World Circus Day (third Saturday of April) History, Activities, and Fun Facts


Discover the fascinating history of World Circus Day and learn about the many ways to celebrate this special day, from attending a circus performance to learning circus skills. Read on for some interesting fun facts about circus and why we love this unique and entertaining art form.

World Circus Day is an annual event celebrated on the third Saturday of April to honor and celebrate the art and culture of circus. It was first established in 2010 by the World Circus Federation (Fédération Mondiale du Cirque) to promote the circus industry and raise public awareness of the positive impact that circus arts have on individuals and communities.

On this day, circus organizations, performers, and enthusiasts around the world hold events and activities to showcase the unique skills and talents of circus performers, including acrobatics, juggling, trapeze, clowning, and other forms of physical performance. The goal of World Circus Day is to inspire a new generation of circus artists, to promote the circus arts as a valuable form of entertainment and cultural expression, and to encourage people to support and appreciate the art of circus.

History of World Circus Day

World Circus Day was first celebrated on April 17, 2010, after it was established by the World Circus Federation (Fédération Mondiale du Cirque). The inaugural celebration was a huge success and saw circus events and performances being held across different countries.

The idea behind World Circus Day was to promote and raise awareness of the circus arts and its positive impact on individuals and communities. The circus industry was facing various challenges at that time, including declining interest and limited funding, and the World Circus Federation saw the need to unite the global circus community and showcase its value.


Since its inception, World Circus Day has become an annual event celebrated on the third Saturday of April. It has grown to become a global celebration of circus arts, with circus organizations, performers, and enthusiasts from around the world coming together to showcase their skills and talents.

Over the years, World Circus Day has been marked by various events, including circus performances, workshops, exhibitions, and parades. The celebration has helped to increase public awareness and appreciation of the circus arts, as well as inspire a new generation of circus performers.



Circus Timeline

Here’s a timeline of significant events in the history of circus:

  • 1768: Philip Astley, a former cavalryman, opens the first modern circus in London, featuring equestrian acts and other entertainment.
  • 1793: John Bill Ricketts opens the first circus in the United States in Philadelphia.
  • 1825: The first American circus with a tent is established by Joshuah Purdy Brown in New York City.
  • 1859: The Cirque Napoleon, later renamed Cirque d’Hiver, opens in Paris, becoming one of the most famous circuses in the world.
  • 1871: P.T. Barnum and James Bailey merge their circuses to form the Barnum & Bailey Circus, which becomes known as “The Greatest Show on Earth.”
  • 1884: The first successful human cannonball act is performed by “The Great Farini” (William Leonard Hunt) at the Royal Aquarium in London.
  • 1907: The Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus introduces the first “mixed” circus act featuring performers from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
  • 1923: The first circus performance using elephants is staged by John Ringling North’s circus in the United States.
  • 1956: The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus introduces its famous “Three Ring” format, which becomes a standard for many circuses around the world.
  • 1971: The first Cirque du Soleil performance takes place in Quebec, Canada, featuring a new style of circus that combines acrobatics, music, and theater.
  • 2020: Many circuses around the world are forced to shut down or limit performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are just a few of the many important events that have shaped the history of circus over the centuries. Circus continues to evolve and adapt to new cultural and technological trends, while maintaining its status as a beloved form of entertainment and art.



World Circus Day Activities

There are many ways to celebrate World Circus Day. Here are some activities you could consider:

  1. Attend a circus performance: Look for a local circus or traveling show in your area and attend a live performance. You can witness the incredible talents of circus performers and support the industry.
  2. Learn circus skills: Sign up for a circus workshop or class and learn how to juggle, do acrobatics, or walk on a tightrope. Many circus schools and studios offer classes for all ages and skill levels.
  3. Host a circus-themed party: Organize a party with circus decorations, games, and activities. You could set up a mini circus tent or photo booth and have guests dress up as clowns or circus performers.
  4. Volunteer at a circus event: Many circus organizations and events rely on volunteers to help with various tasks, such as setting up equipment or selling tickets. You can contribute to the circus community by volunteering your time and skills.
  5. Watch a circus movie: Gather some friends and watch a classic circus movie, such as “The Greatest Show on Earth” or “Water for Elephants”. This is a fun way to learn more about the history of circus and its impact on popular culture.
  6. Create your own circus act: Get creative and put together your own circus act, whether it’s juggling, hula hooping, or performing a magic trick. You could even film your act and share it on social media to spread the joy of circus.

These are just a few ideas to inspire you to celebrate World Circus Day in your own unique way.



Interesting Fun Facts About Circus

Here are some interesting fun facts about circus:

  1. The word “circus” comes from the Latin word “circus,” which means “ring” or “circle.”
  2. The modern circus was invented by Philip Astley in 1768 in London, England. He created the circular arena and introduced equestrian acts.
  3. The Barnum & Bailey Circus was known as “The Greatest Show on Earth” and was founded by P.T. Barnum and James Bailey in 1881.
  4. Elephants have been used in circus performances since the mid-19th century. However, in recent years, many circuses have stopped using elephants due to concerns about their welfare.
  5. The famous clown character, “Bozo the Clown,” was created by Larry Harmon in 1946 and became a staple of American circus entertainment.
  6. The first successful human cannonball act was performed by “The Great Farini” (William Leonard Hunt) in 1884 at the Royal Aquarium in London.
  7. The first female clown was Caroline “Carrie” Barry, who performed in the circus in the late 1800s.
  8. Cirque du Soleil, founded in 1984, revolutionized the circus industry with their innovative style of acrobatics, music, and theater.
  9. In 1953, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performed in front of Queen Elizabeth II of England, becoming the first circus to perform in front of a reigning British monarch.
  10. Some circus performers, such as acrobats and trapeze artists, use chalk on their hands and feet to improve their grip and prevent slipping during performances.

These are just a few fun facts about circus. The circus industry is full of fascinating history, characters, and traditions that continue to captivate audiences around the world.

Why We Love and Celebrate World Circus Day

There are many reasons why we love and celebrate World Circus Day. Here are some of them:

  1. Entertainment: Circus performances are a form of entertainment that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. They offer a unique blend of acrobatics, comedy, music, and drama that can captivate and thrill audiences.
  2. Tradition: Circus has a long and rich history that dates back centuries. It has evolved over time, but many of its traditions, such as clowning and animal acts, continue to be celebrated and cherished by fans.
  3. Creativity: Circus performers are incredibly creative and innovative. They come up with new acts, stunts, and routines that push the limits of what is possible and inspire others to try new things.
  4. Skill and Talent: Circus performers are some of the most skilled and talented athletes in the world. They spend years honing their craft and perfecting their performances, and their dedication and hard work are truly admirable.
  5. Diversity: Circus is a diverse and inclusive industry that brings together people from all walks of life. Performers come from different backgrounds, cultures, and countries, and they all share a passion for entertaining others.
  6. Joy and Happiness: Circus performances have the power to bring joy and happiness to people’s lives. They can create lasting memories and inspire a sense of wonder and awe that is truly special.

These are just a few reasons why we love and celebrate World Circus Day. Circus is a unique and wonderful art form that deserves to be appreciated and celebrated by all.

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