There's a special kind of magic that brings an audience willingly onto the stage, dancing their hearts out, at the finale of a show. Or, that has a spectacle of onlookers smiling from ear to ear, whilst ducking ginormous water pistols spraying the air by a friendly clown. Welcome to the evening we took a handful of beauty journalists to Giffords Circus.
For those of you for whom Giffords Circus is unknown, it really is a secret worth knowing. Giffords was founded in 2000 (coincidentally, Heathcote & Ivory was founded then, too), by Nell Gifford and Toti Gifford from a farm in the Cotswolds. Nell dreamed of creating a village green circus. One filled with acts that had lovingly tended horses and ponies, loveable clowns, show stopping trapeze artists, colour, music and magic. Today, Giffords has become a much-loved summer fixture for adults and children alike. Such is its sheer enchantment.
So... one sunny afternoon in early July we bundled coolboxes filled with miniature bottles of pink bubbly and lemonade carefully into the car. Pink packets of popcorn too and personalised picnic boxes, packed with delicious bites lovingly prepared by local London catering company, Edible Food Design. We drove over to Chiswick House & Gardens, the London venue for Giffords Circus.
We set up a table under their bunting-strewn welcome tent. We welcomed our journalist friends with pink Champagne and the pink packets of popcorn. We led them to their seats in the charming Giffords little big top. Meanwhile, personalised picnics hand tied with Grand Circus stripe ribbon had been placed on their seats (more of Grand Circus later). And then the show began...
From start to finish, the acts were brimming with spectacle. This year's show is called Xanadu and is set in the era of flower power. So you can imagine the costumes. Colourful flares, hippy kaftans in eye-catching colour and fabulous pattern. The music was a foot-tapping medley of favourite 60s tunes played by a band dressed in technicolour. The show was filled with both funny and beautiful acts. There was Tweedy the not-at-all-scary, hilarious clown and his antics, forever being sent back to his job in the kitchen. He thought the theme was flour-power: the chaos ensued.
Trapeze artists moved daringly and gracefully, suspended from ropes in the air. Acrobats turned somersaults from the back of sturdy horses. Heart- stopping moments. You should have heard the whoops and cheers. A juggler in y-fronts (hysterical). A princess on a white horse alongside a little girl on a white pony, in a moment of fairytale fantasy. The grand finale was practically transcendental.
The Giffords troupe filled the ring with song and dance and the audience joined in. Moments later, we lept from our seats and into the ring guided by the troupe and we danced as they bid their farewells. A momentary moment of being a part of the circus. It was a night to remember.
If this has whetted your appetite there's good news. Giffords Circus is only half way through the season and continues into September at several locations. Giffords Circus Xanadu 2019 Box Office:
- 11th - 22nd July: Windsor Great Park, Berkshire
- 25th - 29th July: Stonor Park, Henley on Thames
- 1st - 12th August: Barrington, Oxfordshire
- 15th - 27th August: Minchinhampton Common
- 30th August - 9th September: Marlborough Common
- 12th - 16th September: Stratton Meadows, Cirencester
- 19th - 29th September: Fennells Farm, Stroud
There's another reason we were so wowed by Giffords Circus. The circus was the inspiration behind Grand Circus, our new autumn collection from Vintage & Co. We'll reveal more about this exciting new range, soon.