Circuses provide an alternative form of holiday season entertainment
Stars and Stripes November 11, 2022
In just a few weeks’ time, Christmas markets will start popping up across Europe, and visitors will flock to them to soak up their unique charm and holiday cheer. In many cities, another form of seasonal magic is also on offer. At this time of year, couples, friends, work colleagues and families can take in a variety of grandiose, circus-like spectacles and variety shows. Due to the visual nature of this form of entertainment, most language barriers are easily transcended. And unlike the markets, which often shut down just before Christmas day, many circuses run into the New Year.
Salzburg, Austria: Billed as the largest festival for contemporary circus in the German-speaking world, Winterfest brings the latest productions of internationally renowned circus companies to tents set up in the Volksgarten, a spacious urban park on the banks of the Salzach River. Enjoying top bill this year is “Ballett,” a performance by the Circus Fahraway from Switzerland. To a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired soundtrack, artists construct a fantastical world out of simple wooden pallets, and these become the stage upon which they delight viewers with their daring acrobatics and tightrope walks.
Performances of “Ballett” are offered on dates between Dec. 2 and 18. Online tickets cost 54 euros for adults and 20 euros for children up to 15 years. Seven additional shows complete this season’s lineup. Online: winterfest.at
London: The Spiegeltent set up in Leicester Square serves as the venue for performances by the award-winning ensemble La Clique. Elements of circus, comedy and cabaret combine in these sexy, saucy shows which are recommended only to viewers age 16 or older. Previous shows have offered sword-swallowing fire-breathers, risk-taking roller-skaters and aerial performers on tension straps. Performances take place Nov. 9 through Jan. 7, 2023. Ticket prices begin at 21 pounds, or about $24.10. Online: lacliquetheshow.com
Berlin: The festively decorated Tempodrom hosts the annual presentation of the Roncalli Weihnachtscircus. The scent of cotton candy and popcorn mingles with showers of confetti as clowns elicit laughs and acrobats cause audiences to gasp in awe. Performances are offered Dec. 17-Jan. 2, 2023. Adult ticket prices begin at 29.90 euros. Online: tinyurl.com/3zrcnk2v
Cologne, Germany: The Kölner Weihnachtscircus, or Cologne Christmas Circus, promises a high tempo show in a fairy-tale atmosphere. Clowning duos and trios, acrobats performing on a double trampoline and an illusionist are just a few of this year’s crop of artists. A show of trained cats is also featured. Performances take place twice daily from Dec. 2-Jan. 1, 2023 at An Der Zoobrücke. Tickets prices begin at 24.90 euros for adults and 19.60 euros for children. Online: koelner-weihnachtscircus.de
Frankfurt, Germany: A majestic blue and white tent set up at the city’s Festplatz on Ratsweg makes a proper setting for this circus featuring clowns, trapeze artists, acrobats known for their handstands and pyramids and a family of horseback riders. Performances take place to live music. The Great Christmas Circus runs Dec. 16-Jan. 8, 2023. Ticket prices begin at 15 euros for adults and 10 euros for children. Online: great-christmas-circus.de
Stuttgart, Germany: The 28th edition of the city’s Weltweihnachtscircus (World Christmas Circus) is set to unfold at its usual spot on the Cannstatter Wasen. This year’s show, titled the Festival of Golden Clowns, brings together the elite of the international circus world including award-winning acrobats from Spain and Mongolia, high wire artists from Columbia, daredevils from Argentina and clowns from Italy and the USA. A horse show also figures into the mix.
Performances are offered Dec. 8-Jan. 8. Ticket prices begin at 28 euros for adults; children and students enjoy a 5 euro reduction. On some dates, Christmas and New Year’s surcharges apply. A special multi-course menu served during or after the show can be booked separately. Food and snacks are also available on site. Online: weltweihnachtscircus.de
Wiesbaden, Germany: Stars from the international circus world are once again set to dazzle and delight in the heated and decorated big top tent set up at the Gibber Kerb fairgrounds in Wiesbaden-Biebrich. A new gala program features top artists from around the world. In addition to clowns, acrobats and tightrope walkers are found a menagerie of animals including parrots, horses, dogs and a pair of sea lions. Adrenaline kicks are delivered by the “Globe of Speed” metal ball in which up to four motorcycle riders race at once.
Shows are offered between Dec. 22 and Jan. 8, 2023. Ticket prices begin at 28 euros for adults and 20 euros for children. Bring along a copy of the circus flyer to take advantage of a 5-euro discount on entry. Online: weihnachtscircuswiesbaden.de
Amsterdam, Netherlands: The Wereldkerstcircus, or World Christmas Circus, takes place at the Royal Theatre Carré, an elegant, purpose-built venue dating back to 1887. This ever-popular family spectacle attracts about 60,000 viewers in a typical year with its horses, clowns, acrobats and other award-winning performers. The 2.5-hour show will be performed up to five times daily between Dec. 21 and Jan. 8, 2023. Ticket prices begin at 20.50 euros for adults and 15.50 euros for children. Online: wereldkerstcircus.nl