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Review | Giffords Circus – 2021 Tour – The Hooley

Review | Giffords Circus – 2021 Tour – The Hooley

My daughter and I have just returned from a trip to the circus like no other. We found Giffords Circus’s beautiful vintage big top and painted wagons nestled in the beautiful setting of Chiswick House and Gardens in West London.

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It was clear from the moment we arrived, that Giffords Circus was quite unique, and had an audience that returned year after year to delight in the performances and soak up the magical atmosphere. The big top was surrounded by painted wagons selling food, drinks, and of course sweet treats. The merchandise wagon sold everything from sticks of rock to Emma Bridgewater mugs and Gifford Circus’ own cookbook. Once my daughter felt her arms were sufficiently full of candy floss, we were guided to our (socially distanced) seats inside, where the ceilidh band were all ready in full flow.

(c) Mikal Ludlow

This years’ show was beautifully crafted around a Celtic theme of a wild and wonderful ‘Hooley’. Celtic music wove together performances from energetic Irish dancers, enchanting faeries, elves, acrobatic pixies and naughty goblins. Tweedy, who has been with the Giffords Circus for 15 years, led the laughter as a cheeky accident prone Leprechaun. Nancy Trotter Landry’s brilliant performances alongside Tweedy had my five year old daughter giggling away.

The beautiful handmade costumes, setting and lighting all added to the mystical and magical atmosphere, and the surprise appearance of a large puppet dragon (with a sense of humour) delighted my daughter. The immaculately groomed horses, dogs and white doves, that made appearances in the show, were all individually quite remarkable. Giffords Circus take pride in their Horse Team, and the stunning acrobatics by the equestriennes and beautiful white Percheron horse Tony was breathtaking.

Not only has Giffords Circus had to bear out the devastating effects of the pandemic, but this close knit family circus tragically lost their founder Nell Gifford to cancer in 2019. It is clear that the performers who worked alongside Nell for many years, are determined to fulfil her visions and dreams, and have created a show full of love and spirit.

(c) Mikal Ludlow
(c) Mikal Ludlow

I am delighted to have discovered Giffords Circus, and hope that I too will return to enjoy it year after year. They are touring until September so you may be lucky enough to catch them this year, or join me in excited anticipation of the what the next show will bring. I will also be looking out for the Circus Sauce supper club, where you can enjoy a three course meal under the stars following some of the late performances.

More information and ticket booking can be found at

Lucy and her daughter received complimentary tickets to Giffords Circus, but all their opinions are their own.

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