2018 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of the circus. In 1768 a retired cavalryman, entrepreneur and showman Philip Astley drew a ring near to the Houses of Parliament in London and began inviting the most wacky, weird and wondrous acts and performers to entertain the crowds. A year of celebration is in store; throughout the UK and Ireland institutions will be putting on acts in honour of the last quarter-millennium. We’ve rounded up fun family holidays to celebrate 250 years of circus. (All prices are based on a family of four).
1/9 Seven nights at a Butlins Big Top Circus break, Minehead, Somerset
This summer, Butlins is bringing the magic of circus to each of their locations across the UK. Kids will have a blast dancing at the Teletubbies Big Party, calling ‘he’s behind you!’ at the new pantomime show and making a splash at the Waterworld. Families can also enjoy fairground rides and sports coaching and even better, take in a show at the Butlins Big Top! Watch acrobats contort themselves into knots, giggle at the clowns and see trapeze artists soar across the sky at the family show. Staying in a Silver Apartment, guests can enjoy two bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and open-plan dining area.
What: Seven nights in a two-bedroom apartment (sleeps four) at a Butlins resort
Where: Minehead, Somerset
When: 10-17 August
Find out more and book at Butlins
2/9 Seven nights at Viva Circus, Alcudia, Mallorca
Kids can clown around with a full programme of circus activities while staying at Viva Sunrise in Port d’Alcudia on the island of Mallorca. Children in the Viva Circus programme can learn and rehearse a routine of tricks and circus games to be performed in a special show that takes place once a week. Even tiny tots can give juggling a go- although the programme is aimed at kids aged four and up, younger children are welcome to join in with an adult. Budding circus performers can try stilt walking, hula-hooping, diablo, plate spinning and good old-fashioned juggling, as well as donning circus outfits and brightly coloured face-paint for their big stage show. For adults, cookery and sports classes are part of the entertainment if you can drag yourselves away from the Villa Sunrise swimming pools or delicious bistro. There are four restaurants to choose from, including a main buffet restaurant, and home-from-home apartment accommodation to create a convenient and relaxing stay for families.
What: Seven nights in a Premium apartment (sleeps four) including entertainment for adults and children
Where: Port d’Alcudia, Mallorca
When: 28 May-2 June
Find out more and book at Hotels Viva
3/9 Five nights at Circus Circus Resort, Las Vegas
With almost 300 days of sunshine each year, La Vegas is a good option for a winter break with older children. Staying at the Circus Circus hotel guests will be immersed in a whirlwind of fun and colour befitting the illuminated city. The Circus Circus hotel has its own theme park, the Adventuredome, which offers five acres of family rides, roller-coasters and attractions to explore. The all-you-can-eat buffet will keep families going with a salad bar, carvery and sumptuous desserts and children under four eat for free with their parents. On hot days get outside and make a splash at the Splash Zone water-park. Along with a 50-foot water-slide there is an adventure park for little ones, two swimming pools and a whirlpool.
What: Five nights at Circus Circus Resort
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
When: 26-31 May
Find out more and book at MGM Mirage
4/9 Three nights at the Vienna House Magic Circus at Disneyland Paris
Situated just ten minutes from Disneyland Paris, this circus-themed hotel offers guests a swimming pool and views of the countryside to get their break off to a relaxing start. Each room is decorated in bright circus colours with star-scattered carpets, and there’s even a carousel in the lobby! The main restaurant offering international and local cuisine is decked out in a ‘Big Top’ style to continue the circus theme. Family rooms have bunk beds draped with ‘Big Top’ curtains, satellite televisions, free WiFi and a minibar with tea and coffee making facilities. A complimentary shuttle bus is available to take guests to Disneyland itself, and the concierge will happily purchase tickets to the theme parks for you at reception.
What: Three nights in a family room at the Vienna House Magic Circus at Disneyland Paris
Where: Paris, France
When: 26-29 May
Find out more and book at booking.com
5/9 Three nights in a circus suite at Gardaland hotel, Italy
Step into a hotel and theme park in one with a stay at Gardaland Hotel in Verona, Italy. Book a themed room and enjoy the magic of circus with a “lion’s cage” double bed, hula hoops and other circus equipment in your room to brighten up your stay. After a great night’s sleep head over to the hotel’s adventure parks and hop on the Space Vertigo roller-coaster, take on the Jungle Rapids and explore Kung-Fu Panda Academy. When you’ve had enough adrenaline for one day check out the on-site SEA LIFE aquarium, which is home to tropical fish, sea lions and even a guitar shark! For hungry tummies choose from sit-down meals or grab a burger from one of the fast-food joints around the parks.
What: Three nights in a circus suite (sleeps four) at the Gardaland hotel resort
Where: Verona, Italy
When: 26-29 May
Find out more and book at Gardaland
6/9 Three nights in the Circus Suite at Efteling Hotel and theme park
The perfect combination of circus theme with utter luxury, the Circus Suite at Efteling Hotel and theme park in Holland is a real treat for both adults and children alike. Mixing classic vintage decor with bright colours, the suite features an oversized sunken bath, rocking horse and Nespresso machine. Guests of the hotel receive unlimited entry to the theme park, which has everything from fairytale forests for little ones to death-defying loop-the-loop coasters. A generous buffet breakfast is also included with the suite.
What: Three nights including breakfast and theme park access in the Circus Suite at Efteling hotel and theme park
When: 8-11 August
Find out more and book at Efteling
(c) The Walt Disney Company
7/9 Five nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Celebrate the king of the circus with an animal-themed stay in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The spacious rooms are decorated with a rural African theme, featuring animal-print fabrics and fur-like textures. Kids will love the animal carvings on the walls, and will be enthralled as they get up close to majestic lions, giraffe and other savannah creatures. Families can even book extra special experiences such as dining with an animal specialist and their furry friends, or simply relax at the resort with a trip to the pool, Simba’s Clubhouse or roasting marshmallows over an evening campfire.
What: Five nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in a family room
Where: Orlando, Florida
When: 26-31 May
Find out more and book at Disneyworld
8/9 Four nights at Haven holiday park, Tenby, Wales
Perfect for an outdoorsy break, Kiln Park in south Wales has plenty to keep families busy. Children can practise their circus skills in the kids’ club, splash about in the fun pool with waterslide, or try their luck in the games arcade. Families can also enjoy the Blue Flag beach and nearby Lydstep beach that is ideal for watersports. The local area is rich in natural beauty, with mountains, valleys and coast waiting to be explored. Hop on a boat trip to spot seals and puffins, or simply relax in the park while the kids perfect their tightrope walk!
What: Four nights in a two-bedroom caravan
Where: Tenby, Wales
When: 28 May-1 June
Find out more and book at Haven
9/9 Seven nights in a “mini-Big Top”, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
These might not be Big Tops but these beautiful bell tents in one of Florida’s State Parks certainly aren’t clowning around when it comes to luxury camping. Featuring full-sized double beds and a heating and cooling system to keep things comfortable, this bell tent break is the perfect way to explore the undiscovered side of Florida. Why not hike one of the many countryside trails and enjoy the 1000 acres of nature that surrounds the campsite, or head down to the beach and watch the sun set.
What: Seven nights in a bell-tent with beds (sleeps up to five people)
Where: Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, Florida
When: 6-13 August