Posted by: viewfromtheriva | August 17, 2014

Circus Safari, sans wildlife, pitches its tent in Split!

Entrance to the big top

Entrance to the big top


August 29 update:  This year the prices are as low as 50 kuna!  The big feature on their posters this year is the Dome of Death–the motorcycles roaring inside the metal dome than ends the show.  If you have never experienced a true European traveling circus, it is definitely worth going–just dont expect lions, tigers or elephants!

In Europe it’s common to see traveling circuses set up their outdoor tents in open spaces in cities and towns.  In the states, there are still some traveling circuses around but for lions and tigers and elephants, the king of circuses is the famous Barnum and Bailey’s.  They used to travel and pitch their tents, but now B and B mostly performs inside huge arenas.  So when we saw Circus Safari posters pop up all over town, we couldn’t wait.

one of the billboards next to the big top

one of the billboards in the parking lot

From Austria, Circus Safari will be here until the end of the month, in a parking lot near the Marjan Tunnel on the way to Hajduk Stadium.  A one-tent circus, the posters all over town have classic images of a painted clown and a tiger. And one of the lead tractor trailers even has an amazing airbrush tiger on the cab.

fabulous airbrush work on the cab of one of the circus trailers

fabulous airbrush work on the cab of one of the circus trailers

Alas, the “safari” in this circus was made up of a goat, two geese, a pair of cows, a dog and horses!  Although incredibly well-trained, to me a circus without a lion or a tiger or even an elephant just isn’t the same.

Trained cows?  Circus Safari has them!

Trained cows? Circus Safari has them!

The horses were the real stars– gorgeously galloping in a very small ring doing some wonderful stunts.


The stars of the show were a couple who did some astonishing ballet-like acrobatics, maintaining stunning positions as each was lifted under, above, below their partner–a tour de force of strength, balance and beauty!

ballletic acrobats

The other standout was a terrific acrobat who thrilled the crowd from her perch at the top of the tent zooming back and forth, twirling through the air with “the greatest of ease!”

Popcorn, cotton candy!

Popcorn, cotton candy!

The only real disappointment in the show were the clowns.  Barely made up, with an astonishingly boring routine that went on for 15 minutes, we couldn’t wait for intermission to get some fresh air and of course some cotton candy.

After the intermission, in their second showing, the clowns redeemed themselves a bit by coercing four men from the audience to form a table with their bodies that get genuine laughs and a round of applause.

three motorcycles all driving inside a metal dome--the final "act" was four of them!

three motorcycles all driving inside a metal dome–the final “act” was four of them!

The final act was a giant metal dome brought into the ring on tracks.  A motorcycle entered and did some cool 360’s.  Then a second, a third, and finally a fourth cycle came inside and all roared around under, above, over each other without a scratch!

A jazzy ending to the circus, but personally, I wished for more human “acts” like tightrope walkers and other aerial work, rather than roaring cycles.

Tickets on weekdays are half price, 70-80 kunas each (about $13).  Weekends they are double.  The tent holds about 400 people, four or five rows of seating mostly on chairs.  Good sight lines anywhere you sit.  Surely worth it because of its uniqueness, but I expected something far more “safari” like–too spoiled as a kid watching Barnum and Bailey at Madison Sq. Garden in NYC and then living in Moscow, watching the stupendous Moscow circus!




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