[The circuses
[Ethiopian Press]
[Activity Report]


1999 - The Second Ethiopian Circus Festival

Gallery Of Pictures

The Stage and the Crowd The Parade Flying Acts  Juggling Music and Dance Human Pyramids Towers and Special Acts

Panorama of culture and unique Ethiopian circus art

February 1 - 6, 1999 - Nazareth, Ethiopia

Circus art is quite a new phenomenon for the Ethiopian public. Although it has been long practised in the Far East and in the West, Ethiopians  have understood the idea of circus only recently through the media. However this does not mean Ethiopians are not exercising some act of circus in their daily lives . As an example of this we can observe  nomadic women doing balancing, as they carry buckets of milk or water on top of their heads without any support while walking or doing some other rhythmic movement. In southern areas as well, during festivities  acrobatic and aerial sumersaults take place. What had not been developed with these physical feats is the idea of art itself - art as an activity of discovery and creation working hand in hand with the rich folklore  of our cultures.

Circus in Ethiopia ( CIE) was legally established  in 1993 with a view to introduce circus art in Ethiopia. Ever since its creation CIE has given new dimension to  circus art in Ethiopia but as well internationally. By blending the art with the Ethiopian traditional costume , music and dance, CIE with its associative approach has inspired many circuses to grow throughout Ethiopia. This is probably why we are often referred to as ''The Booming Circus''. Presently more than 15 circus troupes have been established in as many  towns across Ethiopia.


The growth of the circuses under the guidance of CiE has created the need to meet and exchange ideas and skills between the more than 800 youth  and trainers involved.In February 1997 the first Ethiopian Circus Festival was hosted in Jimma town by Circus Jimma. In this major event six circus troupes  pulled together their talents and spirits into one to celebrate the existence of the circus movement. More than 200 artists, musicians and trainers participated in a five day event which was attended by over 60,000 people.

In Jimma: the 1997 Ethiopian Circus Festival at Awetu Park

In February 1999, the second festival was held in Nazareth town and hosted by  Circus Nazareth.

Nazareth is 115km from Addis Ababa and is located in the Rift Valley

Concept and Nature of the Festival

The Festival represents a great contribution of volunteer participation from the community at large. The Festival is a community effort to promote an important event for Nazareth and as well to promote the cultural vitality of the city for the future. At every level a strong show of participation and enthusiasm was created in the aura of the event by bringing together many associations and organisations in the realisation of the festival. The audience  experienced a great moral  and spiritual satisfaction with this cultural event .

Overview of the 1999 circus festival site in Nazareth
Over 70,000 people attended the 6 day event

Participants for the 1999 Festival were drawn from the four Branches of CiE namely Circus Ethiopia from Addis Ababa, Circus Jimma from Jimma, Circus Tigray from Mekele and the host Circus Nazareth from Nazareth.From the East of Ethiopia, and Circus Dire Dawa, an Associate Member of Circus in Ethiopia,  participated in the festival as a major participant. Seven other new circuses based in  the towns of Awasa, Desse, Debre Berhan, Bahir Dar,Arsi, Harar and Wolkite had a level of participation so as to share experience with the rest of the participants. The new Circuses  each sent eleven performers or more to the festival.

The circus shows  featured different messages including the Principles of the Red Cross , issues around  street children , basic health matters , AIDS prevention, etc... As in the first circus Festival held in February 1997 in Jimma,  more than 10,000 spectators  attended the free events every day . The festival was held in Nazareth town about a hundred kilometres to the South from Addis Ababa, the Capital. The venue was the main stadium in the centre of the town.


-To provide a forum for skills exchange between 12 Ethiopian circuses

- To promote unity among the Ethiopian Circuses

- To further promote the circus art to become part of the popular culture

-To promote the city of Nazareth

-To put influence upon the public and concerned bodies about the need for the construction of a Circus training centre in Nazareth

-To promote the Red Cross, local businesses and Humanitarian Agencies

-To provide a venue for the promotion of art and culture

Circus Tigray promoting the humanitarian action
of the Red Cross in their performance.

Brief description of the events held. February 1 - 6, 1999

1- Circus shows by Circus Ethiopia, Circus Nazareth, Circus Jimma , Circus Tigray, Circus Dire Dawa and short presentations by circuses from Arsi, Wolkite, Desse, Awasa, Bahir Dar, Debre Berhan and Harar. One major circus presentation and musical show per late afternoon and throughout the evening. The entire event was presented free of charge to the population.

Ethiopian Television retransmitted the entire festival nationwide

2- Music concerts

Presented by the circus bands of Circus Ethiopia, Circus Jimma, Circus Nazareth, Circus Tigray after the circus presentations.

3- Gymnastics demonstration

Skill demonstration to the public in the venue by all circuses .

4- Workshops for and among circus participants.

Trainers from the 12 Circuses  devised schedules to allow the circus youth to exchange and teach each other  skills they have developed.

5- Parade through Nazareth town

On the opening day , a  parade was held around town.

6- Media coverage

The festival was televised in its entirety on Ethiopian Television as a highlight for all Ethiopian Viewers. Besides the electronic media, the festival was also be the focus of Ethiopian publications and news papers. This media coverage coincided in time with the heavy armed  clashes at the border of Ethiopia and Eritrea.




For further information circus@telecom.net.et or  tel: (++251-1)181671

The next Ethiopian Circus Festival will be held in February 2001.

Be there!

Major Partners


for the 1999 Festival

Cirque du Soleil (Quebec)

 International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

 Circus in Ethiopia

 Eastern Shoa Zone Red Cross Branch Office
(Ethiopian Red Cross)

1999 - The Second Ethiopian Circus Festival

Gallery Of Pictures

The stage and the Crowd Flying Acts The Parade Juggling Music and Dance Human Pyramids Towers and Special Acts