American Circus Day

American Circus Day is observed next on Thursday, April 3rd, 2025 (263 days from today).

How many days until American Circus Day?


American Circus Day is usually celebrated on April 3rd every year to honor the circus in the United States.

History of American Circus Day

The first American Circus Day took place in Philadelphia in 1793. The modern circus was created just a few decades ago, by Philip Astley in England. He opened a riding school in London in 1768, where he taught during the day and performed rides in the afternoon. His building contained a circular arena known as the circus, later called the ring. Equestrian feats were the focus of early circuses, but in 1770 Astley added acrobats, jugglers, jump ropes and clowns to his program, to perform between periods. Main items related to horses.

The English equestrian John Bill Ricketts arrived in America and made his circus debut in Philadelphia on April 3, 1793. The circus was held on an 800-seat open-air arena. George Washington attended one of its first performances, later that month.

The circus was originally built in wooden structures, which were especially popular in England. Larger cities in the United States, such as New York and Philadelphia, also became home to these structures. But America is not known for its permanent circuses, but for its traveling circuses. In 1825, Joshuah Purdy Brown was the first person to replace a wooden building by a tent. Within a decade, this became the norm. Brown is also notable because he added an African elephant to his show. Other exotic animals were soon added, and carnage became common in circuses. The Institute of Zoology was founded in 1835, reinforcing the form of the traveling circus. In the United States, circus was more business-oriented than circuses in Europe that were often controlled by families.

Equestrians were still the stars of circuses in the mid-19th century when acrobatics began to gain more attention. The string dancers were among the first acrobats, and the slide quickly developed, becoming one of the circus' most prized pieces. By the time World War I ended, horsemen were no longer part of the circus.

In 1871, Phineas Taylor Barnum and William Cameron Coup founded P.T. Barnum Museum, Menagerie and Circus. This traveling circus show's "museum" is known as a sideshow and includes animal and human quirks. After that, the circus travelled by train, and added a second ring to the circus. A third ring was added in 1881, and eventually more rings were added, which help people watch the circus more conveniently. Also in 1881, Barnum merged with James Bailey, and Barnum and Bailey Circus were soon formed.

Another major circus of the late 19th century was the Ringling Brothers Circus. It merged with Barnum and Bailey in 1919 to form Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Although this circus closed in 2017, and controversy surrounds the use of certain animals in the circus, many circuses remain, and contemporary circuses are now also popular.

How to celebrated American Circus Day?

Mark the anniversary of the first American circus by going to a circus! You can also plan a visit to the International Circus Hall of Fame or the World Circus Museum. Why not really get in the spirit of the day and join the circus? There are many schools and training centers across the United States that can help you on your way. If you don't want to join the circus, you'll probably feel more comfortable watching The Circus, At the Circus, Dumbo, or The Greatest Show on Earth.


American Circus Day has been observed annually on April 3rd.


Monday, April 3rd, 2023

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024

Thursday, April 3rd, 2025

Friday, April 3rd, 2026

Saturday, April 3rd, 2027

Also on Thursday, April 3rd, 2025

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