Cirque du Soleil is the gold standard of modern day animal-free circuses. Here you’ll find the best of the best when it comes to human performance artists and stunning lighting and choreography, keeping crowds entertained without an animal in sight.
Cirque du Soleil are now the largest theatrical producer in the world. Their shows combine circus craft, dance, music, and street entertainment, with each show telling a story while thrilling the crowd with mesmerizing performances that defy gravity, logic, and, seemingly, human limitations.
Originally set up by the NGO Phare Ponleu Selpak to help empower vulnerable street kids in Siam Reap through circus skills, the Phare Cambodian Circus has gone on to become the number one non-temple attraction in Siam Reap.
Thematically infused with Cambodian history and culture, Phare blends contortion, juggling, acrobatics, balancing and aerial arts with theatre and modern dance forms. Best of all, the money made from your ticket is ploughed back into the community. More information
If you like slapstick humour set to the sound of European accordion, this is the circus for you. Drawing heavily on Slavic and culture, the Circus Finelli is a vaudeville delight.
Presented by four unruly female clowns, barely kept under control by Ring Mistress Madame Vinaigrette, danger is never far away, whether that’s in the satirical comedy that cuts close to the bone, or the flying cutlery that form an integral part of the juggling, acrobatics, contortion and dance. More information
Once a circus that used animals, Circus Vargas has stepped away from the dark side to prove that you can get the Big Top thrills from a full array of array of acrobats, clowns, dancers, magicians, contortionists, and jugglers.
The circus’s heritage has one advantage in that it can offer old skool circus thrills that have been passed down through the ages – like those provided by their three generation motorcycle stunt team. Circus Varga is big and bold and bound to impress. More information
The Flying Fruit Fly Circus is another organization that started with a mission to enhance the education and cultural development of young people by offering high-quality circus training. It has since grown into a highly-regarded contemporary circus.
Performances are a blend of circus, dance, theatre and live percussion, delivered with a distinctly Aussie attitude and sense of humour. In doing so, it has become one of the world’s premier youth performing arts companies – and as they say Down Under, ‘a top night out!’ More information
Looking for a bit of French flair and weirdness? Then Les Colporteurs, based in Paris, is the circus for you. We can’t guarantee you’ll always understand what’s going on, but it will certainly leave you breathless.
Performers include traveling dancers, illusionists, and air musicians. They create a spectacle that is a combination of circus, theatre, dance, and magic, all delivered with a Gallic shrug. More information
This all-human circus has a distinctly environmentally-aware artistic direction, with every show highlighting an issue important on both a global and local scale. They are also committed to developing arts in the community, by running circus themed camps and even after school clubs.
Each performance is characterised by a unique blend of innovative, high-energy circus theatre, live music, and ecological themes. So whether you want to get involved in community-centred workshops or simply sit back and enjoy a world-class Big Top touring extravaganza, this is the circus for you. More information
Have you enjoyed an animal-free circus in your travels? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Get the very best of Wanderlust by signing up to our newsletters, full of travel inspiration, fun quizzes, exciting competitions and exclusive offers.