Showzam for those who so not know is Blackpool’s annual festival of the bizarre and fun. Spread across the town people are presented with a breathtaking array of strange sights and sounds as performers from across the world gather to entertain, baffle and amuse. Now in its seventh year it can be said it has gone from strength to strength and this years festival is set to outshine the last six! Sooty and Barney the big purple dinosaur are among the many shows upcoming, but the preview event was more focused on the Olympia space and the many events there that start on Friday.
The preview was a hot ticket but your trusty editors managed to fenangle some and off I went to The Winter Gardens. After braving the wind and rain a couple of (very nice) cups of coffee helped me thaw out, there followed a pleasant mingling of the 70 or so assorted press and dignitaries before we were invited to enter the Olympia to sample some of the events, performers and weird and wonderful creations that this years Showzam has offer.
Ropes dangle from the ceiling in the massive Olympia space, and lurid costumed performers from circus darlings ‘No Fit State’ shuttle up and down them as we enter. Creepy living topiary wanders about, seriously, walking plant people! Stageshow glamour crashes headlong into Victorian sideshow allure, show girls wander about as a (slightly disturbing) purple Mereman contorts amidst a cloud of giant bubbles. Victorian styled magic showmen give a steady stream of entertaining patter and strings vanish into wooden sticks as you are drawn into the magic of a bygone age. It’s not all ‘olde worlde’ as Michael Jordan’s High Jinx are given a brief taster on stage, The High Jinx dancers run on and I’m left wondering how that much energy can be mustered pre noon! Jordan himself after a little stumble with the juggling, leaves us slack jawed as his assistant ends up balanced on her back on a single bowling pin.
The highlight of the morning for me had to be the ‘Tranzient Museum’, a twisty and mysterious collection of strange objects all built onto a mobile tricycle, if you see it about then do stop and look, my favourite object on display is a collection of the most famous fleas from the flea circus all pinned in a tiny case. Wonderful and quirky stuff!
When Chris Pope, Events Manager of visitBlackpool gave a heartfelt round of thanks to everyone involved and promises a Showzam to beat all others, you can genuinely believe it. I for one am excited and can’t wait to dive in and try some circus skills, I always wondered how they pull a tablecloth from under a fully set up table, that is just one of the skills you can learn at the Olympia from 14th to 23rd of February. See you there!
Images courtesy of Dawn Mander.
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