Gandey’s Circus Review – The Timeless Appeal of the Circus

When I moved back to the UK last year, I was determined to make the most of Halloween.

Fed up of seeing spooky scare houses and ghoulish ghost tours on my Instagram feed and dealing with major FOMO, I vowed that I wouldn’t let the 2023 spooky season pass me by, and so when I came across an advertisement for Gandey’s Halloween Spooktacular show, I couldn’t resist.

I booked ringside seats for me and my friend Liam, and on the night before Halloween, we headed to the Trafford Centre to watch the performance.

On entering the big top and making our way towards our seats, we were instantly immersed in the the fantastical world of Gandey’s Circus.

The aroma of freshly-popped popcorn and candyfloss filled the air, and as the ringmaster took to the stage in his sequinned jacket and dramatic makeup, a hush fell over the audience, with even the most boisterous kids quieting down and beginning to pay attention.

The show we were about to watch was Gandey’s Halloween ‘Spooktacular,’ a thrilling two-hour extravaganza that promised to be a spooky twist on Gandey’s regular shows.

I actually used to go to Gandey’s Circus Trafford Centre with my mum when I was little, and though my memories are very hazy, I knew that this was sure to be a stunning performance – Gandey’s is Europe’s largest touring circus, after all!

But did Gandey’s Circus Trafford Centre live up to expectations?

In this post, I’m going to provide you with a full and honest Gandey’s Circus Review so that you know what to expect from a Gandey’s show and whether it’s what you’re looking for.

Gandey’s Circus Review – The Timeless Appeal of the Circus

About Gandey’s Circus

As I mentioned in the introduction, Gandey’s Circus is Europe’s largest touring circus show, and it is over 100 years old, with the Gandey family still creating (and performing in!) the show.

The troupe features acts from all across the globe, including Cuba, Kenya, Chile, and Ghana, who all perform death-defying stunts – often without any kind of harness or other safety equipment – for their adoring crowds.

Something noteworthy about Gandey’s Circus is that even though the use of wild animals in travelling circuses was not banned until 2020 in the UK, the Gandey family have provided animal-free entertainment for over 30 years, showing their commitment to ethical circus entertainment.

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The Halloween Spooktacular Big Top show has a running time of two hours (including a short interval), and in 2023, they performed nightly in three locations – Trafford Centre (Manchester), Trentham (Stoke-on-Trent), and Merry Hill (Dudley).

I went to see Gandey’s Circus at the Trafford Centre, which is easily reached by car, bus, or tram from Manchester.

The Show

From start to finish, Gandey’s Halloween Spooktacular absolutely delivered.

The performers created a perfect balance of daring stunts and comedic skits, all to a spooky soundtrack of Ghostbusters, Thriller, Disturbia, Monster Mash, and other freaky favourites.

The performers donned elaborate costumes inkeeping with the spooky theme, and we saw an acrobatic Snow White flying through the sky, with Jack Skellington and Scooby Doo also making appearances.

There were also Star Wars, The Addams Family, and Game of Thrones segments, which were pretty cool.

Among the standout acts was Chico Rico, Gandey’s legendary clown, who had the whole audience in fits of laughter. My personal highlight was when he pulled three unsuspecting men from the audience and forced them to participate in some good old public humiliation (all in the name of fun, of course).

The performances were a testament to the incredible capabilities of human artistry – the breathtaking displays of trapeze artists, the nail-biting tightrope stunts, and the awe-inspiring agility of aerial silks and fire dancers, including two women who performed a sychronised routine while hanging by their hair.

One of the most terrifying acts was a troupe of five men on motorbikes inside the ‘Thunder Dome’ cage.

This gravity-defying act could have resulted in fatalities if the slightest thing went wrong, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that there was a collective sigh of relief when they all made it out of the cage alive!

Every single act was meticulously choreographed and performed by talented artists who are clearly the best of the best, and dedicated to their craft.

The variety of performances cater to different tastes and combine tradition with innovation, creating a memorable experience and proving that the circus is not just for kids.

There is a short interval at the halfway point where you can use the bathroom, take pictures with the performers, or buy typical circus snacks (think burgers, hotdogs, fries, and candyfloss). We’d already purchased some popcorn at the beginning of the show, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to buy some chips as well!

Need to Know:

  • Gandey’s Circus is not just for kids. There were definitely a lot of families in attendance, but there were plenty of adults there without kids, and the show was enjoyable for all ages.
  • Gandey’s Halloween Spooktacular isn’t too scary for small children. There are some creepy costumes, but there are no jump scares, none of the acts come out into the audience, and even the ‘scary’ parts are over very quickly. I didn’t see any children getting upset or having to leave.
  • There were lots of flashing lights, especially when ‘Laser Girl’ was performing. I wouldn’t advise coming to Gandey’s Circus if you have epilepsy or are sensitive to light.
  • The price changes depending on where you choose to sit. We chose ringside tickets, which were the most expensive (£20, but we had a £5 discount code). The cheapest tickets were £12.99. All tickets come with a £1.75 booking fee.
  • Children under 2 do not need a ticket, but they must be able to sit on a parent’s lap.
  • The Big Top is heated inside, so even if it’s stormy outside (like it was when we went!), you’ll be nice and toasty during the performance.
  • The toilets are located outside, and are the ‘porta potty’ style. I recommend bringing toilet paper and hand sanitiser. Bear in mind that I saw the Trafford Centre circus, so the other venues could have different facilities.
gandeys circus halloween
A performance of Thriller

How to book

If you want to go and see a Gandey’s performance, the best place to find all the latest information is on their website.

At the time of writing, they are showcasing their ‘Snowstorm 3 – Northern Lights‘ ice show, but they hold different performances throughout the year.

Gandey’s Circus Review | The Verdict

Both my friend and I thoroughly enjoyed Gandey’s Circus, and thought that it was well worth the money. Even though we paid a discounted rate of £15 for our ringside seats, I would have been happy paying £20 for the great view, production quality, and two hours of entertainment.

Gandey’s Circus blends nostalgia with contemporary thrills, and proves that in a world of online streaming and virtual reality, the art of live performance is not dead.

Even kids, who would usually have their noses in a smartphone watching YouTube or playing some addictive game, were engrossed in the show, which demonstrates Gandey’s timeless appeal.

If you’re looking for something a bit different to do (date night, perhaps?), I can highly recommend Gandey’s Circus.

Further Reading

If you live in Manchester and are looking for fun things to do, you may find the following articles interesting:

Best Things to Do in Chorlton

Best Day Trips from Manchester

33 Reasons to Visit Manchester

Oldest Pubs in Manchester

Best Northern Quarter Restaurants

Things to Do at Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary, Ramsbottom

The Fountain House Manchester, Sunday Roast Review

Best Places to Visit in the North West

That’s all I’ve got for you today, but as always, if you have any questions then don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section below and I will get back to you!

Until next time,


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