The Philip Astley Project is a collaboration between arts, heritage, statutory and education organisations working in and around Newcastle-under-Lyme. If you would like to get involved in the project, watch this space for specific opportunities and follow us on social media.

Children's Poetry Competition

Children of Newcastle-under-Lyme! Roll up to let your creativity free and celebrate 250 years of circus!

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council invites children from Newcastle-under-Lyme schools to take part in the Philip Astley Poetry Competition. The winning poem will be engraved on a stone or plaque located at an appropriate area local to your school.

Taking part

Please request an information pack from:

Beverley Sutton, Community Project Co-ordinator, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Civic Offices, Merrial St, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 2AG. Any questions? Contact Beverley on 01782 742500.

Charles Dickens and Jane Austen wrote about Philip Astley.

Why don’t you?

Open Call - Flags for AstleyFest 2018

Calling all artists and community groups!

Community groups and artists are invited to work together and take part in AstleyFest 2018, a new outdoor festival in Newcastle-under-Lyme to celebrate the life and legacy of Newcastle-under-Lyme born Philip Astley – Father of the Modern Circus.

Staffordshire-based groups are invited to apply for up to £1,000 for materials, artist fees and volunteer expenses to design and make flags to be used in a parade and displayed at the festival.
A total of £5,000 is available.


On 4th August 2018, Newcastle-under-Lyme will gather together to celebrate Philip Astley at AstleyFest, a free festival in Lyme Valley. With performances and hands-on activities, everyone will have the chance to be inspired and get involved.
A brilliant day out for the whole family, children of all ages will love clowning around and trying their hand at circus skills. Everyone will enjoy the New Vic Theatre’s first performance of Roll Up, Roll Up, a brand- new show developed with local writers, performers and choir members.

In 2018, The Philip Astley Project has commissioned Appetite and PH Productions to deliver AstleyFest. The Philip Astley Project is managed by Staffordshire University on behalf of a steering group of arts, heritage, statutory and educational organisations. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, and sponsorship from businesses based in Newcastle-under-Lyme, local people can get involved in workshops, talks, an exhibition, and performances to celebrate Philip Astley in his home town.


Philip Astley Steering Group

Join the project steering group

The Philip Astley Project steering group are starting to consider ways to continue to celebrate Philip Astley beyond 2018. If you are good at identifying sources of funding or writing grant application forms, get in touch!


Volunteer at an event

Could you help promote AstleyFest, or collect evaluation data at an event? Get in touch, and we’ll put you in contact with the organisations leading activities during 2018.