Roll up to the Big Top

Gwen Scott and John Sikorski, former students at Greentop Circus
Gwen Scott and John Sikorski, former students at Greentop Circus
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BORED of your average British summer festival?

Tired of the usual summer long procession of predictable stalls, predictable sounds and predictable showers

Wensley Street Autumn Festival.....Stilt walkers from the Greentop Circus plays with 4 years old Jordan Hibbert

Wensley Street Autumn Festival.....Stilt walkers from the Greentop Circus plays with 4 years old Jordan Hibbert

Then roll up roll up for an extravaganza organisers are hoping will be head and shoulders above the rest (not least because many of the staff will be on stilts) – Sheffield’s first ever Circus Folk Festival.

The weekend’s highlights and headliners?

Stilt-walkers, clowns, jugglers, plate-spinners and trapeze artists all showing off their skills over a range of mini-stages and arenas.

There will be live folk music too, as well as Morris dancing, craft activities, story-readings and some gypsy sca bands, but what sets this fest apart is, if it takes your fancy, you’ll be able to sign up to learn some, say, unicycling. Or juggling. Or even some aerial trapeze.

“It’s the first time anything quite like this has ever been done here,” says James Harkness, events manager at Greentop Circus, the Sheffield circus school behind the event.

“But the city has a long tradition of circus, folk music and dancing so we thought bringing them together made sense. I’m certain there’s an audience for something like this.

“It’s like if you go to your average summer festival there’s always a few circus performers there doing things – this is just going to put a bit more emphasis on them, while also putting on loads of great bands.”

The weekend-long bash will take place in and around Greentop’s base – a converted church and its grounds in Holywell Road, Brightside.

Bands performing include Giant’s Cause, Blackbeard’s Tea Party and the Bell Hag Orchestra.

“It should have the feel of an urban folk festival,” says James, himself a stilt walker (“although getting close to retirement now,” he says before revealing he’s only in his 30s) of Norton Lees, Sheffield.

“We’re getting really excited about it and if it’s a success it’s definitely something we’d like to see as an annual event. It’s quite small but there would be room to grow.”

Most of the performers will be past or current students at the circus school, but organisers are looking to bring in more entertainment and stalls, and ask anyone with ideas or acts to get in touch.

It takes place June 11-12. Tickets £20 for the weekend with concessions available. Details at www.greentop.org or on 0114 2448828.