THE Herefordshire Family Festival returns to The Courtyard next week for a fun-filled half-term for families.

This year the theme for the event is circus and on Wednesday, October 31 the venue will be magically transformed into a big top for the day - with workshops in stage combat for circus, clowning around - a 2Faced Dance workshop - accessible circus skills, circus food fun, and, throughout the day, the Wye Circus Aerial Act.

There'll be two great shows - with NoFit State Youth Circus presenting Circus Mundi at 1pm and 3pm: to celebrate the 250th anniversary of circus itself, NoFit State bring together their most promising young circus talent to perform a new piece, specially devised for the Family Festival and inspired by extensive research into the heritage of circus - expect to be dazzled by aerial artistry, acrobatics and juggling and so much more in the most ambitious Youth Circus performance to date. Last year, The Courtyard approached NoFit State to programme one of their shows for this year's festival, and discussions progressed to explore the idea of NoFit State’s Youth Circus developing a bespoke piece that would tie in with the Family Festival and the 250th anniversary of circus.

After having established how spectacular an aerial circus performance would look on The Courtyard’s main house stage, NoFit State set about constructing a production concept which featured a walk through the history of circus and a specially created tailored light show.

Once this concept was agreed upon and NoFit State had given it a Hereford flavour by naming it Circus Mundi, after the Mappa Mundi, they began to put it together and the rest, as they say, is history.

“It has been really exciting and rewarding working with No Fit State,” Said Courtyard’s Associate Director, David Durant, “I am very much looking forward to what they will have created!”

Later in the day, in the main house, the Orchestra of the Swan presents A Night at the Circus family concert - which is free but must be booked - which will take you on a musical journey inspired by the Big Top. Your host is the mysterious ringmaster Mr Matthew Sharp - he sings, he tells stories and he plays the cello! Orchestra of the Swan will perform amazing circus-inspired tunes by Rimsky Korsakov, John Williams, Johan Strauss, Saint-Saens and the Beatles.

Elsewhere in a week of fun and excitement, there are shows from Norwich Puppet Theatre who present The Frog and the Princess, and The Makeshift Ensemble with The Children in the Moon, while Really Big Pants Theatre Company presents Wonky! and Barmpot Theatre bring Penguinpig to The Courtyard.

Herefordshire's first Family Festival took place in 2015, the result of an Arts Council Grant and support from the Beaumont Trust and sponsorship from Western Power Distribution. "The remit," organisers explained at the time, "is to engage with people who wouldn't normally come to The Courtyard. A lot of the current audience comprises people from the city and people who are happy to travel, but we're hoping to attract people from across the county."

This year's event is sponsored once again by Western Power Distribution, The Beaumont Trust, Hereford City Council and The Doyly Carte Children's Trust.

Circus Mundi will be in The Courtyard’s Main House on Wednesday 31 October at 12.30pm and 3pm. To book tickets, or for more information about any of the Family Festival events call the box office on 01432 340555 or visit