• Circa Tsuïca

Circus Timeline since 1968

Contemporary circus has more history than you might think.

Taking its starting point in the community and social circus movements of the late 60s and 70s, Crying Out Loud’s visual timeline marks a selection of the pivotal companies and events from six decades of UK contemporary circus.

View our circus timeline.

In the long view we see circus’ reliable ability to work itself through the cracks of mainstream culture: it appears in Covent Garden after the fruit market closes and before the developers move in, runs the corridors and halls of an abandoned Victorian fire and police station, springs up in timber-yards and warehouses and among the shadowed vaults under London Bridge.

Its restless spirit allies itself with the subversive countercultural energy of the new variety and alternative comedy circuits, takes on the voice of the poet and the anarchist, and picks up speed as it moves towards its modern incarnation: a hybrid artform, spread across borders, half in the public eye and half out of it, sensible of its history yet ready, always, to reinvent itself.


  • Front page photo of Aurelia Thierrée by Richard Haughton
  • Front page illustrations Aude Van Ryn
  • 1975 Reg Bolton photo by Johnni Stanton courtesy of Craigmillar Archive
  • 1976 Pookeisnackenburger photo by Steve McNicholas
  • 1977 Annie Fratellini photo from Valérie Fratellini Collection
  • 1980 Son of Circus Lumiere photo by Paul Derrick courtesy of Hilary Westlake
  • 1980 Circus Oz flyer courtesy of Southbank Centre
  • 1981 Flying Karamazov Bros photo by Rod Kimball
  • 1982 Le Cirque Imaginaire programme courtesy of Charlie Holland
  • 1983 Albert and Friends courtesy of the company
  • 1984 Ra-Ra Zoo photo by Martin Cole courtesy of London International Mime Festival
  • 1985 Belfast Community Circus courtesy of the company
  • 1986 Mummer and Dada courtesy of Bim Mason
  • 1988 Rose English photo by Mike Laye
  • 1988 Archaos photo of Franz Clochard by Ian Patrick
  • 1992 Circomedia photo of Fool Time courtesy of Bim Mason
  • 1992 Gandini Juggling Smashed, photo by Ludovic des Cognets
  • 1994 Circus Space, Hoxton Square opening courtesy of Circus Space
  • 1995 Johann LeGuillerm Cirque Ici photo by P. Cibille
  • 1998 James Thierrée La Veillée des Abysses photo by Richard Haughton
  • 2000 Millennium Dome Show photo by Stufish Ltd
  • 2002 Ockhams Razor The Mill photo by Monica Connell
  • 2006 Shunt Lounge Strings on Strings photo by Layla Rosa
  • 2006 Invisible Circus photo by Monica Connell
  • 2007 Circus Front poster courtesy of Roundhouse
  • 2007 City Circ network illustration by Aude Van Ryn courtesy of Crying Out Loud
  • 2010 Acrojou photo by Hannah Edy
  • 2011 Postcards Festival, Zu Aerial photo by Ben Hopper
  • 2012 Piccadilly Circus Circus  photo by Matthew Andrews
  • 2012 Groupe Acrobatiques de Tanger, Chouf Ouchouf photo by Mario Del Curto
  • 2013 BettiCombo Al Cubo photo by Vincent Beaume
  • 2014 Barely Methodical Troupe Bromance photo by Alex Brenner 
  • 2015 Compagnie L’Oublié(e) L’Oublié(e) photo by Frank Berglund
  • 2016 James Thierrée The Toad Knew photo by Richard Haughton
  • 2017 Spotlight UK Circus image by Matt Hodges Design courtesy of Crying Out Loud
  • 2018 Far From The Norm Union Black photo by Camilla Greenwell
  • This timeline was created by Crying Out Loud with John Ellingsworth, and designed by Bill Lowe as part of Circus Post for The Space.
  • Thanks to Charlie Holland, Ivan Kralj and Glynis Henderson.