Multi award-winning Canadian circus company Cirque du Soleil returns once again to the Royal Albert Hall this weekend for its twelfth London season (See News, 24 Apr 2007). Its new show Varekai runs at the Kensington landmark from 6 January to 10 February 2008.

Taking its name from the Romany gypsy word for "wherever", Varekai is set deep within a magical forest, at the summit of a volcano, in “an extraordinary world, a world where something else is possible, a world called Varekai”. A young man is parachuted into Varekai, and sets off an absurd adventure in the kaleidoscopic world populated by fantastical creatures.

According to promotional material, “this production pays tribute to the nomadic soul, to the spirit and art of the circus tradition, and to the infinite passion of those whose quest takes them along the path that leads to Varekai”.

Since it was founded by a troupe of street performers in Quebec in 1984, Cirque du Soleil has grown to employ over 3,000 people presenting shows (14 in 2007) seen to date by nearly 60 million people, in more than 100 cities on four continents. The award-winning company’s many previous hits in London -Alegria, Dralion, Quidam and Saltimbanco - have attracted over 1.5 million visitors.

At one point, Cirque du Soleil had plans to build a permanent London home on the site of the derelict Battersea Power Station, where they've previously played to capacity crowds in their "Grand Chapiteau" big top. The Battersea plans were abandoned in December 2001.

- by Terri Paddock