Ringside at Zippos Circus

For the last three years we’ve eagerly awaited the circus coming to town.  The bright Zippos Circus posters go up in un-missable quantities; Then the caravans start arriving to the top of South Park.  All of a sudden, within a matter of hours, there it is: the big top standing tall with one of the most beautiful views you can get of Oxford as a backdrop.

Last night was a miserable and rainy evening as we headed to Zippos Circus.

Tickets were dispersed quickly and inside awaited the sweet scent of candy floss, warmth and colourful lights.  We were so lucky!  We got ringside seats.  You see on opening night it is free seating.

After our night at Zippos last year we had very high expectations and although this year the show was quite different we were not disappointed.

Our lovable clown, Emilion, was solo this year.  Rumour has it his lovely partner has run away from the circus. 🙁  Nonetheless, Emilion was excellent.  He had us in stitches of laugther!  He is also wonderful at being there through the whole show and really complementing the Ringmaster in making the show flow from act to act, cheering on the audience, livening the show.

We had no shortage of laughter as Zippos Circus have the Rastelli Clowns with them this season too- they are very traditional clowns, in fact probably the founders of clowning as we know it.  They entertained us with fantastic slapstick humour and their great musical talent.  I was torn between watching the clowns or my children holding their tummies laughing.

Rastelli Clowns

The Rastelli brothers are from a long line of clowns:

Did you know that it was the Rastelli Clowns, namely Oreste Rastelli in 1932, who created the distinctive clown make up and costumes that we all think of when we think of clowns?

My two favourite acts were Norman, our delightful Ringmaster and his buggies (Just so amazingly cute!) and the act where Emile selected 3 unsuspecting audience members for his sketch- brave folks to go with a clown!

Zippos Circus Norman and his budgies

Hercules, the strong man, is back with Zippos. Watching the car drive over him is chilling, even when you know he’s done it again and again, with pictures to prove it. Hugo watched with mouth wide open.  (I hope he never tries it!)

Zippos Circus Hercules

There were two acts with horses, much to Max’s delight, who totally enthralled with horses at the moment.  The performance of these spectacular animals was quite a sight. My little toddler was screaming from excitement, pointing out the horses, glimpsing back at us to make sure we are paying attention and not missing the show.

What is a circus without a contortionist? Zippos have their own, Odka all the way from Mongolia.

Is it really possible a 5’8″ lady squeeze herself into a large bottle? No way!

Zippos circus Odka contortionist

The acrobatics, of which we had a couple of different acts, were really heart-stopping at time! How do they do it?!

Sometimes it’s only a bit of silk or rope they wrap around their wrist, ankle, waist that stops these artists plunging into the crowd. Yikes!

The final act, by the Cuban Tropicana Troupe, was especially impressive.  That one did warrant a safety net!

Zippos Circus Tropicana Troupe

It was a late night for the kids- we got home at 10pm. However, I can’t recommend this traditional art enough to families.  And to quote our Ringmaster:

” You are never too young,

You are never too old,

You are never too cool,

… to go to the Circus.”


(Though please don’t go in your animal onesies!  That is NOT cool!  …I saw a couple of folks and won’t distress you, my dear readers, with the images.  

However, on the positive side, to compensate for those distressing images of people with total lack of fashion sense there is plenty of eye candy for men and women alike in the circus ring! … just saying  😉  )


PS  Zippos Circus is in Oxford till Tuesday (25th March 2014) and then heads off to other venues. Pop over to the Zippos Circus site to check out if they are setting up near you- they seem to be going from Birmingham, to London, to Kent and Surrey still.

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  1. I don’t think I have ever seen a circus act with a car driving over a person – it’s good to hear about such new (to me, at least) acts. While I understand that circuses are about tradition, it can be a bit boring seeing the same acts over and over and over again.

    • Mumonthebrink says:

      Although this year the Zippos program is more traditional circus-like than last year, they did a great job at keeping it fresh and flowing well. Even the Rastelli Clowns, with their typical clown jokes, had us in stitches. I would recommend a night out to the circus to any family.

  2. Wow, this looks amazing, need to take my girls to a circus.
    Mirka Moore @Kahanka recently posted…Win a Family Ticket to the Peppa Pig Show!My Profile

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