From January 17 to 27, the 43rd Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival will take place in the Principality. This is one of the most exciting annual events in Monaco. Rich programme, breathtaking performances, big names… For 43 years, the festival has drawn the attention of the international circus community. During this period, different generations of famous circus dynasties took part in the event.
Though, the festival couldn’t immediately conquer the hearts of viewers and artists.
We are back in 1974. For the Monegasques it was a special year since Prince Rainier celebrated the 25th anniversary of his reign. The ruler of Monaco was already known for his love for the circus. By the way, this passion has been transmitted today to his children and grandchildren, who make sure that every year the programme includes performances by prominent artists.
In 1974, Prince Rainier, confident that the circus art is undervalued, decides to create an unprecedented event in the Principality, entrusting its organisation to the mayor of Monaco, Jean-Louis Mèdecin, as well as to Dr. Alain Frère. The latter is still part of the festival as an artistic advisor.
The decision was taken to hold a festival and award the best artists with gold and silver clown statuettes. The bronze prize was established only in 2002.
In addition, the festival, which took place from December 26 to 30, was supposed to promote circus art, which at that time has come to a standstill.
Nevertheless, none of the artists was eager to take part in the festival.
“We had to face the problem of finding a circus, which would be willing to come to perform in Monaco”, Alain Frere shared in an exclusive interview for HelloMonaco. “Nobody wanted to come because it was planned to be the first circus festival ever held in the Principality. At that time I was a doctor to the Bouglione family and Joseph Bouglione, director of the Parisian circus, agreed to bring his circus to the Principality.”
Obviously, the first edition turned out to be less spectacular than modern shows. Only 1,800 seats fit under the circus tent, while today the number of visitors reaches 4,000. The Prince of Monaco himself became the President of the jury, he also gave prizes to the winners.
Nowadays, the festival takes place in Fontvieille, which was under construction in 1974, so the first performances were held under the tent of the Bouglione circus, which was located on the Esplanade de Fonvieille.
At that time the current district with modern buildings was only a huge desert area, where they installed the Bouglione circus tent. Despite the relatively small program of the first festival, even then artists from Russia, Spain, Italy, France, Denmark, Germany, Bulgaria, Sweden, USA, China and Hungary performed in Monaco.
43 years ago, the Richter family showed their performance with horses for the very first time. Today, the younger members of the circus dynasty still participate in the annual event. This can only prove that the festival has earned confidence in the eyes of the international circus community and, in 43 years, has become one of the main venues for their performances.
From this moment begins the long history of the Monte Carlo International Circus Festival. Very soon you can become a part of it and visit one of the shows!