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: