Derby Festé celebrates the circus

Picture by JL Bernard

This year Derby Festé is inspired by 250 years of circus – marking the anniversary of the first circus performance near London’s Waterloo in 1768 by showman Philip Astley.

The city’s popular annual festival has been extended to three days for the first time this year – bringing a bag full of tricks and a sprinkling of magic to the city centre from September 27-29. 

The festival kicks off on Thursday night at Bass’ Recreation Ground with the first of three performances of an exciting and exhilarating circus by French company, Circa Tsuica.

Presented by Crying Out Loud, Now or Never will run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday early evenings and is billed as a reinvention of circus traditions for the 21st century.  

They fly, fling and swing across the tent on trapezes, tightropes, cyr wheels, trick bicycles, trampolines and seesaws. All the while, Circa Tsuica’s acrobat-musicians play their thundering brass rhythms accompanied by young musicians from Derby Music Centre Circus Brass.  

The city’s popular Bustler Market will be having a double header, bringing street food and drinks from around the world at Riverlights and the Market Place on Friday evening, and all day on Saturday.

Friday night will see the opening of the Jon Marshall’s traditional 1950s Side Shows on the Market Place alongside the virtual reality piece, VR Playground, by Thrill Laboratory. 

The live performance will be courtesy of French company Cie Dyptik who will thrill the crowds with their energetic hip-hop dance performance of D Construction, staged around metal scaffolding.

On Saturday the streets will burst to life from 11am with a circus procession through St Peters Quarter and the Cathedral Quarter – trumpeting the start of street entertainment performance across the city centre including live music, circus performances, dance, and some incredible characters.

The Saturday evening starts with a mesmerising parade FierS à Cheval which is a company of beautiful larger-than-life glowing white horses winding through the Cathedral Quarter.  

The parade will finish in the Market Place where visitors can then enjoy light projections dancing on the buildings in a finale to celebrate ten years of QUAD.

Derby Festé artistic lead Stephen Munn said: “Every year we look to bring a new aspect into the Derby Festé programme but the constant theme every year is that this weekend is something that brings everyone together to enjoy a unique atmosphere in the city centre with top quality performances by artists from across the UK and Europe.

“As well as watching and interacting with the performances, there will also be opportunities for the people of Derby to actually participate in Festé.”

For more information go to

Tickets are available now for Now or Never by Circus Tscuia at