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Circus City - Sydney Festival 2017

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Explore and celebrate the circus arts
If you've ever wanted to run away and join the circus, here is your chance. You can celebrate all things circus this January when Sydney Festival transforms Parramatta into Circus City.

Circus City Sydney Festival 2017 Parramatta
Your invitation to join the circus (image Credit: Sydney Festival)


Circus City encompasses 4 spectacular shows, 34 workshops and over 50 free events, and will be held over 10 days during January in Parramatta. Celebrating the circus arts, Circus City offers something for everyone, is family-friendly and accessible. The program features local and international shows, a circus big top, a 10 metre high outdoor trapeze, workshops, talks, a film program and more.

Circus City Sydney Festival 2017 Parramatta
Circa presents Humans (Image Credit: Sarah Walker)


In a world premiere created especially for Sydney Festival Australian based contemporary circus artists, Circa, will perform their show titled Humans. The show is best described as extreme acrobatics, taking the audience on a journey of what it means to be human. Ten artists will explore the physical limits of their bodies - they question how much weight we can carry and who can we trust to support out load and lead us to question the physical and emotional strength required to overcome our burdens. This show is sure to thrill you with the artist's superhuman displays. Humans can be seen at the Spaghetti Circus Big Top from 13th - 19th January 2017. The show runs for 65 minutes. Tickets can be purchased here.

Circus City Sydney Festival 2017 Parramatta
Cirque Éloize presents iD (Image Credit: Cirque Éloize)


iD is an energetic blend of circus arts and urban dance combined with sound and video projections by Canada's Cirque Éloize. The show includes 15 acrobats, aerialists and dancers on a stage set as a modern city with alleyways, rooftops and industrial spaces. Here two groups come together to celebrate everyone's distinct identity. iD can be seen at Riverside Theatres from 13th - 22nd January 2017. The show runs for 110 minutes including an interval. Tickets can be purchased here.

Circus City Sydney Festival 2017 Parramatta
Tipping Point (Image Credit: Mark Dawson)


For another thrilling performance head to Tipping Point, a show by London based aerial theatre company Ockham's Razor. Blending circus, acrobatics and theatre this show is set in the round allowing audiences to get up close to the action. The performers use 5 metre metal poles which are balanced on fingertips, or hung from the roof, used as walkways or pendulums, climbed upon and clung to. As they reach the Tipping Point they must decide whether to abandon the pole or ride it out. The show has been described as both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. Tipping Point can be seen at the Spaghetti Circus Big Top from 17th - 21st January 2017. There is a relaxed performance on 21st January at 2.30pm. The show runs for 65 minutes. Tickets can be purchased here.

The Ockham's Razor Workshop for People with Disability is an inclusive circus workshop offering the chance to experience aerial apparatus and the theatre of circus. The workshop is open for a wide range of participants including those with a learning or physical disability or those on the Autism spectrum. The workshop will be held on 22nd January at the Spaghetti Circus Big Top. The workshop runs for three hours and is free however registration is required. For details on how to register please click here.

Circus City Sydney Festival 2017 Parramatta
Kaleidoscope by Company 2 (Image Credit: Dylan Evans)


Kaleidoscope is the story of Ethan Hugh who at four years of age was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. After years of trying to find an activity that Ethan could engage with, his Mum found Flipside Circus which Ethan excelled at. Now a 13 year old, Ethan performs,alongside five circus performers, in this show which is a physical expression of his world. The audience is invited to see the world through Ethan's eyes in a circus experience that explores beauty in the smallest things. Kaleidoscope by Company 2 features acrobatics, slapstick, music and movement and vibrant video projections. Kaleidoscope can be seen at Riverside Theatres from 13th - 18th January 2017. The show runs for 60 minutes. Tickets can be purchased here.

In the associated Kaleidoscope Workshop children and families can discover their imaginative potential. There will be both structured and creative play opportunities in this unique arts experience. The workshop on 17th January is an identified workshop for young people on the Autism spectrum. To make a booking please click here.

Apart from these thrilling shows, there are also numerous opportunities for you to join in on the action at Circus City.

Circus City Sydney Festival 2017 Parramatta
Flying Trapeze (Image Credit: Sydney Trapeze School)


If you've always wanted to experience the flying trapeze head over to Prince Alfred Square where you will find the 10 metre high outdoor trapeze of the Sydney Trapeze School. In their two hour workshop, you will learn the basics, practice some tricks and even have the opportunity to be caught in mid-air by a catcher. Catering to beginners and intermediates, and recommended for ages 11 years and over. To make a booking please click here.

There are also plenty of free events to enjoy during the Festival.

Circus City Sydney Festival 2017 Parramatta
Hang around with Aerialize (Image Credit: Aerialize)


Whether you are young or old, love the thrill of the trapeze or prefer your feet planted firmly on the ground, Circus for Everyone - Hang around with Aerialize, caters for all. With 22 free workshops on offer over six days, it should be easy to find something to suit your tastes. Workshops will cover the static trapeze, lyra (aerial hoop), tissu (silks), acrobatics, acrobalance, handstands, hula hoops and juggling. Spaces are limited so if you would like to participate you will need to register here to reserve a place. All Aerialize workshops are fully accessible.

For those interested in the history of the circus make sure you check out the show memorabilia and film program at Riverside Theatres. In the foyer, there will be a display of show memorabilia, posters and costumes from two of Australia's prominent touring family circuses, the Wirths and the Jandaschewskys.

Circus City Sydney Festival 2017 Parramatta
See rare circus footage at The Show of Shows (Image Credit: The Show of Shows)


The film program includes The Show of Shows which features rare and never-before-seen footage of 19th and 20th century fairgrounds, freak shows and vaudeville shows. This is a free event, however registration is required. To register please click here.

Circus Without Borders
is an inspiring circus documentary about Guillaume Saladin and Yamoussa Bangoura. They are best friends and world-class acrobats from remote corners of the globe who share the same dream – to bring hope and change to their struggling communities through circus. This is a free event, however, registration is required. To register please click here.

Grazing the Sky takes a revealing look at the incredible physical exploits of circus acrobats, and finds compelling stories of men and women confronting adversity – including the real risk of severe, debilitating injury. This is a free event, however registration is required. To register please click here.

A series of free panel discussions will be presented throughout the program for circus professionals and the general public. The talks will feature Australian and international circus professionals as well as experts talking about the art form. The discussions will cover:

Circus Elders - celebrating trailblazers in Australian circus.

Circus and Access - conversations around the circus arts and access for people with disability.

Where are we heading - looks at the history, present and future of Australian circus.

Krzysztof Soroczynski - Krzysztof Soroczynski is joined onstage by members of Cirque Éloize and Patrick Nolan to discuss his role as Show Acrobatic Designer for iD including the creation of the ground-breaking Trampowall Act.

During the festival, there will also be a range of activities specifically for industry professionals. For a full list of the industry workshops and master classes please click here.

Getting There

The Spaghetti Circus Big Top will be located at Prince Alfred Square on the corner of Church and Market Streets Parramatta. Please note: Spaghetti Circus Big Top is a licensed venue and persons under 18 years must be accompanied by a responsible adult. For parking or public transport information, please click here.

Circus City Sydney Festival 2017 Parramatta
Riverside Theatres Parramatta (Image Credit: Riverside Theatres)


Riverside Theatres is located on the corner of Church and Market Streets Parramatta. For parking or public transport information, please click here.

So roll up, explore, participate and enjoy all the fun when Circus City comes to town.

For more information about the Sydney Festival Circus City program please click here.

Now in its 41st year, Sydney Festival will run from 7th - 29th January 2017, celebrating art, big ideas and summer in Sydney. For a full program of Sydney Festival events please click here.
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Why? Join in the fun of the Circus
When: 12th - 22nd January 2017
Where: Corner of Church & Market Streets Parramatta
Cost: Free and ticketed events
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