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Giffords Circus ready for packed 2019

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Author: Thomas Hadfield, Posted: Tuesday, 18th December 2018, 09:10

Nell Gifford and her daughter, Red. Picture: Mark Lord Nell Gifford and her daughter, Red. Picture: Mark Lord

Nell Gifford founded her circus at the turn of the century in the year 2000.

Almost 20 years on, Giffords Circus has grown into a thriving community of performers based in the Cotswolds.

“The circus is my raison d’être, it’s my job and I feel lucky to have it,” said Nell, who in the past has beaten cancer twice. “The circus is very therapeutic. It’s a community and a fun way of living.

“It is like a family and a great support network, especially when I’ve been ill. It’s something I keep returning to, perhaps because it’s so full-on and dramatic.

“When you walk into the tent, you leave all your troubles at the door and celebrate. It’s escapist, magical, beautiful, funny.”

The circus features a vast range of performers, from trapeze artists and magicians, to horse riders and opera singers. Every year, they take on a theme which all the performers then specially choreograph their acts to, under the watchful eye of Nell and award-winning director Cal McCrystal.

In previous years, themes that the circus have adopted include ‘War and Peace’ and ‘The Painted Wagon’, with the theme of 2018 being ‘My Beautiful Circus’, to celebrate 250 years of the circus.

Nell said: “There were so many stand out moments in 2018 it’s hard to choose just one!

“One of the big moments of the year was our new tent arriving and going up for the first time, with ‘Giffords Circus’, illuminated in lights on the top. It’s bigger and can seat more people but still retains that intimacy and charm that Giffords is renowned for.”

The 2019 tour of Giffords Circus begins in May on Fennells Farm in Stroud, before visiting – among other locations outside of Gloucestershire – Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, Stratton Meadows in Cirencester and finishing for the year back in Stroud in September.

For Nell, one venue stands out as particularly spectacular.

“It’s our sixth year at Sudeley Castle,” she said. “Last year was a complete sell out so we’re going for two weeks in 2019 and can’t wait.

“There’s something quite enchanting about being nestled under the great horse chestnut trees in the shadow of the castle.”

The theme for this year is to be announced soon, and Nell is excited for the shows to get underway.

She continued: “2019 promises to be amazing, I can’t wait. Cal McCrystal, our director, is returning for his eighth year and already we’ve already had the most amazing creative meetings.

“The acts are booked, the musicians are practicing the music score for the show and our favourite clown Tweedy will be returning to the ring.”

Other Images

The Giffords circus tent. Picture: Gem Hall

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