Digger talks to BigTopMania's
founder Pete Wintercrane.
Digger: Can you please tell us a little bit about
your background and the background to BigTop Mania?
Bigtopmania is an
entertainments provider, event planner and equipment
hire company with its roots in circus, show
business, outdoor events, the events industry,
children's play activities, variety and street
The owner and creative driver Pete has been
performing and building the business since
graduating from Reading University in 1987 with a BA
Hons in Geography. What does a geography graduate
do? Join the circus!
Pete is a one-man circus show and was part of the
mid-80’s resurgence in New Circus. He had a doubles
act called the Junction Jugglers, named after an
area in Reading, where he also ran a community
workshop for many years. He has performed around the
country (and world) at all manner of arts and music
festivals, corporate functions and private parties
and as part of circus troupes and has some nice
experiences in the world of show biz.
In 2000 the first major leap into the world of
tenting came with the first purchase of a small
circus style tent. It was named Dorothy, after his
late mother and the tradition of naming the tents
Bigtopmania now blends his long-term passion for
circus with years of experience in the events
That’s an impressive selection of options you have
on your website, Please tell us more about the
various shows and events your organise.
We do so much and
so many different events! One day providing a small
tent and décor for a vintage tea party, the next a
festival themed weddings, or a vaudeville style
cabaret; a circus themed birthday party for lucky
children and many fun loving adults where we provide
several big tops along with a complete party
Bigtopmania Kidzones are in demand across the UK
festival circuit and many of the festivals we have
been lucky enough to be involved in have won the
‘Best Family festival’ award, something that we’re
really proud to have contributed to.
We provide tailor-made circus shows for private
parties and events as opposed to a traditional
touring circus, these shows are ran by Ringmaster
and Clown PeteZa and feature son Lucas and daughter
Leonie along with some spectacularly talented
friends to make a great family show.
The Bigtopmania Family Circus show has an intimate
village green feel to it and is presented in a
nostalgic manner. We use vintage tiered circus
seating made in the style common in post war Europe!
And wow; there is so much more including our hands
on Cycle Circus to good old school balloon
modelling, fire eating and stilt walking.
Your Marquees can be used for alternative weddings,
events and parties. Please tell us more about the
I’d say the
diversity of our tents is one of our strengths, it
allows people to step away from the traditional
white marquee’s and run of the mill weddings and add
something out of the ordinary to their event.
The colourful tents create the perfect atmosphere
for so many themes; circus, carnival, festival,
Moulin Rouge, Mardi Gras for example.
The options are endless and we’re very adaptable, we
enjoy working with a customers imagination and their
creative styling to build their perfect event
blending our many years experience in events with
their imagination and fresh ideas.
No event is ever the same!
What is the enduring fascination people have
generally with Retro and Vintage in all its forms?
One of the
earliest pieces of advice I learnt from a chance
meeting with a descendent of Lord Sanger (famous old
circus proprietor) was to know your history; i.e the
history of circus and variety. So I have made it a
habit to learn about and enjoy the past! Circus
wise, I really look up to the presentation that
Gifford’s Circus now do with their 1930s style show.
Perhaps in a mass produced world we are living in
today it is the sense of individuality people seek
and opportunity to express a part of your
personality and step out of the mould whether it be
through the clothes you wear, the place you live or
the car you drive. In theory I suppose this
fascination could only get stronger as the genuine
vintage and retro articles become harder to come by.
Who are your customers and where are they coming
We are lucky
enough to be part of a very diverse events industry.
We’ve worked the UK festival circuit for the last 25
years running Children's Areas/Cabarets and
providing venues.In terms of private events we have done lots of
birthday parties from as young as 1 year old through
the 18ths and 21sts, 40ths and last year a ruby
wedding anniversary. They often have a theme in mind
and use our tents and entertainment as an integral
part to that theme, but sometimes they are just
people that have had the same white marquees year
after year and fancy something different to make the
event more memorable.
And what sort of feedback and comments are you
getting from clients?
A lot of the
feedback is based around our personal approach to
our work, it is more like you are discussing your
event with a knowledgeable friend than speaking to
someone you’ve never met on the other end of the
phone. To cite directly from our review site…
‘I used Big Top Mania for my wedding party…cannot
recommend highly enough. They were fantastic, from
booking, leading up to the event, answering all my
nagging emails & questions thoroughly’
‘enthusiasm, advice, and open minded approach to
events allowed us to create something that I
previously wouldn't have though achievable.
Compared to everything else that I search I couldn't
possible recommend a better quality and value for
Circus has a long and fine tradition. Has your
business had to adapt greatly to fit the
requirements of the modern world?
Health and safety!
Much higher on the agenda. Rightly so!
Animals; much lower on the agenda! Unless you are in
another part of the world where they mostly remain
as key elements to the shows.
We have always been a human circus,
We had to splash out on newer vehicles to meet
emissions regulations for London work.
I suppose a lot of what we do is bringing the
traditions of circus and blending them with modern
events ideas and aspirations so it’s a constant mix
of ideas and challenges to problem solve in order to
get the final product right.
I keep a very watchful eye on current trends in the
What are the biggest challenges when running these
shows and events and what do you most enjoy about
running BigTop Mania?
The weather can be
a challenge when your working outdoors all the time,
the start of last summer was particularly wet, and
it can be hard on the morale when the ‘waterproof’
boots and clothes give in.
Fitting it all in; we get inundated with enquiries
and there are so many great things going on but
unfortunately a lot of them are packed into a period
between April – October that we can’t always get to
No two days are the same! This is both stressful and
highly enjoyable but keeps everything fresh and
We meet some lovely people and it’s particularly
nice because we generally meet them in an excitable
mood about their party or wedding which makes for a
nice working environment.
What are your particular Retro and Vintage passions?
We use vintage
fashion in our circus shows, Lucas and Leo like that
because it allows them to put together costumes that
look really good which they feel confident in;
stepping away from the traditional circus spandex!
The tents are often adorned with velvet and gold
braid! Very theatrical and reminiscent of the
We’re also big followers of the Electro Swing scene
with its modern take on classic Swing tunes, the
dress codes, dances styles, cabaret and burlesque
We’re always keen to get involved with these events
and love some of the music coming out of them.
Where do you see the future for BigTop Mania?
Hopefully many more festival seasons will keep our
summers busy and fun, sandwiched in between them a
continual flow of weddings, parties and alternative
We have just invested in a beautiful cream coloured
canvas tent, with scalloped edge details and lovely
curves giving it a very contemporary yet classic
We are looking forward to using it and getting lots
On with the show!
See us on YouTube
BigTopMania's Circus Shows,
Big Top Hire, Circus Tent Hire, Marquee Hire, Party Tent Hire,
Medieval Tents & Striped Tent Rental.
Alternative, Different, Vintage and Unusual Stripey Festival
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Children's Entertainment, Festival Kidzones & Children's
Areas- Artists & Acts Activities & Attractions. Wild-West Fun
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Resources & Creative Ideas for all Events; Weddings, Parties,
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