Big Apple Circus, UniverSoul Circus coming to Atlanta soon

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took its final bow last year, and fans said goodbye to the iconic circus around for 146 years.

But the final performance of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey did not mark an end of an era for circuses.

In fact, metro Atlanta will host two circuses — Big Apple Circus and UniverSoul Circus — during the coming days and weeks. Big Apple Circus, which opens Friday (Jan.26), will perform at Verizon Amphitheatre in Alpharetta. UniverSoul will perform at the old Turner Field Gold Parking Lot in Atlanta, and for the first time, UniverSoul will also perform at Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth in March.

(Maike Schulz)

So for those who love awe-inspiring stunts, cotton candy, clowns and all things circus, step right up.

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Here’s a look at the two circuses:

Big Apple Circus

The 40th anniversary season program features the famous seven-person pyramid on the high wire with Nik Wallenda and the Fabulous Wallendas and the daring quadruple somersault attempted on the trapeze by the Flying Tunizianis.

There will be acrobatics and daredevil grace on roller skates; award-winning contortionist Elayne Kramer; master juggler Gamal Garcia and ringmaster Ty McFarlan. You’ll also see circus trainer and presenter Jenny Vidbel, who performs in the ring with 16 horses and ponies, as well as six rescue dogs. It all takes place under the big top in Big Apple’s intimate single ring. Even the back row at Big Apple remains no more than 50 feet from the action.

One performer who will be noticeably absent is a fan favorite, a circus performer known as Grandma the Clown who reportedly resigned following accusations that he pressured a 16-year-old aerialist to pose for pornographic photos. The circus’s chairman, Neil Kahanovitz, told The New York Times on Tuesday that Barry Lubin, 65, offered his resignation on Friday, shortly after the woman came forward.

Big Apple Circus. Jan. 26-Feb. 25. $32-$73. Lot A at Verizon Amphitheatre, 1775 Founders Parkway, Alpharetta.

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UniverSoul Circus

Atlanta-based UniverSoul, a highly interactive combination of circus arts, theater and music, returns to the Turner Field Gold Parking Lot next month. This is a circus that prides itself on celebrating cultures from around the world and bringing them together under the big top.

Get ready for edge-of-your seat performances that showcase a multicultural/multinational cast — limbo dancers from Trinidad and Tobago, Olate dogs from Chile, and other performers representing virtually every corner of the globe, including South Africa, Mongolia, Chile, Cuba, Russia, Guinea and China.

A Caribbean dancer performs in UniverSoul Circus. CONTRIBUTED (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

UniverSoul Circus sets up its single-ring big top where it all began, in its hometown of Atlanta in the old Turner Field Gold Parking Lot, Feb. 7 -March 11. And for the first time, UniverSoul Circus expands its national tour schedule into Gwinnett County at Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth.

In a press release, UniverSoul Circus said for 2018, “In every way imaginable under the big top, this show will be bigger, louder, faster, funkier, with even more soul.”

In this file photo, Chain Reaction performs during the opening night of the UniverSoul Circus in Atlanta. JONATHAN PHILLIPS / SPECIAL (Jonathan Phillips)

“This has been an amazing journey and a fantastic ride,” said founder and CEO Cedric Walker, in a press release about UniverSoul’s 25th anniversary. “Generations have witnessed our growth and have evolved with us. We want our fans to know they will always be a part of the UniverSoul Circus family. Consider us a community-minded, family-oriented, spiritually uplifting entertainment revival for families across America.”

UniverSoul Circus. Feb. 7-March 11. $20-$40. Old Turner Field Gold Parking Lot, 755 Hank Aaron Drive SW, Atlanta; March 14-18 at Gwinnett Place Mall, 2100 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth. 1-800-745-3000,

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