Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus Today

The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus has long been a source of much fun and excitement for children all over the nation. The circus, dating back to the 19th century and the combined efforts of PT Barnum and the seven Ringling Brothers, is today an American institution, looked forward to by children and adults alike.

The Touring Format

Circus clowns pictures

The circus itself follows a decades old format, sending out each year two troupes, the Red Tour and the Blue Tour. Each tour puts on a full three ring circus with a train of materials, animals, and circus performers that stretches more than a mile long. Performing in major US cities, the 2 tours go to alternating cities each year. The circus performs 11 months of the year, taking the month of December off.

The tours themselves each present a different edition of the show, alternating each year according to a numbering scheme that dates back to the first edition of the circus. Blue tour is represented by even numbers (the 136th edition in 2007,) while Red tour is represented by odd numbers (the 137th edition in 2007.)

Each tour of Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus will generally stop for four days in each city, with required travel time in between shows. The schedule itself often involves random travels across the country. This year’s tour has the Red tour in the western half of the nation for much of the year and the Blue tour in the eastern half.

The Shows

The shows themselves have long been dictated by circus tradition and popular acts. However, in the 136th and 137th editions, the Red and Blue tours changed their formats. For example, the new Blue tour last year did away with the long held traditions that have not been changed since the circus moved from outdoor tents to indoor arenas in the 1950s.

The 136th edition of the Blue tour, instead of the trapeze artists, tight rope walking and tiger taming of old who performed in one of the three rings, switched its format to include a single oval in the middle of the arena.

Circus One Ring


The show now revolves around a story of sorts, involving the inclusion of the “typical American family” as circus actors. They are drawn into the ring at the beginning of the show and trained in the ways of the circus. By the end of the show, they are trapeze artists, ringmasters, and foot jugglers.

Involving the crowd directly, the new blue tour format has changed the way families go to the circus, even if it is actors pulled from the crowd. Likewise, the red tour is in the aftermath of its own overhaul, offering a brand new format to its attendees this year.

Both shows have taken on specific titles as well, similar in a way that Cirque de Soleil has done. The Red tour’s name in the 137th Edition is Bellobration, in honor of its high flying star, Bello. The Blue tour is named for the inclusion of its stars from the audience, The Circus of Dreams.

Clowns juggling in the Circus

Getting To the Circus

Finding a show in your area to take your family to is as easy as ever and enjoying the circus is even easier with brand new formats and exciting new acts. You may have visited the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus twenty times since your childhood, but the new format offers you the chance to not only visit and dive in anew, seeing the same acts in a different light for the first time, but to get involved, on an emotional and entertaining level.

The schedule of where the circus will be playing is constantly being updated. To see where they are headed, see the official Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus schedule page… http://www.ringling.com/Schedule/index.aspx. They say they play within 90 miles of every major city in the United States. Even some limited engagements in Mexico and Canada.

If nothing else, you know that the circus is one of those American traditions of family entertainment that your children will never forget and you will never regret. Whether it’s the Blue tour or Red tour you attend, you can almost assure this year’s edition of the circus will have you enthralled.

For more on the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, visit this page of our trip to the 2006 show!



Circus Elephants


Click to visit our page on the History of the Circus from Roman Times up to P T Barnum.

Click to visit our page on Circus History including the start of P T Barnum, the Ringling Brothers, James Bailey, and more.

And click here to go to our Circus starting page with links to all our Circus pages.



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