Cirque Bijou’s performance, “Portolan”, will see two of the world’s most highly skilled wire walkers attempt a unique feat of daring – crossing the River Wear in Sunderland. The event will be held on Friday 13 July as part of the programme of entertainment. Britain's Chris Bullzini and Belgium’s Johanne Humblet will ascend a 30m high, 220m long inclined high wire without a safety net!  The event will be accompanied by one hundred local singers, dancers and some very surprising extras!

Cirque bijou

Cirque Bijou

Inimitable show makers Cirque Bijou are a Bristol based company who push the boundaries of contemporary circus, creating bespoke large-scale shows internationally for audiences of up to 50,000. Working with world class artists, their shows are unique, memorable and a true fest for the senses. Cirque Bijou will be creating a bespoke large scale spectacle for Sunderland Tall Ships Races featuring a groundbreaking wire walk across the River Wear, never before attempted in history. The show will combine world class circus, music, dance and community participation.


Chris Bullzini

Chris Bullzini is one of the UK's most loved wire walkers, and one half of The Bullzini Family, an intrepid high-wire couple, perhaps most famous for getting married on a 30m high wire in 2015. The Bullzini family have performed in large scale spectacle shows for Cirque Bijou including a high wire finale show at Stockton International Riverside Festival 2017, and the Saturday night Spectacle at Wilderness Festival 2016. Producing emotive work with depth, courage and beauty, these world class artists have performed all over the world for the likes of Cirque du Soleil, Glastonbury Festival and The Invisible Circus.


Johanne Humblet

Belgian high wire artist Johanne Humblet, now based in France, joined Cirque Bijou and worked alongside the Bullzini family for the first time as part of their finale show for Stockton International Riverside Festival 2017. Performing all over the world for live shows and films, Johanne is an exceptional high wire walker who we are excited about bringing over to the UK for this groundbreaking performance.


Heg Brignall - Musical Director & Composer

Heg Brignall is a Bristol based folk singer and songwriter with family connections to Sunderland. She writes and performs with Heg & The Wolf Chorus; a cappella folk trio Sutherings and new duo Julu Irvine & Heg Brignall. She also directs, writes and arranges for The Great Sea Choir. Heg is writing and composing original music for Cirque Bijou's large scale spectacle show Portolan, a bespoke commission for  The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018. Heg's passion for a cappella vocal harmony weaves it's way through all her various musical projects. Her choral arrangements  are textured and vibrant, creating dramatic and exciting music which pushes the boundaries of community choir repertoire.