A whole new world of circus and cabaret will be taking over Blackpool once more as Showzam! rolls into town.
The annual festival takes place from Saturday to Wednesday, February 14 to 18, based at Showzam! Central in the Winter Gardens and taking over a host of venues.
Acts will be travelling from as far as South America, Canada and the USA, and closer to home with many performers from the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Belgium, Portugal, Germany and across the UK.
Arts body LeftCoast has been commissioned to programme this year’s festival – which launches the season for the resort as its first major event in the calendar.
Artistic director Michael Trainor said: “Adding such an international element to Showzam! creates even more excitement. There is always such a great buzz surrounding Showzam! and we’re looking forward to being part of what is the eighth year of this truly successful festival.
“There is a great variety of acts this year and when you couple that with the excitement of being able to welcome first class entertainers and performers from across the world it adds another dimension.
“Showzam! is Blackpool’s first big event of the year and it is an absolute delight to be working on a project that brings such an international and diverse feel to the town.”
International highlights of Showzam! 2015 include:
n The Columbian-based Circolumbia – a circus school that works with street children training future circus stars. Circolumbia will be performing daily throughout Showzam! in the Blackpool Tower Circus.
n The hugely entertaining Mysterieuse Coiffures from France – an act that will literally leave your hair standing on end as festival-goers in Showzam! Central are treated to a bizarre and very memorable new hair-do.
n Close Act from the Netherlands – giant, pre-historic beasts will take to the streets of Blackpool charging through crowds looking for food to calm their hunger. But there will be no need to panic as these “Sauruses” are strictly vegetarian!
n The ever-popular Carnival Ball takes place once more at the Tower Ballroom, with a packed programme of entertainment and music.
Taking to the stage will be: Abigail Collins (UK), a one-woman rollercoaster of death defying stunts; Magmanus (Sweden) with their wild acrobats, jugglers and Teeterboard extraordinaire, and the gorgeous Kitty Bang Bang - whisky-soaked, fire-breathin’, chopper ridin’ princess of British burlesque.
There will also be highlights from the truly spectacular South American circus company Circolombia, amazing aerial silk artists Starfiz (UK), extraordinary specimens from the Hocus Pocus Theatre (UK) ‘Sideshow of Curiosities’. On top of that, awe-inspiring circus skills from Lost in Translation Circus (UK), Christophe Pavia (FRANCE) will transform you into the belle of the ball with his magical and stunning hair dos, and there’s a world of wonderment from variety supergroup Barnard, Hicks and Jones (UK).
Music will come from the Balkan and Ska-influenced band Kumpania Algazarra from Portugal and the uber cool DJs, The Broken Hearts.
Michael added: “All the venues involved in this year’s Showzam! offer a truly international experience. From street theatre, the acts in Showzam! Central and the Carnival Ball to the Canadian Monsters of Schlock at the Merrie England Bar, Abi Collins in the Sands Venue and the hugely anticipated Circolumbia in the Tower Circus.
“There is no doubt that this is Blackpool’s big international festival of the year and we look forward to welcoming all the performers along with the many visitors and residents who we hope will flock to experience such a diverse programme while being entertained.”
The Winter Gardens will host Showzam! Central, for a three-day, free, feast of fun, with side shows, performances and a chance to practise your circus skills.
In previous years, this has been in Olympia, but this time more than 100 performances will be taking place throughout the complex with the Floral Hall, Horseshoe, Pavilion Theatre, Grand Vestibule and newly-refurbished Derham Lounge all hosting acts and activities.
He said: “I believe having the artistes performing throughout the Winter Gardens will add something totally new to the festival and I am really looking forward to seeing people’s faces as they wander into this magnificent building to bump into such things as a crazy coiffeur from France and the roller-skating jet-back propelled Ulik from Germany.
“The building is amazing anyway so to inject such impressive acts from across the world into its many venues over the course of the festival is really exciting.”
As well as the Mysterieuse Coiffures, who will transform hair, and the jet-propelled Ulik, highlights in Showzam! Central include death-defying stuntwoman and hula-hooper extraordinaire Abi Collins, acrobatics and juggling from the Magmanus Circus Show, Hocus Pocus Theatre’s Sideshow of Curiosities – where you can take part in a spooky séance, have your fortune read and meet a bearded ladym and the opportunity to be tempted by the Belgian butchers Boucherie Bacul.
A shipwrecked pirate and mermaid will be moving into a lavishly-decorated 50ft inflatable sperm whale, where they will meet swashbucklers who dare to step inside. Carnival Ball band Kumpania Algazarra will be live throughout the venue and around the town centre.
Lost In Translation return once more to Showzam! to present circus workshops too.
Michael added: “There is so much going on in Showzam! Central with something of interest for everyone.
“The whole idea is to keep all our acts as varied as possible while ensuring we celebrate all that is circus.
“This programme does that and we look forward to welcoming visitors and local residents.”
Coun Graham Cain, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for tourism and leisure, said: “The countdown to Showzam! is now on and I’m extremely pleased with the line-up that has been put together.
“I’m really looking forward to the week getting underway and I would urge people to snap up their tickets now.
“It’s fantastic to have such an international flavour to Showzam! this year.
“We’ve got a range of very exciting talents from around the globe to entertain people. We hope to also have visitors from far and wide and put on a wonderful week for everyone to enjoy.”
Showzam! 2015 runs from February 14 – 18. To find out more go to the website www.showzam.co.uk