The attraction of attending a festival like the Tasmanian Circus Festival is more than the opportunity to watch talented performers. It’s a chance to be a part of something larger than our small family unit — camping among friends, meeting like-minded people, appreciating creativity, sharing laughs and watching our children play.

Crowds at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Crowds gather in the main oval to chat, watch roving performers and browse the market stalls.

There are certainly a lot of children here at CircusFest. I couldn’t get an official number on the children present, but every person I talked to agreed that the ratio of children to adults is at least one-to-one.

It’s the most family-friendly festival we’ve attended so far, and the children encourage us adults to have a turn at juggling, hooping, flying a kite or dress-ups. Where there are children playing so freely, the adults lose their inhibitions and regain the ability to be childlike in their games. This makes it a lot of fun for everyone.

Calista and Delaney playing with rubber puzzle mat, January 2013
Calista and Delaney work to put together a giant alphabet puzzle-mat that Yvonne has brought along. There are biting ants on this property, and the mat is a great way to keep us from being bitten.

Elena wrapping hair at the Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Elena sets up a blanket in the centre of the oval and offers to wrap the girls' hair in colour yarn.

Brioni with a hair wrap, January 2013
Brioni is thrilled with the pink, white and red hair wrap that Elena gives her.

Children at the Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Children of all ages are free-ranging together at this festival. They quickly work out where their campsite is in relation to all the other venues and only return for food, money, a change of clothes or to sleep.

I love camping with friends. Someone is always back at the camp, relaxing for a while, making food or playing with the children. It means that if I feel overwhelmed by the crowd, I can return to a safe place and enjoy a cuppa with good conversation. A shared camp also means a shared kitchen. We pooled resources of food, stoves and utensils and tried to tempt each other with offerings of treats.

Giles Hunt and Nirmala (Natalie) Laing, Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Our friend Nirmala joined us last night and prepares a lovely breakfast with Giles at our site.

Giles and Brioni selling items at the Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Giles and Nirmala have made a selection of vegan treats, and they offer them for sale at a little stall. Keen to get more money, Brioni sits in the shade of a marquee and sells my crocheted flowers.

Calista and Delaney drawing and colouring at camp, Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Although our older two girls are happy to explore the festival, Calista and Delaney stay close to camp most of the time.

Rosa, Lily and Aisha at the spinning wheel, January 2013
Rosa brings a borrowed spinning wheel over to our bus to chat while she works.

Rosa and I have mutual friends, and so it was lovely to meet her in person and to discover that our daughters enjoy each other’s company. It was also nice to run into my online friend Selkin — a felting artist who is currently also travelling in Tasmania.

Selkin Parapet, Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Selkin has brought her spinning wheel and a bag of fleece and works alongside her market stall.

With such a great parking spot — within sight of the main oval — the girls soon felt confident to roam the grounds as a group, knowing that they could easily find their way home. Aisha and Brioni each requested money and spent it on themselves, their friends and each other.

Brioni puts together her kite, January 2013
After eyeing off the kites yesterday, Brioni asked for some money first thing this morning and bought herself a pretty pink one.

Tilly and Aisha at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Aisha walks around with her friend Tilly, carefully considering the items she wants to purchase and weighing their price tags against the money left in her hand.

All the while, great performances are happening on stage and around us. Performers practice wherever there’s a little bit of space. Hoops, balls and pins wait for the next person to pick them up and have a go. There’s always something to watch.

Boys on unicycles, Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
When not riding around the flat oval, the boys use their unicycles to gain extra height and watch a performance over the heads of other spectators.

Aerial trapeze artists at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
The aerial trapeze artists practice high in the air above us.

Acrobalance at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Balancing on top, our friend Nicole loves the opportunity to improve her acrobalance skills with the help of enthusiasts from around the country.

Hoop workshop at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Scheduled workshops allow visitors to sample a range of circus skills under the tutelage of a professional.

Jugglers at the Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Some of the people practising attended the week-long circus workshop prior to this weekend and have gotten very good.

Clown at Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
There's a lot of impromptu clowning around with costumes, masks and wigs.

Gordo Gamsby at the Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
In a slow moment at his sideshow attraction, sword-swallower Gordo Gamsby balances his mallet on his forehead.

High-wire at the Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
Children are given the opportunity to try out the high wire as well. I was told that a personalised workshop cost $50, and if the participant chickened out at the top of the scaffolding, the money was *not* refunded.

Tasmanian Circus Festival, January 2013
In between shows, the maintenance crew or practising performers can be just as fun to watch as the main act!

Coming to the Tasmanian Circus Festival is like running away with the circus — even if it’s just for a weekend. Sure, there are still the chores to be done, people to feed and dishes to wash, but life is happening in the midst of a colourful, inspiring, happy group of people. I don’t want to be anywhere else.