Under the Big Top

Celebrate World Circus Day on Saturday

From free admission to The Ringling's Circus Museum to a circus-themed trolley tour, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Sarasota's circus history.

By Staff April 11, 2023

This Saturday, April 15, is World Circus Day—and what better place to celebrate than right here in Sarasota, the circus capital of the world and the longtime home of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey winter headquarters, the largest attraction in the state in the 1930s and ’40s.

Here are some fun ways to take advantage of World Circus Day and Sarasota's longstanding circus heritage.

Get Free Admission to The Ringling's Circus Museum

The Ringling is offering free admission to the Circus Museum and the Bayfront Gardens on Saturday, and there'll be activities on-site throughout the day, including a juggling party  in the Bayfront Gardens, family art-making in the Education Building and Buster Bailey archival film footage of the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Hat. The museum's restaurants and concession stands will also offer fun, circus-themed cuisine, like cotton candy cotton candy crème brûlée, a cotton candy martini and a loaded nachos flatbread. Click here for more information.

Stop by the Circus Model Builders' Convention at Showfolks of Sarasota

There are hundreds of circus model builders out there, and this year they’re showing off their miniature circus reproductions during the free national convention of Circus Model Builders (CMB) at Showfolks of Sarasota. One builder is even coming from Australia. Visitors can check out 40-plus models on April 13, 14 and 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and admission is free. Click here for more information.

Hop on a 'Circus Secrets of Sarasota' Trolley Tour 

Gawk at local circus landmarks with tour guide Bob Collins, a former marketing executive for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, who tells stories about the colorful cast of circus characters, showmen, and performers who called Sarasota home. The tour is offered weekly by Discover Sarasota; there's one tomorrow, April 12, for those who are interested in attending this week. $48.99; click here for more information.

Visit the Circus Ring of Fame on St. Armands Circle

This homage to circus greats is located in St. Armands' Circle's Central Park.  The ring began in 1988 as a way to honor circus artists and Sarasota's circus heritage; today, visitors and locals alike can stroll by decades of circus history, scanning the plaques' QR codes with their mobile devices and discovering biographies, photos and videos of every honoree, including famed animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams, aerialist Nik Wallenda, comedic daredevil Bello Nock and timeless clowns Lou Jacobs and Emmett Kelly. Click here for more info.

And next week...

Take in "The Greatest 'Little' Show on Earth"

The Sailor Circus is America’s oldest youth circus, providing a rigorous after-school circus training program in which students ages 8-18 develop life management skills, gain self-discipline, and bolster their confidence and a commitment to achievement—all while learning the art of the circus. This year, from April 20-23, the Sailor Circus will go “Around the World in 80 Days" for its spring performance. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

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