Cathedrals, monuments, and the Russian unique art, history, and culture… I have shared an itinerary covering some of the best places in Moscow, with one thing on the list. One thing, that you have to see while you are in Russia, is to catch a circus show. The Moscow State Circus is famous in the world and it has been running for a long time.
Moscow State Circus shows are phenomenal. Most commonly, “Moscow State Circus” refers to one of the two circus buildings in Moscow, the “Circus Nikulin” and the “Bolshoi Circus”.
The Bolshoi Circus is the “new circus” featuring trapeze and acrobatics, yet it doesn’t mean their show feature no animals, as the theme of their shows changes periodically. Therefore, it’s a mix of both and you can check on their schedules before you visit if you have an issue with animal rights.
The show takes place at the Bolshoi Circus’s auditorium – it is a giant circular building located at the Vernadsky Prospekt, near Moscow University. The site was in operation since 1971, and the performance amphitheater has a capacity of 3,400 audiences. Performances are held each day in the afternoon and evening. The present company employs several hundred performers and tours as the “Great Moscow State Circus“. It is easy to get to by subway and make it a half-day adventure to have a walk in the nearby market and the campus of the university before hitting the show.
It took about 15 minutes to get there from the city center, and we arrived at the Universitet Station by metro a little bit earlier to explore the area. There wasn’t much to see, as the neighborhood was rather residential, except a local market was opened at the exit of the metro station (guessed it was a Sunday); I always enjoy walking around in a local market, as it gives me a hint about the way people live in different places. I would know what food they eat, and find some good stuff at a much lower price~
How to buy tickets
I tried to pre-purchase tickets online (as usual) before taking off to Russia, and the process is not as smooth as I thought. It was not because the website was only available in Russian (which was rather easy to navigate once I used Google translate), but despite the site offering a few payment and verification methods, I found out that a local phone number was required for the purchase, after a few attempts to get my ordered confirmed. Luckily, I texted the owner of my rental apartment in Moscow, and he was nice enough to give me his number so I could get a PIN code to confirm my purchase. So what happens if you do not have a local number? There are ways to buy tickets while you are in the city.
The Circus usually hosts two shows a day and I found it easier to go there in the daytime. Once I got my tickets confirmed, I had to pick up my tickets at one of the ticketing offices in the city (If you have an address, the tickets could be delivered to you at an extra cost). But I found that the “ticketing booths” are located in many convenient places and some of them are in the underground malls connected to the metro station. They are open from 10:30 am to 7:30 pm, I had no problems picking up mine before lunch.😊
As I mentioned, we spent some time in the neighborhood before going to the show, we took some pictures of the historic buildings at Moscow University and we headed to the Circus a little bit early (and get warmed up a little bit, it was still cold in April). Like any other theater, or auditorium, the Great Circus has some machine games and food stalls to keep the audience entertained before the show.
We visited on a day that was not busy and I reckon it was about 60-70% full. At that moment I wondered if it was necessary for me to go through all the drama to pre-purchase the tickets as I thought the tickets were going to sell out fast. Having said that, there’s a chance they are actually sold out during the high season. So it’s up to you to make the decision of whether or not to buy the tickets before your trip. I would say if it’s not bothering you too much, get the tickets first as you can secure some good seats. Once we had a walk around the face-painting, snack, and souvenir booths, we sat down comfortably and got ready for the show!
The Great Circus Show
The show was spectacular… Typical acrobats, gymnastics, jugglers, trapeze, adorable animals… and all the performances were tied in with a theme about traveling. My show features the main character, a funny tourist visiting Moscow, and he had a lot of extraordinary encounters and so he posted photos on Instagram to collect “likes” and views in every place: from sexy traffic police to flexible bellboys at the hotel, juggling waiters in restaurants, gymnastic soldiers at the Red Square, sheep keepers to puppy trainers in the garden.
I found it really entertaining. The visual was bedazzling and I understood the concept even though I don’t speak the language; the entire show was nicely designed around a theme so it wouldn’t be “just a typical” acrobatic variety show, and I appreciate the circus constantly updating the themes so the show would always be surprising and current.
I was glad that the Circus successfully continued the legacy and I was a part of it as an audience. So, here are some of the performances I captured, but they are way bigger and more impressive live.