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This show closed on January 5, 2019

About Circus 1903

Fresh from the Paris Theatre in Las Vegas, Circus 1903 visits Southbank Centre for its European premiere.

The show includes sensational life-sized elephants stunningly created by puppeteers from War Horse, putting elephants back in the ring as never before. The circus boasts a huge cast of jaw-dropping and dangerous acts from all corners of the globe.

Featuring acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, trapeze and high-wire performers and more, this show captivates and transports audiences of all ages to the golden age of circus.

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Fresh off a successful tour of the States, “Circus 1903” premieres in Europe at London’s

Royal Festival Hall just in time for the holiday season. Get a double dose of wonder and cheer this winter by seeing this remarkable show, complete with a “wily ringmaster, a dashing juggler, a glamorous contortionist and a pair of Italian acrobats,” according to The New York Times. Set in the Golden Age of circus, “Circus 1903” is a nostalgic extravaganza with a distinct turn-of-the-century feel. Settle in and be amazed by a dizzying display of acrobatics, mind-bending contortionists, and heaps upon heaps of razzle dazzle.

Lead ringmaster Willy Whipsnade (David Williamson) opens the show with his sharp and winsome wit, welcoming the audience into the world of 1903. With Willy at the helm, the show proceeds, crammed with astonishing circus acts and incredible performers – including life-size elephant puppets designed by the same artists behind “War Horse.” Every element is designed to transport the crowd back to yesteryear, delivering delights and thrills along the way.

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What To Watch For

  • There are two elephant puppets in “Circus 1903,” a mother named Queenie and her baby elephant, Peanut. Queenie takes three puppeteers to operate while Peanut is predominantly performed by just one (incredibly dexterous) man named Luke Chadwick-Jones.
  • David Williamson, who performs as the ringmaster in the show, keeps things fresh and lively every night by relying heavily on audience interaction. He told the Las Vegas Review Journal that his favourite bit involves singling out a child in the crowd, “knowing this moment will live with this kid forever.”
  • In 2017, New York State outlawed all use of wild animals in circuses due to animal abuse violations. The whole of the U.K. followed suit in 2018, with almost 95 percent public support for the ban. The elephant puppets used in “Circus 1903” are a creative substitute for the outdated practice in an effort to maintain the authenticity of the 1900s-style circus.

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Run Time


Start Date

End Date


Suitable for ages 3+. Babes-in-arms will not be admitted.

Southbank Centre

Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX

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