World Circus Day - April 16
(Last Updated On: November 8, 2022)


Every year on the third Saturday in April, World Circus Day raises awareness for the circus arts. The day also garners well-earned attention for both amateur and professional circus performers.

The modern-day circus looks much different than the ones held in ancient Rome. And it’s a good thing, too. Circuses during that time consisted of fighting gladiators, the slaughter of animals, and other blood sports. The word “circus” is derived from the Latin word for circle. Romans hosted their events in circle-shaped amphitheaters. During that time, circuses were the primary source of entertainment for the Romans. Even though the circus changed through the years, entertaining the masses was still the primary goal.

The kind of circus we have come to know came about in 1768. At the time, the English equestrian named Philip Astley began performing trick horse riding exhibitions. Astley eventually hired acrobats, jugglers, and a clown to fill the pauses between his equestrian events. Because of this, Astley became known as the “father of the modern circus.” Finally, an Englishman named John Bill Ricketts brought the circus to the United States. The first circus in America took place in Philadelphia in 1793. By 1872, thanks to P.T. Barnum, the circus became known as “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

Today, the circus continues to be extremely popular. A large circus consists of thousands of workers and hundreds of animals. There are 85 circus schools and training centers throughout the United States. About 90 percent of the American population lives within an hours’ drive of a circus.

HOW TO OBSERVE #WorldCircusDay

  • Hundreds of circuses are held throughout the world on this day. The Circus Arts Conservatory in Florida also holds several events. These include screenings of historic circus films, a special circus-themed menu for dinner, and circus-themed educational workshops for kids and adults.
  • Attend a circus near you.
  • Have a contest with friends and family to see who can come up with the most kinds of circus performers.
  • Watch the documentary The Circus.
  • Read about legendary circus performers, such as Isaac Van Amburgh in The Great Lion Tamer, Dan Rice in The King of American Clowns, and Annie Oakley in The Peerless Lady Wing-Shot.
  • Share your favorite circus memory or picture on social media with #WorldCircusDay.


In 2006, Princess Stephanie of Monaco became the president of the International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo. She established World Circus Day in 2010. Her goal was to publicize the role of the circus as part of our shared cultural heritage.

16 April 2022
15 April 2023
20 April 2024
19 April 2025
18 April 2026
17 April 2027
15 April 2028
21 April 2029
20 April 2030
19 April 2031
17 April 2032


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