Circus and Carnival Party Ideas

Bring the circus/carnival to your town by throwing your son or daughter a carnival or circus themed birthday party. You can put on the "greatest show on earth" to celebrate your child's big milestone with these fun party ideas and activities for kids.

Birthday Party Ideas - Carnival and Circus Party

Party Invitations

Send in the guests along with the clowns! Here are some unique ideas for the perfect invitations for your circus or carnival party:

  • Print off the outline of a circus tent on colorful pieces of card stock paper and cut them out. You will need two cutouts per birthday party invitation. On one piece, write all of the party details in the center. On the second piece, carefully cut up the middle from the bottom, stopping about an inch from the top. Glue the edges of the two pieces together so the guests can lift the flaps to "open the tent" and view the party information.
  • Inside your invitation, you could put "Come one, come all to the greatest birthday party of all! Join us under the big top to celebrate (your child)'s birthday!"
Circus and Carnival Party Invitations

Party Decorations

When decorating for your child's circus or carnival, the first step is to think big—lots of balloons, huge stuffed animals, big signs, and bold colors.

  • Place a large balloon arch made from colorful balloons at the entrance to the party room. Not only does it make a great first impression, but it also can be used later as a backdrop for pictures of everyone.
  • Lions, tigers, and bears—oh my! If you have any humongous stuffed animals (like the ones given out as prizes at the fair), this is the perfect opportunity to pull them out. Hang pieces of butcher paper on the wall and draw (almost) life-sized elephants on them.
Circus and Carnival Party Decorations

Party Activities

Want to really bring the circus/carnival to life? Bringing in some live performers is a great way to make your birthday circus or carnival feel just like the real thing.

  • What's the first thing most people think of when they think of the circus? Clowns, of course! Clown entertainers love to come to birthday parties and put on a show. Children and adults alike will laugh at their hilarious antics and comical mishaps.
  • If you want to really "wow" the guests, then animal entertainers are the way to go. Trained animals can perform a wide array of tricks that are guaranteed to dazzle and delight. Depending on what is available in your local area, you could find groups of performing monkeys, birds, dogs, and more.
  • Face painting is a favorite activity for children and would fit in well at a circus birthday party. You can do it yourself or bring in a local party entertainment company to do the face paintings. You can offer everything from small paintings on the cheek to dramatic painted animal masks.

Party Games

When visiting a real circus, the audience only gets to sit and watch the amazing spectacular. However, at your child's circus/carnival themed party, everyone can take a starring role in your show! These kids games will let all of your guests take part in your "one day only!" circus.

  • Stick the Nose on the Clown: Everyone loves the classic party game "Pin the Tail on the Donkey". Take this idea and adapt it to your circus party. Every child will get a chance to put the clown's iconic red nose back where it goes. But they must do so while blindfolded and dizzy. The child that puts the nose the closest to the right spot is the winner.
  • The Strongest Man of All: In this game, teams of 3 or 4 kids will race to see who can create the strongest man of all for the circus. You will need an adult sweatshirt and sweatpants for each team, as well as a whole lot of balloons. On go, teams will race to stuff their "strong man's" suit with as many balloons as possible without breaking them. After the designated time is up, count to see which team has used the most balloons.
  • Hungry Elephant: The elephant is hungry and everyone needs to feed him! Make a large elephant out of cardboard with a big, wide open mouth. The kids will take turns tossing peanuts, trying to get them to land in the elephant's mouth. Every time you start a new round, make the children take another step back to make the game more challenging.

Party Food and Drinks

No circus/carnival would be complete without a concession stand filled with goodies. Make your own booth filled with these favorite circus/carnival foods:

  • Cut a large cardboard box to create a tray with sides that are only a few inches tall. Decorate the tray, then attach a belt so you can wear it around your neck. Stuff the tray with peanuts and walk around like a circus food vendor shouting "Peanuts! Get your peanuts here!"
  • Everybody loves cotton candy. Plus, it is so much fun to watch it being made fresh in front of you. The machine is easy to use and can be rented from a local party supply rental company. Serve big wads of cotton candy on paper cones and put the leftovers in plastic bags to send home as a party favor.
  • Hot dogs are another good food to serve at a circus party. Kids love them and they are easy to cook on the grill for a large group. Remember to put out toppings like ketchup, mustard, mayo, and relish.

Party Cake / Cupcakes

Three round cakes can be used to create your own "three ring circus" cake. If you need a lot of cake to serve your guests, you can place the cakes on top of a large sheet cake. Or you could use cake stands or covered cardboard boxes to display the rings at different heights. On top of one cake, write "Happy Birthday to Ringmaster (Child's Name)!". Top the second cake with lots of plastic animal figurines. On the third cake, cover the top with sprinkles, then use icing to make colorful balloons and clowns.

Circus and Carnival Party Cake

Party Favors and Goody Bags

When it's time to pack away the big carnival tent, send your guests home with a little souvenir bag from their trip to the circus. Tie the bag using the string of a helium balloon for a truly unique presentation. Inside the goody bag, you could stuff:

  • A box of animal crackers
  • Small plastic circus animals
  • Foam clown noses
Circus and Carnival Party Favors and Goody Bags

Celebrating their birthday under the big top is something your child will always remember. To them, it will be the "greatest birthday party on earth."

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