Circus World Museum Opens May 17th, 2019

Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wis., begins its summer season May 17, 2019 celebrating its 60th anniversary with daily Big Top performancesseven days a week through Sept. 1, featuring circus stars from around the world, under the 85-foot diameter European-style tent from the Royal Hanneford Circus.

“A tent is a preeminent way to experience and interpret the American circus, says the Museum’s executive director, Scott O’Donnell. A tented circus reaches into your soul and adds to the wonder and emotions of the circus performance”, he added.

The big tent allows close-up, amazing aerialist acts, each seat is 30 feet or closer to show ring. The hour-long Big Top performance, with a new 1960s All You Need Is Love theme this year, also includes: acrobats, jugglers, clowns and the talented, enormous yet tender-touching elephants, with live-band accompaniment.

The Museum is open daily May 17–Sept. 1, 2019, 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., with four live shows:

  • Tiger Adventures featuring majestic, royal Bengal tigers at 9:40 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.
  • Big Top shows at 11:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (beginning June 28 at 11:00 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.)
  • Shake, Rattle & Toot circus-music demonstrations at 12:30 p.m.
  • Nothing But Nonsense comedic variety show in the Hippodrome at 1:00 p.m.

The schedule changes June 28, 2019; check the Web site for new show times

This engaging history museum has the world’s largest collection of authentic circus wagons, more than 200 wagons and vehicles small to large, in varying condition and stages of restoration, with individual stories of moving circuses from town to town by horsepower and then by rail. Meander the Wagon Pavilion yourself and see the adjacent restoration workshop, or take a guided tour daily at 1:30 p.m. to see these rolling masterpieces of wood-carved art.

The Museum grounds are the original Ringling Brothers Circus’ winter quarters along the Baraboo River and one of Wisconsin Historical Society’s 10 historic sites, and a National Historic Landmark.

 Also enjoy

  1. Collections of advertising posters and circus memorabilia
  2. The original Ringling Bros. Circus buildings
  3. Fascinating new exhibits
  4. Two gift shops

Plan Your Visit

The Inn at Wawanissee Point bed and breakfast is 10 minutes south of Circus World Museum.

Plan on spending at least a half day, but a full day to see it all. The Cookhouse Grill has sandwiches, cotton candy, ice cream and other circus treats. Get your hand stamped to leave the grounds for a picnic along the Baraboo River or lunch at one of the many cafes four blocks away in the Downtown Baraboo Historic District. Parking is free with a convenient drop-off area.

  • See the daily schedule and learn more about Circus World at
  • Circus World is open during rain because many activities are in buildings or under tents.

Book a guest room HERE for a May getaway or call us at 608-355-9899.

Other Museums Around Circus City Open May 17, 2019

H. H. Bennett Studio in downtown Wisconsin Dells, 30 minutes north of the Inn, is open for its daily season May–Oct., 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., with extended hours after Memorial Day. Tour this inventive photojournalist’s restored 1908 studio and adjacent museum to see his original work, equipment and inventions. Historic site details at

Aldo Leopold Center nine miles northeast of Baraboo on Rustic Road 49, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Monday–Friday, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m Saturday. An educational and interpretive facility near the Leopold Shack with interpretive, photography and art exhibits. Year-round self-guided tours of the Center and the Shack, a National Historic Landmark, one of 58 in Sauk County. Guided Shack tours Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend. A 2.5-mile interpretive trail network through 305 acres oak savanna, wetlands and a dry prairie remnant overlooking the River, critical habitat for grassland birds and sandhill crane staging during migration, is open for hiking and snowshoeing year-round during visitation hours. Plan your visit at

The Mid-Continent Railway Museum, an outdoor living-history museum in North Freedom, 10 minutes west of Baraboo, is open for weekend rides May 11 until June 2, then daily beginning June 8. Plan your visit at

Fort Winnebago Surgeons Quarters Historic Site opens for the season May 16 and celebrates 201 years in 2019, Portage, 25 minutes from the Inn, Wednesday–Sunday, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Visit

Historic Indian Agency House At Fort Winnebago opens for the season May 15 and celebrates its 86TH anniversary, Portage, 25 minutes from the Inn, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., on 225 acres with a nature trail and at the trailhead of the Ice Age Trail’s Portage segment. Details at

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