Games with a Circus Theme

A circus theme is a natural for a carnival and gives you lots of opportunities for games and decorations.
Just about any carnival game can be used for this theme, but some of our ideas are listed below.


We are working on expanding our game descriptions, games with a picture have been updated.
See our Carnival Game Ideas page for more games that you can adapt to your circus theme.

Balloon Animals


Clown Balloon Twister: Have a clown be your balloon twister. Many professional clowns know how to do this.

Bean bag Throw


Lion Tamer: Set up a hula hoop so it stands up securely. Player tries to throw a small stuffed (or beanbag) lion or tiger through the hoop. Decorate the hoop with colored paper to look like flames.

Circus Beanbags: Use a circus-related picture as the target. Ideas are a clown or jester, circus elephant, or tiger. You could make the beanbags to look like juggling balls for an added effect.



Clown Bowling: Decorate your bowling pins to look like clowns. 

Face Painting


Clown Face Painting: Clown makeup for everyone!

Fortune Teller


Fortune Telling: We had our principals dress up as fortune tellers and decorate their office as their booth. Both they and the kids really enjoyed the "game."

Acrobat Knockdown

Decorate six empty metal cans to look like circus acrobats. Stack the cans in a pyramid. Each player gets to throw one to three tennis balls at the cans.

Click HERE for acrobat designs you can print and use to wrap around cans.

circus shootout

Set ping pong balls decorated like clowns or circus animals on top of weighted 2 liter pop bottles. The player must shoot the ball off the bottle using a water gun.

dunk tank

Have your volunteer dress in a clown or ringmaster costume.

elephant stomp

Tuck a prize slip inside a small balloon and then inflate. You can write the name of the prize on the slip or just a number corresponding to a prize. Have lots of prize balloons ready, store in plastic bags. Player chooses a balloon and "stomps" it to pop it and see what their prize will be.

Feed the animal

Paint a board with a picture of a circus animal. Leave a hole for the "food" to be thrown into. Player gets three tries to throw the "food" into the hole. To make the game harder, have the player use a slingshot to toss the food.


Hungry Elephant: Paint an elephant on your backboard and have the players throw peanuts into the elephant's trunk. For more fun, make a trunk out of a curved tube like a section of dryer vent or PVC pipe and have that extend out from your backboard.

Monkey Business: Paint a monkey on your backboard and have the players throw plastic bananas into the monkey's mouth or hand.

Funny Photos

Paint foam core or plywood with funny bodies of circus performers and cut out holes for faces. Take Polaroid or digital pictures. 

high striker / world's strongest human

Use a circus strongman theme for this game where you try to ring the bell by striking a platform with a mallet.

petting zoo / circus animals

If you have cooperative animals, you could dress them in clown hats and collars. Petting zoos can be hired, or you may find a volunteer in your group that will bring in some tame animals. Just be aware of insurance liabilities and provide a place for the kids to wash up after petting the animals. 

pie in the face

Try to find some good sports among your teachers or principals who will act as  targets for shaving cream pies. Have them dress as a clown or stand behind a clown-painted backboard.

pony rides /circus ponies

Check your Yellow Pages to find a pony ride operator in your area. If you are lucky, you may have a willing horse or pony owner in your group who will volunteer. With either a volunteer or a professional, check that insurance issues are covered.