The Lost Carnival, review: All the fun at the fairground

Polly Checkland Harding

Coming to Burrs Country Park for a total of four nights, The Lost Carnival proves a delight for kids.

Writing a review of a family event isn’t easy as an adult. Though The Lost Carnival has a bar in a caravan and, like a Pixar film, jokes for the grown ups, the magic of it is firmly aimed at children. So when you stand in front of the stage in the big top for the introduction to the show, and watch two actors explain the story of the Lost Carnival – how it rose then fell in its fortunes, and is now reliant on the energy and enchantment of the night to survive – it’s not really about noticing that their outfits are more costume box than theatre wardrobe, and that the puppet show is sweetly low-res. It’s about thinking back to when you too would have stood, delighted by a red-feathered phoenix and its glowing eyes, aching to leave the tent for the field beyond and get on with saving the carnival.

Each of the happenings had real charm – while being out late and amongst greenery also seemed to be thought pretty splendid

I watched kids leap-frogging across the grass after the strong man, and rolling their eyes at his foam dumbbell. The clown was another favourite, charging unsteadily through bubbles blown from a toy gun. Apart from some troubling cultural appropriation from a troupe of dancers in African costumes, each of the happenings had real charm – while being out late and amongst greenery also seemed to be thought pretty splendid by the kids. Food-wise, oven-fired pizzas and the wonderful Ginger’s Comfort Emporium ice cream van were highlights, but there were also fish and chips, paella and Mexican stands to choose from. And, when the The Lost Carnival came to it’s grand finish, a woman with golden transfers on her arms and three small children swirling around her ankles turned to me and said, “yeah, this is a night they’ll remember.”

Culture Guides


Black and white classics and a Tarantino-scripted pop-thriller are amongst our Valentine’s themed picks for February.


The world of art and exhibitions never quite stops, so we have lots of new shows to look forward to at the start of 2023.

Cardboard Carnival at The Edge


New year, new start, and what better way to welcome in 2023 than by planning and experiencing all sorts of exciting family events in Manchester and the North?

Gwendoline Riley. Photo by Adrian Lourie


Live literature land welcomes in 2023 with lots lined up in Manchester and beyond, from book launches and bookshop openings to prize-winning poets and award-laden authors sharing their secrets and stories.


More brilliant gigs appear on the horizon as we inch further into 2023.

Theatre in Manchester and the North


Queer Contact Festival, stunning physical theatre and intimate in-the-round performance top our eclectic list of drama, comedy and dance this month.

Classical Music

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Food and Drink

Start 2023 as you mean to go on, with the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North.

Tours and Activities

New years are for new experiences, and we have a whole lot of ideas to inspire you as 2023 gets underway.

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
The Nature of Forgetting at The Lowry
Theatre Until 31 January 2023, from £16.00

The Nature of Forgetting at The Lowry

Activity Until 3 February 2023, from £30.00

Baumka Conscious Clubbing at Victoria Warehouse

Activity Until 8 February 2023, from £170.00

Drawing course with Nina Hunter

Music Until 16 February 2023, from £9.50

Donna Candy at SOUP

vegan super club
Activity Until 17 February 2023, from £50

Supper Club at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School

Exhibitions Until 18 February 2023, FREE

The Confessional at HOME

PUSH Festival 2023 at HOME
Festivals Until 18 February 2023,

PUSH Festival 2023 at HOME

The Singing Mermaid at Waterside
Families Until 19 February 2023, from £14.00

The Singing Mermaid at Waterside CANCELLED

Activity Until 23 February 2023, from £59.99

Write Like A Grrrl: Ignite

Activity Until 25 February 2023, from £13

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House Tour