Circus Science by the Sea

Circus Science by the Sea – Europe’s only circus science festival – was held on weekend 17-19 November. Whatever your age, whatever your interest, there was something fun for you to experience, watch and do. Everything was free to attend.

Circus Science by the Sea 2023

This was a festival for everyone: fun-seeking families, environmentalists, artistes and physicists! The weekend was packed full of free performances, discussions and workshops. From late night Circus Science Cabaret to family-friendly clown shows, lively discussions and outdoor circus workshops, Circus by the Sea was all about ideas and collaboration around how circus and science can best work together for the common good.

Held in the historic town of Westport and on Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland, the entire weekend was free to attend.

Circus Science by the Sea was produced by Circus250 with support from Science Foundation Ireland. Because we believe when science meets circus, anything’s possible.

Events Programme for 2023

Pint of Science Pub Quiz

Test your scientific knowledge in this informal, fun quiz in the traditional bar at the historic Valley House, Achill Island. Prizes to be won!

Book your seat as space is limited.

Time: 8 – 9pm
Location: The Valley House, Achill Island
Admission: Free

Achill Cackle Witches’ Welcome

Time: 9.15pm
Location: The Valley House, Achill Island
Admission: Free

No booking required!

Circus Science Cabaret – a late night cabaret with a science twist

Be dazzled by the circus science acts presented for your pleasure at the Circus Science Cabaret in the Valley House’s historic dining room.

Contortionists that boggle the mind! Jugglers that help us understand mathematical equations! Acrobats that explain the centre of gravity! Roll up for an evening of circus science entertainment for all.

Time: 9.30 – 10.30pm
Location: The Valley House, Achill Island
Admission: Free

Strong Woman Science

Ever wanted to know how you balance a chair on your chin, if you can juggle liquid, or how circus performers eat fire? Strong Women Aoife and Maria reveal the scientific secrets behind their astounding tricks. In a fun, lively and fast-paced family circus performance, find out how jugglers, acrobats and hula hoop artists use science to create their amazing acts.

A funny family show packed with extraordinary circus tricks. Suitable for ages 4 upwards.
Runtime 50 mins

Time: 12 – 1pm
Location: Town Hall Theatre, Westport
Admission: Free

Up the Rigging! Get hands on and learn how to build our circus aerial rig

Ever wondered how to build an aerial rig for circus performers? Come and have a go yourself with our expert circus rigger.

How do you build an aerial rig so a trapeze artist can fly? With Achill-based Circus250’s very own aerial rig – the first in Mayo – you can learn how to build it up and make sure the performers are safe.

Guided by our expert rigger, you’ll discover the engineering lying behind the magic of the circus ring.

Time: 1.30 – 3pm
Location: Halla Acla, Achill Sound, Achill Island
Admission: Free

Clown-led Beach Clean Up and Exhibition Opening – everyone invited!

Join us for a fun plastic and rubbish picking clean up of the stunning Sandy Banks in Curraun led by Climate Crisis Clown Juanita. Laughter and litter pickers provided.

Followed by opening of exhibition – Ealaín ó bruscar: Art from rubbish – amazing sculptures created by objects found in the sea by local community artists in Currane Community Hall.

Supported by Slaintecare.

Time: 2 – 3.30pm
Location: Meeting point for clean up Cloghan Pier, Currane.
Admission: Free

Juanita’s Big Problem – hilarious circus clown show about plastic pollution

Juanita has a big problem. The cleaner has been collecting her rubbish for one whole year. But what can she do with her mountain of plastic? Where will it end up? What can we do to stop it? Can she throw it away? Where does all that plastic we recycle actually go? She has so many questions – and needs your help to find solutions. Together with her audience, climate-conscious Juanita lifts the lid on our recycling bins and invites you to be part of her quest for a plastic-free world.

Clown Juanita tackles plastic pollution in a provocative, entertaining and ridiculous way. An important, urgent and utterly hilarious show full of hope for our future.

Please join us after the show for biscuits and tea in real china cups! Kindly provided by the Currane community.

Accompanying exhibition – Ealaín ó bruscar: Art from rubbish – amazing sculptures created by objects found in the sea by local community artists in Curraun Community Hall.
Supported by Slaintecare.

Time: 3.30 – 4.30pm
Location: Bunanioo, Currane Community Centre, Achill
Admission: Free

Volcanoes are Oresome

Volcanoes are Oresome combines entertainment, science film documentary and circus performance. Designed as educational theatre for the YouTube generation, it shares some of the world’s most unique volcanic curiosities and explores the science behind them. Featuring lava tornadoes, exploding coke bottles, volcanic smoke rings, rock music, air guitar and a psychedelic journey to the centre of Earth with graphic pixel poi (if you don’t know what this is, don’t worry – once you experience it, you’ll never forget it).

Each performance includes a hands-on rock, ore and mineral display, and a Meet the Rock Showman session.

Time: 3 – 4pm
Location: Town Hall Theatre, Westport
Admission: FREE

Networking Drinks

Come and relax, and have a drink with us in the historic Valley House bar. Everyone welcome.

Time: 8pm
Location: The Valley House, Achill Island
Admission: Free

The Dangers of the Deep – how to swim safely in the sea

Swim Ireland’s RNLI officer Alan McCormack gives a lively talk on Open Water Swim Safety in the beautiful surroundings of the historic dining room at the Valley House.

Do join Achill’s regular Vitamin Sea sea swimmers at their regular 10am Sunday swim on Blue Flag Silver Strand beach beforehand and experience the joys of cold water dips. Everyone of ages and abilities very welcome.

Hot drinks will be provided during Alan’s talk to warm us all up!

Time: 11am – 12pm
Location: The Valley House, Achill Island
Admission: Free

Circus Sea Sunday at the Valley House – circus fun for all the family

Join circus workshops, shuck an oyster and make a sparkling jewel! A day of free circus science activities for all.

Science on Stilts
Do you look up to scientists? Now you really will. Do simple interactive science experiments with the tallest scientists you’ve ever met.

Time: 12pm onwards 

The Amazing Flea Circus in a Suitcase
Be astonished by Ireland’s tiniest trained circus performers.

Time: 12pm onwards 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Join the Explorers Deep Sea discovery in very hands-on and explore the ocean’s slime and what lives in it.

Time: 12pm onwards 

The Rock Showman
Sit down with ringmaster and geologist Steve Cousins as he shows you how to shine an ancient rock which you can then take home with you. All materials provided.

Time: 1.30 – 4pm

Circus workshops with Fishy n’ Dishy
Fishy loves to juggle fish. Dishy prefers to spin his plates. First in a short feisty act they show you how it’s done. Then you can have a go at doing it yourself! Drop in workshops.

Time: 2 – 4pm 

The Secrets of an Oyster’s Shell
Ever wondered how to schuck an oyster? Or how long an oyster lives? Hugh O’Malley from Achill Oysters reveals the oyster’s secrets and you can have a go at schucking (and eating!) them yourselves.

Time: 2 – 4pm

Location for all events: Valley House, Achill Island

Admission: Free

Achill Island Distillery tour and tasting

Come on a tour of the award-winning Achill Island Distillery and discover how Achill Island Whiskey, Keem Bay Gin and Akill Vodka is produced. The distillery even makes poiton – the Irish moonshine.

You’ll be taken on a tour then have a chance to taste some of the products. The tour and tasting is free but please book a space as places are limited.

Time: 12 – 1pm
Location: Achill Island Distillery, Bunnacurry F28 AY75, Achill Island
Admission: Free

Achill Island Sea Salt Factory – discover how salt gets from sea to jar

Ever wondered how sea salt is harvested and processed? In this special opening of award winning Achill Island Sea Salt factory you can go on a self-guided tour to discover how this award winning condiment is made.

The Achill Sea Salt shop will also be open for early Christmas purchases!

Please book a place as numbers limited.

Time: 2 – 3pm
Location: Achill Island Sea Salt, Bunnacurry F28 HT29 
Admission: Free


‘We want people to laugh, gasp and hope’: Ireland hosts climate science circus – The Guardian

Europe’s first ever Circus Science festival comes to Mayo – Midwest Radio

Science and Circus – a science communication project that is flipping geoscience on its head – GeoScientist

Science Foundation Ireland