A few months ago, you might have spied Norwich Castle emblazoned with the colourful Circus250 logo. The logo, designed by Sir Peter Blake, heralded the start of year long celebrations in Norwich, marking 250 since the first ‘circus’ was performed.
In 1768, on an abandoned patch of land near London’s Waterloo, showman, entrepreneur and equestrian rider Philip Astley drew out a circle in the ground and filled it with astounding physical acts. Circus was born.
Norwich has roots firmly in circus (it was the birthplace of 19th Century Circus proprietor Pablo Fanque, who was born in a workhouse, no less!), and has been named as one of only 6 cities of Circus in the country. All year the city will be host to a spectacular array of circus themed events and activities, in collaboration with SeaChange Arts, Norwich Arts Centre, Lost in Translation Circus and Norwich City Council. Over summer, the circus comes to Norwich, not only during the famous Lord Mayor’s weekend, but – VERY EXCITINGLY –over July Chapelfield Gardens will be home its own Big Top style tent and a glittering programme of circus premieres.
"five life sized elephant puppets, billowing flags, clowns, jugglers, dancers and acrobats, all winding their way through the streets of Norwich"
Lord Mayor’s Celebrations
One of the best weekends in Norwich’s calendar, Lord Mayor’s Celebrations weekend is just one big party in the city. The sun is shining, and anything could happen.
This year is no different. Lord Mayor’s kicks off on the evening of Friday 6th of July, with an Elephant Parade, and the opening of the Funfair and Festival Bar. From 5pm, five life-sized elephant puppets will parade from Gaol Hill to the Circus Big Top in Chapelfield Gardens, leading to a thrilling world of side shows, funfair and live music as the circus comes to town. The fun
continues on Saturday the 7th of July. As well as the funfair and festival bar being in full swing, from 11am -10 pm the Maui Waui stage in the Big Top will be alive with festival sounds. BBC Music Introducing present up and coming bands on the Chapelfield Gardens bandstand, and the funfair will be in residence at Chapelfield until Sunday 8th of July.
From 5pm on Saturday the 7th of July, catch the highlight of the weekend: The Lord Mayor’s Procession. A cacophony of all things circus, including five life sized elephant puppets, billowing flags, clowns, jugglers, dancers and acrobats, all winding their way through the streets of Norwich.
From St Stephens Street, Castle Meadow, Tombland to Whitefriars St.
Run away to the Circus
As part of the Circus250 celebrations, this summer Lost in Translation Circus will present a Big Top style tent in Chapelfield Gardens, with a hand-picked selection of international contemporary circus shows, all appearing in Norwich for the first time! Daytime and early evening shows are suitable for family audiences, plus there’ll be late night cabaret for adults on Friday and Saturday evenings. And, importantly, a licensed bar will be available…
There's loads planned, but here are five of our highlights:
Thursday 12 July, 8pm (60 mins)
Multi-award winning show that has thrilled audiences around the world as five international performers balance, tumble, jump and fly. Transforming their bodies into spiders, lemurs, tree frogs and birds of paradise they highlight the similarities between human movement and animal behaviour. Accompanied by live music. Pictured right; Image by Cal Harris.
Adult £12, Concession/child £7.50
The Hogwallops– Lost in Translation Circus
Friday 13 July, 7pm (60 mins)
Norwich’s very own ‘good old fashioned contemporary circus’ troupe have toured the Hogwallops around Europe and the UK. Now this colourful, loud and funny dramatisation of the domestic adventures of a chaotic family comes to Norwich for the first time. Thrillingly spectacular circus skills, physical comedy and slapstick inspired by Roald Dahl’s The Hogwallops.
Adult £12, Concession/child £7.50 Saturday 14 July
Outdoor Circus Fun
Saturday 14th July, 11am – 2pm
Outdoor circus activities, with drop-in workshops and circus skills instruction for all ages. And it’s free, too!
Knee Deep – Casus
Saturday 14th, 7pm (60 mins)
Now in its 7th wildly successful year, four performers from one of Australia’s leading circus companies explore the boundaries of strength and fragility. Bodies are pushed and pulled, eggs are weighed and tested, unlikely bonds are forged and acts of intimacy share space with thrilling physical feats. Pictured right.
Adult £12, Concession/child £7.50
The Oak Circus Community Cabaret
Sunday 15th July, 3pm (90 mins incl 20mins interval)
The Oak Circus Centre presents a cabaret show featuring their own students and those of partner organisations alongside circus professionals, to demonstrate their skills in thrills, spills, daring trapeze, juggling and more.
Adult £5, Concession/child £3
You don’t have to wait until Summer to run away with the circus! The Oak Circus Centre offer classes all throughout the year, and you can learn skills from Acrobatics to Chinese Pole! It’s right in the city centre in a beautiful church, and is certainly a change from the gym…
And until the 28th of April, you can WIN a course of classes from the Oak Circus, by following their special ‘I-spy Circus’ trail! Follow the trail around Norwich’s Historic Churches to find all the hidden letters. Once you have all 10 letters, rearrange them to spell the name of Norwich’s famous Circus Proprietor, then hand in your completed map at The Oak Circus Centre to be entered into our prize draw to win a course of circus classes or one-off taster sessions.
And make a break of it...
If you fancy any of these circus themed events this summer why not stay overnight? Norwich offers large hotels to small B&Bs, plus we know of a great little centrally located cottage with its own outdoor pool!
Norwich also offers shopping in abundance and plenty of independent eateries and places to visit, so use this year of circus celebration as an excuse to indulge!
COMING TO VISIT?
Greater Anglia has Advance fares from £10 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Greater Anglia also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.
East Midlands Trains runs services from Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham. Flights into Norwich served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, Aberdeen and Amsterdam, and seasonally from Guernsey and Jersey.
To plan a trip to Norwich check out our website www.visitnorwich.co.uk