Despite the closing of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey (May, 2017), circus performances continue to amaze and amuse audiences in the United States and around the world. (In fact, these shows now have more incentives and opportunities to play a fuller schedule). Some of these circuses have animal acts; others do not. Here in America (and globally), traditional circuses are STILL bringing their Big Top or coming to a venue in a city or small town near you!
(By the way, plans are in the works to bring Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey back, in some type of form).
Circus in America
These circuses are listed in alphabetical order: Visit each show's website link for more information on performances, locations, photos/video and ticket prices.
Circuses may not have all of their "normal" or promoted acts in each performance. To determine what you might see in any particular show, contact that company directly. Performances are subject to change due to any number of unexpected circumstances.
All American Circus
Calling itself a "real family circus," All American Circus features aerials, acrobatics, clowns, pole artists, and a host of other traditional and modern circus acts. This 90-minute show is headquartered in Florida but tours the Eastern USA. Visit the All American Circus website or Facebook.
Big Apple Circus
Big Apple Circus is New York's "hometown" show, performing at Lincoln Center. Check the site for updates.
Billy Martin Presents the Cole-All Star Circus
The Cole All-Star Circus got its start in 1938 as a fundraising campaign for school groups and organizations in New York State; it continues to operate today. Mainly set up for school auditoriums, the show features acrobats, canines, clowns, cyclists and other floor acts. Performances are added as scheduled (with schools and communities that host the show; mainly in New York and Pennsylvania). Ticket offers may admit kids under the age12 free (with a paying adult). For information, check their website.
Bindlestiff Family Cirkus
Beginning in 1995, the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus has presented a unique kind of show featuring traditional circus acts, burlesque, sideshow and vaudeville. Based in New York City, this company works with community organizations to produce festivals and performances – it also presents circus workshops, children’s after-school and summer camp programs. Check out the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus Website.
Carden Circus International
Carden Circus International works with many Shrine organizations to bring traditional circus to select American cities. Along with acrobatics, aerials, clowns and the like, animals are special stars of this show. The circus is committed to the exemplary care and treatment of animals, as noted on their website. Buy-one-get-one-free passes for children are often available online. For information, call visit their website.
Carson & Barnes
Carson & Barnes calls itself the World’s Biggest Big Top Show. For more than 80 years, the Carson & Barnes circus (based in Hugo, Oklahoma) has brought traditional circus acts (aerialists, acrobats, clowns, etc.), domestic and exotic animal presentations to audiences of all ages. Carson & Barnes books a limited number of performances each year but the schedule is always changing—the circus is also available for hire by municipalities, community organizations and charities to create family events and fundraisers.
Carson & Barnes complies with all regulations to ensure the safety and welfare of their performing animals as well as show entertainers and audience members. Tickets are available online or in person; discount coupons and free ticket vouchers may be available. For more information, visit the Carson & Barnes website.
In Oakland and San Francisco, California, Circus Bella features "Circus in the Park." With rope-walking, single trapeze, juggling, hula hoop spins, contortions and more (no animals), this one-ring circus under the open-air sky schedules many free performances throughout the season; fairs, festivals, community events, and the like. Performances, with live music, are anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes, depending on location and event. For scheduling and other information, visit their website.
Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Circus Flora presents aerial and floor acts under a Big Top in various locations; trapeze, clowns, acrobatics and more. The show works with community organizations to bring instruction and entertainment to underprivileged children and their families. Check it out on their website.
Circo Hermanos Caballero
Touring in various California communities, Circo Hermanos Caballero has two units: Red and Blue. Both units have aerials, trapeze, floor acrobatics, motorcycle globe, trampoline, contortionists, clowns and the like, under the Big Top. On the Red Unit, Ruben Caballero Jr. (III) leads the flyers—watch him throw quadruple somersaults to his brother and catcher; Marco Antonio Caballero. For performance information, visit Caballero Circus.
Circus Lena, located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, offers 90 minute performances 6 days a week at various locations. No animals, but the show highlights traditional floor and aerial acts under a big top tent. Visit Circus Lena for more information.
Circus United is now a "Shrine Circus of Thrills™" in arenas. Circus United presents shows for communities and Shrine (and other charitable organizations) fundraisers. Acts are tailored for each performance.
Contact the administrators of Circus United for specific information on what will be in the show of your choice. Circus United is at Shrine Circus of Thrills.
Cirque Dreams is a modern look at circus theatrics. Located in Pompano Beach, Florida, the show combines athleticism with theater arts. Visit Cirque Productions.
Cirque Du Soleil
Since the early 1980s, Cirque Du Soleil has created its own tradition in performance and dramatic arts. Originating in Canada, Cirque Du Soleil is an alternative to “traditional” circus; merging street performances (stilt walking, juggling, clowning, magic etc.) with high-energy floor and aerial acts, acrobatics, dance, drama, music, costumes and lighting. Animals are not part of the Cirque Du Soleil experience. Email email@example.com or visit their website for information.
Cirque Italia is a Water Circus show with two traveling units; Gold and Silver. Under a Big Top, the shows feature stages with cascading curtains of water, colorful lights and vibrant music. Traveling in Florida, the Water Circus Gold Unit has aerialists, acrobatics, trampoline artists, hand balancing, and contortionists. The Water Circus Silver Unit is similar but different, with performances in areas of Texas.
Cirque Italia also features Paranormal Cirque and Cirque Paranormal II, (Rated R). These cabaret shows have circus elements of a "dark" nature. Children under age 13 are NOT permitted; parental discretion advised for ages 13 and above.
The shows are touring; visit the website for more scheduling information.
Generations of circus traditions come to life in Cirque Legacy, based in Arizona. The show has aerials and floor acts but no animals. Check Facebook for more information.
Cirque Ma'Ceo has a long history, focused on equestrienne arts and aerials under the Big Top. This show performs at various state and county fairs. Check out the Cirque Ma'Ceo web page or their more updated presence on Facebook.
Along with traditional circus acts (but no animals), Cirque Mechanics uses industrial gadgets in its performances, including the Open Air Circus. Based in Las Vegas, Nevada, a Cirque Mechanics show is something like "picnic meets circus" with outdoor seating. Visit Cirque Mechanics online for more information.
Cirque Mundial performs at many fairs, festivals and private events; the show's traveling schedule lists mainly midwest and southern states. Cirque Mondial has a Facebook page for updated touring information.
Culpepper & Merriweather
Culpepper & Merriweather circus brings a 90-minute tent show to 17 states, 32 weeks per year. The performances feature trapeze, contortionists, dogs, wire walkers, clowns, horses, big cats and other elements that make up traditional circus. The public is invited to visit the grounds as the Big Top rises; there are free tours where participants can meet the animals and learn about their care.
Culpepper & Merriweather notes the welfare of its animals as a top priority. Animals are regularly inspected by veterinarians and government authorities. For more information, visit their website. Scheduling updates are on Facebook.
Do Portugal International Circus
With headquarters in Louisiana, Do Portugal International Circus performs in The Big Easy, Alabama, and Texas under a colorful big top. Jugglers, acrobats, magic acts, aerials, and of course, beautiful showgirls adorable the circus ring. Do Portugal Circus.com.
El Circo Hermanos Delman
Located in Port Arthur, Texas, El Circo Hermanos Delman perfromes in various locations around the area. The show is presented in Spanish, featuring acrobats and aerials under a spacious tent. Find more information at Circus Delman.
Extreme Drive-in Circus Live Show
Also called "John's Adrenaline Circus, Extreme Drive-in Circus Live Show mixes motocross and BMX freestyle riding with traditional aerials. Audience members view the show from their own cars. Performing in Texas and nearby states. Learn more at Adrenaline Circus.
Based out of Texas, the Flip Circus is a touring show that brings the goods to various states. Featuring acrobatics, aerial, floor acts, comedy, magic, and more, this show settles comfortably under its bright red and white striped tent. For ticket and location information, visit Flip Circus. There are some great photos, too!
Flynn Creek Circus
Flynn Creek Circus is a tent show that brings a vintage style to the modern circus. Pole work, trapeze, acrobats, juggling, hula hoop tricks and aerial ropes are some of the acts in this performance—no animals. Flynn Creek offers a circus camp in the summer. Visit their website for more information.
Garden Brothers Circus
For more than 100 years, Garden Bros. Circus has been in the center ring. Currently at indoor venues, performances are about 90 minutes long; they include motorcycle daredevils, acrobats, some animals, clowns, aerialists and the basic circus fare. Circus tradition lives on with this one-ring show that travels mainly in the northeastern parts of the United States.
During special promotions, the show offers free tickets for children (with paying adults). For more information, visit their website.
Great Benjamins Circus
This show—about 90 minutes long—provides family entertainment in a traditional circus atmosphere; clowns, juggling, contortion, aerialists, acrobatics and etc. The circus offers special online pricing. It tours in select U.S. cities and states, including but not limited to: Illinois, Colorado, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico. They’ll be in Canada, too! Check out the full schedule online.
(The) Great Pages Circus
With all the elements of traditional circus, this 90-minute show is sure to entertain all ages. Visit their Pages Circus for show dates and locations.
Hamid Circus features traditional circus acts in the air and on the ground. The show also has its host of animal acts, although performances would vary. Hamid works with communities and charities (including the Shriners) to present family fun entertainment. Acts include (but are not limited to) trapeze and aerials, wirewalkers, stuntmen, clowns, elephants, tigers and more. Hamid Circus is based in New Jersey; visit their website for more details.
Jordan World Circus
Jordan World Circus keeps tradition alive with aerial displays, the big wheel, motorcycle feats, animal acts (elephants, tigers, horses, etc.) clowns and acrobats. Circus officials say the their animals are inspected by licensed veterinarians and the USDA every month).
Jordan World Circus is a touring show that works with Shrine organizations around the United States. For many performances, the circus offers free or discounted tickets for children (with paying adults). Visit their website or their Facebook page for scheduling information.
Lewis & Clark Circus
Calling itself a “Great American Circus,” Lewis & Clark features family entertainment in southern and eastern states on its tour schedule.
Lewis & Clark, based in South Carolina, presents a show with aerials, clowns, jugglers, acrobats, motorcycle feats and more.
Loomis Bros. Circus
Set in an enclosed structure, Loomis Bros. Circus brings circus to you! Tigers and ponies are part of this performance — as is a motorcycle globe, aerials, and much more. This three-ring circus (with a live band) travels the United States; the show also puts on performances for shrine organizations. Visit their website.
The Midnight Circus is based in Chicago, Illinois with performances under tents in city area parks. The show features aerial acts, acrobatics, clowns, dancers, jugglers and high wire antics. Visit their website for more info.
Omnium -- A Bold New Circus
Omnium specializes in live and virtual performances, featuring noted stars of prominent circus families. Pole artists, aerialists, hand balancing, and floor acrobatics are just a few of the acts presented. For more information, visit Omnium Circus.
Royal Hanneford Circus
The Royal Hanneford Circus is steeped in tradition and history. Under the Big Top or in a structured building, circus acts are the flying trapeze, motorcycle stunts, clowns, illusions, floor work and acrobatics. Animal presentations may include tigers, zebras, camels, liberty horses, elephants and barnyard domestics.
While “old time circus” lives on with Royal Hanneford (which travels to various areas of the United States), the circus works with municipalities and charitable organizations to sponsor community performances throughout the country. Performances may not have all elements, depending on the community contract and location restrictions.
Contact the circus at firstname.lastname@example.org, Visit their website for tour information.
Super American Circus
The Super American Circus show features Daredevils, Balancing Acts, Aerial Ballet, Acrobatics, Wheel of Destiny and a Somersaulting Motorcycle on the Aerial Platform. Check out the website at Super American Circus and their Facebook page.
Universoul Circus combines traditional circus acts with a musical style. Shows are usually about two and a half-hours long; they include motorcycle feats, dancers, stilt walkers, horse riding tricks (and other animals), aerial arts, acrobatics, the balancing wheel and more. Universoul circus is under the Big Top; traveling in select cities. Visit their website for a closer look.
Vargas (Circus Vargas)
Under a Big Top tent, Circus Vargas has undergone some changes in recent years; focusing now on the aerial arts, clowning, illusions, acrobatics and stunning visuals while eliminating exotic animal acts. In an intimate setting, the audience is encouraged to participate in activities before and after the performance. With shows that last two hours long, Circus Vargas travels to locations in California. Check out updates at Circus Vargas.
Vazquez (Circo Hermanos Vazquez)
Originally established in Mexico (but now in the United States), Circus Brothers Vazquez is presented (primarily) in Spanish under a big top. The show features acrobats, aerialists, magic and juggling, high wire, and more. Visit Circus Vazquez for scheduling updates.
Zerbini Family Circus
A tented circus complete with animal acts, aerials, acrobats and clowns, Zerbini tours areas in the eastern half of the United States. For more than 250 years, Zerbini is family owned and operated. Learn more about the circus on their website.
Performers and Productions
With generations of circus family traditions, these performers are at the top of their professions. This section is a small sampling of the many famous circus families still performing today.
The Nerveless Nocks
The Nerveless Nocks have been thrilling audiences for generations. Appearing in circuses, state fairs, and various entertainment venues around the world, the Nerveless Nocks dazzle audience with performances on sway poles, steel-wire motorcycle feats, arial pendulums, globe of steel, and more. The Nerveless Nocks produce Extreme Thrill Shows, FMX and Monster Trucks, Cirque Equinox “the magic circus” (combining the theatrical circus acts with magic and illusion), and other entertainment.
Michelangelo Nock and his amazing daughter Angelina Nock perform many stunts together. Learn more about the Nerveless Nocks online.
Circus is circus, but some presentations have a more theatrical flair in a stage show setting.
Circus Kirkus was created by a former Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus clown; it's a one-ring theatrical show featuring aerialists, jugglers, acrobats, and comedy. Traveling in Florida, the show is about 90 minutes long. For information, visit their website or Facebook.
Mr. Swindle's Traveling Peculiarium and Drink-Ory Garden is based in Sarasota, Florida, traveling to nearby areas. This 90-minute show features acrobats, aerials, motorcycles, contortionists, comedy, and more. Visit Mr. Swindles for more information.
Venardos Circus is owned by singing ringmaster Kevin Venardos. The "Little Circus That Could" (tent show) began operating in 2014. Venardos is scheduling performances in selected areas of Florida with jugglers, clowns, acrobatics, aerialists and more. Visit Venardos Circus for more information.
History, Preservation, & Education
In stable and select locations, the following organizations are geared for class instruction and/or circus history preservation. They often feature performances and presentations that celebrate the circus arts. Planning a trip to the neighborhood? Contact the school or museum to determine whether you can tour the facility or participate in any special activities.
With hundreds of circus schools and programs around the country for children and adults, only a few are listed here. For more information on circus schools your area, consult your local listings.
Amazing Grace Circus, where "children and youth take center stage," is located in Nyack, New York. AGC! teaches circus arts while presenting circus history, parades, school and community shows, and more. Private and public schools can bring the AGC! show in for "circus day." Amazing Grace Circus.org
Circus Arts Conservatory is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the history, legacy and artistry of circus acts and performances. Based in Sarasota, Florida, the company offers classes and summer camps for adults and children; aerial silks, ropes, high wires, acrobatics and more. The Circus Arts Conservatory has special events throughout the year; check out the performance and class schedule online.
Circus Harmony, located in St. Louis, Missouri, lets children and adults “run away with the circus and still be home for dinner!” The school offers classes and summer camps focusing on the circus arts; aerials, cycling, juggling, balancing, strength training and the flying trapeze. Students present hundreds of shows each year (in the Circus Harmony ring at City Museum and other venues). For more information, visit their website.
Circus Juventas is a circus school (for students from 6 to 21) located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Classroom experiences focus on aerial arts and acrobatics. The school offers several performances each year (featuring beginning and advanced students). For more information, visit them online.
Circus Smirkus is based in Vermont. Circus Smirkus provides summer camps for teaching circus arts to adults and children. This is not really a traditional circus show (as most people have come to know), but the company does work with community partners to create performance fundraisers and the like; primarily in New England states. The production works under a big top to give adults and children (of most ages) an experience they’ll never forget. To run away with the circus, visit their website.
Cirque US is based in Boston, Massachusetts. The company teaches through workshops and camps, as it creates circus and theatrical performances for public viewing. The cirque US.
FSU Flying High Circus is a program through Florida State University. Much like a professional circus, this show has three rings of aerials, juggling, and floor acts. Student performers rig their own gear, set up, tear down, and sew their own costumes. Students must audition at the beginning of fall semesters. FSU Flying High Circus.
Gamma Phi Circus is a program with Illinois State University. Since its beginnings in 1929, the school continues teaching everything related to circus, including tight wire, triple trapeze, silks, web, perch poles and much more. Performances are given for public attendance.
Great All-American Youth Circus is a not-for-profit organization that teaches circus arts to children in Redlands, California. Established in 1929, this program hosts a series of performances in the month of May. Within any given term, children have the opportunity to learn a variety of circus arts such as: Webs; Pyramid Bicycle; Clowning; Tight Wire; Aerial Rings; Silks; Acrobatics; Hand-balancing; Teeterboard; Juggling; Lyra; and more. Visit their website to learn more.
Triton Troupers Circus is a non-profit organization; part of Triton College near Chicago, Illinois. Triton Troupers Circus teaches clowning, acrobatics, trampoline, trapeze, cycles and more. Shows are available for public attendance. Visit them online for more information.
Wenatchee Youth Circus is located in the state of Washington. The organization works with children to help them stay focused on ultimate goals of success. Although there are no animals here, WYC—a “nonprofessional” troupe that covers parts of the western United States—offers "professional" performances of high wire, flying trapeze, acrobatics, fire handling and aerial acts. Visit their website for more information.
Westchester Circus Arts features summer camps for teaching aerial arts, acrobatics, juggling, clowning, balancing, stage presence, and more. Located in Katonah, New York, Westchester Circus Arts presents pop-up shows at community events.
Keeping Circus Alive ...
Circus Historical Society is an educational organization set up to “preserve, promote and share though education, the history and cultural significance of the circus and allied arts, past and present.” The CHS has annual conventions in various cities. For information about the Circus Historical Society, search for the group on Facebook.
Circus Ring of Fame recognizes artists who have kept circus traditon alive in the span of their own careers. Located in Sarasota, Florida and in operation since 1988, Ring of Fame honorees are nominated by the public and voted on by members of the global circus community. Visit Circus Ring of Fame for more information.
Circus World Museum is located in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The Circus World Museum features exhibits, models, photographs, advertisements, manuscripts, artifacts and more; the complex includes a library and research center focused on American circus history. The museum gives tours and performances under the Big Top and, during the summer, animal presentations. Call 866-693-1500 or visit their website for all the details.
International Circus Hall of Fame is housed in Peru, Indiana; another home for circus memories. This museum exhibits models, posters, traveling wagons, specialized gear, animal enclosures and other memorabilia from circuses in the United States and around the world. Special events are scheduled in the summer. Join the circus! For information, call the International Circus Hall of Fame at 800-771-0241 or online at Circus Hall of Fame.
International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center is at 102 4th Street in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Schedule a visit by calling 608-852-6767. More info is at The Clown Museum.
Circuses on Hiatus?
These circuses may still have an internet or Facebook presence, but information on scheduling is outdated or nonexistent. Still, they may be entertainment options to consider (currently or in the future).
Carson & Barnes: The show, based in Oklahoma, brought traditional circus acts, and animal presentations to audiences. The website is still active but with a different name: Circus Funtastic.
Circo Atayde Hermanos (Mexico): Beginning in 1888, Circo Atayde Hermanos is one of the oldest family-owned circuses in the world. The website is in Spanish.
Circo Atayde USA is still on Facebook.
Circus Hollywood: Circus Hollywood brings its old-school show to state fairs, shrine fundraisers and other corporate, private, and public events.
Circus Spectacular: Circus Spectacular books fundraisers, Shrine productions, corporate events, and more.
Cole Bros. Circus (USA): With a continued presence on Facebook, the Cole Bros. show keeps the name and history alive.
Kelly Miller Circus (USA): Calling itself "America's One Ring Wonder" under a big top, Kelly Miller Circus opened in 1938. The show's official webpage says it's now closed (2019) but Kelly Miller's Facebook page is still online.
Ramos Bros. Circus: Ramos Bros. is a one-ring tent show. The show is noted on Facebook.
Russell Bros. (USA): The presence on Facebook continues to show optimism for this show. The page says that “Russell Bros. is a real, old-time traveling circus; performing in America's smaller communities.” Contact producers at email@example.com or visit them online.
Star Family Circus is on hiatus. Visit Star Family Circus for updates.
Pickle Family Circus (USA): The Pickle Family Circus was established in San Francisco, California in 1974. The circus has nothing scheduled but it continues to have a presence on Facebook.
Walter Bros. Circus still has a presence on Facebook but, as of this notation, hasn't been actively performing since 2020. Check the page for updates.
In countries around the world, circuses are thriving sources of family entertainment. Check out this list—only some of the popular shows abroad. Get your passport ready!
Finland: Sirkus Finlandia is what a circus is supposed to be, especially the clowns! With animals, contortionists, riding acts, aerialists and acrobats.
France: Cirque d'hiver Bouglione or “Winter Circus,” is housed in its own building in Paris. The show also tours various areas of the country during its performance season. Also in France is the Raoul Gibalt Medrano circus.
Germany: Although there are many circus presentations in Germany, Circus Krone is a top notch show featuring animals, aerials, clowns and the whole works. Be sure to check out Martin Lacey Jr.’s beautiful lions and tigers; the performance is spectacular!
Also in Germany is Circus Roncalli.
Hungary: Magyar Nemzeti Cirkusz Richter features horses, elephants, ponies, zebras, camels, giraffes and more … a true menagerie! With aerial and floor acts, motorcycles and then-some. Say hello to the clowns; they’ll keep you in stitches!
Ireland: Tom Duffy's Circus unites tradition with today’s modern feats. Featuring animals, acrobats, aerials, clowns and all the rest, Tom and Jamie Duffy perform breathtaking stunts on the Big Wheel.
Monaco: The Monte Carlo International Festival attracts circus lovers from around the world to its competition performances. Everyone who’s anyone in the circus world has appeared (and won awards) at this festival, which is featured every year.
South Africa: McClaren Circus is a one ring show with everything that is true circus.
Spain: Touring in Barcelona and nearby areas, Cirque Raluy Historic is a show that “combines yesterday with today.” Clowns, acrobats, juggling, balancing, athletic displays and aerials. Cirque Raluy's new season features the JoseMichel clown trio.
Switzerland: Circus Knie, based in Rapperswil, is the largest circus in Switzerland. It sparkles under the Big Top, features animal acts and has its own zoo.
More Resources for Circus Lovers!
An ever-expanding list of notable circus performers, past and present.
- Circus and Sideshows!
American circus history, list of circus performers and owners with biographies, thousands of circus photos, movies, circus news, traditions, information.
- Circus Fans Association of America
For friends, fans, performers and those of us who wish-we-could, Circus Fans Association of America is all circus and then-some!
- Windjammers Unlimited
Windjammers Unlimited is dedicated to the preservation of traditional music of the circus.
- List of circuses and circus owners - Wikipedia
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Do you know of a circus appearing now in Britain under a large white rectangle tent, it has horses, and there are two Italian brothers from old circus family that do a lot of acts?
Answer: Yes, thanks to my friend, animal trainer Thomas Chipperfield (of the famous English circus family) who told me about this one, "Spirit of the Horse" features the Torregrossa family -- brothers Davide and Steven do the gaucho bolas with their father; they also perform a duo strap act. "Sprit of the Horse" is touring currently, but dates are limited now. Visit spiritofthehorseshow.com for more info. From the photos and video I've seen, it looks like heaven on horseback!
Question: Is the Polack Brothers Shrine Circus currently touring?
Answer: The Polack Brothers Circus has a long history, but nothing that I found indicates that it is still in operation (and touring) today. The website address is not online, and there is no Facebook presence. This article is mainly focused on current circus shows for people to visit. If you'd like more information on the history of Polack Brothers Circus, there is a nice article on a website called Circus and Sideshows. Give it a Google to see what pops up. If you have information about this show with a CURRENT touring schedule (AND website or Facebook page), send me a private message and I'll take a look.
© 2017 Teri Silver