Daring Dames Festival

Daring Dames is Europe’s only all-female circus festival, putting women circus artistes centre stage. Over weekend 24-26 May 2024, knockabout clowns, astounding acrobats and discussions showcase the very best female circus talent from throughout Ireland and beyond. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Achill Island, County Mayo, Daring Dames is entirely free to attend.

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Join us at a weekend of female performance, talks and huge fun. Everyone welcome. All events are free but booking advisable as spaces limited.

Our 2024 programme will be published on International Women’s Day – 8th March. Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know. Want to perform? We welcome all applicants for shows, acts and works in progress. Please email ringmaster@circus250.org and we’ll be in touch.

Feedback from 2023 festival

It’s really heartening to see a true advocate for artists, Circus and Street Arts – and all this in rural Ireland.

Producer, Galway

Art of any kind is incomplete without an audience and having someone like Circus250 brave enough to create a space where people can try out new work at the baby stages allows work to be developed and so the whole community benefits and flourishes. Thank you for that.

Skin ‘n Blisters, Daring Debuts

Being given a chance to show work to such a welcoming crowd and at such a beautiful venue is not something that comes around often. I can’t imagine a better space to allow myself to show in those the tender new stages of creation. What a gorgeous festival.

Lacuna, Daring Debut

I will never get tired of saying Thank you for creating a safe and friendly space for us to shine, for being brave and taking risks which encourage us to do the same.

Angelica Santander, clown

Daring Dames is an exceptional festival that showcases outstanding female talent.

Bunny Bunny, clown

Programme for 2023

THE VALLEY HOUSE, ACHILL ISLAND – Associate Events in the Circus250 Daring Dames series

I am Irish yet?

8pm Am I Irish Yet? Hilarious and biting one-woman play by award-winning novelist Kate Kerrigan.


Ursula Burns

9.30pm The Trucking Harpist Show. Music and comedy mayhem by the extraordinary Ursula Burns, aka The Dangerous Harpist.

ACHILL ISLAND HOTEL, THE SOUND, ACHILL ISLAND

10.30am Welcome to Daring Dames – Europe’s only all-female circus festival. Meet the performers, enjoy Achill Island musicians, and have a special Achill welcome from the Achill Cackle – the island’s own dancing witch coven.  An informal welcome to the weekend. Breakfast available.


12pm Juanita’s Big Problem. Ireland’s leading female clown tackles plastic pollution. How can recycling be so funny? Book here


1.30pm Out of the Blu. All the way from Italy – a juggling and clowning show for all the family.


Dookinella beach

3pm Clown Beach Clean Join the fight against plastic pollution! Have fun with your litter picker! Help keep Achill amazing.

Clown Juanita leads a beach clean on stunning Dookinella Beach, Achill Island, under some of Europe’s highest sea cliffs.


6pm As Graceful as They Were Disgraceful. A lively illustrated talk on the history of women in circus by world expert Professor Vanessa Toulmin.


9pm Daring Dames Cabaret. Music, mirth and female muscle in night-time show.

ACHILL ISLAND HOTEL, THE SOUND, ACHILL ISLAND

10am Standing On Her Shoulders – why building a circus library matters. Lucy Medlycott, Director ISACS, and Professor Vanessa Toulmin, founder Fairground and Circus Archive, discuss setting up a circus library.


12-1pm The Grannies – two old acrobats take on the world in hilarious family show.


1-2pm Send in the Clowns – the past, present and future of female clowns. A potty potted history of female clowning and a lively discussion with historians of circus and the women clowns themselves.


2.30pm Daring Debuts – be the first to see these new circus shows and acts. An afternoon of debut performances of new work. 


4pm Is the Future of Circus Female? A lively discussion by circus leaders. A distinguished circus panel discuss what the future holds for circus. An important event for any who works or is interested in circus.

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