THE Big Top has been raised to mark a fortnight of circus fun by the river.

Riverside Park, Chester-le-Street, County Durham, is the latest stopping-off point for the touring Great British Circus.

Director Martin Lacey, a veteran of the legendary Gerry Cottle's Circus, said his latest venture promised fun for all the family, featuring many of the traditional circus attractions. "We have the stars of the Mongolian State Circus, jugglers, clowns and our Freddy Fox character. It's a complete package of family entertainment. One or two artists may have been seen before, but we have retained the best, and the rest is new."

The circus opens tonight and runs until Sunday, September 3. Performances are at 5pm and 7.30pm daily, but on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Monday shows are at 2pm and 5pm. Entry charges range from £5 to £12, while family tickets are available for £24. On the two Fridays there are special admission charges of £3 for Income Support and other benefit recipients, and £2 for children.