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Conelli has it all: stars, snow and Christmas spirit

Funny, entertaining, unique, amazing light effects and costumes, this is Conelli

Have you ever experienced a show at Conelli? If not, you may have seen the tent all lit up at night wondering what it was. I first did when I arrived in Zurich and marveled at this magnificent red chapiteau, while standing on the main bridge.

Years later the tent never ceases to amaze me. Who can remain insensible to the shining stars outside on top of the Conelli tent!

Conelli stars inside of the tent

Conelli stars inside of the tent

If you are new to town, you may not be familiar with Conelli. But for those who have lived here long enough they all know Conelli, the Christmas circus! Some have come as children and now come with their own children or grand-children.

For a long time now, the welcome words of the Conelli program have been written by the mayors of Zurich. This year again, it is Corine Mauch, who writes about it and explains what Conelli means to the people of Zurich.

Conelli is a circus, which was founded by Conelli Gasser, the father of the actual director of Conelli, Roby Gasser. In 1982 the first tent was built on the Bellevue square. The circus stayed there a decade until it moved in 1992 on the Bauschänzli island near Bürkliplatz.

Conelli dancers, Zoe Locke and Vicky Wade, Conelli foyer

Conelli dancers, Zoe Locke and Vicky Wade, Conelli foyer

So, in almost thirty years next year, the circus has grown into people’s hearts and as Roby Gasser, the director of Conelli told me, “Conelli practically belongs to Zurich”.

He took over the circus when his father passed away in 2007. It has been very challenging with lots of work but never boring, he said before the show.

Conelli was the first Christmas circus in Switzerland. Nowadays circuses are quite popular.

Conelli is a family business. Roby Gasser works there with his wife, Cindy Gasser Lee, who he met many years ago, while he was working in Las Vegas. The sister of M. Gasser, Nadja Streich, is there with her husband, Leszech Streich. The two sons of Cindy and Roby also work with their parents. Jeremy (15) plays the guitar in the band and Tyron (20) works in the office.

Jeremy Gasser performing at the guitar at Conelli

Jeremy Gasser performing at the guitar at Conelli

I had the chance to watch the show a few days ago and was delighted with my afternoon.

Soon, I understood what Roby Gasser meant with having an intimate atmosphere and a program with no breaks.

The ring is quite tiny so you are never too far from someone else, it is like spending time with your closest friends. You can always see well what’s happening.

And he was right when he said he makes a program with absolutely no breaks. You have to see it to believe it! From one act to another, the spectator has no time to think! When a performance is over, the actors for the next act are already on the stage without him having had time to notice it. The artists appear magically on the ring.

It goes for instance from something funny, to a more upbeat show to a performance in the air.

Pino Gasparini with Conelli dancers

Pino Gasparini with Conelli dancers

Conelli’s program appeals to every kind of crowd. When I went, it was mainly seniors and children with their mothers. But in the evenings the crowd is a bit different. During the gala nights, there are more bankers, business people and VIPs for the Première. People dress like going to the opera, told me Roby Gasser. At all times the program stays the same.

The clowns pleased the entire family not only the little ones, but the adults as well. They interacted with the crowd and in no time brought the people to laugh and to participate. No wonder! Two of them, Gaston Häni and Roland Noirjean, got a prize at the circus of Monte Carlo. A little girl in front me never ceased to laugh each time clown Rober Torres was opening and closing his box!

And there were the entertaining acts of the many Chinese acrobats, the incredible performance of French Aurelia Cats on her trapeze who hold herself with all the strength in her toes or stomach, the funny mimes from the Frères Taquin, the unique jongler Victor Kee, who moved with his balls as if they were glued on him, the charming musical singer Pino Gasparini and the fabulous troupe of the Conelli dancers.

Bubble Man, Casey Carle from the USA at Conelli

Bubble Man, Casey Carle from the USA at Conelli

I had almost forgotten the performance of the bubble man Casey Carle. The American artist, known in the entire world with his bubble show, got all the spectators quickly interested with his unique bubbles. I had never seen any so large before.

The performances show harmony, talent, confidence in others and teach how much coordination, balance, suppleness and patience is needed to master them.

Sometimes Conelli circus feels like a cabaret.

There are no animals at the circus, not because the director does not like them but because there is not enough room on the island. Furthermore having wild animals such as elephants would not be too appetizing, especially during the galas.

Aurelia Bourquin Cats at Conelli

Aurelia Bourquin Cats at Conelli

Guests are greeted by Roby Gasser himself and some of his beautiful dancers and clown Roland Noirjean. While you wait for the show you can listen to piano music, played by a live musician, dressed in white, sitting above the entrance in the foyer.

During the break and at the end, you can enjoy a nice glass of Champagne or treat yourself to some pop-corns!

Stars are everywhere at the circus. The ring’s carpet and the inside cover of the tent are decorated with gigantic stars. It is especially beautiful with all the lights shining on them. Some guests even get a yellow flashy star put on their face on the way in. So if around 5:30 p.m. or 10:30 p.m. you meet people in the street with a star on their cheeks, you will know they came from Conelli.

Well-known stars and personalities have come to assist to a show or perform at Conelli. Some of them are Prince Rainier of Monaco, Michael Schumacher, Fabienne Louves, Roberto Blanco, Udo Jürgens, Jeff Turner, Harry Belafonte, Milos Forman,  Boney M and Percy Sledge.

What makes the show so special are its light effects. During the show and during each performance the colors change constantly. There is much pink, green and blue. You can see that Conelli circus invested much money and Roby Gasser spent hours working with the lights to achieve the sensational effects. Actually during the show, the director of Conelli stays mainly with his light technicians.

Olivier Bonjour of the Frères Taquins at Conelli

Olivier Bonjour of the Frères Taquins at Conelli

The costumes from all the artists, designed by Canadian Betty Mc Hardy and Austrian Lambert Hofer, are just stunning. During the entire two hours the spectator has the chance to see so many beautiful varied costumes, all colorful and bright, pleasing the eyes at every moment.

I especially loved the costumes of the Conelli dancers!

If you want to be make sure to see snow for Christmas, go to Conelli. It will snow before the show is over, I can assure you!


Snow at Conelli

Snow at Conelli


Hopefully, you will make it there this year, otherwise next year. Family Gasser is not planning to leave the Bauschänzli island for a long long time!


You want to go?
Buy tickets directly at Conelli or at ticketcorner
There are still seats for the New Year and Christmas galas but don’t wait too long as they go quickly. Shows are almost every day, twice a day.

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