News, activities and stories from the Philip Astley Project have received local and national coverage. If you’d like to cover one of our events, or an interview with showman and Philip Astley Expert, Andrew Van Buren, get in touch.

For background on the project, download our Press Pack

AstleyFest 2018

On 4th August 2018 Newcastle-under-Lyme saw the first ever AstleyFest – a new festival celebrating the father of the modern circus in Newcastle-Under-Lyme. The festival started with a bang at 11:30am in Newcastle town centre where people proudly paraded their Astley themed flags, which had been made by community groups, schools and organisations getting together and sharing their skills in the weeks leading up to the festival. These eye-catching flags paraded through the town alongside the antique jesters did just the trick that they did back in Astley’s day – people’s curiosity was piqued, and they started to join the parade heading through the town centre and towards Lyme Valley Park to join in the circus themed fun.

The Acts

Approximately 7,000 visitors came AstleyFest learning something new about the local heritage of Newcastle-under-Lyme and being wowed by the spectacles on offer. The acts included Andrew Van Buren’s Magic of Astley magic show, interactive walkabout Jesters by Acrojou, The Stilt Ringmaster by Artizani , The Coldstream Guards 1815 and 5/60th Rifles, Circus Sensible, Thingamabob PanGottic Circus-Theatre and an array of Astley inspired workshops that saw big kids and little kids alike trying their hand at juggling, plates spinning and hula-hooping – just to name a few. Mixing within the crowds was the cast of Astley’s Outstanding Adventures who delighted festival goers with their comedic acting, and some visitors even bumped into Philip Astley himself. The brand-new theatre production Roll up Roll up, produced by The New Vic Theatre for AstleyFest, had two sell out shows that were both received very well. There really was something for everyone as these amazing acts were topped off with street food, art stalls, and even a blacksmith. Visitors could also find the Heritage Lottery Fund stall and Philip Astley information stall which ensured that people wanting to dive deeper into the heritage of Newcastle-under-Lyme, the circus and the Philip Astley Project could.

Great Success

The event attracted people from the circus trade, or with a specialist interest in the circus, along with locals looking a good family day out.  It was a huge hit and a festival the likes that Newcastle-under-Lyme has never seen before, it was great success that we hope will continue year on year. Thank you to our sponsors and The Heritage Lottery Fund for helping us to make this happen.

All News

View News By

AstleyFest 2018

On 4th August 2018 Newcastle-under-Lyme saw the first ever AstleyFest – a new festival celebrating the father of the modern circus in Newcastle-Under-Lyme. The festival started with a bang at 11:30am in Newcastle town centre where people proudly paraded their ...

Philip Astley Town Trail

Newcastle-under-Lyme BID have teamed up with Creative Art North Staffordshire to create a Philip Astley Town Trail Map that tells you about the life of Philip Astley, Father of the Modern Circus. The trail uses window vinyls placed at specific locations ...

Communities come together in Celebrating AstleyFest

In February 2018, The Philip Astley Project held an open call for artists, schools and community groups to take part in AstleyFest 2018, a new outd- oor festival in Newcastle-under-Lyme to celebrate the life and legacy of Philip Astley – Father of ...

Homecoming by Night

  Homecoming by Night, held on Saturday 30th June 2018, was a fantastic summer event that brought circus acts to the people of Newcastle-under-Lyme, in celebration of Philip Astley, the father of the modern circus. Homecoming is a popular annual event ...

World Circus Day – 21st April

Newcastle-under-Lyme celebrates World Circus Day in style! In 2018, World Circus Day celebrations in Newcastle-under-Lyme are coordinated by Andrew Van Buren. Highlights include Philip Astley Project talks hosted by the New Vic Theatre, and the unveiling of a new public art project by Realise ...

Andrew Van Buren commemorates Philip Astley and the 250th Anniversary of the circus in Westminster

The legacy of Philip Astley and the 250th anniversary of the circus are commemorated by Andrew Van Buren at the Palace of Westminster. On March 6th, Showman and Performer Andrew Van Buren gave his speech in the House of Commons after ...

Town Trail – Invitation to Tender

Artists and designers! Could you create a Philip Astley Town Trail for Newcastle-under-Lyme? Newcastle-under-Lyme Business Improvement District (the BID), is looking for an artist or graphic designer to work with young people on the development of a Town Trail to support The ...

‘No Fit State Circus’ is Coming to Town!

No Fit State Circus is in town! Described by The Times as: "A huge, restless party vibe" No Fit State Circus comes to the big top in the heart of Newcastle-under-Lyme. Presenting a 21- date circus extravaganza 'LEXICON' from 28th March- 21st April, ...

Circus themed Easter activities held at Brampton Museum

A selection of circus themed Easter activities are being held at Brampton Museum to continue the ongoing celebration of circus pioneer- Philip Astley, from Newcastle-under-Lyme. Children and families are invited to make their own circus themed posters to be exhibited in the ...

Open Call

CALLING ALL ARTISTS, SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITY GROUPS! Community organisations (including schools), 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 Philip Astley – Father of the Modern ...

Astley – Circus Genius

Re-issue of the tribute book by Paul Bemrose of Newcastle Museum, published by Newcastle Borough Council. Once in a while, history produces a personality who rises up to become a legend in his own time. Philip Astley, born in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1742, ...

Do you remember your first circus?

On Wednesday 3rd January, Radio 3's Free Thinking Programme hosted a discussion about the invention of the circus ring. Andrew Van Buren (Van Buren Organisation, Philip Astley Project), Tom Rack (No Fit State Circus), Naomi Frisby and Professor Vanessa Toulmin (Sheffield University) discussed ...

News Navigation