Circus Extreme – a world record holding circus held in Europe’s largest touring circus big top – is advertised as not just a show, but an experience.

As part of Circus Extreme’s 2024 tour the magnificent big top has been pitched at Cardiff City Stadium where it will remain up to June 2 before heading to Dundee, Glasgow, and Aberdeen. Wanting to find out if Circus Extreme is truly an experience I visited – joined by my sister (28), son (four), and nephew and niece (four and seven) - to review the experience.

As the children had never been to a circus, I looked forward to seeing how they’d react (although I wondered if they’d be able to stay focused and still throughout the two-hour show).

Arriving at Cardiff City Stadium on a Saturday, the big top was a spectacular sight, whimsical both inside and out. Stepping inside I felt like a kid in a sweet shop – vendors were scattered around the lobby offering popcorn, candyfloss, churros, slushies, and more.

Free Press Series: The big top for Circus Extreme at Cardiff City Stadium

From here we queued to get into the main arena where women – dressed in beautiful clothing reminiscent of The Greatest Showman – showed guests of every age to their seats. We’d gone to a 2pm show on a sunny day; it was fairly warm inside but bearable and the air was buzzing with excitement and anticipation. The delightful smells and sounds – popcorn, candyfloss, excited chatter – took me back to my childhood.

Free Press Series: Awaiting the start of the 2pm show by Circus Extreme

Circus Extreme promised the audience an escape from reality – and they certainly hit the mark with that.  We were instantly captured by the magic of it all and absolutely mesmerised throughout. As one of the children with us has autism and can struggle with focusing or staying still we’d wondered how they would react, but they watched it in total awe. Between each act I’d look to my family and see the wonder and amazement on all their faces.

It was spectacular. Henry the Prince of Clowns ensured the audience were amused throughout – the fantastic feat of high wire was made more extreme with unicycles, poles, and even a burning hula hoop.

Free Press Series: Bravery on the high wire at Circus Extreme

A brave troupe of incredible acrobats performed on the double wheel of death and – even with the blasting music – you could hear the audiences gasps at each death-defying stunt.

Circus Extreme truly took entertainment to new heights – from trapeze acts, an amazing aerial duo, and an internationally renowned aquatic aerial ring artist who combined fire, water, and air – each act was mesmerising.

Free Press Series: Laura Miller showcasing her aquatic aerial ring

There was terrific talent on display – not just in the performances but in the seamless transitions between acts. There was never a dull moment.

Everything was enhanced with flamboyant elaborate costumes, amazing light displays, music and more. It was – as promised – an experience and an escape from reality.

Free Press Series: Laura Miller atop the big top at Circus Extreme

The finale focused largely on the motocross team who gave a jaw-dropping performance including amazing aerial stunts and fearless riders taking on the globe of death – I’m sure I wasn’t the only one on the edge of my seat for this.

Circus Extreme is suitable for all ages – personally I felt it helped reignite a sense of awe and wonder often lost in adulthood. And the children loved every moment, rating the show 10,000/10.

For those bringing along children – particularly those sensitive to sound – I would suggest ear defenders or ear buds as the performance was extremely loud. But I would also tell those bringing children that they will create magical memories which will last a lifetime. Exciting and exhilarating, Circus Extreme is truly a one-of-a-kind performance.

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