Carnival and Circus Themed Birthday Party Ideas

Written by jamie conrad
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Carnival and Circus Themed Birthday Party Ideas
Create your own big top birthday party for your child. (circus background image by Peter Baxter from

The circus and carnival can make an exciting and entertaining theme for children's birthday parties. These themes provide a wide variety of decorating and activity options, and putting together the party can be a fun, creative project for the party planners. Plan a circus party or a carnival party, or combine both themes for a fun-filled birthday experience your child and the other party guests are sure to enjoy.


Decorate the party in bright, bold colours such as reds, yellows, blues, oranges and greens. Hang streamers and balloons to evoke a festive environment. Hold the party outdoors and set up a carnival or circus "tent" in the middle of the yard by draping a sheet or tarp over a pole (paint the sheet with red stripes for a more authentic look). Place stuffed clowns and circus animals around the tables, and hang clown and animal posters around the party area. Set up carnival booths for games.

Carnival Games

Glue colourful jars or cups onto a board and lie the board flat. Have the children toss pennies into the cups for the game Penny Pitch. Place a few different sized buckets at different distances. Provide the children with different sized balls and have them try to get the balls into the buckets. The largest prize goes to the player who gets the smallest ball into the farthest bucket. Set up a cardboard box and cut three holes into the side, large enough for a golf ball to fit through. Let the children roll golf balls into the "mouse" holes for prizes.

Circus Games

Draw a large clown face on a poster board and give the children a clown's nose with a wad of tape on it. Blindfold the children and have them try and stick the nose on the clown for "Pin the Nose on the Clown". Paint a lion's face on a cardboard box, cutting a large hole for the lion's mouth. Let the children take turns tossing bean bags into the lion's mouth for "Feed the Lion". Write down the names of prizes or stick small prizes into balloons, and inflate the balloons. Let the children pop the balloons to receive the prizes inside.

Food and Cake

Serve popular carnival and circus foods such as corn dogs, peanuts, popcorn and candyfloss. Make a cake in the shape of a clown, or add plastic animals to a round cake to imitate a carousel. Or, give the kids individual cupcakes that they can turn into clown faces with candies such as peppermints, chocolate chips for eyes, red hots for noses, liquorice for mouths and sprinkles for added colour.


Have the guests dress in their favourite carnival or circus character costumes. Possible costumes include clowns, circus animals, strong man, tight rope walker and lion tamer. Or, set up a clown decoration station and provide make-up, clown noses and coloured hairspray or clown wigs to transform guests into clowns for the day.

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