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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Christmas Under the Big Top, at Burnley Oval in Richmond - 2 hours 30 minutes

Santa and Mrs Claus are back in town preparing for their big day and there is plenty of fun to be had.


There is a welter of activities and a 50-minute show to captivate young and old, with an emphasis on the littlies.


As you enter what is an interactive walkthrough, you can meet roaming Christmas friends and take your photo with them.

There is a walking/talking Christmas bauble, a plum pudding, the snow queen and a Christmas bear.


I particularly appreciated the scene from Frozen that greets you when you first enter the Big Top – a great pictorial opportunity.


And a happy snap with Father Christmas and his wife is – of course – all but mandatory.

Among the other highlights is Mrs Claus’ Bakery, which enables you to create your own delicious, edible reindeer face.


Stacka-Blocks is a free play block construction zone, only limited by your imagination.


It’s not too late to send off your letter to Santa and to that end is the North Pole Post Office. With the help of letter writing elves, you can write about your good deeds.

Youngsters also gravitated towards an area where they could colour in small trinket size figurines, including a gingerbread man.


There are carnival games and kids’ rides. A series of jumping castles is particularly popular.


My favourite thing to do Under the Big Top though is to see the Christmas show.

Introduced by Mrs Claus, this year it is Elmo and Cookie Monster from Sesame Street that take centre stage.


Thereafter, came my undoubted highlight when Circus Royale performers thrilled us with their daredevil heroics.


Platform and aerial acrobatics impress, but it is the Colombian boys known as the Lion Brothers that induce the sharpest intakes of breath.


First up, for two of them, is the Wheel of Steel.

Their movement propels the apparatus, that almost reaches the tent roof, at ever faster speed, as it rotates, time and again.


High in the air, one of them uses a skipping rope and then pulls a black bag over his head while the wheel continues to spin.


The Lion Brothers’ piece de resistance features the trio on motorbikes in what is known as the Globe of Death.

The stunt riders risk their lives on hard revving bikes inside a closed metal sphere within touching distance of each other, going around and around, up and down. Amazing!


Christmas Under the Big Top is on at Burnley Oval in Richmond until 24th December, 2023. Allow up to two and a half hours.


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