaster Paul 'Winnie' Winston, the show's Christmas theme features Fips the Christmas Elf, assisted by one-metre tall aerialist Paulo dos Santos as the Spirit of Christmas. High above the circus ring is Ellie on the Swinging Trapeze, while Fidel and friends from Cuba bring Christmas sunshine with their up-beat skipping. 21-year-old David from Italy is one of the world's leading jugglers, and his routine includes juggling nine rings, Mongolian contortionist Ebby fires an arrow from a bow using her feet, and Vitalie and Andre spin and somersault on the Wheel of Death.

Comedy is from Fips, Paulo and Winnie with their Ghost routine, or Fips and Beau making a mess with paste, depending on the show-time, and the Finale includes Zippos dancing Christmas Bears, and Father Christmas himself!

More information at zippos.co.uk

'Audacious Mr Astley' was highly praised at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Wednesday 26th September 2018


On Friday 14th September a paving stone funded by Zippo's Circus and commemorating Astley's Amphitheatre was unveiled at the garden of St Thomas's Hospital, London, on the south side of Westminster Bridge.

The flagstone is the second commemorative item to be unveiled this year celebrating the origination in the Lambeth area of circus entertainment. 2018 is being widely celebrated as the 250th Anniversary of the first performances by Serjeant-Major (sic) Philip Astley in 1768 at a site now occupied by Roupell St, part of the Lambeth Estate, Waterloo, which was then a field known as Ha'penny (= half penny) Hatch. A plaque attached to a building in nearby Cornwall Rd was unveiled on Easter Monday 2018, the exact anniversary of Astley's first advertised performance and thus of the founding of the art-form of the modern circus, now a world-wide cultural phenomenon.

Astley was a war hero turned trick-rider and showman. Partnered in his shows by his wife Patty, and trading also on his heroic status, Astley quickly found success. By early 1769, the couple had moved on to a former timber-yard at the southern end of Westminster Bridge. Sharing his time between their performances and the daytime teaching of riding to the gentry, Astley titled his establishment Astley's British Riding School. He began to develop his open-air arena and to add other types of performer to his shows, and within a few years had constructed the first building in a series which remained in the public's hearts throughout the 19th century. Described by Dickens and recorded by Jane Austen, Thackeray and others, Astley's was closed down by the authorities in 1893 and demolished the following year.

The Amphitheatre was the world's first circus building, yet no permanent commemoration has previously been made. On 14th September the founder and director of Zippo's Circus Martin Burton brought a group of his performers to a spot in the garden of St Thomas's Hospital estimated to be close to the site of the building's main entrance. Appropriately, the group included a circus horse and its Cossack rider, Tamik Khadikov, with his wife Helena; as well as ringmaster Norman Barrett MBE; musical clowns Totti and Charlotte Alexis and their sons Charlie and Maxim; aerialists Vickki and Pablo Garcia and their sons Antonio and Connor; hand-balancer Melissa; and clown Paulo Dos Santos. Also present in authentic period costume to represent Mr Astley was ringmaster and circus historian Chris Barltrop.

A flagstone inscribed in commemoration and celebration was unveiled by Charlie and Maxim Alexis, who drew aside a segment of carpet specially laid for the moment. Mr Burton had asked the two young boys to perform the unveiling so as to also represent the ongoing nature of the Classical circus and its future; they are the seventh generation of their family to be circus artistes.

Martin ‘Zippo’ Burton commented ‘We thank St Thomas's Hospital for their enthusiastic cooperation in our plans. We are delighted to honour the tradition of circus and Philip Astley’s legacy. Circus has evolved but its core skills and ability to delight audiences of all ages haven’t changed. I believe circus will still be hugely popular in another 250 years”

ACP Parliamentary Reception

Friday 16th March 2018


The Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain held their celebration of 250 years of circus in the houses of parliament recently, geographically less than a mile from where it all began all those years before.

Although not the first parliamentary reception for the association it certainly was the most significant with performances and speeches demonstrating how circus has endured the test of time and showing why the art form is as relevant today as it has ever been.

After an opening welcome by the chairman Martin Burton, MPs, and members of the lords together with invited guests watched acts from Russia, Australia, Cuba and the UK and listened to a speech from Sir Peter Luff the chairman of the heritage lottery fund telling the story of his introduction to circus by Gary Smart who he went to school with.

Andrew Van Buren from the Philip Astley Project recounted the history of the art from the very beginning and Istvan Ujhelyi MEP who had travelled together with Peter Fekety director of the Hungarian State Circus especially for the reception stressed the importance of getting circus recognised as cultural heritage, something we should be rightly proud of.

international singer Kelly Banlaki was also able to sing for the guests with a couple of songs and a finale of getting everyone to join in with a happy birthday to the circus.

The reception was well received by members of all parties enjoying the proceedings. Even a visit by Matthew Hancock MP and the current head of DCMS highlighted the importance of this Great British invention.

Here’s to the next 250 years

Cirque Berserk! sells-out in London's West End

Thursday 15th February 2018


Cirque Berserk! returned in triumph to London's West End in February, with a sell-out 12-day run at Sadler's Wells' prestigious Peacock Theatre, that attracted rave reviews.

'Masterminded by touring circus company Zippos, 'Cirque Berserk!' is a thrilling show.' Time Out.

'This amazing show is like Cirque du Soleil on steroids'. Daily Express

'It’s a marvel of throwing knives, contortion, acrobatics and deathly motorcycle stunts and it is marvellous fun'. Evening Standard

'..an amazing company of talented performers… In a lifetime of theatregoing, I have never seen anything like it.' Sunday Express

'…a show that families can afford and all generations will enjoy. Prise your kids away from their screens – entertainment does not come more perfectly performed.' Johnathan Baz Reviews

'Cirque Berserk! …could give Cirque du Soleil a run for its money'. The TImes

The national Press' Showbiz reporters witnessed the many celebrity guests anxious to be seen on the red carpet: 'TV presenter Myleene Klass looked like the cat who'd got the cream when she attended the star-studded Cirque Berserk! Gala Performance in London', according to the Daily Mail; the Daily Star liked TOWIE star Lauren Pope's 'dazzling display'; the Evening Standard spotted singer-turned-farmer JB Gill, Dynasty actress Stephanie Beacham, and broadcaster Jeremy Vine.

'…@cirqueberserk playing at the Peacock Theatre… WOW! Acrobatics, trapeze, motorcycles in a metal globe, bouncing and jumping and - well take a look at this, the knife-throwing. Gulp.' Jeremy Vine

Next at Edinburgh, Dublin, Manchester and Birmingham.

More on www.cirqueberserk.co.uk

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In 2008, 2011 and 2018 the Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain have been invited to a parliamentary assembly held within The House of Commons.

The ACP held their celebration of 250 years of circus in the houses of parliament recently, geographically less than a mile from where it all began all those years before.

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