Ghent – Nieuw Circus

The New Circus, also called Winter Circus, is a former winter circus and hippodrome located in the Belgian city of Ghent, which was located in a present still existing building near the Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat. It is bordered by the Lammerstraat, Platteberg and Korianderstraat and came on the site of the former cotton factory of the Kerckhove which was burned down in 1878. This circus building was the successor (and until 1914 the big competitor) of the wooden circus De Drie Sleutels also known as the Hippodrome that was built in 1879 in the Sint-Amandstraat. It caused a fierce competition, but resulted in the most famous attractions going to Ghent. That is why they also spoke of the old and the new circus (Nieuw Circus).

The building was erected in 1894 by order of the Cercle Equestre Gantois, according to plans by architect Emile De Weerdt. In 1920 it was destroyed by a fire; only the façade was retained. In 1923 it was rebuilt to the design of architect Jules Pascal Ledoux and it could seat 3,400 people. The winter circus was not only used as a circus, but also for revues, variety programs and film screenings. After the last circus performance in 1944, the New Circus closed its doors.

The first version of the building had 41 loges and 4 larger VIP lodges. The well-to-do bourgeoisie entered the Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat and the ordinary people along the Lammerstraat. After the completion of the second building, the entrance – for everyone – to the Lammerstraat.

From 1947, the space was used as a garage by the Mahy family, who was also known in Belgium for its large collection of vintage cars. In 1978 the garage was closed, while the Mahy family used the circus for a few decades as a parking garage for its collection of old cars. Part of the collection was later transferred to Autoworld in Brussels, another part to the Mahymobiles museum in Leuze-en-Hainaut. The still existing facade on the Lammerstraat dates from 1958, with on the ground floor the then entrance to the car showroom and above it a living quarters.

From 2020, the remodelled Winter Circus will consist of a covered courtyard (the former auditorium, surrounded by will office spaces for organizations and companies that work on digital innovation in media. A disco for about 500 people is planned under the middle runway. Events, café, restaurant and foyer will also find a place in the building. This will ruin the old stables which were the last original features of the building besides the roof. Luckily the city of Ghent allowed Piet-Hein Out acces so they can still be admired on his pictures.


Gallery of 2014

Gallery of the 8th of November 2021