The walls of the iconic Tobacco Factory will be transformed into an immersive, multi-dimensional spectacle on Sunday, October 22nd as part of Circus City. Substratum is a special new show which combines acrobatic dance for vertical surfaces with projection mapped visuals.

Tickets for this unique outdoor event are free and available HERE (limited to two per person). 

Supported by Circus City and Arts Council England, Substratum is a collaboration between Full Tilt Aerial Theatre and creative technologists Limbic Cinema, performed by an international cast and produced by Rowan Fae, with an original composition by Ahmet Kenan Bilgic and Serkan Emre Ciftci.

Performers will move between worlds walking, leaping and flying off the walls, while the surface of the building is transformed between element states: earth, water, light, and air. Hypnotic and arresting by turns, this is a performance that explores boundaries; between bodies and bricks, between gravity and technology, between certainty and impossibility. 

Substratum Facebook event



Telling the poignant and powerful story of Nepalese child trafficking survivors, As a Tiger in the Jungle comes to Circomedia on October 15th and 16th as part of Circus City.

Performers Renu Ghalan and Aman Tamang left their homes in Nepal with dreams of stardom and the promise of limitless opportunity. What followed was a life of slavery, exploitation and abuse in Indian circuses that became their prisons.

As a Tiger in the Jungle is Renu and Aman’s tale of remarkable resilience, hope and optimism. Recounting the story of their lost childhoods, Renu and Aman – who are joined by Vietnamese artist Loan Tp Hoang – use the tiger as a metaphor for their traffickers.

The show is the result of a collaboration between director Sverre Waage, Cirkus Xanti (Norway) and Ali Williams, formerly artistic director of the Welsh circus company NoFit State. In 2013, Ali spent a year working as creative director of Circus Kathmandu – a contemporary circus group made up of 13 young men and women, including Renu and Aman, who were all child trafficking survivors.

As they turned their lives around, Ali was inspired by the young people’s resilience and enthusiasm and their ability to utilise and adapt their hard-won performing skills to make an artistic and social impact.

As a Tiger in the Jungle is a unique fusion of Asian and European performance, circus and music, set to an original score by Per Zanussi.

“We are pleased to have created a meaningful and engaging performance based on true stories from the performers’ lives,” said Ali Williams. “I was inspired by the young artists from Circus Kathmandu and am delighted to be able to employ Aman and Renu in a professional capacity and utilise the skills they learnt in captivity in a positive and empowering way. This gives the performance an authenticity rarely seen on stage today”.



Call out: Circus Voices

Circus City festival is offering and opportunity to take part in a three-day development workshop from 19-21st October 2017, actively exploring critical languages around circus arts and ways to talk about work effectively. Places are FREE (limited capacity). The scheme is run by Kate Kavanaugh of the Circus Diaries in collaboration with Circus City.

Applications must be received by 30th September, but places will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis as and when we receive suitable applications.

A full schedule of activity will be available after the application process has closed, and will include visits to The Bekkrell Effect (Thurs 19th), Longshot (Fri 20th) and Swing Circus (Sat 21st).

If you have any queries please email


To find out more about the Circus Diaries go to

Image by Groupe Bekkrell


CALL OUT: Bristol Cabaret Commission

Bristol Cabaret Commission 

Circus City would like to hand over a part of the programme within this years festival to the artists and makers of Bristol. This call out is open to artists based in the South West for a 2-3 cabaret performances in the Circus City official programme.

What sort of cabaret you want to present is up to you to dream up, we just want you to tell us what you want to do, for it to be connected to circus and we want it to be brilliant. The cabaret created can take any shape or form as long as it is conceivable and safe. You are very welcome to collaborate with other artforms than circus.

As the name suggests; This commission is for you if you feel motivated and inspired by our great city Bristol, the artists that live within it and you want to make something of that to share with our audience.

Support the commission includes:

  • Up to £2000-3000 commission fee
  • Producer advice and feedback during development and realisation.
  • An amount of production and marketing support to be agreed.
  • Box Office
  • Liaison with performance space

How to apply

1. Tell us what your idea by writing a short proposal (1000 words max).

Please include:

– information about who you are

– what kind of cabaret you would like to do and the other people involved/performing

– what support you will need

– total performance length including all acts (suggested 60-120mins)

– which audience group it’s for (general cabaret, fetish, family, niche interest etc)

– where you would like to do it – if you don’t know then what type of space

– idea dates between 12-29th of October

– links to websites and other information about you and your work.

2. Please provide us with an outline of the budget of how you propose to spend the commission fee. This does not need to be particularly detailed, but should give us an idea of how you are spending the money.

3. You’re welcome to include up to 5 still images of your work – please let us know which one you would be using as lead image to market the cabaret. Please do not send us DVDs or other physical objects.

4. Your phone number and email – you need to be available to speak on the phone at some point on the 12th and 13th of September

Please email your completed application to with the subject line: [YOUR NAME] CABARET COMMISSION PROPOSAL

Please make sure the proposal, budget and any attachments are all in the same ONE email. You don’t need to submit all of the above, but the more the better. If you have dyslexia or a disability that makes the above difficult to complete in writing you are very welcome to send the info in a format that works for you.

Deadline for applications: 9.00am, Monday 11th of September 2017.

Interviews will take place on Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th of September 2017.

We’ll let you know if you’ve been shortlisted by Monday 11th of September end of play.

Image credit: Photo by Joe Clarke from The Invisible Circus Cabarets, Circus City 2015


CALL OUT: Circus Shorts

Eclyptic perform as part of Circus Shorts in Circus City 2015, Photo by Joe Clarke


We are now accepting proposals for the Circus Shorts event which will be part of Circus City Festival on the 27th of October 2017


Circus City is teaming up with Circomedia and Trinity Centre to present 3 short pieces of circus theatre from individuals/companies.

As a leading circus festival in the UK, Circus City is committed to supporting and showcasing the next generation of circus performers and companies. Circus Shorts will provide a platform for ground floor acts of no more than 15 – 20 minutes. This can either be; an extract from a full length piece, a self contained 15 – 20 minute piece.

The audience will be public, with invites extended to industry professionals.

Support in kind we can offer:
– A platform to present at Circus Shorts on Friday 27th October at Trinity Centre, Bristol.
A 3 days residency at Circomedia for rehearsals/R&D new work which the artist/s would like to develop. This can be a new piece and ideally not same piece which is being presented within the Circus Shorts programme, but to use as a way of developing something new.
Feedback from Co-Directors Lina B. Frank / Kate Hartoch and Nicolas Young Artistic and Managing Director of Circomedia.
– Cash support: £250 performing fees


Application process:
Please submit a short proposal (max 800 words) which includes a description of the piece you would like to present and information on what you would use the residency for.

Along with your proposal please include:
– Company or Artist history/CV (previous shows, touring history if applicable)
– Technical Specifications for the piece. It needs to be a ground floor piece.
– Link to an online video of the piece or work-in-progress of the piece you would like to present
– Any other online links; website, blog etc…

The deadline for applications is: 10am on Monday 18th September. Selected applicants will be notified by: Tuesday 26th September.

Please note to be considered you must be available for the entire day on the 27th of October.

Please email all applications to:

Trinity Centre, Trinity Road, Bristol BS2 0NW


For questions please contact:
Marie Faucher –




We’re back this October (12th to 29th) with an ambitious programme of shows, interactive events, workshops, talks and much more taking place at over 15 locations across Bristol.

Circus City is the UK’s fastest growing circus festival, attracting the very best contemporary circus from across the globe and showcasing Bristol’s abundant homegrown talent. Circus City aims to put Bristol on the map as an international capital of contemporary circus.

One of this year’s big highlights is a collaboration with Bristol Old Vic bringing the critically acclaimed French show, The Bekkrell Effect, to Bristol for its UK premiere. Inspired by physicist Henri Becquerel’s discovery of radioactivity, The Bekkrell Effect is an all-female show described as ‘part riot grrrl pop song, part circus spectacle…combining the power of punk with risk and flare’.

Circomedia’s performance space – a converted church in St Pauls – will host a number of events including Fauna, the Adelaide Fringe award winning show featuring ‘wild creatures in a beautifully controlled acrobatic story’; Yablochkov Candle, a cabaret show from Finland combining jazz and aerial performance and Around, a family show about the life of a small circus group accompanied by live music.

The trailblazing aerial theatre company, Okham’s Razor, will bring their Edinburgh Festival award-winning show, Tipping Point, to the 1532 Theatre at Bristol Grammar School. Described as ‘a feast of high risk brilliance performed with grace and power’, five performers transform seemingly simple metal poles into a rich landscape of images.

Circus is a powerful medium for storytelling and there are two shows in the programme which are particularly personal and poignant. As a Tiger in the Jungle tells the moving story of being trafficked into Indian Circus from Kathmandu and Nepal and in He Ain’t Heavy, Grania Pickard uses physical theatre, aerial circus and audience interaction to tell the story of growing up with her disabled, autistic brother Sean.

The Trinity Centre is another of our key venues with Swing Circus staging a weekend extravaganza of swing dance featuring circus and dance shows, specialist choreographers and workshops to get your toes tapping.

And in a major coup for the festival, Circus City 2017 is sponsored by Dash: Digital Currency, making it the first major arts event to be sponsored by a cryptocurrency. During the festival visitors will be able to spend Dash at the Milk Bar, our hub in Old Market, and on selected events and products.

“There’s something for everyone in the Circus City programme – music lovers, dancers, circus aficionados, theatre goers, party animals and families,” said Circus City co-director Kate Hartoch. “The very nature of circus is to push the limits of what’s possible in pursuit of the extraordinary – we encourage you to keep this spirit in mind and take a risk on something new.”

For further information and booking visit our What’s On page.



We’re delighted to announce that Circus City has become the first major arts event to be sponsored by a cryptocurrency. Circus City was awarded a sponsorship package after being selected from a shortlist of projects by members of the Dash- Digital Cash community.

Dash is an open source peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that can be used to make instant, private payments online or in-store using a secure, open-source platform hosted by thousands of users around the world. Dash users voted to allocate the sponsorship in a democratic funding process that is built into the Dash network.

The Circus City bid was led by Edward Rapley, a theatre maker, artist and activist with a passion for economics and a love of the latest technology: “I saw there was a perfect fit between the principles of Dash and the vision of Circus City – they’re both interested in creating and sharing value, one monetary the other cultural.”

“Dash can solve banking problems facing the international circus community and Circus City can bring Dash to people outside the cryptosphere, so applying for sponsorship made complete sense.”

“The sponsorship means that Circus City will reach more people than ever before, bringing the excitement of a new and much needed technology into the heart of the festival,” said Edward. “Just as email has changed the way we send letters so Dash will change the way we send and spend money.

“We’re really excited about this sponsorship because Dash can be of great value to the circus community,” said Circus City co-director Lina B. Frank. “Many artists work all over the world, receiving international payments in a variety of currencies, Dash is an invaluable banking solution for them.”

During the festival you will be able to find out more about Dash first-hand from our dedicated Dash Manager Ed Rapley and his team. They will be at the hub 10:00 – 18:00 every day apart from Sundays and will help you install your first wallet, buy some Dash at a discount, register on an exchange, use Dash to purchase tickets, drinks and merchandise. If you have any questions at all about Dash or cryptocurrency in general they will be there to help.



We ask Co-Directors Kate Hartoch and Lina B Frank how Circus City came about and what audiences can expect from Bristol newest festival…

What drew you to work in Circus?

Lina: I was studying theatre design at Central St Martin’s in London and got invited to design a show by a Danish/Swedish company in France at a clown castle. It sounded like a too good opportunity to miss out on and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Kate: Growing up in Bristol, circus was a part of the scene with people doing fire, hooping etc at parties, shows at festivals and well paid gigs mostly through agencies. I studied in Brighton where the Brighton festival programmed gorgeous night-time spectaculars among a host of other events. Near the end of my degree I did a short Arts Management course and wanted to use a show that had come from the Millenium Dome as a case study.

The course leader wasn’t sure that Circus was alright to use as an Arts case study, no one had done that before with her, and it was hard because I couldn’t find information about who the directors, producers, choreographers etc for UK circus were. From the beginning I took circus seriously, as an art form, and I soon realised that people were needed to help support that notion.

What appeals to you most about circus as an artform?

Kate: The physicality, the counter culture nature of UK circus, the fact that circus people are some of the most positive, proactive and creative people around ,

Lina: I love the commitment to the impossible. A mentality which affects everything a circus artist sets out to do. If you are attempting the impossible you need to be a good collaborator so circus people usually have huge hearts, dedication and curiousity which makes for a brilliant working environment.

How did Bristol Circus City come about?

A circus festival for Bristol has been discussed for a while now, with a flurry of activity around 8 years ago and the first Bristol Circus Festival at Creative Common in 2013.

Bristol Circus City is led by a group of key Bristol circus organisations. Spurred on by Mayor George Ferguson’s ambition that Bristol be recognised as a City of Circus, we meet up to plan ways in which we can make a noise about the amazing circus activity here, and how we can support and develop it.

Circus City is the festival which we hope will be biennual.

What can audiences expect from seeing a Circus City show?

We have worked hard to curate a programme that has something for everyone but all of the shows will have a level of physical ability and dexterousness that the average person could only dream of possessing!

What are you most looking forward to seeing?

So many things! Bringing some of our favourite companies here, presenting Circus in spaces where it doesn’t usually happen. We have quite a bit of new, local work which we are excited about supporting.

The thing we’re most looking forward to seeing the audiences who come – that’s always a thrill for use because, from Dads with buggys to theatre groupies, Circus has the ability to captivate everyone.


Sum up Bristol Circus City in 3 words.

We think the name says it all!

Image taken at 1st Circus City Launch October 2015 – At the Cube Microplex



When it came to announcing our 2017 programme, we wanted an image that epitomized Bristol and its connection to contemporary circus. With a full-size trampoline in tow – and kind permission from the lovely folk at the Peoples Republic of Stokes Croft – we chose the Bearpit as our backdrop. As performer Nat Wittingham trampolined high above the city centre hubbub, Joe Clarke captured a set of images that are unequivocally Bristol.

With thanks to PRSC, Nat Wittingham, Joe Clarke, Howie at Circomedia, Axis Trampolining and LOOT vintage clothing.