Top Circus Experiences In St. Louis

April 12, 2013 8:00 AM

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People don’t just get jobs at the circus: they run away to be with it, as if they’re eloping to join their true love. Passionate people with that kind of dedication sometimes bring their true love home and create something new from it. St. Louis is a surprising hotbed of this kind of homegrown circus artistry, with missions that range from patiently teaching beginners how to cling to a trapeze to staging a full-blown, three-ring circus. Here are five favorites.

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Circus Flora
Big Top behind Powell Hall
3547 Olive St.
St Louis, MO 63103
(314) 289-4040

Date: May 30 through June 23, 2013

The weird and wonderful one-ring Circus Flora has been a beloved St. Louis tradition since 1987. Each year’s production has a theme and follows a narrative, using traditional and modern circus arts to tell a darkly dramatic story. The 2013 theme is “A Trip to the Moon” and will feature all the Circus Flora favorite performers, including Yo-Yo the Narrator, the Flying Wallendas trapeze family, the tumbling, juggling St. Louis Arches act, plus horses, elephants, clowns, hoop dancers and more. The talent, pageantry and production are always top-notch, every chair in the small house is a great seat and tickets are reasonably priced at $20-$48.

City Museum
701 N. 15th St., 3rd Floor
St. Louis, MO 63104
(314) 645-4445

Date: Year round, shows at various times Wednesday through Sunday

Almost every day, there is a circus performance at City Museum in the third floor circus space created by Bob Cassilly from found objects. Pick up a hot dog and soda at the Baby Elephant Cafe and enjoy a performance. You might catch a show by the St. Louis Arches, a group of local kids who can juggle, fly through the air and build gravity-defying human pyramids. Or you might see a magician or a master juggler. You can also schedule a birthday party in the space or take a class (see Circus Harmony below).

Bumbershoot Aerial Arts Studio
2200 Gravois Ave.
St Louis, MO 63104
(314) 898-3259

Date: Year round, classes in eight-week sessions

Have you ever wanted to fly through the air with the greatest of ease? If so, Bumbershoot is the place for you. The studio is in an airy, repurposed industrial building in South City with 26-foot ceilings. The cavernous space has been transformed into an aerial playground where you can swing and flip on a trapeze, dangle and spin on colorful silken fabrics and hoops. Of course, you might need a lesson or two first. Every Saturday at 4 p.m., Bumbershoot offers a free trapeze lesson, so you can see if aerial arts are right for you. If so, sign up for trapeze, aerial silks, hoops or rope classes.

Related: Top Resources For Homeschool Families In St. Louis

St. Louis Moolah Shrine Circus
Family Arena
2002 Arena Parkway
St. Charles, MO 63303
(314) 878-6301

Date: March 21-24, 2013

The Moolah Shrine Circus has been the top locally based circus event for decades, and never disappoints. Ride the ponies and elephants before the three-ring circus begins. Then nibble on cotton candy, snow cones, popcorn and peanuts while you watch the aerial artists, clowns, Arabian stallions and Siberian tigers put on a spectacular nonstop show. It’s a full circus spectacular, but with ticket prices starting at just $12, so this show is accessible even for large families.

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Circus Harmony
City Museum
701 N. 15th St., 3rd Floor
St. Louis, MO 63104
(314) 436-7676

Circus Harmony is a nonprofit organization that “teaches the art of life through circus education.” Circus Harmony programs aim to teach kids valuable lessons about perseverance, hard work, trust, responsibility and cooperation through circus arts. In 2001, the program began by bringing Muslim and Jewish children together to work on Circus Salaam Shalom. Since then, Circus Harmony has been bringing together kids from various racial, religious, social and economic backgrounds to learn to work and play together. You can help support the program by hiring its performers, attending a show, sponsoring a student or you can sign up for a class at the City Museum circus center.

Related: Top Photographers For Kids in St. Louis

Lauren Haas is a writer who specializes in finding the fun! Lauren was the publisher of the St. Louis Area Family Gazette for eight years, and now writes freelance articles on St. Louis events and attractions, budget travel, arts and entertainment and fitness topics. Her work can be found at

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