18 April 2023
Roll up, roll up... for the last few centuries the circus has been one of the most popular and unique places for entertainment. Still as popular today as it was 200 years ago, the circus never fails to thrill and excite. Circuses have evolved over the last century, with the two principal forms today being the classic (think of ringmasters, trapeze artists, clowns and big tops) and the contemporary (think of stories and themes conveyed using circus skills blended with performance art). For this list, we’ve stuck to traditional circuses the whole family will enjoy.
One of the most well-known and popular circuses operating today, Zippos is as traditional as it comes. The excitement starts the moment you see the huge, red and white big top and it doesn’t stop. This circus doesn’t feature animals, instead choosing to showcase the amazing abilities of people who will dazzle you with contortion, teeterboards, trampolines, tumbling, clowning, high wire, trapeze, juggling and more. This circus prides itself on catering for families and is the only UK circus to hold the Family Arts Standard Mark.
Positioned at the base of the famous tower, this amazing circus puts on three, one-hour shows each day (two on Sundays). It’s been going non-stop since 1894, and features every traditional circus act you can think of. What marks this circus out as truly special, though, is the clown show. Many clowns who have achieved international fame in the world of clowning have either had stints or started their careers at this circus. The whole family will enjoy what this circus offers and don’t miss the legendary water finale that has capped off every show for the last 40 years.
Touring the North East and the Midlands, this circus boasts a unique array of acts. One of the main draws is the incredible motorbike stunt teams - the Peter Pavlov Team and OMG FMX Team - who will have you on the edge of your seat as they do things with their bikes that you wouldn’t think possible. There are also many acrobatic acts, from aerial straps and silk, to trapeze and tightropes, as well as Andreea - one of the funniest clowns in any UK circus.
Gifford’s Circus tours around the south and southwest of England. It’s one of the few animal circuses in the country, featuring horses, dogs and birds. The animals are well cared for and loved by their keepers, with all animals regularly inspected by Stroud District Council Animal Welfare Officers. One of the most wonderful things about this circus is that it’s constantly accompanied by its own travelling licensed restaurant - The Circus Sauce Restaurant - which opens for dinner every evening.
Touring down the east coast of England, this delightful circus not only runs its circus show but also hosts workshops, sessions for schools, and circus holidays, in which you can rent a charming caravan on the circus site itself. The show itself has been voted Britain’s best circus show for five years running and you can expect to find every well-known circus act on the bill.