MAD has a dual mission: supporting emerging circus artists and welcoming a broad audience into the fascinating universe of the circus. MAD(e) in Antwerp. MAD about circus.

As a circus platform, we offer residencies and masterclasses throughout the year to support upcoming circus talent. During our annual four-day festival, coupled with an international acrobatics convention, we invite everyone to experience the circus madness. Safely from the audience or actively behind the scenes.

MAD is engaged for the young blood and the old crowd, with the baseline 'a circus state of mind'. These five pillars form the basis of MAD's mission.

1. Sharp Edge

MAD Festival brings the newest and most exciting circus from Antwerp, Flanders, and abroad. We present performances that captivate a broad audience, but have a soft spot for innovative material, showcasing independent artists willing to take risks. 

2. Workshops and Training

Introductory lessons, specialized workshops, technical training, or guest lectures? During our international circus convention, we offer a range of workshops and training for young circus talents from all over Europe. The convention takes place during the four-day MAD Festival, providing opportunities for young acrobats, youth circuses, and (semi)professional circus artists to enhance their skills at their own level, surrounded by teachers from circus studios and colleges. This allows young creators to establish connections for future collaborations.

3. Professional Program

MAD focuses on a program for professionals, including artist talks and, in 2024, an international conference on safety. The goal is to encourage meetings and deepen connections while putting the Antwerp and Flemish circus network on the map. This ensures that circus gains more visibility among (inter)national press and professionals.

4. Generation MAD

MAD creates a space where the new circus generation meets and performs together. Final year students from colleges in Belgium and abroad gather at MAD Festival, just before they storm international stages. Ready to meet the MAD generation?

5. Warm Welcome to the Circus World

MAD aims to make the unique atmosphere of the circus scene visible—both on and off-stage. We create a meeting space between circus artists and the audience. The visitor becomes a companion, embarks on a discovery, gains a behind-the-scenes glimpse, and becomes part of the circus world. A universe full of energy and enthusiasm, where risk is never far away. A world that is hospitable, open, honest, and free.


MAD places the artist at the center and showcases the strength and perseverance of the acrobat, the creativity and vision of the creator, and the courage and vulnerability of the circus artist. 

MAD showcases both the craftsmanship and innovation of the circus. The festival brings inspiring performances and authentic artists. Shows that have been worked on extensively, sometimes with the blood, sweat, and tears still on the program booklet.

MAD inspires, creates, surprises, strengthens, softens, moves, meets, connects, reveals, conceals, discovers, shows, experiments, challenges, invites.


Since 2021, the circus activities around MAD Festival have been part of the creative platform Kunstenlab, sharing mission and vision.

When we talk about our stages, we refer to Arenberg, OLT Rivierenhof, and MAD Festival. Each stage has its own dynamics and focus. Arenberg primarily focuses on comedy and theater, OLT Rivierenhof on music, and MAD Festival on circus arts.

You can find the complete mission and vision of Kunstenlab here.