It was always going to be a bittersweet moment, that glorious drive through the Cotswolds to Giffords Circus HQ where its infamous big top dominates Fennell Farm and the first night of the circus was in full flow.
The car park was full, the inimitable maroon food vans serving cake, pizzas and tea to its endless hungry punters, it was seemingly business as usual.
But the pressure was on. Could Giffords come back after a year off with a relevant and uplifting show, without their beloved founder Nell? Would it work with a socially distanced audience? Could the circus go on?
Yes is the answer and then some. The Hooley was a glorious, joyful, magical, hilarious and awe-inspiring reminder of what we’ve been missing this past year, a note that the world’s best entertainers, acrobats, comedians, musicians and trainers are ready and waiting to entice us out of our grey lockdown existence and inject some much needed colour into our lives.
And not only was The Hooley a kaleidoscope of colour and gaiety, but the audience was as invested as the performers themselves, radiating with excitement and delight as the show began.
The Hooley is undoubtedly the hot ticket of the summer
And what a show it was! Based on Irish myths, elves, faeries, leprechauns, goblins, trolls and mythology throw in the foot-tapping energy of the Irish dancers, music from Joyce Country Ceilidh Band, equestrians Lotte Seal and Rebecca Musselwhite, acrobats galore, Tweedy the Clown’s hilarious antics, dancers, aerial hoop artists, doves, dogs and so much more, and we were singing, foot-tapping, laughing, gasping and welling up throughout the whole mesmerising show.
Written and directed by Cal McCrystal, and planned with Nell before she died, her niece Lil Rice stepped in to help produce The Hooley to continue its insistence on unadulterated fun.
The Giffords magic is as strong as ever, and while it’s upcoming tour is selling out fast, I’d beg, borrow and steal a ticket to go. The Hooley is undoubtedly the hot date of the summer.
The tour dates are:
SUDELEY CASTLE, WINCHCOMBE, 27th May – 31st May
BLENHEIM PALACE, OXFORDSHIRE, 3rd June – 7th June
DAYLESFORD ORGANIC FARM, GLOUCESTERSHIRE 10th June – 21st June
CHISWICK HOUSE AND GARDENS, LONDON, 24th June – 11th July
BOWOOD HOUSE AND GARDENS, WILTSHIRE: 15th July – 19th July
STONOR PARK, HENLEY-ON-THAMES 22nd July – 2nd August
BARRINGTON, OXFORDSHIRE: 5th August – 16th August
MINCHINHAMPTON COMMON, GLOUCESTERSHIRE 19th August – 31st August
MARLBOROUGH COMMON, WILTSHIRE 3rd September – 6th September
STRATTON MEADOWS, CIRENCESTER – 9th September – 13th September
FENNELLS FARM, STROUD 16th September – 26th September 2021
Book here: https://www.giffordscircus.com/book-tickets/