See the UK’s top circus performers compete in London

The Udderbelly Festival has been delighting London audiences for five years, offering an intoxicating blend of comedy, cabaret, circus and music in a giant, upside-down purple cow venue that graces the South Bank every spring.

This year Udderbelly has been exceptionally ambitious in hosting the UK's first ever competition for circus acts. Entitled Circus Maximus, this elaborate knockout tournament has been running since mid-May and the final round is now underway.

Of the 20 hopeful troupes who appeared in the earliest heats, only five finalists remain – representing the very best that the country's circus arts scene has to offer. Every night until Saturday (June 1st), each combo will perform a show devised especially for the Udderbelly event – showing every performer at the height of their talents in a bid to win the favour of judges and audiences alike.

Describing the night as a "pageant of circus mastery", Udderbelly is soliciting the votes of attendees in order to determine which act will take away the £5,000 prize. The winners will also have the opportunity to develop a brand new show with the cooperation of Underbelly Productions and Circus Space, so voters can be assured they'll be helping to make entertainment history.

Tickets to Circus Maximus cost £17.50, with performances taking place at 7pm until Friday (May 31st) and a final show at 5pm on Saturday.

The Udderbelly Festival's eclectic programme is set to continue until July 14th, so there's plenty of time to enjoy other attractions like gigs from Ardal O'Hanlon and the Comedy Club 4 Kids. Even those who don't fancy a show can socialise at the outdoor bar – one of the city's largest.

Located at the Southbank Centre, the festival is a stone's throw from most central London hotels and landmarks. Those travelling via the London Underground should head towards the Charing Cross, Embankment and Waterloo tube stops.

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