A couple of weeks ago Joe and I took a trip to Riviera Maya in Mexico for a week of luxury. While we were there Cirque Du Soleil invited us over to see JOYA* their very first residency outside the US and an evening they deem as a Theatrical & Culinary Intimate Experience…and that it was.
We’ve seen Cirque Du Soleil once before when they visited the UK last year with Kooza. We travelled down to London to see them perform at The Royal Albert Hall and it was honestly one of the most magical and breathtaking pieces of theatre I have ever seen. We felt as if we’d stumbled into a mysterious big top and experienced something secret leaving awed and amazed at the sheer skill and beauty of the circus. As you can imagine we were incredibly excited to see them again especially in a residency performance and with a three course meal with champagne before hand too! We had no idea what to expect when our taxi pulled up to the front of a magnificent mangrove jungle that housed the big top and a series of wooden bridges.
There is a bar at the bottom where you can sit and enjoy a drink before the show in the Mexican sunset and it was quite simply lovely. We were booked in for the Dinner & Champagne package at 6pm (show starting at 7pm) so we went straight up to the big top and stepped into the magical world of JOYA.
Inside the big top is truly wondrous. Bathed in blue light with jellyfish shaped lights on the ceilings and walls covered in books, it really gets your mind whirring as to what’s in store! We were led to our table just a few rows back form the stage which is set in the round and settled in listening to the live band serenading us throughout dinner. If you don’t fancy eating (although I’d highly recommend you do) there are stools on the higher rows for those wishing to watch the show and not enjoy the culinary part.
Ok, let’s talk about the food. Everything apart from the glasses and dinnerware is edible…even the menu!!! This is some serious Heston Blumenthal stuff going on here. There were two choices for main beef and fish (with a vegetarian option on request I’m sure as nothing was too much trouble) and a set starter and desert. There was an ice cold bottle of Mercier champagne waiting for us too which surprised me – maybe it’s because all my experience of Champagne on holiday (apart from in the south of France) has consisted of sweet sparkling wine pretending to be the good stuff but I just wasn’t expecting real Champagne or incredible food for that matter. Oh how wrong I was.
I won’t spoil the surprise of what exactly was on our plates as I’m not sure how often they change their menus but it was all spectacular. Perfectly cooked fish, melt in the mouth sticky slow cooked meat and beautifully fresh accompaniments – this is some seriously good food guys and well worth the extra $’s on your ticket. All enjoyed with your champagne and the band playing away on stage, such a lovely atmosphere.
Desert came served in a book. Yes a book. With a selection of sweet things perfect for any palette and it was totally delicious. We felt like kids in a sweet shop with so much thought going into the food and presentation. I can’t stress enough how ‘worth it’ the meal and champagne package is – we loved every mouthful and sipped on the second half of our bottle as the show began.
JOYA is a light-hearted journey into the Mayan Jungle with animals and creatures from land, air and sea and it truly takes you on a ride. There is storytelling, audience interaction and of course amazing feats of strength, acrobatics and skill -and it’s funny too! A lot more light-hearted than our previous Cirque Du Soleil experience (Kooza) which was more mystical than comical, JOYA is fun for all the family and if you’re in one of the ‘best’ table seats you’re in for a real treat. There weren’t as many tricks in JOYA as I’ve seen in other shows but there were enough to make you sit with your mouth wide open in total awe of what’s happening in front of you! The band and vocalists were out of this world and it was just wonderful.
I don’t like to give too much away about productions like this – what happens in the big top stays in the big top – but I can say it’s a fantastic show and an absolute must if you’re in Riviera Maya or Cancun.
When the performance is over you’re led out into the gift shop where you can buy all sorts of gifts to commemorate your evening at the circus – I was actually tempted by one of their beautiful tropical looking scarves. Our hotel arranged a taxi for us and it was around 40 minutes to the big top, when we finished our driver was there waiting safe and sound and all for £35 return. We honestly had one of the most incredible evenings we’ve had so far on a holiday and JOYA is a real wonder.
JOYA runs Tuesday-Saturday with various show times and tickets starting from just $77 USD – you can book tickets HERE. Our showing was full so I’d say it’s worth booking in advance.
Want to take a look around our hotel? Check out my review of The Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya!