Circus performances in the UK
This list includes details of circus performances taking place in the UK. All details are correct at the time of publication but please do check with individual venues to confirm. Show blurbs are taken directly from publicity material and are not written by the National Centre.
If you have a circus-based show you would like listed here, please email email@example.com with full details, a link and an image.
CRASH - Chivaree Circus
London (Winterville, Clapham Common)
28 Nov - 22 Dec (8 dates only)
CRASH is a brand-new production from Chivaree Circus and Upstage Creative, debuting at Winterville. Experience heart-stopping acrobatics, liquifying aerial dance and eerie balletic pieces to a lyrical electronic soundtrack. Inspired by 19th century french ballet La Sylphide, CRASH is a retelling of European folktale through impressionist, mix media pop-conceptual circus.
The show features National Centre alumni Holly Downey (BA 2018), Michael Standen (BA 2014) and Nathalie Allison (BTEC & London Youth Circus).
Briefs - Close Encounters & Club Briefs
Venue: Christmas in Leicester Square
Briefs: Close Encounters
9 November - 3 January
Having glitter-bombed the globe with their iconic and hilarious brand of circus, drag, burlesque and comedy, the BRIEFS boys are taking London back to the third dimension this winter.
With their trademark skill and humour, they test the limits of masculinity, taste and decency. Expect interstellar aerials and incredible artistry brought from outer space to Underbelly’s festive spiegeltent.
9 November - 29 December
Our favourite trash glamour disco circus club night is back in town! Late night variety show and debaucherous disco after party, expect a pumping soundtrack with your favourite dance floor smashes and ridiculous performances from the Briefs boys joined by a cavalcade of world class, hand-selected guest cabaret and circus artists. Stomp it out on the catwalk, dance until late, laugh until you ache and experience the fabulousness that is Club Briefs.
Sigma - Gandini Juggling
Nuffield Arts Centre, Lancaster
Gandini Juggling explore the world of Bharatanatyam dance
Sigma is designed to engage in a dialogue with the viewer, trascending cultural barriers and stimulating imaginations.
Gandini Juggling have a reputation for innovation - pushing the boundaries of their art form by combining contemporary circus with dance and narrative. The resulting productions have challenged perceptions of what juggling is and can be and have forced the threshold of the genre in its own unique direction.
Circus Life Exhibition: Art & Artistes
7 November - 12 December
Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck School of Arts
The Academy of Circus Arts and the Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre present Circus Life: Art and Artistes.
The art form of circus as we know it is argued to have been invented by impresario and trick horse rider Philip Astley in London in 1768. Its skills, traditions and iconography, as well as its global community of dedicated performers, have provided inspiration for the work of countless artists including Seurat, Renoir, Degas and Picasso.
This new exhibition celebrates the 250th anniversary of Astley's remarkable creation; investigating circus' continuing appeal as a subject for visual artists through the eyes of recent and contemporary British practitioners. Their work has captured the people, places and performances which combine to make circus a unique way of life as well as a universally accessible form of live entertainment.
Featuring paintings, drawings, photographs, films, ceramics and sculpture by artists currently working alongside the circus community, including Peter Lavery, Kate Stone, John Stillman, Abel Kesteven and Curtis Tappenden; as well as prints by Laura Knight, and pieces by Clarice Cliff and Clifford Hall.
Fierce Sisters - Mimbre
11 - 15 December
Shakespeare's New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon
A dazzling, immersive winter experience at Shakespeare’s New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon.
This winter, Mimbre will shine a light on the women of Shakespeare’s plays in a visually enthralling spectacle performed in the contemporary gardens of Shakespeare’s New Place.
Step into the world of Fierce Sisters, as they weave their spell with breathtaking acrobatics, evocative choreography and contemporary soundscapes to explore the essence of Shakespeare’s female characters, bursting out of their stories to claim their own space in today’s world.
The promenade performance will lead you through the gardens to startling scenes of ambition, strength and passion, each inspired by Shakespeare’s work. Playful interactive stations invite you to explore these themes and contribute your thoughts and feelings on how women are interpreted and portrayed, then and now.
This energetic, witty and immersive experience will captivate audiences, raise questions that resonate today, and ignite conversations between generations.
Wolfgang - Circa
The Pit, Barbican, London
12 - 22 December
Straight from the score and onto the stage, the man known as Mozart appears amid a storm of powder, tumbling and twirling, as musical mayhem and movement fuse in this family show with a circus twist.
To those who know him, he is Wolfgang, the dart-playing, pun-loving ratbag. To those who are watching and listening, he is the wigged genius Mozart. Come discover his irrepressible spirit as he rediscovers his own vibrant compositions, the notes lifting off the page through the physical comedy and mischievous antics of diving and swooping acrobats.
Designed to amaze people from the age of three and upwards, Wolfgang reinvents the composer’s magical music in a skillful and illuminating show featuring two of Circa’s dexterous daredevil artists. Joined onstage by a musician, they initiate audience participation with the wave of a conductor’s baton. Since 2010, the Australian ensemble ‘at the forefront of contemporary circus’ (Guardian) have presented five hit productions here under Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz.
Greenwich Circus Festival
Date: 15 & 16 December 2018
Day Programme: 12pm-6pm
Evening Programme 7pm-late
Location: AirCraft Circus Academy, Greenwich
The iconic Greenwich Circus Festival is back and it’s going to be even more spectacular this year to round off a year long celebration of 250 years of circus in the UK. Founded in 2011, Greenwich Circus Festival is the capital’s annual festival of contemporary circus taking place at London’s oldest independent circus school, AirCraft Circus Academy. This year the festival will deliver a variety of circus workshops for adults and children, live music and a wide range of contemporary circus shows (5 full-length circus shows a day) including two major new circus productions launched in 2018.
The Festival is split into two parts, a separate ticket is needed for each part of the day:
- A Day Programme includes circus workshops for adults and children, face-painting, games and 3 circus shows to suit all ages including a headline act of ‘Submersion’
- An Evening Programme presents 2 professional circus shows including the headline production ‘The Greatest Circus Show’ and a live band to finish the night with a party.
‘The Greatest Circus Show’
Inspired by the the iconic movie ‘The Greatest Showman’ and created to mark the 250th anniversary of circus in the UK. You’ve all seen the hit movie ‘The Greatest Showman’, now you will have a chance to see the real circus show.
A circus collaboration with a stuntman created for Totally Thames Festival 2018. Circus acts will set the stage for the stuntman who will be lowered upside down in a tank of water, shackled and padlocked and has just a nail file to pick the locks and to free himself.
Prices: Day adults tickets from £12, Evening adult tickets from £19.50
Venue: Southbank Centre
Dates: 19 Dec 2018 - 5 Jan 2019
Experience the thrills and daredevil entertainment of a turn-of-the-century circus this Christmas. Fresh from the Paris Theatre in Las Vegas, Circus 1903 visits Southbank Centre for its European premiere. The show includes sensational life-sized elephants stunningly created by puppeteers from War Horse, putting elephants back in the ring as never before. The circus boasts a huge cast of jaw-dropping and dangerous acts from all corners of the globe.
Featuring acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, trapeze and high wire performers and more, this show captivates and transports audiences of all ages to the mesmerising Golden Age of circus.
Price: from £25
SHIFT - Barely Methodical Troupe
London - London International Mime Festival (LIMF)
The Platform Theatre, Central Saint Martins
Jan 9 - 12
Enter a shifting, gravity-defying space where acrobats push against the edges of reality, stretching, challenging and testing the limits of collective physical endeavour.
Watch them fly, tumble and spin in moments of breath-taking acrobatics and performance. When you leave you will ask yourself if what you’ve seen was possible…
The UK’s ground-breaking circus company Barely Methodical Troupe combine their trademark mix of exceptional physical prowess and punchy humour, with a brand new show that features artists from Spain, Switzerland and Sweden.
‘Daring, beautiful, breathtaking' **** whatsonstage
Resolution Festival - Circus Highlights
Venue: The Place, Euston
Festival Dates: 11 Jan - 23 Feb
Resolution Festival is The Place's annual festival of new choreography. Each night is a triple-bill, and the following works involving circus will be performed alongside pieces by dancers and other artists.
Aerial rope, Chinese pole, spoken-word: An honest exploration of the daily overhead of being women, the constant negotiation of consent, and how these shared experiences create unfaltering female bonds.
In the absence of an all-encompassing society, two circus performers turn to imagination and resilience to start from scratch. With only themselves as an audience, their new reality takes on unexpected guises. Humorous situations, desperate isolation, and inventive past-times, are all to share the (non-)stage.
Butterface, noun derogatory:An attractive woman with an undesirable face - ‘She’s a Butterface. She’s hot: But. Her. Face’
An examination of expectation, transgression, self-acceptance and validation. Butterface is an evocative, provocative and visceral performance experience that challenges assumptions about the female body on display.
Ben & Fred
Possibly the most fun science lecture you could hope to see, journey with jugglers Ben and Fred through a light-hearted discovery of several key scientific concepts.
Still in the early stages of working as a duet, together their work attempts to challenge the traditional narratives within circus or juggling performance. The Juggling of Science brings Ben’s background of engineering into the circus world, exploring what can be done with juggling in a performance environment.
Lighthouse is Hazel Lam’s solo exploring feminine physically with an unusual object as a partner.
PVC stretches considerably. Since it is the only thing keeping me from falling to the ground. Will the strands of plastic hold my weight, particularly considering the physicality with which I manipulate them? Do I trust them to? How much torture can they bear before they snap?
Are we more heart or head? A contemporary piece exploring the relationship between mind and body. Blending aerial work with improvised dialogue the tension develops, as they attempt a resolution.
Thanks to Jacksons Lane Theatre, Redbridge Drama Centre for providing rehearsal space and lending of props.
No Show - Ellie Dubois Presents
22 Jan - 9 Feb
Soho Theatre, London
What do you expect when you go to the circus? The greatest show on earth? The glitzy smiles, the glitter of sequins, the drum rolls as performers who seem super human effortlessly perform death-defying acts?
No Show joyously and heartbreakingly reveals what lies hidden beneath the showmanship. There will be desperate attempts and heroic failures, glorious achievements and bruised bodies and egos as the performers push themselves to their physical and mental limit. See behind the flawless smiles and perfect execution of the traditional circus performance to show the wobbles, the pain, and the real cost of aiming for perfection.
A show for anyone who has tried, failed and failed better.
Totem - Cirque du Soleil
Venue: Royal Albert Hall
Dates: 12 January – 26 February, 2019
Journey into the Evolution of Mankind - TOTEM follows the human species from original amphibian state to ultimate desire to fly. The characters evolve on a stage, evoking a giant turtle, the symbol of origin for many ancient civilizations. TOTEM explores the ties that bind Man to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential.
Price: from £50
Spring - Gandini Juggling
Sadlers Wells, part of London International Mime Festival (2019)
31 Jan - 2 Feb
Creators of Pina Bausch-inspired international hit Smashed, ‘the kings of juggling’ (Libération) present the eagerly anticipated final part of a trilogy of dialogues between sophisticated juggling and dance languages.
After excursions into ballet with 4x4: Ephemeral Achitectures and bharatanayam dance in Sigma, Gandini Juggling joins forces with Sadler’s Wells New Wave Associate, Alexander Whitley, (The Royal Ballet, BalletBoyz, Rambert, Birmingham Royal Ballet) to take object manipulation and contemporary dance into new territories.
Featuring five jugglers and four dancers, with special guest appearance from juggling wonderkid Wes Peden, Spring explores the nature of colour in a kaleidoscope of deconstructed rythmns and patterns. It’s spectacular, fun, funky, complex and performed to an original, ‘baroque meets techno’ score by leading London composer, Gabriel Prokofiev, with lighting by multi-award winning designer, Guy Hoare.
Cirque Éloize - Hotel
Peacock Theatre (Sadlers Wells), London
20 February - 9 March, 2019
Celebrating their 25th anniversary, Canadian contemporary circus crew Cirque Éloize open the doors to their new show, Hotel. In an art deco grand hotel, tourists and travellers, the famous and infamous, mingle in the 1920s, stopping over in the 1970s and 2040. Sneak behind closed doors to witness their intimate stories, guided by the time-spinning groom and the artful maître d’hôtel.
With 12 acrobats and musicians, and an original score by Éloi Painchaud, Cirque Éloize show off their trademark blend of circus and drama in a place that never sleeps.
Knot - Nikki & JD
Salisbury Arts Centre
The Marlowe, Canterbury
Arts Depot, North Finchley
Dance City, Newcastle
Physically exhilarating and touchingly poignant, Knot is the internationally acclaimed circusand dance work by Nikki Rummer and JD Broussé. These talented performers use hand-to-hand circus skills to tell the tale of an impossible choice: How can we be honest withourselves without hurting those we love? Knot is a finely crafted theatrical journey through the struggles of commitment.
Created in collaboration with award-winning choreographer Ben Duke of Lost Dog Dance Company, Knot is a very modern affair told with delicate sensitivity through breath-taking acrobatics and heart wrenching dance.
TORUK - Cirque du Soleil
20 - 23 June
26 - 30 June
02 Arena, London
Inspired by James Cameron’s record-breaking movie AVATAR, Cirque du Soleil’s uniquely different touring show TORUK – The First Flight will make its UK debut.
With creative input from James Cameron and experts from the movie’s production, TORUK – The First Flight is unlike any other Cirque du Soleil experience. With the brilliance of the Cirque du Soleil performers whose athleticism and acrobatics bring to life the Na’vi, the show is a visual effects spectacular where the world of Pandora is depicted through impressive multimedia projections, massive set-pieces and the largest collection of puppetry in Cirque du Soleil history creating a narrative driven official prequel to AVATAR.