Globalmouse writer Fiona visits Giffords Circus for Globalmouse:
Dispense all preconceived ideas and notions about the circus; Giffords Circus is an absolute must! This is a small, and ever so quaint circus that transports you back to the sort of circus you remember as a child, and you and your children will absolutely love it!
The story of how the circus started is just as romantic with Nell Gifford shunning a conventional Oxford-educated path and running away to start her own village-green circus with her husband Toti.
As soon as you arrive there’s an incredible pre-performance buzz in the air as you wander around stalls and painted wagons that encircle the big-top tent. Candy floss and popcorn – totally irresistible. At last the tent opens and we all excitedly pile in.
No reserve seating so there ensues a terribly polite and courteous scrum for the best seats. After a few, ‘I do beg your pardons’ we’ve managed to bag some front row seats. We triumphantly sit down but then a woman behind us, clearly a perennial visitor, said that we should be on our guard as we were in the firing line for “Tweedy” the clown. She was absolutely right…
The acts are loosely interwoven around a narrative about two young Ethiopian brothers who dream of being in the circus. There is a fabulous assortment of classic circus ingredients with Odorov the great conjuror, jugglers, acrobats, out of this world hula-hooping, but what makes Giffords so good is that it’s so much fun. There’s a sort of wild silliness to the whole show, reinforced by the live band playing all kinds of weird and wonderful ‘instruments’.
There is a bear (not real!) on horseback, dancing dogs who lead horses around the ring, a human cannonball, and that’s before circus clown Tweedy gets in on the act. We were all in hysterics. Old-timer lady in the row behind was on the money; Tweedy threw popcorn at me to catch in my mouth which I succeed in doing first time. Not so the poor dad next to me who bore the brunt of the clown’s comic fury! I’ll say no more…
Favourite acts (excluding Tweedy, my personal fave) were the hula hoop lady who was able to hula while doing an astonishing array of acrobatics, the troupe of Ethiopian acrobats, whose somersaulting had us on the edge of our seats and a glow-in-the dark juggling routine.
At an hour and a half long with a fifteen minute interval, it’s a concentrated dose of circus adrenaline and all-age comedy fun that is absolutely perfect for any age children. The band even sang Happy Birthday to three children in the audience. At the end all the performers came into the ring and invited all the children in the audience to join them for a final dance. It was a wonderfully riotous racket blurred by falling snow!
After the show there’s plenty of ambling around outside, and an opportunity to buy a few souvenirs. There’s even an alluringly charming restaurant tent which you can book for lunch or dinner. Besieged with bunting and Emma Bridgewater pottery it is the most perfectly quaint picture of outside summer dining that you’ll ever see. A must for next year.
Giffords tours predominantly around the Cotswolds but go as far as Frampton on Severn in the west and Oxford in the east. They’ve also introduced a few London dates this year.
You can find out more about Giffords Circus at their website.
Globalmouse Travels were guests of Giffords Circus for the purposes of this review, but our views are all our own.