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Circus Roncalli brings the Magic of Summer to Swarovski Crystal Worlds

Oh it was fun. This summer the Swarovski Crystal Worlds [1] collaborated with the Circus Roncalli [2] and I went there soon after the season opened. They didn’t simply erect a circus tent in the garden – the format is more like Artist-in-residence. Therefore, visitors get to see and interact with the circus artists as they touch up their makeup or perform by the wagons. To add a cherry to the cake, a super chic fairground carousel has been installed, and visitors are invited for a ride!

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

A Circus Roncalli gate in front of the Swarovski Giant © Ichia Wu

The Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens has two areas, namely the vast garden and The Giant galleries. Each has its own gate, and therefore you’ll need to keep hold of your ticket to swipe at each entrance.

Where to start? I usually decide according to the weather. On this occasion, the pleasant morning sun summoned us straight to the garden.

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

The Crystal Cloud & Mirror Pool © Ichia Wu

The Show Begins in the Swarovski Crystal Worlds

After taking dozens of pictures of the Crystal Cloud and the Mirror Pool, we found this lovely circus wagon which is a hundred years old. The clown Devlin Bogino [3] and the acrobat Geraldine Philadelphia [4] were getting ready for the day. At the back of the wagon, there were beams for visitors to test their sense of balance.

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

Traveling is an essential part of the circus life. © Ichia Wu

The performances take place every day between 10:00 and 19:00 (in July and August 2019) and there is no fixed schedule. There was no loudspeaker to announce the beginning of a show, either, probably in order to not disturb the elegance of the garden. Instead, the impresario Thomas Thompson [5] approached visitors to inform us that the next show would begin in 15 minutes by the big tent.

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

Behind the seats there was a bar and a vintage Café-Wagen. © Ichia Wu

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

The illusionist & impresario Thomas Thompson © Ichia Wu

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

The clown Devlin Bogino © Ichia Wu

People tend to think that circus is a family business. The very flexible “Snake-Woman” Lili Paul-Roncalli [6] is indeed the younger daughter of the circus director Bernhard Paul. Although the Circus Roncalli is founded in Germany in 1976, Mr. Bernhard Paul actually comes from the Austrian state of Niedösterreich – Lower Austria.

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

The “Snake-Woman” Lili Paul-Roncalli © Ichia Wu

After Ms Lili Paul-Roncalli’s stunning performance, there was a break. We then boarded the adjacent Café-Wagen and found the nostalgic interior really gorgeous. The wagon itself was built in 1923, and was refurbished with reclaimed carriage seats of early-20th-century Paris Métro.

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

“Café of Artists” © Ichia Wu

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

© Ichia Wu

Twenty-first Century Circus

Circuses are inseparable with the glorious mood of nostalgia, but they actually also have to keep developing innovative ideas to amaze the audience. Over the last decade, more and more measures have been taken to prevent animal cruelty too. The Circus Roncalli, for example, has become an animal-free circus and the first in the world to introduce holographic animals [7] to the programme in 2018.

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

“The Sparking Elephant” & animal sculptures in the “Wild Jungle” © Ichia Wu

Elephants, lions… how about rabbits? Illusionist Galina Hayes [8]‘ magic trick with the bunnies was hilarious. She must have more magic in her hat. When you are here, try talking with the illusionists. Their art is seemingly simple yet effectively unforgettable – especially when your hands are involved.

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

The illusionist Galina Hayes and her magic rabbits © Ichia Wu

Travelling Showman’s Living Wagon

The illusionists can be found next to this British showman’s wagon in the garden. Originally used by travelling showmen in the early 19th century, this kind of horse-drawn wagon became the favoured housing of British Romani people from the mid-19th century to early 1900s. This exquisite wagon was made about 150 years ago, and the Swarovski experts concluded that its etched glass panels are original. As many Romani wagons (“vardos”) were burned at the funeral of their owner, these painstakingly crafted wagons are fairly precious if they’ve lasted ’til today.

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

The Wagon measures 5.5 meters long and 2.2 meters wide. This is the front. The lion heads along the roof are gargoyles. © Ichia Wu

Curious Details

Visitors to the garden cannot enter this antique wagon, so here are some pictures to show you the view from inside. Following illusionist Thomas Thompson, we entered the wagon from the front. As expected, the space was tight but the wagon was equipped with compact cabinets, built-in seats and even a stove/oven. At the far end of the wagon, a bed was installed at 90 degree to the direction of travel. We were told that this wagon could have easily been the living space for a family of five. However, when it came to bedtime, the tall ones had to go outside and sleep under the wagon!

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

Left: Narrow strips of clerestories let in light and help ventilation. / Right: The oven was made in Scotland. © Ichia Wu

This Showman’s Wagon was thoroughly decorated and in places gilded with gold. I saw many carved lions, horses, doves, and plants, but was surprised to find snakes under the wagon. Even the ladder – which I think is a much later addition – had serpents to match the feature.

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

Was there a snake charmer in the family? © Ichia Wu

Above the Crystal Cloud

After a visit to the unique Playtower [9], we bumped into friends who pointed out that the tightrope artist Freddy Nock [10] had started his Skywalk! The whole walk was 300 meters long and the rope was suspended up to 25 meters above ground. Casually but steadily, he walked on the rope across the garden wearing no harness, but a lot of crystals. Once I spotted him, I couldn’t quite take my eyes off him. This unusual live event was gripping and thrilling!

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

Tightrope Artist Freddy Nock above the Crystal Cloud & Mirror Pool © Ichia Wu

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

He performs 5 times per day during this season. © Ichia Wu

The Designer Carousel

Mr. Freddy Nock walked beyond the Playtower and that was the direction we were heading, too. Who wants a free ride on a friendly, cute and ubercool merry-go-round? This carousel was designed by Spanish designer Jaime Hayon (what a lucky guy) and the monochromatic style looked extra contemporary. We know that the circus will have to leave after August, but this carousel will stay. I hope it stays forever!

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

Spanish designer Jaime Hayon’s carousel © Ichia Wu

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

If you look closer, you’ll find the panels are sparking; the sparkles come from 15 million Swarovski crystals. © Ichia Wu

The Wonder Continues in the Giant

We started the garden tour from the Giant‘s right shoulder, and the tour concluded at his left. Time to go in!

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

The Giant © Ichia Wu

In addition to the permanent exhibitions in the various Chambers of Wonder, there were shimmery circus costumes in the Blue Hall, plus Manish Arora’s Carousel Dress – Katy Perry once wore a version of this dress to the MTV European Music Awards. In show business, a dazzling outfit really helps to stand out!

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

© Ichia Wu

In the shop, there were circus-themed installations [11] as well as some ceramic products designed by Jaime Hayon. Before leaving the Giant, we also had a look at the exhibition of circus masters’ memorabilia.

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

© Ichia Wu

Further Notes on the Swarovski Crystal Worlds

Swarovski Summer 2019 © Ichia Wu

“Welcome to ‘The Magic of Summer’!” © Ichia Wu

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