If you still haven’t visited the London Wonderground on the Southbank including their charming 1920s Paradiso Spiegeltent, where have you been? It appears every year next to the Jubilee Gardens from early May until the end of September and is a wonderful highlight of the summer festival season.
The main attraction are the alluring shows they put on whether it is cabaret, circus or family entertainment with the one common aim of bringing a smile to your face. With the plethora of shows, the highlights that we recommend are Miss Behave’s Gameshow and Barbu.
Miss Behave has been shining on the cabaret circuit for many years from the days of La Clique; however her latest immersive social experiment game show is simply the most outrageously bonkers show you will have ever seen. Whilst the set is incredibly low-fi with abundant use of handwritten messages on cardboards, the idea is very much of the cyber age. Audience members are divided between iPhone users and others and actively encouraged to use their phones; be it to shazam in a song guessing competition sing-a-long or first audience member to jump on stage to take a selfie with the host. The chief success of the show is in the magnetic nature of Miss Behave and her ability to engage the audience at every moment. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes.
Their headline show, Barbu is also worth catching which charts the development of the circus acts from the past to the present day. The team is a Canadian circus troupe from Quebec and there’s Gallic charm aplenty along with giant beards and gratuitous nakedness. There are roller skating performances where the stars are clinging onto each other via their beards, a thrilling beer keg throwing display and a glamorous human disco ball performance on a cyr wheel. What makes this circus performance standout is the multimedia display that is married to the action: the thrilling video wall imagery and vivid folktronica music.
Apart from captivating performances, the Wonderground is also a great venue to catch up with friends for drinks. It has a three storey ‘Saloon’ bar, which surprisingly is only a temporary structure in the shadow of the London Eye.
There are also the traditional hit the tin can and shoot’em up games where you can win giant cuddly toys, but the most popular attraction is the 60 metres starflyer where you can enjoy unparalleled views of the London skyline, as long as you are not acrophobic.
Catering options are numerous in the form of burgers and hot dogs from the Laughing Stock group, but the real surprise is savouring the waffles from Waffle On, which was nominated by the Evening Standard as one of the best waffles in London. This is hardly surprising given they make everything from scratch and uses buttermilk batter to make their extremely fresh and crispy waffles. Whether you prefer sweet waffles such as strawberries and cream or their savoury winner, Southern-fried buttermilk chicken and waffle, it genuinely is the best way to combine your theatre visit with this experience as a pre or post-theatre meal/snack.
Make sure you visit the London Wonderground soon before it closes on the 25th September otherwise you will have to wait until the following summer before it revisits the Southbank.