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Family Guide to the Circus

Photo of two acrobats performing in the Garden Bros Nuclear Circus. Theater & Shows

For centuries, people have enjoyed a trip to the circus to see amazing and mysterious acts performed under the big top. Even though the format and craft have evolved over the years, the modern circus is still a prime destination for families. 

Considering a trip to the circus this year? Read through the tips and tricks in this family guide to the circus before you go for a stress-free experience.

Where Does the Circus Take Place?

The location will depend on the company to which it belongs. The Garden Bros Nuclear Circus still uses the traditional tent setup, performing in mall parking lots and other large, open spaces. In 2023, Garden Bros will tour through cities like Phoenix, Ariz., Cleveland, Ohio, and Buffalo, N.Y.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey are returning to the road in 2023 with multiple-day stops in major cities like Kansas City, Mo., Milwaukee, Wis., Jacksonville, Fla., and Greenville, S.C. They will hold most of these shows in large arenas. 

Is The Circus Family-Friendly?

Yes! The modern circus welcomes guests of all ages and is especially popular with families. A modern circus, like Ringling or Garden Bros, features high-flying acrobats and eye-catching stunts that will entertain every age group. Garden Bros even offers Free Children’s Tickets to many of its shows with the purchase of an adult ticket. 

Before attending, it is important to consider all of the bright lights and loud noises that will be present throughout the show. As long as everyone is prepared for those, it will surely be a memorable experience. 

Another kind of performance dubbed contemporary circus includes shows like Cirque du Soleil. Those shows may not be as family-friendly depending on the theme of the performance, but there are some options in this category, including Drawn to Life which is a resident show at Disney Springs in Orlando, Fla. 

Photo of the Garden Bros Nuclear Circus tent from above. Tent has red and club stripes with gold caps.

Do Circuses Still Have Live Animals?

No, they do not. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey are no longer using animals like elephants in their shows. The change was announced in May 2022 ahead of the iconic company’s return. The show now focuses on amazing human acts. They held auditions in countries like Ethiopia, Mongolia, France and Argentina to find people with unique talents. 

The Garden Bros Circus does include the Olate Performing Dogs, who you may have seen on America’s Got Talent. These talented pups have performed with the Big Apple Circus and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey before. Garden Bros Circus also has horses in many of its shows.

How Long is the Show?

Garden Bros performances run approximately 90 minutes and Ringling Bros shows are slightly longer at 120 minutes. The latter has a 15-20 minute intermission in the middle to help keep audiences engaged. Before you get to your seats, take note of where the bathrooms and concessions are located to help you navigate the area more easily, even if the overhead lights are off. 

Get Circus Tickets

Now that you know a little more about what to expect from your adventure, you can find circus tickets and thousands of other family-friendly events near you on TicketSmarter.