CIRCUS MAXIMUS - The UK’s first ever circus competition performed live for the public comes to Udderbelly Festival

Award Winning Circus Producer Joins Forces With Britain’s Leading Providers of Circus Education to Launch

The UK’s First Ever Circus Competition Performed Live for the Public

This spring, the hunt is on to find the top circus acts in the land. Underbelly Productions, the live production arm of Underbelly Limited, have teamed up with Circus Space, the National Centre for Circus Arts, to find and showcase the very best of UK circus talent, in a live competition performed for the public.

In order to celebrate the wealth of skill and expertise that the UK produces, Circus Maximus will scour the nation’s circus troupes, societies, adult education classes and performance institutes to pick out the very best acrobats, tumblers, tight-wire daredevils, trapeze artists, unicyclists and globe walkers and offer them the chance to make it big.

The aim is simple: to showcase the very best of UK circus talent whilst providing audiences with an exciting, entertaining and unique night out and to award one exceptional act with a cash prize of £5,000 and the chance to develop a new show with Underbelly Productions and Circus Space.

Video applications are being invited from circus performers from now until 24 March. Shortlists will then be drawn up based on creativity, originality, top class entertainment value and superb execution. The heats and finals will take place in front of a live audience and a panel of judges at Underbelly’s famous purple cow tent in London as part of Udderbelly Festival at Southbank Centre this May. Selection will take place by audience vote and a panel of expert judges.

Heats will take place at Udderbelly Festival from 2 May, with acts performing live for a public audience, who will then vote each night for their favourite. The winners of the heats, plus a wild card chosen by the judges will then perform together in the finals - a full-blown circus show, directed by an expert director, over the week of 28 May also at Udderbelly Festival. The winner of the competition, chosen by the judges and an audience vote, will be announced after the final show on Saturday 1 June.

Underbelly Productions have been behind a number of high profile circus shows in recent years including Cantina and Tom Tom Crew, and this year will be presenting work by Circa, Pirates Of The Carabina and a new production entitled LIMBO which is currently premiering at the Adelaide Fringe Festival prior to a five month season in London. 

Udderbelly Festival is part of Southbank Centre’s Festival of Neighbourhood with MasterCard this summer from 4 May to 8 September. The festival will celebrate neighbourhood in all its meanings and explore what it is to have and be a neighbour. Communities who live close by and partners from across the UK and abroad will participate in creating the festival – from nearby Elephant and Castle in South London to young people from Pelhourino in Salvador, Brazil – with a diverse programme of events including poetry, discussion, visual arts, performance and art installations across Southbank Centre’s 21-acre site.

Stephen Makin, Producer for Underbelly Productions says:

“The UK has always been a hot-bed of world class circus talent, with our performers working with the very best companies in the world. We hope that through Circus Maximus, the UK can now follow in the footsteps of countries like France and the United States in staging a competition to celebrate UK circus, thrill and delight audiences of all ages, and provide the platform for showcasing the talent that our exceptional circus performers so richly deserve. Circus Maximus will be a unique and hugely entertaining evening out that everyone will enjoy." 

Daisy Drury, Director of Circus Development at Circus Space says:

“Circus Space has been at the vanguard of the UK circus scene for over 20 years. In that time we have trained and supported thousands of circus artists, helping them make the most of their talent and imagination. Circus Maximus is an exciting new adventure for us. We're particularly looking forward to showing the British public just how vibrant, creative and unexpected contemporary circus-based performance can be.”

For full details of how to apply


E4 Udderbelly at Southbank Centre Jubilee Gardens.
HEAT 1: 7 – 10 May 7pm
HEAT 2: 11 & 12 May; matinee and evening both days 2.30 & 6pm 
HEAT 3: 14 – 17 May 7pm 
HEAT 4: 18 & 19 May matinee and evening both days 2.30 & 6pm 
FINALS: 28 May – 1 June; 7pm Mon – Fri, 6pm Saturday

Heats - £15.50 / £20.50 Finals - £17.50 / £22.50 Concessions £14 heats / £16 finals

Box Office 0844 545 8282. twitter - @circusmaximusuk