Ever since my children were toddlers, Gifford's Circus has been a major highlight of our summers in England. It's a small, family run "homemade" circus that is cozy enough to feel intimate but big enough to create a festive dose of energy in the room. The beautiful sets are hand-painted, the inspired costumes are hand-sewn or plucked from vintage stores, and the acts are unique, impressive and thoughtfully curated. You simply can't believe something this personal, charming and creative still exists in the world of global Ringling Brothers and Cirque du Soleil domination. It is the antithesis of the worldwide, mass produced, profit-seeking spectacle. Every year there is a different theme - past ones have included everything from Janis Joplin to War and Peace - that dictates the design of the tent, the characters, the costumes and the music. The stories are high-brow enough for adults to appreciate but subtle enough that they don't get in the way of a 3 year old being able to equally enjoy the show.
If you happen to be anywhere near England in the months of May-September, I implore you to go. As far as I'm concerned, even going once isn't enough. We went 4 times this summer, and have already signed up for circus lessons at the Giffords' farm this fall. I have yet to find a more inspiring combination of entertainment and personal style.