This weekend is the culmination of months of anticipation. Tasmanian Circus Festival tickets go on sale at the beginning of October and rapidly sell out, but upon the recommendation of a friend, we bought our tickets early and that’s what brought us to Tasmania this summer.

Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
This is the sixteenth circus festival in Tasmania.

The Circus Festival was first run in 1991 at a private property in northwest Tasmania. Tony Rooke offered his land to fellow performers for a weekend of collaborative workshops, performances and fun. Now a national institution, the circus festival has moved to locations around Australia and returns to its Tasmanian home every two years.

We’re only here for the performance weekend. Workshops have been running all week, allowing performers to hone their skills and even create new acts just for this weekend. Often, the acts that are premiered at the Circus Festival go on to tour the world.

Setting up camp at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
The gates open at 1pm today, and we're setting up before 2pm among the first weekend campers.

When leaving Launceston, I set out in a convoy of three vehicles because we wanted to camp together. Unfortunately, we were separated at the gate because buses like ours park in a different place to the tent-campers. However, Yvonne and Joy were able to bring their things up to our paddock and set up their tents directly behind our bus.

Setting up camp at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Our friend Giles helps Joy and Yvonne set up their tent. We're parked alongside the main oval.

Setting up camp at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Yvonne invites the girls to test her bed. She confesses that she prefers glamping to camping and likes to be comfortable when away from home.

We wandered around the grounds to see who else is setting up camp and watch some circus performers practising their routines.

Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
The oval is still bare of many people, and our children run around in delight.

Market stalls at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
The market stalls and food outlets are already set up and open for business.

The Bally, Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
On the other side of the fenced dam are performances venues and more camping. All the performers and crew are camping together one one side of the property while visitors set up on the other side.

Tightrope at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Our girls take an opportunity to try out the tightrope that is strung up between two trees.

Performers at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Nearby, one man is juggling while another exercises on the rope.

Performers at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Two men are see-sawing on a balancing board, propelling each other into the air at greater and greater heights.

Face painting at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
This girl has set up a free face-painting stall in the shade of a tree.

Bubbles at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Brioni takes her bubbles onto the oval and other children quickly join her in the fun.

Performers at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
A parade circles the oval, with musicians leading an assortment of performers in funky costumes.

Today, there aren’t very many performances planned. Many more campers have driven on-site and are still setting up their tents. I wander around the tent city for a while and marvel at the number of people who have come to this remote location for the weekend.

Tents at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
1900 people have bought tickets to this weekend, and their tents cover almost every available stretch of flat ground.

Glow sticks at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
As it gets dark, I bring out the glow sticks for the girls to play with.

As we go to bed, we’re excited by what we’ve already seen and look forward to the official performances later on. The girls have already made friends with children who live in buses like ours and I’m glad that our site is so close to the main oval. I’m really happy to be here — we’re camping with friends — and I know it’s going to be a good weekend.