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Discover Circus Culture

In the Netherlands, circus culture was added to the Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2012. Every year, the Royal Dutch Mint releases an issue in the series “Intangible Culture Heritage in the Netherlands”. On this page, you can discover the history of circus culture, and dive into the circus culture in the Netherlands and in Monaco.

Circus culture in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, circus culture was added to the Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage. Intangible Cultural Heritage involves traditions, rituals and representations. The circus has developed over the years and became a true cultural expression. For some circus families. circus is not only their means of existence, but also a way of life.

The circus finds its origin in England. As of 1770, Phillip Astley gave performances in his New British Riding School in London. After the horsemanship acts clowns, acrobats and jugglers quickly found a place in the circus too. The first circus performance in the Netherlands was given in Delft in 1796 by Pieter Magito. From 1945 to 1960, the circus in the Netherlands flourished, with famous names like Mullens, Mikkenie and Boltini. Besides the classical tent circus, there are also theatre circuses, youth circuses and Christmas circuses. In the Netherlands, two educational institutions even offer actual courses on how to become a circus performer. Students do not only learn how to compose a circus act, but are also taught about the history of the circus and about entrepreneurship. With much diversity in shows throughout the year and actual circus training, circus culture is rooted deeply in Dutch culture.

250 years of Circus Culture

The grand circus culture of Monaco
In Monaco, circus culture is an important cultural aspect. Even the Princely family is involved with the circus! The world famous International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo takes place annually since 1974. The grand spectacle draws circus enthusiasts from all over the world. At the festival, the Golden, Silver and Bronze Clowns are awarded to the best circus artists in the world. It is the most prestigious award circus artists can receive. Princess Stéphanie of Monaco is the patron and president of the circus festival, succeeding her late father Prince Rainier III in the role. The issue in celebration of 250 years of circus culture is developed in collaboration with the Fédération Mondiale du Cirque, a Monegasque foundation established for the promotion and preservation of circus arts and culture.

View the issues