The Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in the Netherlands contains ICH of which the communities, groups or individuals involved have written a safeguarding plan. Those plans are reviewed by an independent review committee. Every three years an evaluation of the safeguarding takes place.


Circus in the Netherlands takes many forms. The best-known is the classical tent circus with circus artists who travel with circus wagons from town to town to perform in a multi-coloured tent. But there are also theatre circuses, youth circuses and Christmas circuses. Many places in the Netherlands welcome a circus from time to time. It announces its arrival with colourful posters. An actual small village emerges within a few days, with wagons where the artists (and sometimes animals), live. The centre of the circus village is a big tent. The spectators sit on tribunes, arranged around the arena, or ring. A classical circus programme consists of ten to fifteen different acts. Most of the time it is a variety of animal acts and performances with acrobats, jugglers and clowns. Every act comprises seven to ten tricks. For a juggler this may be juggling with five balls, then with ten and consequently with rings. Every trick is a bit more difficult, thus building up the tension. For some circus families circus is not only their means of existence, but also a way of life.



The circus community consists of artists, staff, children, friends, collectors and sometimes animals. There are more than twenty Dutch circus companies, which travel with a tent or perform in a theatre. Most circuses are organised in the Association of Dutch Circus Companies (Dutch abbr. VNCO) and/or the European Circus Association (ECA). The circus culture is supported by around 1.5 million visitors a year.



As of 1770 Phillip Astley gave performances in his New British Riding School in London. In a ring of 42 feet diameter he gave shows with horses. The ring is still used in all circuses. 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, by Pieter Magito in 1796. He gave shows with tightrope walkers, horse acrobats, jugglers and buffoons. The first circuses performed at the fair and only later on the shows took place outside the fair. As of 1850 more and more major animal acts started dominating the circuses. Initially the trainers mainly showed the wildness of exotic animals, after 1870 they made them do tricks. In 1901 the great American circus Barnum and Bailey visited our country. Other foreign circuses, like Krone, Carré, Sarrasani and Strassburger, gave shows in the Netherlands. The circuses of Carré and Strassburger ultimately became Dutch companies. From 1945 to 1960 the circus in the Netherlands flourished, with famous names like Mullens, Mikkenie and Boltini. Around 1980 the phenomena Christmas winter circus came up. Meanwhile circuses of this type are organised at up to thirty locations. From France and Canada the Nouveau Cirque, or circus theatre came our way. The shows are more like theatre performances, with a narrative character or a thematic approach. Nowadays various Dutch theatres have an annual programme with the new circus theatre.