Castellana, the Spiegeltent, Sophia Gardens

December 8, 2023 by



Trying to tag a label on Castellana at the Spiegeltent is a tricky business; combining excellent circus skills, burlesque acts, singing and the cheeky fun of a drag show.

Relocated from Cardiff Castle grounds to Sophia Gardens, the Cardiff Christmas Festival show is hosted again by Ian Stroughair in the master of ceremonies personna of Velma Celli, a larger-than-life singer, raconteur and sharp-tongued sorceress. This year joined by the gloriously voiced chanteuse Justine Marie Mead, who sings some wonderful solos and joins the banter.


 Ian Stroughair


Paul and Louise


Betsy Rose


Justine Marie Mead and Chloe Hannah Lloyd


Jimmy Wong



Ben Brown and Jonathan Finch


There isn’t really a story as far as I could tell, rather it was an edge-of-seats delight from genuinely world-class talent including a vintage-style  burlesque act from superstar Miss Betsy Rose that contrasts superbly with aerial artist Jimmy Wong, who is as pleasing on the eye as Betsy Rose in a lithe masculine way, as he thrills and chills in the spiegeltent heights.

Then we have the fun of Chloe Hannah Lloyd with a laid-back dude sort of character who slips into being a hoop-spinning acrobatic wonder and in contrast Ben Brown and Jonathan Finch create rather strange personnas, both together and individually.  They bring more acrobatics, aerial work and edginess to the show with a touch of gender fluidity including a Gaultier perfume ad sketch.

No such show would be complete with some flames and this year Penny Valent added a kink to the sparks as a dominatrix whip-cracking highwayman (person?). Later she dazzled with a fiery performance that leaves other such acts I have seen in the shade.

More sensual delights came in the form of roller-skating, acrobatics, and gorgeous duo Paul and Louise. Their routines are fresh and seem to defy the laws of physics – and are as darned sexy too.

As if there was not enough meat on the stage, in the Spiegeltent zone there is a German sausage vendor or you could opt for the  Dough Thrower pizza. There is an external drinks stand and a covered seating area plus the Fortuna Bar inside the comfortable Spiegeltent which has rows of seats and booths for groups of people.

Castellana forms part of the Cardiff Christmas Festival and there are other shows in the spiegeltent produced by Live Under the Stars Cardiff and Jamboree Entertainment.

Castellana runs until 24 December.

Age 16 +


Images Natalie Rolley


Christmas festival spiegeltent back but at Sophia Gardens

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