The Blenheim run of Giffords Circus sold out weeks before the cavalcade of gleaming crimson carriages rode into Woodstock, the lure of half term and the Jubilee bank holiday proving a winning formula.
Circus Sauce, its accompanying restaurant, sells out even quicker, so you had to be quick off the mark.
But it was worth the wait, a palpable sense of excitement settling over the crowd as we waited for ¡Carpa! to begin in the famous Giffords big top.
And what a breath-taking show it was. From the moment Adriana Duch steps onto the sawdust in her traditional Mexican costume, screeching at the cast, we are left in no doubt who’s in charge this year.
Giffords is always a source of such positivity, fun and frolics and God knows we all need a dose of that at the moment
A brilliant foil to Tweedy‘s slapstick antics, between them they introduce a wondrous array of acts, some watched through the cracks of our fingers.
Randy Forgione Vega warmed us up with his brilliant aerial antics followed by duo Isabella and Daniela Munoz Landestoy who were also particularly brilliant, held up by their hair as they catapulted and spun above the audience.
The knife throwing Jasters were another epic find, although how they’ll maintain such death-defying accuracy all through the summer remains to be seen.
The acrobats from the Havana Circus Company were a high octane, slick and enthusiastic bunch whose professional finish was something to behold.
Impressive juggler Gordon Marquez, the equestrian vaulting and pas de deux act the Donnert Family, trapeze artiste Anna Rastova and live music from the Giffords Circus Band, all played their part in ensuring that the audience was clapping, gasping and smiling gleefully throughout the performance.
Those lucky enough to nab one of the highly sort after Circus Sauce places quickly reassembled in the restaurant tent at the communal trestle tables and waited for the wonderful food to abound.
From crispy croquettes of seafood and cheese to platters of beef ribs and sirloin accompanied by truffled celeriac and spring greens, we enjoyed the food as much as the company – some Oxford professors on one side and a group who come all the way from Lancashire every year on the other.
As for the sweet Yorkshire puddings with hazelnuts and custard, they were genius, and I asked for seconds, just in time because the traditional chefs act then began in earnest – the usual mix of cross dressing, puppets and general hilarity.
A word of warning though, the BYO booze policy no longer exists, you can buy wine etc there, so we had to take our loaded cool bags home again.
However, emerging out into the darkness framed by the Giffords Circus logo in lights, it was a privilege as always to be back. Giffords is always a source of such positivity, fun and frolics and God knows we all need a dose of that at the moment.
If you missed it, fear not because Giffords is on tour all summer taking in favourite venues such as Stonor Park, Barrington, Minchinhampton Common, Marlborough Common, Stratton Meadows in Cirencester and HQ Fennell Farm.
It also boasts a tasty new Mexican street food truck selling some much enjoyed nachos and burritos, so you won’t go hungry.
So yes Giffords Circus once again comes up trumps and Cal McCrystal’s ¡Carpa! offers a zesty slice of Mexican joy that at times is literally breathtaking.
To purchase tickets and find out more visit: http://www.giffordscircus.com