2016 Figueres International Circus Festival closes its doors with record attendance

A record-breaking 30,504 spectators attended the 5th edition of the Figueres International Circus Festival, which was sold out for almost all performances. The three acts which won the Golden Elephant, the Figueres International Circus Festival first prize, were from China and Mongolia. From China, the WuQiao Arts School of China performed ‘Qin Warriors’, while the Sheyang Acrobatic Troupe of China showcased ‘Fan Dance.’ From Mongolia, ‘Troupe Nomuna’ performed an acrobatic tumbling act. Figueres, a city near the Costa Brava and bordering with France, already hosts the second biggest international circus festival after the one at Monte-Carlo.

Mongolian company, 'Troupe Nomuna’ performing an acrobatic tumbling act (by ACN)
Mongolian company, 'Troupe Nomuna’ performing an acrobatic tumbling act (by ACN) / ACN


March 3, 2016 11:47 AM

Barcelona (CNA).- The 2016 5th edition of the Figueres International Circus Festival broke box office records with a novel 30,504 attendees: all the performances were nearly sold out. The first prize of the competition, a Dali-inspired surrealist golden elephant statuette, were Chinese acts ‘Qin Warriors’ (performed by the WuQiao Arts School of China) and ‘Fan Dance’ (interpreted by the Sheyang Acrobatic Troupe of China). Also recipients of first place were the acrobatic tumbling ‘Troupe Nomuna’ from Mongolia, while second place was awarded to performers from diverse countries such as Canada, Russia, Italy, and Spain. Third place bronze trophies found a place with acts from Russia and the Ukraine. Figueres, a town near the French border and the Costa Brava, plans to become an even bigger international circus mecca, already having made a name for itself as the second biggest after that of Monte-Carlo. 

After five days, the 5th annual Figueres International Circus Festival has drawn to a close, and the balancing acts ‘Quin Warriors’ and ‘Fan Dance’ (from China) and the acrobatics of Troupe Nomuna (from Mongolia) have taken home the first place awards.  The three performances were presented with the Golden Elephant trophy, a statuette inspired by Salvador Dali´s long-legged elephant, during the award ceremony that ended this edition of the festival. This year, the festival’s box office record was broken: as many as 30,504 spectators attended the event at the fairground big top, a number which very nearly meant a full house for the ten performances open to the general public.

The organisation statesthat the festival has already established itself “as the second biggest in Europe,” as surpassed only by its progenitor: the well-known Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival.  The circus event had a budget for over half a million euros, which was allotted to accommodate 84 artists from thirteen different countries, performing and as many as 24 attractions. In addition, this 2016 event featured a recent addition, “a new tent with capacity for more than 30,000 spectators.”      

The ´Espectacle Or´ (or ´Golden Performance´ in Catalan) marked the ending of the five hectic days during which Figueres, a town near the Costa Brava and the French border, reinvents itself as an international circus capital. This culminating performance is a display of all of the best performances of the festival, with acts featuring aerialists, contortionists, acrobats, jugglers and clowns.

In total, there were 24 attractions, performed by as many as 84 artists, hailing from thirteen different countries. As before, the circus event culminated by ending with its awards ceremony, during which the festival´s signature trophies were presented. The awards, modeled after surrealist painter Salvador Dali´s long-legged elephants and cast in gold, bronze and silver, were, this year, also a testament to a newly-broken box office record.

This year´s ticket sales numbers for the Figueres Circus Festival totaled 30,504 spectators, which meant an almost 100% attendance level for all public events. The event states that currently, after its 5th edition, it has established itself as “the second biggest circus event in Europe” bested only by that of Monte-Carlo, and is already becoming well-known.

Spotlight on China and Mongolia

The two countries in the spotlight during the 2016 awards were China and Mongolia. China was represented by the balancing acts of ´Qin Warriors,´ performed by the WuQiao Arts School of China, and the ´Fan Dance,´ carried out by the Sheyang Acrobatic Troupe of China.  Mongolia showcased its talents through the acrobatic tumbling act of the ´Troupe Nomuna.´ All three acts were the recipients of the ´Elefants d´Or´ (the Golden Elephant Awards).

The Chinese ´Qin Warrios´ performance, during which the acrobats perform a balancing act on a unicycle, was also a crowd favorite. As well as the Golden Elephant first prize, it received the ´Premi del Public´ (´Audience Award´), which is decided by each member who has attended the nine semifinal acts (known as the Blue and Red performances).

Among other winning performances, was the Canadian duo 2-Zen-0 with its double aerial hoop act, which received the ´Elefant de Plata´ (the Silver Elephant). Other Silver Elephant recipients were the Russian clown Vladimir Deryankin, the aerial silk act Golden Dream (a duo composed of Italian Ambra Faggioni and Spaniard Yves Olivares). The bronze statuette was presented to aerial hula hoop performance of the Russian Alexandra Levitskaya, to the contortionism and equilibrium fusion act by Duo Miracle, from the Ukraine, as well as the aerial acts of the Russian duo Miracle.

As well as the infamous elephant trophies, an international panel of expert judges gave out additional awards during the festival, which featured as many as fourteen attractions. The Swan Lake Mongolian contortionist act was presented with the ´Image Award,´ and the ´Critics´ Award´ was given to the Ukranian acrobats, the Zhygaltsov Brothers.

This year, the festival reaped the benefits of its more than half a million euro budget (592,000 to be exact). The Figueres International Circus Festival has big plans for the future: it also “plans to become the Word Circus Capital by 2018, coinciding with the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the circus in Spain.” Additionally, the festival´s director, Genís Matabosch, states that the event “acts as a platform to promote unknown attractions and further the careers of young artists from around the world.”