Weekend of festivals proves a juggling exercise

The bizarre and the brilliant were showcasing their abilities in Cork this weekend with two festivals giving centre stage to those ordinarily on the fringes of the entertainment industry.

Deirdre O'Sullivan, Midleton, and children Kieran James and Holly, with Gonzalo at the Laya Spectacular at Fitzgerald Park. Picture: Des Barry

In Fitzgerald’s Park the Laya City Spectacular once again brought some of the finest street entertainers in the world to the banks of the Lee.

Sword swallowers, human beat boxes, dancers and jugglers were all on show mixing the weird and the wonderful around exhibitions specially designed to keep children enthralled.

The two-day festival was hit by bad weather on Saturday with heavy showers and the threat of thunder storms forcing organisers to cancel the event at 4pm.

However, the clouds cleared on Sunday to cheer up those who missed out on the earlier street performances.

Meanwhile, Millstreet played host to the world’s largest juggling and circus arts convention.

The European Juggling Convention opened on Saturday morning and the eight-day event is the largest of its kind in the world.

It is expected to attract up to 3,500 jugglers and performers to the Green Glens Arena, with performances from the world’s most talented and respected artists.

The indoor arena meant performances could keep going and spokesman for the convention Ultan Sharkey said the Millstreet event would build experiences it had hosting in 2006.

“The furthest someone is travelling is from Otago in New Zealand, which is actually the furthest possible point from Ireland on the globe.”

It also includes circus shows, games and a series of specially organised family-friendly events.

“In the local GAA hall, which is off-site, we have free workshops for toddlers and babies, six months to three years. That’s to encourage families and kids around the locality, to give back to the community and teach some circus skills,” Mr Sharkey said.

Workshops in every circus discipline imaginable — juggling, poi, spinning, diabolo, devilstick, hats, cigar boxes, spinning, acrobatics, unicycle, tightrope, clowning, improv, and cyr wheel will be taking place throughout the week.

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