Heralded as “The Greatest Show on Earth”—they even copyrighted that—the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has had quite an impact on Florida. Aside from delighting children and adults of all ages for more than a century, traveling from town to town, circus in tow; John Ringling, founder of the famed circus, essentially put Sarasota on the map with his grand and opulent Ca’ d’Zan Mansion. Now the mansion has turned museum, along with the acreage around it, turning the estate into a memorial of all things Ringling, including an art museum and a pretty spectacular circus museum that is at once history lesson and entertaining timeline. Now the Ringling gang is gearing up for a holiday ho-down in our own backyard with the Super Circus Holiday spectacular at the Palm Beach County Convention Center from December 25-29.
The exclusive one-week show is bringing those famed three-rings to West Palm Beach, with the stands so close to the action you’ll be able to smell the animal performers. The Super Circus Holiday features six distinct acts, each brandishing their own distinct and unique flair with a “super hero” theme. The spectacular holiday show, complete with feats of athleticism, high-flying acrobatic acts, sidesplitting clown acts and animals from all points of the globe, will be led by Ringmaster David Shipman, a Florida native with a penchant for the grand and over-the-top, keeping the momentum building as the circus play out.
What circus is complete without a clown? The Ringling Bros. built an empire with clowns as their entertaining foot soldiers, so the holiday spectacular enlisted some of the circus’ best, Ivan Vargas and Andrew Hicks. The son of husband/wife trapeze troupe The Flying Vargas and sixth generation circus performer, Vargas made the jump to the comedic role, donning the bright red wig of a clown. With an acrobatic background, Vargas brings a physical brand of humor to the comedic stage. Andrew Hicks is a first generation performer, but is a born entertainer. Starting as a class clown, Hicks graduated to the three rings in 2010, donning the purple quaff and face paint for his slapstick role. Together, Vargas and Hicks lead Clown Alley, entertain at pre-show events and interject comic relief in-between the main acts. But beware, unsuspecting audience members can and will be pulled into the act.
The Brett and Cathy Carden (above) act is not complete without a menagerie of highly trained quadrupeds, each bringing awe-inspiring talent to the ring. Both Brett and Cathy come from multi-generation circus families, so the act, you can say, is in their blood. With three Asian elephants, two camels, two Arabian horses, two Shetland ponies and one miniature horse, not to mention an adorable troupe of pups, the Carden’s merge showmanship with animal training for an unforgettable act.
For fans of Kung Fu and martial arts, the Shaolin Troupe is a must watch. Practiced in the ancient form of qigong, this troupe is a study in super-human strength, agility and ability. During the show, the seven Shaolin members of the troupe smash wooden planks and metal poles, balance on spinning tridents and utilize special Kung Fu animal disciplines to amaze the audience.
The Lopez Troupe (above) takes daring-do to new heights as they defy physics on a pencil-thin tightrope. Armed with superb balance and a handful of pedaled cycles, the Lopez’s take to the rope like bird to air, evoking gasps as they flit across the suspended wire. Not for the faint of heart, tightrope walking is a tension packed act that will have you straining your neck.
From the shores of Cuba comes a high-flying acrobatic act that is sure to amaze. Troupe Alegria consists of two women and six men who expertly execute midair stunts with fluidity and ease—a testament to their highly attuned teamwork. Acts like the Teeterboard—the mother of all teeter-totters, where one daring acrobat is catapulted in the air only to somersault to a seamless landing on pads or a human pyramid—and the Russian Barre—a cross between a balance beam and a trampoline, where flying gymnasts are rocketed into the air for some airborne aerobatic routines—will have the audience riveted.
Arrive an hour early to meet performers, try on costumes and see the animals up close at our special Holiday Pre-show Party – exclusive to ticket holders and hosted by funnyman, clown Dean Kelley!
- Dates and Showtimes: Dec. 25 – 3 & 7 p.m.; Dec. 26 – 1:30 & 7 p.m.; Dec. 27 – 1:30 & 7 p.m.; Dec. 28 – 11 a.m., 1:30 & 7 p.m.; Dec. 29 – 11 a.m., 3 & 7p.m.
- Tickets start at $15 ($50 for VIP floor seats); purchase at TicketMaster.com and Ringling.com, or call 800-745-3000.