When in Rome and all that. So I finally made it to Moscow, 6000km, endless nights in trains, a huge detour through Kazakhstan but at last I’m here. I’ve dreamt about visiting Moscow for over a decade, I wanted a photo in front of St Basil’s Cathedral (check), wanted to see inside the Kremlin (check) and I wanted to go to the Russian circus (check, check, check).
At this juncture I probably should add that generally circuses aren’t usually my thing, I’m an animal lover and I worry about their welfare however with the reputation that the Moscow circus has, I hoped it would be different. So off I went.
I managed to score tickets for the 7pm show of the Nikulin circus at Tsvetnoy Bulvar Metro station. The circus was founded in 1880 so I was expecting big things. I went to the venue in the morning and paid 600 rubles ($13) for pretty good seats. The evening came and I went with 3 other friends, when we entered the venue it was everything I hoped and more.
Cotton candy, popcorn, ice-cream, coconut shys, photos with tigers and leopards – the place was going mental! My last and only circus experience had been in my small town in Ireland and I’d have been lucky if I could buy a mars bar and a can of coke, but this place is the real McCoy.
The event kicked off with a clown running amok, riling the crowd before the real performers began. Death defying trapeze artists were spinning around the venue, scores of women dancing, the live orchestra playing throughout. When they released the bears the crowd was at frenzy level, and when the bear walked (on 2 feet) to the car and began driving it around the centre of the circus, you couldn’t hear yourself think. Kids were screaming, adults applauding – it felt like something from the 1940s.
They had poodles lining up and jumping over one another, magicians pulling rabbits out of hats, the lion tamer putting his head inside the lion’s mouth, monkeys walking tight ropes – it was all happening. Whilst I still maintain a certain degree of concern for animal welfare, if you’re ever gonna visit the circus then this is the place to do it.
I lost count of the number of times I caught myself yelling “wow”, “holy sh*t”, “bl*ody hell”. It was one of the most amazing evenings of my travels, and it was a showcase of everything a circus should be. These performers were born to perform, the acrobats born to summersault, the clowns born to entertain, the dancers born to dance. There were probably over 100 active members in their troupe and they all earned their crust, the performance lasted almost 3 hours and I can safely say it genuinely was another item ticked off my bucket list. I hope you guys get to see it soon too.
Where is the Moscow Circus?
There are two longstanding circuses, but the best one is at Tsvetnoy Bulvar metro station, take a right out the exit and walk 75m.
How to get tickets for the Moscow Circus
Turn up to the venue at Tsvetnoy Bulvar on the day of the performance, and get your tickets from the box office. During the week there’s usually tickets available but on weekends you should book a day in advance
How much are tickets to the Moscow Circus?
The tickets range from 400 Rubles ($8) to 2500 Rubles ($85) depending on where you want to sit.