The Garden Auditorium

Posted on 08/17/2016 at 2:20pm

Situated in the Southwest corner of Hastings Park, the Garden Auditorium is a beautiful heritage building featuring a built-in stage and wooden floors. It was once a popular dance hall, full of big-band sounds. Currently, it’s filled with the sounds of contemporary circus as this building serves as the year-round home to CircusWest Performing Arts Society.

“The Gardens” is a Class A Heritage building, built in 1939, and designed by Townley and Matheson, the same architects who designed Vancouver City Hall. According to the Heritage “Statement of Significance” dated March 2010, some character defining elements of the Garden Auditorium include:

  • Location on the South edge of Hastings Park and its identity as a local landmark
  • Location amidst an “urban forest” of mature trees
  • The close relationship to the commemorative Momiji Gardens






Just prior to its use by CircusWest, “The Gardens” had been unoccupied for many years, occasionally hosting film crews and trade shows. Looking further back, “The Gardens” is rich with history! CircusWest’s year-round home has hosted a wide variety of high profile events over the years, including the Simpson-Sears Fashion Show, international Billiards tournaments and performances by American rock and country musician Glenn Campbell and professional wrestler Andre the Giant. In the “Golden Age” of the Pacific Northwest music scene, musicians and bands like Ray Charles, BB King, The Clash, Frank Zappa, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd and more were rocking the roof off of this Vancouver Heritage building.

Frank Zappa at Garden Auditorium


Fleetwood Mac at Garden Auditorium


1972-02-12-Ticket 1975-04-05

Since moving here in 2003, this beautiful heritage building has been providing CircusWest with the space needed to run our circus programs, performances and activities. Today, as you walk in the Garden Auditorium, you will be greeted by the exuberant atmosphere of circus with a 40 foot long tumbling track, olympic sized trampolines and aerials silks dangling from the ceiling. Every year, hundreds of kids, teens and adults flip, spin and swing through the Gardens to broaden their knowledge of circus arts. Watching from the stands, one is awe struck by the gravity defying feats, mesmerized by the intricacy of juggling patterns, gasping in amazement at the acrobatic power and smiling along with the 7 year old zipping around on a unicycle. Whether it’s learning the fundamentals, trying to get, or stay, in shape, or professional development for circus artists, the Garden Auditorium plays host to a broad range of circus activities exposing the wonders of contemporary circus to the Vancouver community.






CircusWest is proud to share a space with such cultural significance to the Vancouver arts community and are pleased to add our contribution to the rich history of the Garden Auditorium with our circus arts.



*Historic Gardens Photo Credit – City of Vancouver Archive

*CircusWest Photo Credit – Dan Henshaw



Origins of CircusWest

Posted on 07/21/2016 at 2:58pm

Beginning as Vancouver Children’s Circus Society, CircusWest has grown significantly since its inception in 1984. Inspired by the Flying Fruit Fly’s performances at the 1984 Vancouver Children’s Festival, our small, non-profit circus school was born. For years, the Society operated out of a small East Vancouver gym, setting up and taking down the equipment daily. During that time, vast numbers of children attended the program, now called CirKids School of Circus Arts. As we reached capacity at the Khalsa Gym, a search went underway for a new home to house our growing programs.

Brian helping a student

In 2003, CirKids relocated to our current home at the PNE Garden Auditorium on the grounds of Hastings Park, where our programming has expanded to serve over 2000 members through classes, camps and workshops every year. The large open space, the fixed spectator seating, the character of the building and its’ location within Hastings Park have been hugely beneficial to CircusWest’s exponential growth in the past decade. These characteristics have allowed us to expand our classes, while providing space for our students to gain valuable experience through performances and workshops which would not otherwise be possible at any other space in Vancouver.

Jay juggling pins

In 2008, CirKids was renamed once again to CircusWest Performing Arts Society to reflect a more diverse program offering and to consolidate all that CirKids did under a more dynamic brand. With support from the City of Vancouver and the PNE, CircusWest has flourished. Since moving to the Garden Auditorium, enrollment has grown steadily, as has our engagement in the Vancouver community through performances, workshops and community events. Now, not only do our students come from all over the lower mainland, you can see CircusWest perform throughout BC and our alumni performing with companies and on stages around the world.”

Old picture of students juggling

CircusWest Alumnus Wins Award at 2016 Vancouver Jessie Awards

Posted on 06/30/2016 at 2:55pm

The results are in!

And the winner of the 2016 Vancouver Jessie Awards for Outstanding Original Script goes to… CircusWest Alumni James Gordon King for his latest production of RIVULETS: 3 Short Plays About a Flood, which earned 6 total nominations that including, Outstanding Production, Direction, Set, Lighting & Sound Design, and Significant Artistic Achievement.

James is a former Cirkid who continued to pursue his passion for Performance Arts and we could not be happier for him and his victory at The Jessie Awards.

On top of taking home the award for Outstanding Original Script award, James is also the recipient of this year’s Sydney Risk Prize, an award presented to an emerging playwright whose script displays excellence and originality.

Congratulations James, we could not be more proud of you and your achievements!

2016 Year End Showcases

Posted on 05/25/2016 at 3:23pm




SHOWCASE ONE – Saturday June 18th



10:30AM     SHOWTIME

12:00PM     SHOW OVER


SHOWCASE TWOSunday June 19th


9:45AM       SUN LIONS 

10:30AM     SHOWTIME

12:00PM     SHOW OVER


SHOWCASE THREEMonday June 20th



5:00PM       SHOWTIME

6:30PM       SHOW OVER


SHOWCASE FOURMonday June 20th


7:45PM       SHOWTIME

9:00 PM      SHOW OVER


SHOWCASE FIVEWednesday June 22nd



6:30PM       SHOWTIME

8:00PM       SHOW OVER


2015 Winter Walkabout Schedule

Posted on 11/18/2015 at 6:52pm


Friends and Family are invited to join us this December as we celebrate our 2015 CirKids and their amazing circus skills!


Group Call-Time Show-Time
Saturday December 19th   SHOW 1
Saturday Lions 9:30AM 10:00-11:00AM
Monday Tigers 9:30AM 10:00-11:00AM
Saturday December 19th   SHOW 2
Saturday Ringmasters 11:30AM 12:00-1:00PM
Centre Ring (ALL) 11:30AM 12:00-1:00PM
Saturday December 19th   SHOW 3
Monday Ringmasters I 1:30PM 2:00-3:00PM


Group Call-Time Show-Time
Sunday December 20th   SHOW 1
Sunday Lions 9:30AM 10:00-11:00AM
Monday Lions 9:30AM 10:00-11:00AM
Wednesday Tigers 9:30AM 10:00-11:00AM
Sunday December 20th   SHOW 2
Sunday Ringmasters 11:30AM 12:00-1:00PM
Big Top 11:30AM 12:00-1:00PM
Sunday December 20th   SHOW 3
Wednesday Ringmasters 1:30PM 2:00-3:00PM
Monday Ringmasters II 1:30PM 2:00-3:00PM

Happy holidays from CircusWest!

Reminder: The last day of class before the holidays is Monday, Dec 21st

The first day back is Saturday, Jan 2nd.

A Word from an Alumnus – Claire Hopson

Posted on 11/05/2015 at 12:38pm

This week we caught up with CircusWest alumnus Claire Hopson.

Claire played Dorthoy in The Circus of Oz last year, performing a sensational straps act. Claire has since left us and moved east where she is currently training at École de cirque de Québec. Here’s what she had to say:



Can you share your thoughts on how to best prepare yourself for a career in circus?

Train hard, train smart, love what you do, keep working on new tricks, new techniques, invent, create, have fun.

How did your experience at CircusWest prepare you for where you are now? (École de cirque de Québec)

CircusWest puts an emphasis on making their students well rounded in all aspects of circus which really helped me when I got to Quebec. Knowing a little bit from all the disciplines made it easier for me to adapt to all my classes and helped me improve with good technique.

Are there any courses at CircusWest that you would recommend taking as preparation?

Jonel’s strength and flex class haha!

How did you balance your time between school, training and rehearsal?

It really depends what you want to focus on, but training and rehearsals were always my first priority. I knew school would always be there.

In your experience, what are some attributes of individuals who are most successful in circus?

Creative, hard working, determined, well rounded,…

What have been the main differences between CircusWest and École de cirque de Québec?

The attention to detail and technique at Ecole de Cirque de Quebec, is much higher than at CircusWest but at the same time their training us to be professionals and CW is a recreational program so it’s not very comparable,… But if I had to pick one of the best similarities it would have to be the sense of family that both schools have, everyone’s working together and everyone is giving it their all, it’s really nice.

Has it been hard to adapt to a new setting and environment? If so, how do you manage/deal with the challenges?

It was weird at first because I landed and started driving to my new home and everything was in French, absolutely everything but you get used to it pretty quick and I love it here, it’s home.

What is the next step for you when you finish your training at École de cirque de Québec?

Hopefully working in a circus company somewhere in the world.

What do you miss the most about CircusWest?

Virpi’s laugh, Jay’s jokes, all the amazing coaches, the space, all the happy faces,…

Register for Strength and Flexibility HERE

Volunteering at CircusWest

Posted on 10/07/2015 at 5:20pm



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As the parent of a child enrolled in CirKids, you have the opportunity to take an active part at CircusWest by volunteering with us.

Here’s how it works:

A volunteer fee is added to the tuition for all CirKids programs from Ringmasters to Performance. This fee is included in your monthly tuition payment. We ask parents to complete a specific amount of volunteer hours during the year, depending on their child’s program: 20 hours for Ringmasters, Big Top, Centre Ring and Ensemble students, 25 hours for Centre Stage and 30 hours for Performance students. Families with more than one child in CirKids are only asked to volunteer an extra 5 hours for each subsequent child and are charged a reduced volunteer fee of $5 per child, per month. For example, if you have two children in Ringmasters, you will only pay $25 per month and are asked to volunteer up to 25 hours throughout the year.

We have a range of volunteer opportunities available which range from volunteering on our board and committees to administrative assistance, Front of House support during our annual show, costume laundering, sewing and design, building maintenance, photography, videography, fundraising events and much much more.

If you have a specific skill or area of expertise let us know by completing the volunteer sign-up sheet HERE

Volunteer opportunities will be updated and posted on the bulletin board at the front desk on a regular basis and you can also check in with our Program Assistant, Laura to learn about all upcoming and pending tasks.

Once your hours have been completed, at the end of the year you can reclaim your volunteer fee ($200-$300) by completing A Volunteer Refund Form. You also have the option of donating your volunteer funds to the organization. Donating to CircusWest is an excellent investment in your community that allows us to offer the joy of circus to as many individuals as possible. Donations support bursaries, equipment and our extensive community outreach program with a goal to make circus accessible to everyone.

If you are interested in volunteering please phone 604-252-3679 or email info@circuswest.com

Our volunteers are integral to the success of our organization and we could not do what we do without you!

Thank you all for your support and we look forward to seeing you around the building throughout the year.

Welcome to CircusWest

Posted on 09/14/2015 at 5:25pm


CircusWest is...

…a member-run organization that has served Vancouver since 1984. The society is governed by a volunteer Board of directors. There are a number of committees on which you can serve to assist the Board and CircusWest. If you are interested in joining a committee or serving on the Board please contact the office at 604.252.3679 or at info@circuswest.com

We are pleased to welcome you to our family here at CircusWest. We know that you will thrive in our safe, supportive and inclusive environment where you can grow, expand your boundaries and challenge yourself – truly achieving the impossible.


Our main way of communication is electronic. A newsletter is emailed at least once per month with any important information and updates. If you are not receiving the newsletter, please let us know. Our website is updated regularly with program, performance and event information. Notices are also posted on the bulletin board in the Garden Auditorium.

Please log in to your Member Profile Page at circuswest.com by clicking on Member Login. This is the best way to get all the info you need.


Parking is free for CircusWest students, families and friends. In case of event, tell the attendant that you are here for CircusWest to park for free

Pick Up & Drop Off

Please do not drive directly up to the CircusWest doors. It poses a risk to children and parents.


We accept payments by cash, Visa, Mastercard, debit or cheque. Please contact the office to confirm how your payments will be processed.


CircusWest offers bursaries based on financial need for the CirKids program. Applications, which can be found HERE and on our website, are due Sept. 15 2015.

Supporting CircusWest

Please think of us when planning your charitable giving. CircusWest is a registered Canadian Charity that issues tax receipts for donations.(#11928 1426 RR000) Donating to CircusWest is an excellent investment in your community that allows us to offer the joy of circus to as many individuals as possible. Donations support bursaries, equipment and our extensive community outreach program with a goal to make circus accessible to everyone.We have many donation opportunities available and would be delighted to discuss how you can give. Contact us at 604.252.3679 or info@circuswest.com



Each family is charged a volunteer fee for CirKids classes above Cubs, Lions & Tigers. In order to be eligible for a volunteer refund between 20 to 30 volunteer hours will need to be completed. CircusWest relies on our talented and dedicated volunteers to make the organization work. A variety of opportunities will be available  throughout the year ranging from Front of House support during our annual  May show to building maintenance and more – stay tuned for details! If you are interested in volunteering please phone 604-252-3679 or email info@circuswest.com.

Annual Show0bf16046-7cd6-4f65-9d4d-8b8b1267182b

Each May, we put on a spectacular circus show featuring our Centre Stage and Performance students. Complete with costumes, make-up and incredible set design, this show is a must-see for circus fans.

Winter Walkabout & Year-end Showcase

Before the Christmas and summer breaks, showcases will be held at the PNE Garden Auditorium for parents to come and see what their children have been learning. Don’t miss out on those great opportunities to support the kids and take some photos.

More at CircusWest…

CircusWest offers a variety of programming and fun to suit everyone’s needs. Check out this sampling of our offerings and visit our website to get all the details.


Have a circus birthday party and spend your special day learning new circus skills. Parties are intended for kids, but adult and teen parties are available upon request. Find out more HERE


Throughout the year, CircusWest offers a variety of camps for children around the Lower Mainland. Ranging from Spring Break Camps to our popular Summer Camps, details can be found online.

Summer Camps @ Stratford Hall & Bayview!

Posted on 07/24/2015 at 3:52pm

Everyone here at CircusWest is very excited to bring our summer camps to Stratford Hall next month, Vancouver’s most up-to-the-minute sports gym!

Just a stone’s throw from the PNE at 3150 Commercial Drive, camps at Stratford Hall are quickly filling!

CircusWest_Camp3_345From the east side to the west side, 2015 marks CircusWest’s 15th year at Bayview Community Centre. Located on West 6th Ave at 2251 Collingwood Street, Bayview camps offer children the opportunity to participate in a circus camp without having to commute for miles.


CircusWest camps are a great place for kids to take their first steps in the wonderful world of circus, and a great opportunity for those already enrolled in CirKids (or dance or gymnastics programs) to improve their skills and learn some new ones, too. Learn to juggle, ride a unicycle, jump on a trampoline and build human pyramids! Campers work towards building a performance to present on the last day of camp to showcase their newly gained skills! All families are invited to attend this performance!

Camps are open to all children aged between 7 and 14 years and offer a jam packed, fun filled week for just $350.00. An additional $20.00 Gymnastics BC insurance fee will be charged per student while a $15.00 CircusWest Membership fee will be charged per family.


Following the roaring success of our camps at the PNE throughout July, make sure your child does not miss the chance to experience the joy of circus this summer!

* Limited spaces available.

Watch the fun our campers are having : IMG_4980

Find us HERE at Stratford Hall and HERE at Bayview!

2015 Yearend Showcase Schedule

Posted on 06/01/2015 at 7:57pm

Join us as we showcase the talents and skills of CircusWest’s 2015 CirKids!

Be sure to bring your camera as there will be plenty of photo opportunities.

Class Call Time Show Time
Wednesday Ringmasters 5:00PM 6:30PM – 8:00PM
Centre Ring (Wed and Sat Class) 5:00PM 6:30PM – 8:00PM
Wednesday Tigers 5:45PM 6:30PM – 8:00PM
Wednesday Lions 5:45PM 6:30PM – 8:00PM


Class Call Time Show Time
Saturday Ringmasters 9:00AM 10:30AM – 12:00PM
Centre Ring (ALL Centre Ring) 9:00AM 10:30AM – 12:00PM
Saturday Tigers 9:45AM 10:30AM – 12:00PM
Saturday Lions 9:45AM 10:30AM – 12:00PM



Class Call Time Show Time
Sunday Ringmasters 9:00AM 10:30AM – 12:00PM
Big Top 9:00AM 10:30AM – 12:00PM



Class Call Time Show Time
Monday Ringmasters 5:00PM 6:30PM – 8:00PM
Centre Ring (Mon and Sat Class) 5:00PM 6:30PM – 8:00PM
Monday Lions 5:45PM 6:30PM – 8:00PM
MondayTigers 5:45PM 6:30PM – 8:00PM


Don’t forget about CircusWest Summer Camps!

Registration is NOW OPEN!


Thank you for all of your support throughout the year – see you in September!