Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Circus Arts

From sideshow secrets to incredible stunts, learn about the magic behind circus arts.

Dear Tony Robbins, THIS Is How You Walk on Hot Coals

Looking to turn your fear into power and walk across hot coals? The BrainStuff crew fills you in on the fiery science behind the feat.

Ringling Bros. Retiring Elephants Early. PETA Still Not Smiling

All 11 of the circus's touring elephants are headed for a Florida retirement in May.

10 Worst Circus Disasters

The circus can provide great fun and entertainment, but occasionally serious tragedies occur under the big top. These disasters were nothing short of catastrophic.

10 Facts About Circus Animals

Circuses are largely about the awesome animals, but have you ever thought deeper about their history within the industry?

10 Circus Safety Strategies the Audience Doesn't See

Circus acts may seem effortless, but that's because lot goes on behind the scenes to ensure the performers' safety. These precautions help make the circus as magical and wondrous as ever.

10 Offbeat Circuses

The idea of a "traditional" circus may seem weird, but over the years we've certainly seen innovation within the industry. Not all circuses rely on clowns and elephants to keep their offbeat audiences intrigued.

10 Circus Acts That Have Withstood the Test of Time

The circus is an institution steeped in a tradition of stunning feats and amazing animals. While some circus acts have fallen by the wayside, these are in the ring for the long haul.

5 Famous Sideshow Entertainers

Some sideshow performers were such a hit that they became regular celebrities. These five entertainers used their conditions to their advantage and reached sideshow superstardom.

10 Medical Conditions Once Found in Sideshows

In the sideshows of yore, people with rare medical conditions took to the stage to display their bodies to ogling spectators. Their disabilities were touted as amazing "oddities," but what's the real science behind the show?

10 Bizarre Circus Sideshows

We're a lot more respectful of disabilities and medical conditions nowadays, but once upon a time they were much more widely exploited for entertainment and profit. Check out these 10 bizarre circus sideshows!