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Circus in London

Roll up, roll up, for the best circus shows and events London has to offer

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Although you'll not see any lions being 'tamed' in massive stripy tents, London's modern circus scene is far more jaw-dropping than the suspicious magicians and caged animals of old. Have your breath taken away with your pick from our list of London circus shows.

Circus shows in London

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Circuses
  • Leicester Square

This review is from 2019. ‘La Clique’ returns for Christmas 2022 with a new line-up. Leicester Square isn’t usually known as a visitor destination for Londoners. But when Underbelly pops up its much-loved Spiegeltent there, and throws in legendary cabaret show ‘La Clique’, it’s worth a punt to venture back to tourist central.  Practical tips first. Get to the show early as it’s unreserved seating. Also, avoid the front row unless you want to get drenched (more on this later). Buy a drink from the bar before you go in to find your seats: you’ll feel more in the spirit of the night with a glass of wine, I promise.  The show has all the elements of cabaret you might expect: a garish host with a poor German accent, a bit of striptease, some scantily clad acrobats and a dash of fire-blowing to boot. One highlight was Zoe Marshall, an aerialist who somehow hangs from the roof only by her hair and manages to make it look rather effortless. The performance by Jamie Swan, which is a sort of ‘Magic Mike’ on water affair involving an iron-cast bathtub, also brings some much-needed uniqueness to the line-up. Swan kicks a lot of his watery spectacular into the audience so unless you’re the type who really loves the water rides at Thorpe Park, it’s best to sit a bit further back.  Sadly, several of the other acts, as well as the singing throughout, didn’t deliver. They felt a little tired and passé compared to other shows of this type, though you can appreciate it’s a tough gig when you’re

‘Circus 1903’ review
  • Theatre
  • Circuses
  • Hammersmith

This review is from Christmas 2018. ‘Circus 1903’ returns for Christmas 2022. We’re in a mini golden age of contemporary circus, with companies like Circa and Gandini Juggling injecting wit, ice-cool aesthetics and even (gasp!) feminism into a centuries-old genre. There’s none of that nonsense in this uber-trad homage to Barnum & Bailey-era,‘The Greatest Showman’-style spectacle. Yup, real elephants have been replaced by (rather overbilled) two giant puppets by the ‘War Horse’ guys. But otherwise, pretty much the only artistic boundaries pushed by this circus-with-all-the-trimmings are how much fun you can have at a small kid’s expense without them bursting into tears. Ringmaster David Williamson’s audience-participation scenes are some of the night’s most memorable, bringing young audience members on stage only to pop a pink elephant-shaped balloon inches from their faces (it gets magically reincarnated, of course) or to menace them with an apparently fearsome raccoon puppet. He’s an engaging host for this night of classic circus, supplementing the kid-tormenting with patter about magic and the supremacy of death-defying skill. And the show’s first scenes do a lot to suck you into the mood of a 1903 circus, with gorgeously attired performers tumbling across the stage and building a huge tent in scenes that feel a bit like the more atmospheric bits of ‘Dumbo’. But ‘Circus 1903’ quickly settles down into something much more straightforward, and periodically a bit dull. The act

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  • Theatre
  • Circuses
  • South Kensington

Canadian circus superstars Cirque du Soleil return for their traditional start-of-year slot at the Royal Albert Hall with ‘Kurios’, a UK premiere. The steampunk-styled show is inspired by Victoriana and thus has a clear connection to the RAH, which has had special modifications performed upon it over the course of this year to reinforce the structure to accommodate more of the Cirque’s shows. It’s written and directed by Michel Laprise, with the usual cast of international talent.

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