Circus City returns to Bristol

By ellie pipe, Monday Jul 31, 2017

Limber up and hold onto your hats because Bristol’s circus festival is hitting town this October with an ambitious programme that promises to raise the roof – and a few eyebrows to boot.

From aerial acrobatics and high risk show stoppers, to dance, theatre and workshops, the biennial event will showcase some of the best contemporary performances from around the globe, as well as an abundant of homegrown talent.

Taking place from October 12-29 in no less than 15 locations across Bristol, the second ever Circus City aims to put the region on the map as an international capital of contemporary circus.

Here’s a sneak preview of what to expect:

One of this year’s big highlights is a collaboration between the Circus City and Bristol Old Vic, bringing the critically acclaimed French show, The Bekkrell Effect, to Bristol for its UK premiere.

The Bekkrell Effect. Photo Massao Mascaro

Inspired by physicist Henri Becquerel’s discovery of radioactivity, The Bekkrell Effect is an all-female show described as ‘part riot girl pop song, part circus spectacle…combining the power of punk with risk and flare’.

Of course, Circomedia will play a central role throughout the festival and is set to host a number of events in its HQ, including Fauna, the Adelaide Fringe award-winning show featuring ‘wild creatures in a beautifully controlled acrobatic story’.

Other highlights set to grace the converted church in St Paul’s include the Yablochkov Candle, a cabaret show from Finland combining jazz and aerial performance, and Around, a family show about the life of a small circus group accompanied by live music.

“There’s something for everyone in the Circus City programme – music lovers, dancers, circus aficionados, theatre goers, party animals and families,” says festival co-director Kate Hartoch.

“The very nature of circus is to push the limits of what’s possible in pursuit of the extraordinary – we encourage you to keep this spirit in mind and take a risk on something new.”

Tipping Point by Ockham’s Razor. Photo Mark Dawson

The trailblazing aerial theatre company, Okham’s Razor, will bring their Edinburgh Festival award-winning show, Tipping Point, to the 1532 Performing Arts Centre at Bristol Grammar School.

Described as ‘a feast of high risk brilliance performed with grace and power’, five performers transform seemingly simple metal poles into a rich landscape of images.

The storytelling power of circus features in the programme, with two shows picked out for the personal and poignant messages they convey.

As A Tiger by Linh Hoang 

As a Tiger in the Jungle tells the moving story of several performers trafficked into Indian Circus from Kathmandu and Nepal and in He Ain’t Heavy, Grania Pickard uses physical theatre, aerial circus and audience interaction to tell the story of growing up with her disabled, autistic brother, Sean

The Trinity Centre is another key venue, in which the Swing Circus will stage a weekend extravaganza of shows, complete with specialist choreographers and workshops to get everyone up on the dance floor.

Circus City 2017 will also be sponsored by Dash: Digital Currency, making it the first major arts event to be sponsored by a cryptocurrency.

Festival goers will be able to spend Dash at the Milk Bar – Circus City’s hub in Old Market – and on selected events and products.

For further information and tickets visit


Read more: Bristol Voices: Tilly Lee-Kronick


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