Friday, 25 July 2008

The greatest show on earth

Tonight I am off to the Cotswolds to see the tiny, family-run Gifford's Circus. I have been a huge fan since seeing their first show and have been every year since, even hosting my 21st birthday party there. Nell Gifford left Oxford university to set up her own travelling circus, and from these humble beginnings the Giffords experience has gone on to be described by Vogue as 'possibly the greatest show on earth'.Despite rave revues and massive popularity, the show still has a maximum 300 audience capacity, which maintains the magical intimacy of the performances.Nell travels the world looking for new acts, and trains her own horses who appear in the shows. After the event, you can join the troupe for a beautifully prepared dinner 'backstage' in a fairy-lit tent. Served on star strewn pottery painted by Nell's sister Emma Bridgewater, the atmosphere of the meal is always just as exciting as the show.Every detail is perfect, from the dazzling costumes, to the live music, to the fairground swings to ride in the interval. Here are some photos of years past; photography is no longer allowed so I don't have any recent images.Check out the website, also a work of art:
At the organisation where I work, I heard Malcolm Clay, head of the association of British circus proprietors describe Giffords as 'the jewel in the crown of British circus'. But even if you think you don't like circus, give it a go. In fact, unless you don't like fun, I can't think of anyone who wouldn't enjoy it. I have taken pretty much everyone I know, including my grandma, my boyfriend and my 6 year old sister.Somehow Giffords manages to be both innocent and quintessentially English, but also at times erotic and wonderfully exotic.If you're 18, have left school and don't know what to do with yourself, Gifford's are currently taking on interns...

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