Princess Stéphanie of Monaco inaugurated the 36th Monte Carlo International Circus Festival in Monaco on January 19, 2012.

Around 200 performers from 22 countries are participating in the festival, one of the biggest circus events in the world.

The festival features acts from traditional trapeze artists, clowns and animals including lions, elephants and horses.

As part of the festival, a competition for young circus artists will be held on February 4 and 5, 2012. Clowns, tightrope walkers, acrobats, magicians and animals will appear before an international jury to win the junior gold, the junior silver or junior bronze in the two days.

The annual event was started by Prince Rainier III in 1974 to promote the art he loved, the circus.

Check out the stunning performances by the artists at the festival:

Monte Carlo Circus Festival: Ukrainian contortionist Daria Shcherbyna performs during the opening ceremony of the 36th International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo in Monaco January 19, 2012.Reuters
Monte Carlo Circus Festival: The acrobatic troupe of Shanghai performs during the opening ceremony of the 36th International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo in Monaco.Reuters
Monte Carlo Circus Festival:The German Casselly family perform with elephants and horses during the opening ceremony of the 36th International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo in Monaco.Reuters
Monte Carlo Circus Festival: Canadian artist Erika Lemay performs during the opening ceremony of the 36th International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo in Monaco.Reuters
Monte Carlo Circus Festival: The German Casselly family perform with African elephants and horses during the opening ceremony of the 36th International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo in Monaco.Reuters
Monte Carlo Circus Festival: Prince Albert II of Monaco (2nd R) arrives with his wife Princess Charlene (L) to attend the opening ceremony of the 36th International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo in Monaco.Reuters