NEW! Step-by-step: circus
Bring a circus to your school - not only is it an easy
and profitable fundraising event to organise, but the wider
community will want to come along, too!
- Speak to your school to confirm that you have space for a big
top (usually a flat area with short grass of approximately
50m2), and that there is no underground pipework on the
proposed site. Agree some preferred dates, bearing in mind that you
may have to book up to two years in advance! Avoid selecting a date
that clashes with any other local (or major national) events,
as this could affect ticket sales.
- Find a supplier. There are several recommended circus suppliers
listed in our online directory, so it shouldn't be difficult
to find one that suits your school size and budget. Some offer
'little' big tops seating 230 people while others have 'big' big
tops seating an audience of up to 600. Is your circus going to be a
stand-alone event or part of your summer fair? Think about whether
you want one big show, or several smaller shows. Some circuses will
need to stay overnight, so discuss this with your Head before
confirming your booking. Access to an electricity supply and
toilets may be required, and may cost you extra if these have to be
hired. All electrical equipment should be PAT tested.
- Agree a pricing strategy. Expect to pay between
£1,200-£2,400, and check whether your circus supplier requires
a deposit and whether travel is charged on top. Once you know
the capacity of your big top, you can agree a price per ticket
to ensure that you cover your costs. Most PTAs charge between £5
and £10 (with no differentiation for children or adults, who
all take up the same amount of space!).
- Start marketing your event (see tips and advice, below) and
work out when and how to sell and distribute tickets. Some
suppliers provide tickets, so check whether the company you've
chosen is one of them. If not and if you have more than one show,
print sheets of tickets onto different coloured paper for each
show, with the times clearly stated. Number the tickets so that you
can easily see how many are left and sell them at school
events such as sports day or celebration assemblies. Let parents
know when and where you will be selling tickets so that they bring
sufficient cash along.
- Ask for a copy of your suppliers' public liability insurance.
Your circus supplier should provide risk assessment documentation
for the big top, however you should carry out a risk assessment for
the overall event. Consider whether a qualified first aider is
required - read our guide to completeing a first aid needs
- Appoint a few volunteers to check tickets and be on hand to
help set up (providing coffee!) and to run any side stalls on
Tips and advice for running a circus
- Boost profits: Some suppliers sell their own popcorn and
candyfloss, and may request that you don't do the same. So how else
can you maximise profits? Set up stalls to run before, during and
after each performance, with ready-made crafts, a bouncy castle and
face painting. If the circus isn't selling any merchandise, source
your own - look for juggling balls, spinning plates and diablos.
Offer a variety of refreshments and run a BBQ (weather
permitting)! For tips and advice on selling refreshments,
stall ideas and much more, look at the fairs section of our
- Licences: As of 6 April 2015, you no longer need a licence for
'regulated entertainment' to run a circus. If you plan to run a
bar, then a TEN will be required.
- Safety and security: Carry out a risk assessment. Think about
any parking issues that may arise.
- Marketing: A circus is nothing without an audience! Promote
through posters, make announcements in school newsletters and send
a media release to your local press. Social media is another great
way to generate interest, so keep your online audience regularly
updated with plenty of photos and a countdown to the big day. Some
suppliers provide promotional materials, including laminated
posters and leaflets, so make the most of what is offered to
maximise ticket sales. After the event, let everyone know how much
you raised and what school resources this money will help
Download a print-friendly PDF version of our
step-by-step guide to running a circus.
Circus success stories
Read recommendations for the leading circus suppliers to schools
in the Bring the Circus to Town article
featured in the autumn 2015 issue of PTA+ Magazine.
The above is intended as guidance only. We
recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific
reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child
protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held
responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA based on
the guidance provided.
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