“I held the jewel of my childhood up to my eye, and through it I saw ponies and a dressing-up box and a tent, and that was Giffords Circus.” ~ Nell Gifford
The word ‘circus’ generally makes me feel a bit uneasy. It conjures up images in my mind of sad looking animals, slightly awkward slapstick clowns and half hearted acrobatics. However, I needn’t have worried. Giffords is no ordinary circus.
Since Nell and Toti Gifford dreamt up their heavenly village green circus in 2000, they have entertained over 650,000 people with Gypsy violinists, tap dancers, tightrope walkers, trapeze artistes, stunt riders, opera singers, magicians, illusionists and gymnasts from around the globe. Just walking onto the site alone was a magical experience, with a fairground organ, hand painted gypsy wagons selling woodfired pizza and even pop up restaurant, Circus Sauce, for a dreamy candlelit dinner.
For its 2017 season Giffords transports its guests to the Spanish court of the 17th Century and promises “a thrilling, candle-lit, international gymnastic show with dancing horses, a live band and of course the king of misrule, Tweedy the clown.” Ducking through the curtain into the big top I was transported into a magical new world that made me feel like a child again in the best possible way. From elaborately painted decorations and the incredible costumes of the people greeting us, to the band’s baroque instruments, everywhere you looked there was something beautiful. I can only imagine what was going on in my three and four year old companions’ little heads!
With exceptional acrobats from Havana, laugh out loud comedy from Tweedy and The Mustache Brothers, contortionists, jugglers, Flamenco dancers and even a chicken or two, Any Port in a Storm was the gift that kept on giving. The pièce de résistance was the frankly hilarious “Procession of the Burial of the Sardine” which had me both confused and entertained in equal measure. The show finished with the stars inviting the children in the audience to come down into the ring for a good old fashioned knees up. Cue the happiest faces that I’ve ever seen in all directions.
I challenge anyone to leave this delicious spectacle without a smile on their face and really can’t recommend it enough. Enough to keep both the young at heart and youngsters entertained, I’ll definitely be returning next year.