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World Circus Day 2023: Date, History, Facts, Activities

Although the origin of the circus is unknown, historians believe the first circus performances originated in Ancient Rome. The circus was the first form of public entertainment that did not separate men and women.

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World Circus Day is observed annually on April 17 around the globe. The purpose of this holiday is to honour circus creators, performers, and artists. As one of the most popular and universal forms of entertainment, circus art is introduced to the forefront to increase industry awareness. This day is devoted to highlighting their craft, abilities, and talents. In addition, it helps them raise funds, attract audiences, and enter the entertainment scene’s zeitgeist. This day is devoted to the hard labour and dedication of all artists, from seasoned veterans to rising stars. Mastery of the circus arts is not as simple as it appears; it requires years of training and perseverance. We honour them and their contributions to the arts today.

The background of World Circus Day

Although the origin of the circus is unknown, historians believe the first circus performances originated in Ancient Rome. The circus was the first form of public entertainment that did not separate men and women. During the Old Kingdom, the Circus Maximus was the first circus arena to be constructed in ancient Rome. It can accommodate at least 250,000 spectators per event. Circus Neronis, Circus Flaminius, and Circus of Maxentius were three of the most renowned arenas of the Roman era.

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In the 18th century, when Philip Astley established an amphitheatre in Lambeth, London, the modern circus era began. He was the first person to perform horse riding stunts in front of a public audience as a form of entertainment. He originally referred to this performance venue as ‘Circle,’ but the term evolved and eventually became widely recognised as ‘Circus.’ In 1781, Joseph Grimaldi became the first popular jester. He was renowned for his performances as Little Clown in “The Triumph of Mirth” and “Harlequin’s Wedding.” Later, Astley exported his circus to France and was able to construct 18 additional circuses throughout Europe.

John Bill Ricketts founded the first modern circus in the United States on April 3, 1793. His circus troupe, known as the Circus of Pepin and Breschard, travelled from Montreal to Havana in the early nineteenth century. In 1835, Joshua Purdy introduced the first large tent as a standard venue for circus performances. Thomas Taplin Cooke brought it to England in 1835 because it was much more practical, adaptable, and allowed audiences to congregate in an expansive area.

In the 1970s, contemporary circuses exploded in Australia, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom. This form of circus told a story using theatre, stunts, and traditional circus acts. This had a significant impact on the circus we know today. Princess Stéphanie of Monaco publicised the art of circus as a shared cultural heritage in 2010, when she proclaimed April 17 as World Circus Day.

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Participate in the Folklife Festival

One of the largest celebrations of World Circus Day in the United States is the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. Enjoy a chaotic and entertaining programme featuring circus arts and stunt demonstrations with your family and friends.

Participate in fundraising events

There is no better way to show support for these circus professionals than by contributing to their charitable causes. The Central Ring Fundraiser is an annual gala dedicated to raising funds for training and scholarship programmes for students.

Travel to Catalonia

In Catalonia, Spain, one of the largest World Circus Day celebrations takes place. Typically, 50 performances are conducted in Sabadell, Tiana, Berga, Barcelona, Mataró, and other cities in Catalonia.


Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were the originators of juggling, one of the most common circus feats.

Circo Atayde was established on August 26, 1888, and is still managed by the same Atayde family to this day.

Tradition dictates that circus performers never whistle or consume peanuts backstage, as doing so is considered unlucky.

England passed a law in 2015 prohibiting the use of wild animals in circus performances.

According to a superstition, all circus performers who transport elephant tail hair in their pockets during performances will have good fortune.


Year Date Day
2023 April 17 Monday
2024 April 17 Wednesday
2025 April 17 Thursday
2026 April 17 Friday
2027 April 17 Saturday
Arshiya Khan
Arshiya Khan
Arshiya Khan is a Commerce graduate who loves to write on general and trending topics.

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