Circus vs. Carnival

What is the difference between a circus and a carnival?

In the entertainment world, two important terms are circus and carnival. These used to be the only forms of entertainment available before movies and television and other forms of outdoor entertainment that exist today.

What is a circus?

A circus is an event that is usually held outdoors or in a large stadium where there are professional jugglers and trapeze artists who perform for the crowd. There are acrobats, clowns stunt people that are also part of the staff. These people travel from one location to another and often have trained animals as part of their acts. The props used are very enticing because they want to grab and hold the attention of the audience. When it is held outdoors it is usually under a large circular tent.

What is a carnival?

A carnival is a festival that can be part of a religion or a cultural event in a location. There are usually lost of amusement rides for young and old, various vendor stalls selling a wide variety of products, and entertaining shows and concerts. There may also be very colorful parades associated with a carnival. It is usually held outdoors and occupies a large space in which crowds of people walk around choosing the type of entertainment that they like best.

The difference between a circus and a carnival

The location where a circus is held is a large space where the performers and the audience are in the one place. The main event is the center of the ring where the performances take place. A carnival is a gathering of different venues offering a wide variety of entertainment to choose from. A circus is held in a location that is one the group’s circuit, but a carnival is an annual event that is always held in the same location.


  1. A circus is held in a ring or under a circular shaped tent. The audience is quite close to the performers who perform in their turn.
  2. A carnival is an annual event with a variety of vendors and forms of entertainment to choose from.