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HarbourKIDS: The Toronto International Circus Festival
FREE family festival co-produced with Zero Gravity Circus May 19-21

TORONTO, ON (*April 17, 2012) – The circus doesn’t just come back to town at Harbourfront Centre, it kicks off our exciting summer festival season! Teaming up with the Zero Gravity Circus, HarbourKIDS celebrates the 10th annual Toronto International Circus Festival with programming fit for the big top.

This year’s key word is whimsy – silliness, capriciousness, fantasy, frivolity and fun: all ways to describe the HarbourKIDS festival experience. It’s a reminder to not take everything so seriously all the time. This Victoria Day weekend, let the circus bring a little whimsy into your life with side-splitting comedy, eye-popping acrobatics, mind-bending daredevils; jugglers, magicians, stilt-walkers and much more!

Full event information is below. Festival highlights include:
• Zero Gravity Circus’s acrobatic hijinx
• Physical Theatre Workshops with Wonderbolt Circus
• Stand Up Dance’s Family Dance Parties for dancers of all ages

Harbourfront Centre’s summer festival season begins with the Toronto International Circus Festival and ends with HarbourKIDS: Folk on Thanksgiving weekend (Oct. 6-8). In between, a series of festivals and events offer The World in One Place, exploring ideas in contemporary culture, bringing together rich, artistic traditions from our own backyards and around the globe. For additional information and complete event listings, the public may visit or call the Information Hotline at 416-973-4000. Harbourfront Centre is located at 235 Queens Quay West in the heart of downtown Toronto’s waterfront.

For high-resolution images and additional media resources, visit our summer media page:

Harbourfront Centre is an innovative, non-profit cultural organization which provides internationally renowned programming in the arts, culture, education and recreation, in the heart of Toronto's downtown waterfront. Our 2012 Summer Festival Season explores the idea of “Crossroads,” which represent the junctures at which artists and members of various communities must make essential choices. For more information visit

HarbourKIDS is Harbourfront Centre's family programme, presenting contemporary arts and culture from a kid's point of view, making it accessible for all ages. HarbourKIDS guests participate in activities that explore big ideas through the lens of arts and culture. All HarbourKIDS programming is FREE. Sign up for the HarbourKIDS eNewsletter and be the first to know about all the activities for kids and families at Harbourfront Centre!


Circus Performances

Canadian National Youth Circus
Daily at 11:30 a.m. (WestJet Stage)
The Canadian National Youth Circus is a non-profit organization that promotes and encourages youth involvement in the circus arts. The circus is synonymous with a sense of wonder, enchantment and delight, in addition to being an educational tool for youth. The circus arts instill core values such as self-confidence, trust, confronting challenges, team spirit and imagination. This performance is 45 minutes long.

Zacada Circus School
Daily at 1:30 p.m. (WestJet Stage)
Inspired by over 10 years of touring professionally with Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam, the owners of Zacada Circus School settled in Stoney Creek, Ontario, establishing a school that develops recreational and professional level performers who wish to pursue a career in the circus arts. This presentation incorporates elements of contortion, aerial silks, trapeze, aerial hoop and juggling! This performance is 30 minutes long.

Zero Gravity Circus Showcase
Daily at 4:00 p.m. (WestJet Stage)
The Toronto International Circus Festival’s Mainstage show features highly skilled professional acrobats, aerialists and vaudevillians from around the world making acrobatic magic. Expect amazing aerial athletics, sensational human towers, falls, tosses and feats of strength. This performance is 45 minutes long.

The Sweet Variety of Circus
Daily, 11am – 5pm, (Redpath Variety Stage)
Derek Flores plays ringmaster as around him, a range of incredible juggling, side-splitting interactive comedy, playful clownish antics and unusual skills abound. Flores has been improvising for almost 18 years, in a variety of Canadian and international settings, from Calgary’s Loose Moose Theatre to Toronto’s Second City and his current position as co-creative director of the Wellington Improvisation Troupe.

Aiden Orange
Aiden Orange is filled with organs, many of them vital. The use of these organs has allowed him to perform a number of interesting yo-yo and contortion tricks and has not prevented him from balancing large objects on his face. Aiden has traveled all over the world performing for the likes of the President of Singapore and David Letterman, and appearing on The Daily Planet (Discovery Channel), MuchMusic, Breakfast Television and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.

Scot Free
Award-winning Scot Free is armed with astounding stunts, dangerous only to himself. Distinguishing features include argyle socks, manipulated bowler, tuxedo & sneakers. Aided and abetted by astonished audiences and amazed accomplices in an act of altogether butt-kicking amusement.

This high-energy demonstration showcases a wealth of talent developed over a decade of playing with fire. A skilled manipulator of blazing props and a charismatic comedic character, you’ll be mesmerized by a lavish storm of fiery brilliance. A sure-fire hit!

A master of two deceptively simple objects that require immense strength, superior balance and acrobatic acumen. The Cyr wheel is a single hoop in which the artist performs amazing moves as it rolls over on its edge. With the Chinese pole, meanwhile, the artist climbs, hops, slides and holds incredible poses.

Terrence Drake
Drake delivers danger, suspense and charisma with style, manipulating props – poi, torches, single & double staff and more – to hypnotic effect.

Site Animators
Stilt-walkers, clowns, a wandering minstrel, a wind-up doll, an organ grinder, and even a lion tamer are all a part of the eclectic cast of characters set loose by Zero Gravity Circus to roam the grounds at Harbourfront Centre all weekend long.


The Mask Messengers
Times TBC (Studio Theatre)
Faustwork Mask Theatre has spent almost 30 years exploring and celebrating the art of the Mask, with a unique synthesis of theatre, physical comedy, music, dance and poetry that has toured around the world. Brimming with wit, wisdom, and insight, The Mask Messengers is stand-up physical theatre and comedy teaching audiences about masks. A range of characters unmask the folly humans encounter when they act as if life was simple and appearances not deceiving.

Silver String Marionettes
Sat and Mon 2:30 and 4:00 p.m., Sun 11:00 a.m. (Studio Theatre)
This fast-paced performance incorporates music, dancing, audience participation and all kinds of clever surprises as well as a cast of characters ranging from rock stars to skeletons, mermaids and more. You’ll begin to believe as you are drawn into the captivatingly illusory world of Silver String Marionettes, a highly visual presentation that appeals to adults and children of all ages.

12:00 and 2:00 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Wunderground follows the adventures of Mr. MasterMinder, an energetic and eccentric scientist who combines science with circus performance to teach kids about the world beneath their feet. Searching for fuel to power his Amazing Robotic Portable Power Pack, Mr. MasterMinder heads underground, collecting samples, juggling “molten” rocks, spinning Tectonic Plates and much more. Wunderground has been developed by the Johnson GEO CENTRE and Beni Malone, in partnership with Nalcor Energy and the Canadian Geological Foundation.

Visual Arts

The Whimsical World of Artist Michelle McDonough
Daily 11am – 5pm (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
We’ve commissioned Michelle to create three new pieces inspired by circus animals. Her whimsical works ask the question: What would circus animals do if they could escape from their cages? And, like all great art, it makes you look at the world in different ways.

Crafts & Activities

Balloon Genius
Daily, 11am – 4:30pm (International Marketplace Tents)
Check out the crazy balloon sculptures from Zero Gravity Circus, zany balloonatics who turn balloons into works of art.

Clownification Station
Daily, 11am – 4:30pm
Enter as a normal human and leave a real-live clown after our highly-trained wizards of clown makeup do their thing. Combine the professional makeup with short lessons in clowning from the pros, and you’ll be ready for the big top!

Hula Hoop Tryouts
Daily, 11am – 5pm
Find out why it’s impossible to be in a bad mood while hula hooping. Participants learn to manipulate this classic plaything under the guidance of upbeat professionals with exceptional skills.

Natrel® Tumble n’ Swing Acrobatic Workshops
Daily, 11am – 4:30pm
Kids from ages 5 to 14 can try out aerial, acrobatic and juggling equipment under the guidance of circus professional from the Centre of Gravity Circus Training Studios. Try tumbling, aerial hoop, silks, mini-trampoline and more and grab a complementary Natrel® beverage.

Physical Theatre Workshops with Wonderbolt Circus
4:00 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Experienced and talented guest instructors provide a unique and fun learning experience for participants aged 6 and up. Learn circus skills including aerials, stilt walking, juggling, acrobatics, plate spinning, clowning and much more. Wonderbolt Circus began in 1981, bringing workshops to Newfoundland and Labrador’s remote communities by boat, and has since toured nationwide and around the world developing, teaching and celebrating physical activity and skills.

Stories of Whimsy and Wonder
Daily, 2pm & 3pm (Miss Lou’s Room)
A celebration of the Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverly O.M., M.B.E., Dip R.A.D.A., D. Lit (Hon) or, simply, Miss Lou. A broadcaster, poet, cultural icon, and writer, Miss Lou was a remarkable story teller. Harbourfront Centre is proud to have worked alongside Miss Lou over the years. Her dedication to the preservation of Jamaican folklore and culture has opened the world to the Patois language and Caribbean culture. To honour her work, we have opened a permanent exhibition space dedicated to Miss Louise Bennett. This space is where volunteer storytellers can express their passion for the spoken word and share stories from their culture with our audiences.

Garden Jane
The Cirque Dirt / Garden Jane tent is back with spring roots, seeds and shoots programming! A hands-on experience with lots of great activities including:

Roots and Shoots
Kids can join us in making roots and shoots soup and other simple healthy recipes with veggies from nearby farms. We'll demonstrate how to grow sprouts too, before the abundance of summer kicks in.

Seed Ball Revolution
This fun activity starts with the story of the Great Seedball Revolution, led by a young Japanese farmer named Masanobu Fukuoka. Masanobu discovers how to blend seeds, clay and compost to create seed balls that have added efficiency to his farming. Make your own seed balls and take them home!

Closing the Circus Loop – Community Composting
Circuses are often a place of community innovation, feeding many people on the road. In this is demonstration of how to keep community food service clean and green, kids help with our composting station, grinding and chopping food scraps to feed our worms.

Circus Cooperation
How can we serve 1000 people tea with 100 cups? Help us wash up while learning about how to avoid styrofoam and paper outdoors. In May of last year, 700 people washed their own cups so that we could keep 1500 cups out of the recycle bin.

Daily, 11 am – 5pm (West Arcade)
If you’re silly and proud of it, why not wear your zaniness on your sleeve? Make a beautiful bauble of a button to wear around the rest of the day. Don’t worry: You’ll blend right in with all the other foolish characters at the circus!

Create a flag to wave in support of the performances you’ll see over the course of the festival. Performers will love knowing that the audience is rooting for them!

Clown Hats
Clowns abound at HarbourKIDS this weekend, and you can join their ranks. After a visit to the Clownification Station to get your make up done, complete the ensemble by designing your very own clown hat that matches your whimsical personality.

Family Dance Parties™
Toddler Dance Party: 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
All Ages Dance Party: 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Dance parties for the under-5 set! Kids often express themselves by moving and grooving along; this is the chance for them to strut their stuff in a more formal environment, with facilitated dance activities, secret dance missions, performances, instruction and more.
Toddler Dance Party for ages 5 and under and their families. 30 minutes. With live DJ.
All Ages Dance Party Everyone welcome. 30 minutes. With live DJ.

Loopy LEGO
Daily 11am – 5pm (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
Let go of what you thought LEGO was supposed to be and create new worlds using only your imagination and your fingers.

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