History of the Circus: The Story Behind This Fun Summer Family Activity

Contrary to popular belief, ancient Roman circuses were not the same as the modern Circus. They were more like racetracks, where horse-drawn carts could be ridden.

Philip Astley was an English cavalryman who formed the Circus in the late 1700s. Astley learned equestrian tricks and feats in London at a riding school, where horse riders would practice in front of the audience in a circle known as the Circus.

What a crowd! Astley’s London circus was so popular that he added other acts, such as jugglers and acrobats. He even included clowns. In 1782, the first Parisian Circus opened along with competitors such as Charles Hughes’s Royal Circus and John Ricketts circuses from the U.S.A. and Canada.

The Rise of North American Circuses

At that time, it was common to find European circuses in permanent locations. Major cities had large theaters where circus acts were performed.

In the 1800s in America, there were not enough large cities for a system like this. People were often on the move because of the push to colonize westward. The traveling Circus was born in North America as a result.

Joshuah Brown, in 1825, was the one who invented the circus tent that we know today. Elephants and other well-known animals were introduced to the Circus shortly after.

Barnum and Coup Circus, America’s most famous Circus at that time, was the first to introduce the concept of having multiple rings within a single tent. The idea was to increase audience capacity without detracting from the performances.

These developments are where we get the image of the classic American Circus, a team consisting of managers, animals, and performers traveling the land in order to provide a fun family activity for circus-goers all over the country.

How the Circus spread around the World

Do not think that circuses are only an American or European phenomenon. Louis Soullier, a French circus manager, brought the Circus to China in 1854. He brought Chinese Circus acts with him to Europe, such as plate-spinning or pole-balancing.

Jacques Tourniaire, a Frenchman who was born in 1816, brought the first Russian Circus to France. His sons would tour the chaos throughout India and China. Russia became the Mecca of circuses, with schools that train actors.

Evolution of the Circus

From Philip Astley’s London Circus to the summertime family fun activity we love today, it took a long time. The Circus began with horse riding and equestrian performances, with some juggling and acrobats thrown in.

The pantomime changed the system. A mime, or dramatic performance during the Circus, is often a reenactment of an important battle.

Trapeze and tight-rope walking were introduced to the Circus later. In 1859, French Gymnast Jules Leotard was the first person to fly on the flying trampoline while wearing the leotard. This act has swept through Europe until the present day.

As other media, such as radio, movies, and television, began to compete with circuses, new acts were introduced. By the end of World War I, they had been replaced completely.

Royal Canadian Circus Spectac! 2019 | B.C. – Alberta – Ontario

The modern Circus hasn’t slowed down and continues to be a popular attraction. This timeless tradition has been around for centuries and is a must-see for any family.

Purchase your tickets for the Royal Canadian Circus today to experience this summer activity with the family and a piece of history. We perform in B.C. and Alberta, as well as Ontario, including cities like Richmond, Surrey, and Mississauga.

Since its introduction in London in the late 17th century, the Circus has changed a lot. It has traveled around the World and added new acts like trapezing and tight-rope walkers.
Tickets to the Royal Canadian Circus are a great way for your family to enjoy a summer activity.

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