Giffords Circus :: a summer tradition

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A summer evening on a village green. The sun glitters through the trees, its glow illuminating the white big top tent that nestles amongst dozens of liveried circus wagons. From inside the tent, children’s laughter peals out into the evening. A crowd gasps… then applauds wildly. The air is balmy, candy floss scented. It is a scene that feels at once centuries old and freshly thrilling. This is Giffords Circus.

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Giffords Circus is a magical village green circus that tours England throughout the summer, a dream brought to reality by founder Nell Gifford: “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.” With her husband Toti, Nell began by buying a round white tent from a newspaper ad and proceeded to build from scratch her vision: ‘a miniature village green circus, bursting at the seams, packed, rowdy, tiny, a little band of performers who live nomadically, performing daily, engrossed in the serious business of making magic.’giffords-4

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Entering the Giffords Circus big top is like stepping into a storybook. Disbelief is suspended at the door, and the fast-paced world is left behind as a magical spectacle unfolds in the ring. My youngest two boys have been visiting Giffords ever since they were babies. It’s a summer tradition that the whole family, grandparents included, anticipates with delight. The boys’ favourite is always Tweedy the Clown- no one provokes belly-laughter quite like Tweedy.giffords-7

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As we walk back across the common after the show, animatedly discussing the acrobats’ feats, cheeks sore from smiling, the sun dips down below the horizon: another summer’s night at the circus draws to a close. Thankfully there will always be next year.

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{this year, my Giffords circus ticket was gifted to me but all thoughts, opinions and images are my own.}

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