In 2013 Marseille takes on European Capital of Culture status, and as part of the attendant celebrations the city has announced Cirque en Capitales, a focus (en Français, a zoom) on circus that runs one calendar month, 24 January - 24 February.
Cirque en Capitales in fact expands out from the city to encompass the whole of the surrounding region, bringing together its key circus operators to present more than 30 different shows. These are gathered into two organising strands: one for magie nouvelle, the other for clown. Instigated by Marseille's Théâtre Le Merlan and produced with the association of Théâtre d’Arles, Le Gymnase, and La Criée, the new magic programme will see artists including Bébel, Étienne Saglio, Guillaume Vallée, Valentin, Thierry Collet, and Kurt Demey bring new (as well as traditional) magic to the theatres and streets, while standing (sadly) under the (upturned) umbrella of the clown programme are Caroline Aubin, Ludor Citrik, Gilles Defacque, Gandini Juggling, and many others. The Cirque en Capitales programme also encompasses a homage to Pierrot Bidon, which will see artists from around the world create special pieces for a Fête à Pierrot at Arles, while for the industry crowd there's a seminar organised by HorsLesMurs and Circo Circolo called European Capitals of Culture and Circus Arts which runs 7-10 February 2013 and which will invite programmers and managers from ECoC-selected cities to discuss the inclusion of circus arts in their programmes.
Two other major circus activities are then connected to Marseille this year: first, the creation of the new Centre International des Arts en Mouvement (Ciam), at Aix-en-Provence, which will celebrate its opening 25-29 September with a five-day five-night circus party / mini-festival / shindig; second, the premiere performances of Azimut, Aurélien Bory's new collaboration with the Groupe Acrobatique de Tanger, at Le Grand Théâtre de Provence 20-27 September.
To see the full programme of cultural activities in and around Marseille this year, check the website.