Popular Barnstaple summer visitor Circus Wonderland will be at Ilfracombe this August instead due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Circus Wonderland clowns Mr Popol and Kakehole protesting in London to call on the government to allow curcuses to resume. Picture: Circus WonderlandCircus Wonderland clowns Mr Popol and Kakehole protesting in London to call on the government to allow curcuses to resume. Picture: Circus Wonderland

The family fun circus featuring all human performers was unable to return to its eight-year spiritual home at Seven Brethren or an alternative venue at Rock Park after North Devon Council decided it could not give permission due to Covid-19 restrictions.

But instead the big top has been offered a temporary home on private ground at Mullacott Cross near Ilfracombe and will be giving shows from Wednesday, August 19 until Monday, August 24.

Audiences can expect plenty of thrills and laughter, with clowns, high flying trapeze artists, aerial performers, bungee-bouncing acrobats, hula hoop performers and flame throwing jugglers.

Circus director Paul Carpenter, aka Mr Popol of clown duo Kakehole and Mr Popol, said they had been told by the council because Barnstaple Fair had been cancelled, it would not be fair to hold the circus.

Circus Wonderland aerial artiste Miss Rachel in performace. Picture: Circus WonderlandCircus Wonderland aerial artiste Miss Rachel in performace. Picture: Circus Wonderland

He said: “We just want our regulars to know we won’t be far away and the circus is happening.

“My hope is after months of lockdown people are ready for a bit of entertainment and our show is family-based.”

He said there had been a complete Covid risk assessment, with lots of safety measures in place – the tent’s usual capacity of 500 will be reduced to 220 per show, with seating rows taken out.

There will be a one-way system, staff will wear face coverings and the audiences is encouraged to. Hand sanitiser will be available throughout and the tent sides opened to enable more air to circulate.

Fire jugglers will be among the performers in Circus Wonderland when it comes to Ilfracombe from August 19. Picture: Circus WonderlandFire jugglers will be among the performers in Circus Wonderland when it comes to Ilfracombe from August 19. Picture: Circus Wonderland

Mr Carpenter said the circus had so far been operating for two weeks, following a protest march on 10 Downing Street that included the clown duo, calling on the government to allow open air performances to resume.

And he revealed they had to apply to foodbanks to feed the show’s performers through lockdown.

He said: “We normally run from February to the end of October and managed three weeks before lockdown. A lot of our overseas staff were unable to get home and stranded in our winter quarters with no income, and we received no help from the government.

“This financial year is a write-off and it’s just about making enough to survive.”

For Circus Wonderland tickets go to http://www.circuswonderland.com/ or call 07531 612240.