Whirligig Festival is back – bigger than ever!

This September, Weston-super-Mare will host a weekend festival of outdoor arts as ‘Whirligig’  returns with a jam-packed, bumper package of seaside spectacles taking place from 10 – 12  September.

Presented by Theatre Orchard, the Whirligig Festival – winner of Best UK Small Event in the National Outdoor Events Association Awards 2019 – returns with its biggest line-up yet, and will see the action rolled out across three days in locations in the heart of Weston-super-Mare.

The free fiesta starts with a Friday night launch party taking place from 6pm – 8.30pm in the town centre’s Italian Gardens. The evening line-up includes entertainment from Autin Dance Theatre’s ‘Out of the Blue’ Sea Giant puppet walkabout, Simple Cypher’s ‘Roll Up, Roll Up’ juggling and Cyr Wheel artistry, Pirates of the Carabina’s mesmerising aerial, circus show ‘Pirate Taxi’ and a feelgood karaoke finale from Puppets with Guts, ‘The Lips’, a luminous, big pop puppetry performance from a chorus of delightfully, deviant divas.

On Saturday 11 September, from 11.30am – 6pm, The Italian Gardens (Weston-super-Mare BS23 1AJ) and adjacent High Street will come alive with an exuberant mix of spectacular performances including homegrown and internationally acclaimed talent.

Featuring favourites such as headliner Motionhouse (part of Team GB’s Wembley homecoming concert on BBC 1) and their jaw-dropper ‘WILD’, a show supported by Without Walls, that explores our disconnect with the natural environment as performers use incredible feats to move through a forest of tall poles; a seductive peepshow ‘The Glory Box’ from Ramshaklicious and Etta Ermini Dance Theatre’s ‘Glam’, inspired by club culture and the journey of the LGBTQ+ community.

Marvel at Simple Cypher’s explosive tricks and artful dexterity in ‘Roll Play’ as three performers challenge identity, status and societal roles; the breathtaking breakdance, acrobatic and trampolining skills of James Wilton Dance in ‘iRobot’, and a perilous tight rope feat by Stefano di Renzo in ‘Hold On’, a show commissioned by Without Walls, as Whirligig is taken to new heights in a stunning showcase of talent and creativity.

Be wowed by experiences and walkabout acts including Artizani’s ‘Bees! The Colony’ hive installation, a show supported by Without Walls; Autin Dance Theatre’s sentient Sea Giant puppet EKO; BinCats Circus ‘Street Cat Strut’; Dizzy O Dare’s ‘Falconry Dismay’; Cat and Mouse Theatre’s ‘Blockbuster Factory’; Gobbledegook’s ‘Cloudscapes’, Curious Company’s ‘Colours’ stilt walkers and Puppets with Guts, ‘The Lips’.

Soak up a sunny Sunday afternoon and relaxing vibes at Grove Park (BS23 2QJ) on 12 September from 1pm – 5pm as the Festival winds down. Be immersed in Greek mythology and an epic seaside tale in Jack Dean & Company’s gig theatre ‘Hero & Leander’; drift away to Gobbledegook Theatre’s ‘Cloudscapes’ as you contemplate life and the wonder of the skies; join Emily Brown Dance in ‘Treasure’, as a special extended cast of professional and community dancers explore our fascination with the seas and coastlines. Plus, Cat & Mouse Theatre, Magic by Jayne, North Somerset Scrapstore and a bandstand of locally-sourced acoustic music.

Fiona Matthews, creative director at Theatre Orchard, said: “Whirligig is back to take over the town centre with experiences that will amaze, move and uplift.  We were unable to go ahead with Whirligig last year due to covid restrictions. So this year the jaw-dropping spectacle and irresistible fun extends across three days in some of Weston’s most brilliant spots, showcasing breathtaking creative talent and bringing people together in the great outdoors. Come and celebrate something out-of-this-world with us!”


Theatre Orchard is a partner in Without Walls, working with festivals and artists and bringing fantastic outdoor arts to people in towns and cities across the UK.

Whirligig will adhere to covid-safe guidelines in place at the time of the event. Some event details may be subject to change – check-out theatreorchard.org.uk and follow on social media for the latest updates.

Artizani – BEES! The Colony

In BEES! The Colony, audiences wander amongst the honey-perfumed Bee Colony, occasionally cloaked in smoke, finding a variety of ways of viewing and interacting with the contents of 6 impossible Bee Hives.  In each there is a surprising conceptual twist, which challenges, charms and confounds expectations – you may find yourself looking into the vastness of space or teased by a telescopic hive soaring into the air.

Supported by Without Walls. Originally created as part of 6 Impossible Things – a collaboration between Avanti and Artizani with support from Arts Council England.

Autin Dance Theatre – Out of the Blue walkabout and performance

Out of the Deep Blue: in a dystopian future, waves wash EKO, a sentient Sea Giant, onto the shore.  There he encounters vulnerable Violet.  These two beings – an ancient creature, a young girl – offer us their stories.  An impactful dialogue around our earth’s climate emergency told through dance, movement and masterful puppeteering.

BinCats Circus – Streetcat Strut 

Born in a cardboard box on the streets of Weston-super-Mare, two circus cats extraordinaire fling themselves 5 metres straight up their scratch pole for your delight.

Gasp at the awesome strength of their claws! Gawp at the cat-robatics of their pigeon chasing! Stand agog as they dance, play, purr and fight cat Kung Fu above your very heads!

Developed with funding support from WECA.

Cat and Mouse Theatre – Blockbuster Factory 

At great expense, we have flown the American Movie Director Martin Beilsperg to the UK and teamed him up with legendary playwright Charles Bexley Heath.  Out on the street they recruit stars and crew for their latest Blockbuster.  Unfortunately they have forgotten all the props, but they did manage to bring a whole box of bananas….

Curious Company – The Colours

A visual walkabout stilt piece based simply on abstract shape, colour and movement.

Dizzy O Dare – Falconry Dismay

Experience the breathtaking flying displays of these majestic Birds of Prey, featuring a range of birds including Hawks, Vultures, Falcons and Owls. Lead by head falconer Kevin Tickle, whose life-long fascination with birds of prey began after watching Ladyhawk in 1984, when he was three years old. Each bird will showcase their unique behaviours, personalities and flying techniques over a 30-minute display within the flight arena.

Emily Brown Dance – Treasure 

When the storm comes, what will you hold on to?  Treasure is a fearless and physical dance performance, exploring our innate human fascination with our seas and coastlines. New for Whirligig Festival, join a special extended cast of professional and community dancers as they uncover our deep-buried past, and confront a future shaped by climate change.

Etta Ermini Dance Theatre and Van Huynh Company – Glam

This colourful performance highlights the power of bringing people together through dance and popular music, inviting each of us to celebrate the most fabulous part of ourselves. Inspired by club culture and the journey of the LGBTQ+ community, Glam is accessible to all ages and backgrounds.

Gobbledegook – Cloudscapes

Cloudscapes is a duologue for performer and clouds. Whilst Lorna tells stories of her relationship with the troposphere and the journey of a lifetime with her father, audiences are encouraged to look up and contemplate the mutability of clouds, as well as the mutability of humanity. Even the most seemingly featureless skies provide plentiful material.   An experience not to be forgotten.

Jack Dean & Company – Hero & Leander or I Love You but Everything’s Under Water

Sing, dance and cry with us in this bittersweet outdoor gig theatre show. Six multi-instrumentalists tell an epic seaside tale through songs encompassing folk, indie, sea shanties and choral music. A story of bad rulers, worse weather, and how we keep going when everything is flipping terrible.

James Wilton Dance – iRobot

A human and a robot fly through the air in this part dance, part trampolining extravaganza of a performance – set to the thundering electro rock of Polish Prog rock superstar AMAROK.  Taking place atop a trampoline, this work, that takes its influences from martial arts, breakdance, acrobatics and more, will leave audiences breathless.

Magic by Jayne – Jayne Corrigan is one of fewer than 70 female magicians to belong to the world-famous Magic Circle, and the only woman to have won Bristol’s Close Up Magician of the Year.  Come and let your jaw drop!

Motionhouse – Wild

What is it to be wild? WILD, the daring dance-circus production from Motionhouse, explores our disconnect with the natural environment. In our modern lives, is the wild still shaping our

behaviour?  WILD creates an urban forest in the everyday of the city. Performers use powerful physicality and incredible feats to move through a forest of tall poles. From the top, life in the canopy looks down onto the forest floor – a dangerous world of unknown meetings.

Commissioned by Gulbenkian & ART31 and Birmingham Hippodrome (as part of the Hippodrome Associate Artist programme). Supported by Without Walls with commissioning from Freedom Festival, Hat Fair, and Out There International Festival of Circus & Street Arts. With additional backing from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Foyle Foundation and The 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust.

Pirates of the Carabina – Pirate Taxi 

Pirates of the Carabina are award-winning circus artists, acrobats and musicians. Their brand-new show tells their own tale of running away to the circus, with humour, original music and an

ingenious set. Join the adventure and watch an extraordinary aerial performance.

Puppets with Guts – The Lips

The Lips are a chorus of delightfully deviant divas whose mouths have broken free from their bodies! A luminous outdoor mix-tape show with something to say, The Lips reanimate our favourite songs, celebrate our shared love of popular music and uphold our freedom to speak out, through a big pop puppetry performance that is seductive yet subversive.  Also see the walkabout version on Saturday!

Ramshacklicious – The Glory Box

A prestige peepshow that might change your life! The GloryBox is an entry point to the world of Club Supreme: the ultimate programme to up-tap your potential to become supreme in body, mind and lifestyle. The Worshipful Master will be your guide.  Two of Club Supreme’s top ranking Personal Assistants are on the hunt for a new Club Member  – take a peep into the GloryBox to

explore your dreams, desires and fantasies. Have you got what it takes to go all the way?

Simple Cypher

Roll Up, Roll Up (Friday 10 Sep) – combining Simple Cypher’s passion for circus and hip hop culture through a mash-up of Cyr wheel and juggling with musicality, originality and innovative play.

Roll Play (Saturday 11 Sep) – prepare to be amazed by the explosive tricks and artful dexterity of Simple Cypher as three performers blur the boundaries between art forms to challenge identity, status and societal roles.

Stefano di Renzo – Hold On 

Playing on and around a self-counterweighted slack rope system Hold On explores the relationship between a man and the system that governs his life.  He holds himself afloat just by the strength of his grip whilst precariously balancing on top of the rope he is holding.  He is in control of the system but at the same time, he is controlled by it.  He holds it up, but if he decides to let go, he will fall…

Commissioned by Without Walls. Co-commissioned by Circulate project. Supported by Espace Catastrophe, Centre International de Création des Arts du Cirque (BE), Watermans Arts Centre and Lab:time.