Derby Festé 2018 celebrates 250 years of Circus!

Details of this September’s 12th Derby Festé programme have now been revealed.

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 on Thursday 27, Friday 28 and Saturday 29 September.

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

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.  Tickets are limited for each show and are priced at just £10 each.

As the party begins in the Big Top, the 11 performers mingle with the crowd, making and sharing Breton crêpes, before they launch into a feast of music and circus. 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 1950’s 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 ‘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 á 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 10 years of QUAD.

Stephen is Derby Festé Artistic Lead and Artistic Director of Déda in Derby which is a nationally-renowned centre for dance, contemporary circus and outdoor performance.

He said: “Circus 250 is a UK-wide celebration of the first circus performance staged in this country which has been a popular form of family entertainment for so many generations since then.

“Performances across the Festé weekend will celebrate the many different genres of circus from dance and music to thrilling acrobatics and sideshows.

“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 including workshops this summer at community centres across the city, run by Artcore.

“This will prepare them for joining the circus parade- funded through audience development support from the Associate Touring Network.

“We are thoroughly looking forward to this year’s Derby Festé and I would urge people to buy tickets for the ‘Now or Never’ circus show as soon as they can as numbers are limited in the Big Top over the three evenings.”

For more information about Derby Festé please head to and tickets are available now for ‘Now or Never’by Circus Tscuia at

Derby Festé is produced and presented by Déda, Derby LIVE, QUAD and Derby Theatre in association with the Without Walls Associate Touring Network. Without Walls is the UK’s largest commissioner of outdoor arts shows, taking inspiring new work to audiences all over the country and beyond.

Festé is funded by Arts Council England and Derby City Council, with sponsorship from the University of Derby, Smith Partnership, Cathedral Quarter and Intu Derby.

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