A brief history of the circus

Friday, December 7, 2018 - 09:44

This December we’re getting set to experience the thrills and daredevil entertainment of a typical turn of the century circus as Circus 1903 take to our stage for their European premiere of a show featuring acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, trapeze and high-wire performers and more.

As Circus 1903 looks back to what they consider to be circus’ golden age, we were tempted to delve back even further. It’s 250 years since the very first modern circus took place, coincidentally just a few hundred yards from where Southbank Centre sits, and so we’ve put together this interactive timeline charting the art’s evolution over those two and half centuries.



Circus 1903 bring their sensational show to Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, 19 December 2018 to 5 January 2019

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Note. Timeline information taken from multiple sources, but most prominently Circopedia’s Short History of the Circus by Dominique Jando and Emma Bottamley’s Circus Timeline for The Big Top Debate.