Yesterday was World Circus Day, created by Fédération Mondiale du Cirque, under the patronage of Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, as an international celebration of circus arts and culture.
To celebrate the occasion, Gandey's Circus, currently thrilling audiences at Buile Hill Park, invited people to write on its Facebook page, saying why they should be special guests at the show.
The winner was the Winnard family, from Salford, and a whole posse of them, including Reece who was celebrating his twentieth birthday, were treated to brunch with Gandey's family-friendly clown, Chico Rico, ringmaster Binky Beaumont and his sidekick, four year old Booboo, said to be the youngest ringmaster in the UK.
As special guests of Gandey's, the Winnards also got a backstage tour, a go at the foyer games and candyfloss machine, VIP ringside seats and a presentation of some giant Easter Eggs.
"I saw that my friend had entered the competition on Facebook, so I thought I would too" Michelle Winnard explained "It was funny because I was driving past and thought 'I really want to go to the circus for Reece's birthday', and when I got home I'd actually won it.
"I just wrote a bit about Reece and the girls" she added "Reece is disabled and my girls miss out on quite a lot of stuff, so I wrote about that. It's made his day..."
Gandey's was so impressed by the entries that four other families also got free tickets for the show. None were disappointed, as the thrills and spills of the circus were exhibited in the midst of stunning costumes and lighting effects...
...The Giant Wheel of Death, starring the awe-inspiring Duo Siffolini...Pablo Garcia and his wife, performing daring feats from a rocket spinning around the big top...the unique hair hanging aerial ballet of Duo Bella... Las Chicas Morales doing wonders on the Rolling Globes... stunning acrobatics and gymnastics from the Serik Brothers and the Tangier Troupe...and the vertical pole agility of the Emilia Sisters...
The all human, non-animal (bar a pantomime camel), spectacular is incredibly artistic, with even the inter-act clowning of Chico Rico having clever mime weaved within. Meanwhile there's Star Wars, Minions and Aladdin appearances too...
Wendy Taylor was one of those who also got free tickets for the show, after becoming addicted to the circus...
"I've been four times; it's just an amazing spectacle as you've got talented performers all doing stuff ordinary people wouldn't attempt" she said "It's a completely different environment that takes you away from normality; a different world...any problems you've got, you leave them at the door and they're forgotten. It's wonderful...fabulous..."
There's four shows left at Buile Hill Park – today, Sunday, at 2pm and 5:30pm, and tomorrow, Monday, 12noon and 3pm. Tickets are available on site at the box office, or book online – click here*
Meanwhile, this morning, Gandey's Circus ringmaster, Binky Beaumont, Booboo and members of the show joined the Friends of Buile Hill Park on a litter pick down at the Seedley Park end of the grounds.
The Circus has a bond with Salford Council to leave the grassed area housing the big top in good condition but went above and beyond this, as seven of the cast braved the cold and wet conditions to help fill over half a dozen refuse sacks.
"We were contacted by the Circus representative and she offered to help us out with any of our events" says Sue Slade, Secretary Friends of Buile Hill Park "We have a litter pick programme but we've organised this one specially. I think they are the first group to have offered to help."
Elaine Hodgson, one of the Friends who joined the litter pick added that the Circus team were good workers... "They were excellent, very friendly, very cheerful..." she says "We welcome help from any other groups who use the Park. It's great when people come along..."
The Friends have had two local councillors help out recently, Paul Wilson and Gina Reynolds, as well as the Friends of Lightoaks Park.
There's also a litter pick in Buile Hill Park next Sunday 23rd April at 1pm, and it has a St George theme, for St George's Day – people are welcome to come dressed as dragons, knights and damsels in distress...
For more details see the Friends of Buile Hill Park Facebook group – click here
*See also previous Salford Star article for a full preview of Gandey's Circus – click here
Photos by Anya Samantha