Planning a carnival or circus party for your next birthday celebration, school event, or church festival? It’s one of our favorite party themes to plan! We’ve rounded up 26 of our favorite carnival and circus themed games to make party planning a cinch. Check out our awesome printables and party game ideas below. They can be used for either a circus themed party or carnival themed party.
You can download the list of games and instructions, plus all the circus / carnival party signs here.
We love DIY carnival games and have tons of printables to make a lot of these games easy and cheap as possible to make. We’ve used these games over and over at school carnival fundraisers, church carnivals or fall festivals, and for birthday parties. They are great for kids of all ages. Even the adults can join in on the fun.
Bean bag toss is one of those classic carnival games. Grab some cardboard boxes, wrap them in wrapping paper, and add a fun print to the front. Make your own or grab our bean bag toss printable + sign for an easy peasy game the kids will love!
Another easy DIY carnival game everyone will love. Simply wrap a big cardboard box in wrapping paper and then cut holes at the bottom to golf in. Or add a fun circus print / carnival print to the front. We’ve made a printable miniature golf game and sign to take it up a knotch.
Everyone loves winning a jar of candy or fun little prizes! Fill a bunch of jars with candy, snacks, and/or small prizes and let everyone guess how many are in each jar. Closest guess wins. Find all the guessing jar game printables in our shop.
We’re all about easy games that take minimal time to make and set up. Grab empty cans, wrap them with our can toss game printables, and let the kids have a great time knocking them down.
The most popular game at every party! Have kids compete to see who can win the most points or tickets playing the water bottle flip game. We have the cutest carnival themed and circus themed water bottle flip game if you wanted to make it more festive. Instructions for playing are included in the printables.
Our personal favorite game is a good ‘ol scavenger hunt. Print all the characters and hide them throughout your carnival or circus. Give kids a checklist and let them go at their own pace to find all the characters. Kids win a prize or tickets when they find them all. Easiest game to set up and takes little to no supervision to play. Great for all ages.
Who doesn’t love cake?!? We normally hand out cupcakes and call it a cupcake walk, but the kids could win non-candy prizes too. Grab our cake walk and cupcake walk printables (that includes instructions on how to play the cake walk game) or make your own.
Paint a big cardboard box with a fun fish or ocean scene and let the kids fish for prizes and candy. We’ve got a bundle of carnival and circus party game signs to match all our favorite game suggestions.
Grab another cardboard box and make your own DIY prize wheel or pick one up online. Let kids spin the wheel to win prizes (we always like to have a lot of non-candy prizes), candy, tickets, or even make them do silly tasks. Find the prize wheel sign here.
You can’t go wrong with a face painting station. Our favorite face paint is the Wolfe face paint. It goes on really smooth and dries quickly so there’s not much smudging or smearing. And a little goes a long ways. You won’t ever go back to crappy face paint from Walmart after using the Wolfe face paint. We have sensitive skin and the Wolfe paint doesn’t make us break out.
Prep your face painting station beforehand by drawing a few designs on a poster that kids can choose from. Narrowing it down to a few designs makes the line go faster and helps the face painter since they only paint what they know they can actually draw!
This is another simple and fun carnival station. Purchase some temporary tattoos and let party guests get tatted up! We love these circus tattoos, but for a larger pack check out these 288 circus carnival tattoos.
Fill a kiddie pool with sand and hide plastic eggs the kids have to dig for. We don’t put the prizes and candy in the pool because we don’t want them to get dirty. Instead put slips of paper in the “dino eggs” letting kids know what they won.
No set-up required. For a school carnival, use the basketball hoops inside the school gym or the hoops outside at the playground. At our church carnival celebration we used the hoops in the gym.
Blow up balloons and have the kids throw darts at them.
Set up a soda pop toss game with 2 liter soda pops and rings. Super easy and another classic carnival game or circus game. Grab our bundle of signs to label your game booths.
This Melissa and Doug bowling set is super cute, great for kids of all ages, and well made. It’s better than the cheap plastic ones at Walmart. You could also easily make your own with empty 2 liter soda bottles and a bouncy ball.
Fill cups with water and add toy fish. Let the kids toss ping pong balls into the cups to win their own fish!
Pie in the Face was a hit at our school carnival! The school kids loved throwing “pie” in the principal’s face. Instead of real pie (which can get quite expensive), we used cans of whip cream. Add some to a paper plate to mimic a “pie” and let kids stand back and try to throw it in the unlucky victim’s face. We let the kids nominate who gets a pie in the face.
Our kids are obsessed with Legos, so of course we had to do a Lego Races booth! Set out a bin of Legos and let the kids build their own vehicles to race against each other. For smaller kids, use Duplo building bricks. Make sure to include a bunch of wheels and car bases so the kids can easily build their vehicles. Turn a folding table into an easy racetrack for your Lego races by only putting half the table up. Find the Lego Race sign and game instructions printable here.
Looking for another cheap carnival game? Grab clothespins and a jar for kids to see how many they can drop into the jar.
Go fishing for rubber duckies in the duck pond to win a prize. You could play a matching game or let kids try to find the duck with the star on the bottom to get a prize.
Let the kids pick a pop (lollipop) to see if they get an extra prize. Put dots on the bottom of a few lollipops and let the kids try to win a prize along with their lollipop.
Toss balls into cups or bowls.
Everyone loves taking silly pictures, so set up a photobooth for party guests to strike a pose! Add some props like clown noses, hats, scarves, glasses, etc for the perfect carnival and circus party themed photo booth. We have a fun circus / carnival tent printable you could easily use as a simple photo booth backdrop.
Set out paper, coloring pages, crayons, markers, and other coloring supplies for a fun art station. It’s nice to have a spot the kids can sit down and create while the parents relax. Add a bunch of pom poms, popsicle sticks, buttons, googly eyes, glue, tape, and more so the kids can let their creative juices flow. We did this at our school carnival and all the kids loved it!
If you need ideas for prizes and fun favors to give guests and students, check out our list of carnival prize ideas (post coming soon!). We’ve got ideas on how to put together a circus or carnival prize station and lots of printables. Download our printable signs, tags, labels, and more to help you set up a fun prize station where the kids can redeem all those tickets.
Check out our other carnival blog post for a round-up of all our favorite carnival and circus party decorations, invitations, food, and more. They’re great for your next school carnival, church carnival, fall festival, circus birthday party, or kids carnival celebration.
Happy party planning friends!!
Stacey + Niki