4 April this year marks 250 years since Philip Astley, an equestrian, entrepreneur and showman, staged the first ever circus performance not far from our offices on the Southbank in London on Easter Monday 1768.

To celebrate the Circus 250 anniversary, Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire, one of six ‘Cities of Circus’, is reclaiming Astley as a local hero, with celebrations including a major new theatrical production by the New Vic Theatre, Astley’s Outstanding Adventures.

The show is just one element of an international season of Circus Past, Present and Future, programmed by the New Vic Theatre between April and July, which Four Culture is promoting nationally. Other highlights include Circus! a specially curated outdoor exhibition of highlights in the Victoria & Albert Museum performance archive, and contemporary circus from companies of national and international-acclaim including NoFit State Circus, the Circolombia, Roundhouse and many more.

The programme opened on Wednesday 28 March with the world premiere performance of NoFit State’s new show Lexicon, presented in the company’s travelling big top and inspired by the language and traditions of circus. The team very much recommends a visit!