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 Foundation. This eye-catching art work is the country’s first permanent monument to Philip Astley.

Warm welcome to visitors from Monte Carlo and across the UK

Visitors from Fédération Mondiale du Cirque and the UK Circus Friends Association will be welcomed by Andrew Van Buren, the world-renowned illusionist and spokesperson for the Philip Astley Project.

The day begins with a screening of vintage circus skills by Staffordshire Film Archive’s Ray Johnson MBE. Visitors will then move to George Street for the unveiling by Zsuzsanna Mata of Federation Mondiale du Cirque, Philip Astley expert Andrew Van Buren and The Mayor of Newcastle-under-Lyme Simon White, of recently commissioned public art which celebrates Philip Astley’s link to Newcastle-under-Lyme. Local young people from Realise Foundation have worked on the art work from planning to delivery, making a fantastic contribution to their local area.

Apprentice, Liam Robinson, 17, from Tunstall said: “Working on these sculptures has been amazing and seeing them installed has made me extremely proud.” He continues; “I’ve loved applying what I’ve learnt to this project; and it has certainly made me interested in the circus.”

I’ve loved applying what I’ve learnt to this project; and it has certainly made me interested in the circus.

Apprentices from PM Training carried out the welding, cutting, assembly, installation and landscaping of the sculptures supported by PM Training’s Artworks Manager, Phil Brown. Phil said: “To me, these projects are important because of the skills we share with the young apprentices. They get the experience needed to move into jobs and careers in engineering.”

The sculptures are supporting a movement in the local area to improve the awareness of Philip Astley and his creation of the circus alongside the works of the Philip Astley Project.

The unveiling on World Circus Day will feature not only the sculptures but a new plaque dedicated to honouring Philip Astley in his birth town.

Philip Astley Project Talks

The afternoon includes two ticketed talks taking place at the New Vic Theatre. Fred Van Buren and Andrew Van Buren will be ‘In Conversation’ with Alan Coates, providing background on Philip Astley, his link to Newcastle and the Van Buren’s long-standing advocacy for Staffordshire’s circus heritage, and present-day talent. In the afternoon talk, actor, director and ringmaster, Chris Barltrop will share his insights on Astley’s contribution to the development of the circus arts.

Visitors are also invited to view an outdoor photographic exhibition, coordinated by Appetite and the V&A Museum, and attend Lexicon, No Fit State Circus’ new performance.

We’re delighted that our friends from Monte Carlo are travelling to Philip Astley’s home town!

Andrew Van Buren, “We’re delighted that our friends from around the world, including from Monte Carlo to Brazil, France, Spain and from around the UK are travelling to Philip Astley’s home town! We look forward to giving them a warm welcome and celebrating World Circus Day in style.

For more information, contact Andrew Van Buren on

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