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Best Circus Experiences Near Atlanta

A memorable line from Cecil B. DeMille’s 1952 film “The Greatest Show on Earth” encapsulates the magic and mystery of the circus: “You can shake the sawdust off your feet, but you can't shake it outta your heart.” The time-honored tradition of taking a child to witness the spectacle of a circus is second to none, as they sit wide eyed with wonder – popcorn in one hand, cotton candy in the other. While many may simply view this as a fun and memorable family outing, others are forever changed as they begin to devise strategies in which they might run away with the circus one day to fly on the flying trapeze or ride atop a majestic elephant draped in satin. No matter which category they may fall into, Atlanta offers a number of ways that families can experience the circus together.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Philips Arena
1 Philips Drive  
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 878-3000


The Arena at Gwinnett Center
6400 Sugarloaf Parkway #100  
Duluth, GA 30097
(770) 813-7500

Dates: Philips Arena – February 12-17, 2014; The Arena at Gwinnett Center – February 5-9, 2014

There’s a very good reason they call it “The Greatest Show on Earth!” The pinnacle of performance perfection, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has a rich and colorful history to which it invites children of all ages to be a part. This circus rolls into A-town every February at two separate venues: Philips Arena in Downtown Atlanta and The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth. Although the 2013 show has come and gone, showtimes have already been scheduled for February 2014’s Built to Amaze! - the 143rd edition of "The Greatest Show on Earth."

Circus Arts Institute
206 Rogers St. N.E., Suite 214
Atlanta, GA 30317
(404) 549-3000

For families who are just as interested in being in the circus as they are in watching, the Circus Arts Institute may just be the answer.  Featuring a wide variety of workshops that include juggling, trapeze work, tightwire walking, Spanish web, circus arts fitness and more, families are welcome to participate in classes together. They can perfect their act and then consider taking their show on the road – or just have a whole lot of fun while they strengthen their bodies and test the bounds of their bravery. Private lessons are also available by appointment.

TnT University
Georgia Baptist Conference Center
Sonrise Way  
Toccoa, GA 30577
(706) 886-3133

Dates: August 5-10, 2013

Although around a two-hour drive from Atlanta, this is one circus act that cannot be missed. Designed for everyone from beginners with a penchant for clowning around to professional clowns who wish to clean up their act, this Christian-based clown retreat features chortle-concentrated class schedules and talented instructors. Attendees will learn everything from face painting and balloon making to juggling and physical comedy. “Graduates” of TnT University have gone on to successful careers in educational clowning, hospital and nursing clowning, church ministry clowning and more. Campers should be sure to pack their rubber chickens and big floppy shoes.

Related: Best Resources for Homeschool Families in Atlanta 

Circus Camp
Multiple Locations Including Dunwoody, Decatur, Sandy Springs, and Marietta
(404) 370-0001

Dates: June 10-August 2, 2013

This very special summer day camp introduces aspiring aerialists, minor magicians, just-beginning jugglers and would-be tightrope walkers to circus, performing and visual arts in a fun, safe and noncompetitive environment. Campers range in age from five years old to adolescence, and have an opportunity to be exposed to a wide range of circus arts including trapeze, magic, clowning, mime, puppetry, face painting, acrobatics, tightwire walking, unicycle and much more. For those campers who are not sure that they’re ready to commit to a full week, Circus Camp offers a “Try-Me-Day.” For those who are wholly committed to pursuing a career in the performing arts, Circus Camp features Extreme Magic and Advanced Aerial Classes. The best part is, campers get to show off what they’ve learned during a big show every Friday at camp’s end. 

Sky Gym
6780 Roswell Road, Suite D100
Sandy Springs, Georgia 30328
(404) 309-9696

For those who dream of dancing on air, “get ready to fly!” Sky Gym offers an assortment of aerial dance classes that include silks, trapeze and aerial rings, as well as yoga, fitness, creative and cirque arts classes. It’s an entirely new way to view a day at the gym. Private lessons and Sky Parties are also available through Sky Gym.

Related: Best Mini Golf Courses in Atlanta 

Kasie Bolling is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta. Her work can be found on

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