The Lakefront has gone topsy-turvy with the return of Zirka Circus to the city.

The acrobatic circus hasn't been in Rotorua for more than two years, and owner Jeni Hou said it was completely different from the last time it visited.

Audiences are in for fresh hi-jinks from the acrobats and contortionists, as well as stunning new costumes, all created especially for this show.

"The skill levels are very high and the show is just as exciting as the last time we were here," Ms Hou said.

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"The body contortionists are beautiful and some audience favourites include the Monkey Boys and the girls performing ballet on the shoulders of the boys.

"We've had really good feedback. People just love it. Some of our acrobats are really small and cute, and the kids enjoy that. It's a great family show," she said.

Bringing the joy of the circus to families is in her blood. She is the third generation of circus performers and was brought up as part of a Chinese circus family.

This is Zirka's fourth tour throughout the country, and the show has been so successful that an Australian version of the show has been established.

"I really feel passionate about the circus. There is nothing else I wanted to do because I knew how much happiness it brings to families.

"It is very special," she said.

Behind the joy Ms Hou sprinkles around the country, the past couple of years have been extremely tough personally.

Her husband, James, died from cancer two years ago, leaving her with two very young sons to bring up and a circus to manage.

"My beautiful boy was only 10-months-old at the time. It was very hard. My sons are now 3 and 5-years-old and I am based in Hamilton for schooling."

Being part of a circus family and keeping busy is how she managed her overwhelming grief.

"That was part of the reason I established the Australian circus. It helped me with the grieving process. You just can't give up and stay at home and grieve if you are passionate about something."

At a glance:

* What: Zirka Circus "Cross the Ocean"

* Where: Village Green at the Lakefront

* When: Today until July 17

* Tickets: 0800 289 849. Tickets from $19 (child) and $29 (adults). Family pass $86.