Is the BJC dying a slow death?

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Monte -

Is the BJC dying a slow death?
I've not been for a few years so I was quite surprised to hear how few are expected to attend this year. Fewer than half the amount of people that used to go about 10 years ago.
Is this a sign of a fall in the numbers of young jugglers taking up the hobby or are there just more events dividing up the pool of likely attendees?

The Void - - Parent

BJC numbers are always down when it's in a "far corner" of the UK. Of course, we're well down from the early 90s heyday, but that's been true for years.

The Void - - Parent

The last 2 with figures for attendance on (both in Darton) are over 900. That's pretty good. I'm sure Perth will have been well down on that, and I guess it makes sense for Canterbury to budget on a low figure too. We'll see how it goes, I guess....

Monte - - Parent

I wouldn't have called Kent a far flung corner. Not compared with Yorkshire. I suppose I'd need to know more about the concentration of jugglers around the country but I would have assumed London and Bristol to be hotspots.
Anyway I hope you're right because 500 seems a small number to me.

The Void - - Parent

Where are you getting 500 from? *If* it's their budgeting figure, that's presumably a worst case scenario, and therefore it wouldn't be unreasonable to *hope for* 600-700. Dunno, I'm guessing...

Monte - - Parent

From the horse's mouth. Budgeting figure is even lower.
Good to know the last couple were around 900. That's a good number.
When people are deciding between BJC or Catch it can't be a good thing.
There has to be a number where it is no longer viable in its current form.
Mind you, under 500 and we could do it at Hulver farm
British Balls Up anyone?

The Void - - Parent

There are no numbers on that site for attendance for the last 2 (anyone know?). 900s were 2014 & 2015.
Well, here's hoping...

Cedric Lackpot - - Parent

> When people are deciding between BJC or Catch it can't be a good thing.

Why not? I see that it's a risky situation, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong. It seems to me that the BJC does not have a right to be pre-eminent, it needs to earn that status.

Monte - - Parent

I meant it can't be a good thing for the BJC. It might well be a good thing for juggling.
It already seems quite hard to get people to commit to running one, if numbers decline who's going to take the risk of making a big loss?
Maybe both can be successful?

Anyway, come to BJC and eat at Montegriffo's.....

Richard Loxley - - Parent

I wouldn't have called Kent a far flung corner. Not compared with Yorkshire

Spoken like a southerner ;-)

I'm currently a southerner, living in Bristol. But I'd still rather travel to Yorkshire rather than Kent! There's this annoying thing called London in the way, which adds stress and considerable time, whatever method of transport you use.

I will make the effort anyway, because I want to go to the BJC. But I can see why anyone in the Midlands or above would think twice.

Monte - - Parent

Southerner? Norwich is further North than Birmingham.

Mïark - - Parent

Canterbury is more than twice as far from the centre of the UK population as Darton is.

Monte - - Parent

Where's the centre of the UK population?
About one in seven live in London, must be getting on for a third of the population are South of Watford.

The Void - - Parent

From a comment on an Ordnance Survey page: "Yes, one of our Twitter followers suggested this too. It’s not something we’ve worked out ourselves, but @MurrayData says that using a population weighted approach centre of GB is approximately 433924E 309573N (Measham Rd Swadlincote Leics.)"

The Void - - Parent

Click the pic link in the tweet:
@JugglingEdge Pic for Monte:
— The Void ザ・ヴォイド (@TheVoidTLMB) March 10, 2018

Cedric Lackpot - - Parent

Yeah, erm, Swadlincote's in Derbys not Leics - only just, but Derbys nevertheless. Not a good start, although if I had to guess the GB population centre I'd probably go for somewhere not too far from Swad.

Also, Swad is mostly an unmitigated shithole, but then that probably makes it a good representative of some sort of median of the British population. I have worked a lot in Swad.

These Swad facts brought to you by Cedric Lackpot, who has nothing of value to add to this thread, but knows a damn thing or two about Swadlincote!

Mike Moore - - Parent

I'd like to subscribe to Swad facts by Cedric Lackpot please.

Cedric Lackpot - - Parent

J. Thomas Looney died at Swadlincote in 1944. 'Nuff said.

Llama_Bill - - Parent

Measham Road to Darton BJC - 1:20
Measham Road to Canterbury BJC - 3:07

lukeburrage - - Parent

The main reason I won’t be returning to the BJC again soon, and the reason why I don’t recommend it to European jugglers when they ask me about it, is the time of year and the accompanying high chances of bad weather.

That’s the reason I’m not going again this year. The better time of year is also the main reason I’m going to the Catch festival this year.

If the BJC was held in July, I’d probably go every year.

charlieh - - Parent

That's rather a silly reason not to recommend it, Luke. Yes, some BJCs have had awful weather, but plenty have had good weather, even the ones held in the far flung North. Also, last time I went to the Lakes in the summer we had really quite a lot of rain.

There's no guarantee of good weather at any time of year, although it's likely to be a lot warmer in the summer of course. I'd be more inclined to talk about the shows, workshops, halls and general vibe of the BJC than the weather - if nothing else, to avoid becoming a national stereotype!

lukeburrage - - Parent

Not, it's not a silly reason. It's a major factor for me, and judging from the feedback I get from non-UK jugglers who visit the BJC, it's also the main complaint they have.

In Europe, if a convention is held in the winter, camping isn't expected. It's an indoor sleeping convention, with entire sports halls or other rooms set aside for people to lay out mats and sleeping bags. If the convention is late spring to early autumn, camping becomes an option. The BJC insists that camping is an option, even when the chances of bad weather is worse than good weather.

For example, Berlin held its convention in September last year, due to some date conflicts, and everyone expected the weather to be fine. But it wasn't. It was waaay colder than it is in May or June, the normal date for the event, and it got dark way earlier. So now the convention has moved back to the summer again.

Just so you know, the shows, workshops, halls and vibes at the BJC are no better than other national conventions in Europe. There is nothing to recommend them above conventions at better times of year and with better weather than the BJC. The chances of bad weather in March in Scotland though? Camping on the top of a mountain in Yorkshire in April, with tents being blown away? No thanks!

Rain isn't so much of a problem if the temperature isn't too bad. Just the difference from March to May was enough for it not to be too stressful for us to camp at Bungay. But the BJC that same year? Nope, we got a B&B.

Stephen Meschke - - Parent

Canterberry in April:

  • High: 52°F
  • Low: 39°F
  • Average 7 days of rain.
  • 13.5 hours of daylight (+1 hr of twilight)

Cumbria in July:

  • High: 63°F
  • Low: 48°F
  • 16 hours of daylight (+1.5 hrs of twilight)

lukeburrage - - Parent

If you are wondering about reduced numbers of people at the BJOC, I think the comparison you want is Perth, Scotland, in March and anywhere in the UK in July.

Perth in March:
Average high 6.4°C
Average low 2.1°C

Canterbury in July:
Average high 22.8°C
Average low 12.9°C

Penrith (closest city to Appleby) in July:
Average high 19.4°C
Average low 10.5°C

Conclusion: if the BJC was in July, anywhere in the UK, I'd probably go and be okay to camp every year.

Little Paul - - Parent

What’s with the crazy units?

Cedric Lackpot - - Parent

I may not agree with a whole lot of what Luke has to say - and I'm pretty confident he's perfectly cool to be disagreed with - but I confidently and assertively agree that the climate is not a silly reason.

And it's certainly nowhere near as silly as saying that the British climate is unpredictable at all times of year, and therefore implying that the probability of seasonal or non-seasonal weather is immaterial regardless of the time in question!

There are a number of good reasons to hold BJCs at or around Easter - the weather is not one of them.

rosiejane - - Parent

I have to agree, the damn weather and having to camp is always a factor that is lurking in the background, taking the edge off my anticipation. I am not the best camper - can't sleep well in a tent, so this year for the first time we have opted for the local Premier Inn. It does feel like a cop out but seeing as my hot water bottle is going to the IJC I couldn't face a week sleeping in a cold tent.

That being said the British EJC in 2019 will be in August and I am hoping that it will be considerably warmer and with little rain! Newark is only 50 miles from Swad so not far off being pretty central and we really really hope that we can entice as many jugglers, hoopers, diabolists, aerialists etc to it as we can.

As it is in Britain I am hoping to attract not only all the wonderful people from all over the world who come to EJC but all of those Brits that have never been to one before.

I know there is another EJC before it (2018 - Azores) but I am just slipping it in now so it's in your subconscious!!

PS the EJA are looking for a team for 2020, so if you know someone who might be interested in finding out more about organising a huge event like the EJC then send an email to

lukeburrage - - Parent

Let me ponder my BJC camping history:

2000 - so wet I never pitched my tent, and slept in the car instead.
2001 - some nice weather, but freezing cold one night and as it pouring with rain on the last day, it was the least pleasant final day of a convention ever.
2002 - after two years of terrible weather, I skipped the BJC completely! I went to the Israeli convention instead. The weather was amazing.
2003 - didn't camp, got a room at the university instead. People complained about ice on their tents. This was Brighton, not Scotland, so the location isn't always the most important thing.
2004 - performer, and was provided accommodation.
2005 - performer, and was provided accommodation.
2006 - performer, and was provided accommodation.
2007 - performer, and was provided accommodation.
2008 - performer, and was provided accommodation.
2009 - got myself a B&B, but as this was a summer convention, I would probably have been happy to camp.
2010 - BJC switched back to a winter convention again, and I decided to skip it again.
2011 to 2013 - nope.
2014 - borrowed my parents' camper van.
2015 - camper van not an option, didn't want to camp in the same place where the previous year peoples' tents had blown away.
2016 - nope.
2017 - B&B again.

Ah look, I literally only camped at a BJC once! The only reason I kept going was being either by paying for accommodation myself, or being offered non-camping options for performing various acts in various shows.

Premier Inn is not a cop out, it's the only way sensible adults will keep returning to a camping convention in the winter/early spring!

Squibly - - Parent

This seems to be a wall of evidence that you have very little experience of camping at a BJC, but didn't enjoy it one time 7 years ago.
Doesn't seem fair to the British scene to spend so much time and energy discouraging others on that basis Luke.

lukeburrage - - Parent

It's not just the camping. It's the general wet and cold atmosphere. In 2009 the convention was in the summer in Norfolk. I went to the FIRE SHOW. I sat outside and watched the fire show and it wasn't the most miserable moment of my entire year. Do you know how amazing that felt? A BJC fire show which wasn't utterly unbearable to watch. Wow. And in the evenings we were hanging out on the grass between the gyms. The renegade show tent didn't need space heaters. Nobody was wrapped up for winter for no reason at all except the sun had gone down. We could watch the Sharpe brothers do their street show, just outside one day, and it wasn't remarkable that the wind wasn't so bad they couldn't do any diabolo tricks.

Then my next BJC, when hosting the games, I had to make announcements that people's tents were blowing away, and they should go check on them before we left for the gala show.

It's not about my camping experience, it's about having a relaxing time at a convention.

Again, the Berlin convention miscalculated with holding it in September last year, and the very next year it is back to June, based ENTIRELY on the weather and how soon it got dark. How did it take them one year to learn the lesson but the BJC keeps at it?

I hope that after the Catch this year and the EJC next year, people will finally learn, and the BJC can be a summer convention from now on. Or at least a late-May to late-Augst convention.

Orinoco - - Parent

It is true the BJC fire show is consistently unbearable to watch, but I have never attributed that fact to the weather.

The Void - - Parent

*Tries to donate a fiver to The Edge, for that comment*
*Finds out there's a minimum £10 donation*
It wasn't *that* funny. Cash at BJC do ya?

Little Paul - - Parent

It’s no Crawley fire show that’s for sure

charlieh - - Parent

As others have said, you've hardly ever camped at a BJC so I don't think you're really qualified to comment. I've camped at BJCs since 1993 (Birmingham) with a few gaps and I've never felt particularly cold, been woken up by bad weather or had a leaky tent. It has *been* cold, I agree, but with decent clothing and a good sleeping bag that's not a problem. Yes, it can be cold & wet outside but I've also sat outside on the grass in a T-shirt some years. In fact the one time I've been flooded out was at EJC Ptuj (which was the very definition of wet and cold and miserable).

Of course the BJC could be in the summer. It has been, in Norwich, after plans for the usual time fell through, as you said, and it was lovely and warm. It could be any time from late May (but don't you dare schedule it against Bungay, otherwise I shall be *really* scathing). It could be at Christmas. But someone has to stand up and volunteer to run it at that time and this bid has to be voted through at the business meeting - you know how this works. They'll then have to contend with competing with other festivals (including non-juggling ones), university exams and all the others things that may not have such impact in late March/early April/Easterish, availability of venues not in the Easter holidays and lots of other factors.

There's no point writing 'people will actually learn' in the hope it will happen - it will take someone to stand up and come up with a concrete plan for a summer BJC. As you know, there's no British Juggling Association running BJCs <nails lid firmly back on big can of worms> just whoever stands up and volunteers a year of their life.

I think we have an interesting situation this year with Catch! which is kind of an alternative BJC-ish thing in the summer with great acts in the show. This may well prove that a summer BJC-ish festival could work, in which case I look forward to many more bids of this kind.

lukeburrage - - Parent

No, I think I am qualified to comment. The point of my comment is that the bad weather has been the deciding factor in why I decided not to go to the BJC. And not just once. After York and Cardiff, I didn't go back to the BJC, and went somewhere else instead. Same in 2010. Same in 2015. Same in 2017.

The people who are happy to camp in the ice/snow/wind/rain/etc of the UK in March/April? You don't have to worry about them. But what about all the people whose first BJC was Derby in 2004? How many people didn't bother coming back the next year? Even though I didn't camp, I drove home to Newcastle with two people who did, and the stop in a pub on the way home for dinner, and sitting in front of the fire, was the first time they had felt properly warm and comfortable for the previous five days.

The people who don't go to the BJC are the ones qualified to talk about why they don't go, and are 100% correct about the reasons the numbers might be down... at least for the number they represent.

The people who DO go to the BJC, by the fact they can cope with the stress of bad weather, are not qualified to talk about the reasons the people who don't go aren't going.

Daniel Simu - - Parent

I've gone to the BJC once (I think 2015?). I had to sleep inside on the last night, it was a rainy festival.
I'm going again this year, very happy to bring my campervan!

pumpkineater23 - - Parent

That's a good point, no one likes going anywhere when it's cold and sodden. Why don't they hold the festival mid-summer?

It's Him - - Parent

The historic reason for the BJC being at Easter rather than in the summer is that performers are much more likely to not be working at that time. Whether as a performer in the show who charges less than their normal fee or as an attending performer who doesn't want to miss out on the lucrative summer months Easter makes much more sense. Touring circus often runs from after Easter until sometime in Autumn, so the timing would help them to attend. Nowadays BJC does not have as many professional entertainers and so this is not as good an argument as before. It still might mean that it is difficult to get the best professionals, although Rosie seems to be showing that a summer convention with enough funding can do that anyway.


lukeburrage - - Parent

If you get 2,000 people at the convention, you can pay professionals to be there. It’s how the EJC works. There is no reason a BJC in the summer can’t attract 2,000 people.

It's Him - - Parent

I wasn't arguing in favour of an Easter BJC. I too enjoyed the summer BJC (although it cost me earnings). I was giving one of the traditional arguments for an Easter BJC. It makes sense for professional entertainers. I'm not sure it makes much sense for the majority of people who now attend the BJC.


lukeburrage - - Parent

Yes, I understand. My first BJC in 2000, it seemed that the main influence on a large portion of the jugglers there was street performers and circus performers. These days the largest influence is other amateur jugglers. Why would anyone have a pair of stilts or a unicycle to take part in a parade? Why does the parade even exist? Does it still exist?

Little Paul - - Parent

Oh god. Parades. Please make them stop.

I know it's quite often a hook you can dangle towards the local city council to get some money off a venue, or land some other source of funding, but when you promise them a "colourful entertaining parade of jugglers acrobats and circus folk!" they picture an old fashioned circus parade. They picture tumbling acrobats, sequins and clowns. They picture free facepainting for the public, they picture ringmasters and jugglers and absolutely everything you can't deliver.

What they inevitably get is a bunch of people half heartedly walking along juggling 3 clubs or spinning a diabolo while talking to their mates and shuffling down the local high street. At best you might get one or two people wearing balloon hats, or a teenage unicyclist trial riding on every park bench or raised flower bed they can find.

Parades are at their absolute worst when everyone is only there because you made them attend the parade as a side effect of getting the bus into town for the evening show.

Parades are shit. "Because we've always done it" isn't a good enough reason.

Stop it



(and.... *breathe*)

lukeburrage - - Parent

EJC parades can still be good fun if the weather is nice. There's often an open air show on a specially build stage at the end of it, and those are usually worth seeing, like Smashed by the Gandinis in Almere (though not like 8 Songs by the Gandinis in Lublin).

Little Paul - - Parent

Is it the parade which is good, or is it the "show on the open air stage" bit which is good?

Because I would wager that of the two, the open air show is the bit that could stand on it's own. Do that, do more of that. Advertise it locally, get the public in as well, make a big deal of the fact that there's a show in town!

Who is the parade for?

If it's for the locals, then we're doing them a massive disservice (even EJC parades are closer to the atmosphere of a protest march than they are "rio carnival")

If it's for the jugglers, then what's in it for us apart from a show or "the games" at the end of it? If it's a show/games then why do we need to wander round the streets for an hour first? Why can't we be dropped off next to the show and just get on with the good bit?

Want to do something for the locals that actually shows jugglers in a good light? Put on more shows, run a street performing competition, run free-fringe style events in small local venues...

Just please, not a bloody miserable death march through town.

Daniel Simu - - Parent

As a young juggler I really enjoyed my first 5 parades or so.. Now after 15 at least it gets a bit unexciting yes..

charlieh - - Parent

I've really enjoyed the EJC parades I've been on, simply due to the amount of jugglers taking part - I think there's a critical mass. EJC Almere was particularly fun (especially our Ben occasionally pausing to show the crowd his single diabolo trick and getting rounds of applause - he was 6 at the time) and EJC in Carvin was mad, as it was at night and there was fire (health & safety??). I agree some BJC parades can be damp and disappointing.

peterbone - - Parent

I have exactly the opposite logic. BJC is my preferred convention because it's much cooler than in the summer. This means that I can juggle a lot without getting too hot. I don't care much about being outside. At most EJCs I've been to I'm unable to juggle most of the time because of the heat and I don't like to be outside in very hot conditions because of sunburn and other risks. I normally only go to the more northerly EJCs, although Joensuu didn't work out as I expected (40°C).

peterbone - - Parent

Also no fun when you have to leave your tent at 8am because the blazing sun is hitting it and roasting you alive. I've camped at every BJC I've been to and the only time I was cold was 2003 in Brighton because of the ice/snow.

pumpkineater23 - - Parent

You're not a tropical creature like me. Give me the early morning roasting sun anyday. I'd just go and find a nice shady spot and finish my sleep there. Or go to bed earlier. Camping in the snow.. are you quite mad? I went 'wild' camping at Brecon Beacons after the green man festival. It was horrible, damp and miserable.. couldn't wait for it to end. The only enjoying part I remember was when I was sitting in my car with the heating on.

furlisht - - Parent

I'm going for the first time from the continent just because it's close to the border! Don't kill my hype :P

Llama_Bill - - Parent

You'll have a great time. I've enjoyed every BJC I've been to. I am excited for this one.

charlieh - - Parent

You will indeed have an excellent time. Sadly I don't think I can make it this time (due to foreign travel for work the next week) but I'll certainly miss it.

Dee - - Parent

Enjoy - and if you have any questions, I'll probably be at the registration / information desk!

It's Him - - Parent

Given I barely saw you out of the kitchen, did BJC feel significantly smaller to you than previously? I understand that total numbers were around 700 but hadn't been properly counted when I heard Anna discuss this with Owen Morse after the business meeting.


ChrisD - - Parent

Nigel, in your current thread "For several years now I have been suggesting a juggling competition for older…" you wrote "If the BJC doesn't happen next year (or even if it does)". May I ask if there there is any particular reason for suggesting there may not be a BJC next year?



Orinoco - - Parent

No bids to run it so far :(

It's Him - - Parent

During the Sunday meeting nobody stood up and said that they wanted to run a BJC in 2019. During the BJC I heard on several occasions people saying that there wouldn't be a BJC because EJC was in England next year. I am not strongly optimistic about a BJC next year because I haven't heard any great enthusiasm from anyone although I have now heard rumours about people thinking about it 'up north'.


duncanh - - Parent

I know one person who has an excellent venue and good plans for putting a bid together for 2019. They've never run one but assisted, so know what's involved. Just looking to put together a local team I think. Hopefully their initial thoughts and ideas will come through and they'll make themselves known soon.
Another team was interested and had ideas of a venue but nothing firm.

Monte - - Parent

Seemed similar in size to the last one I did (Pickering). I did do very well but I put that down to being inside and having a full sized kitchen rather than my truck. Plus the excellant quality of my crew...


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