As lazy summer days begin to make way for school supply runs, it’s high time to check off every item on your summer bucket list. Take a whirl on Navy Pier’s Ferris wheel (those views though!), hit up the museums you’ve missed, spend a summer night at Brookfield Zoo and run away to join the circus. Wait . . . What?! Midnight Circus in the Parks will be kicking off its summer tour in parks across the city at the end of August. Read on to hear how this community circus is doing big things to give back to the crowds their entertaining.

Midnight Circus in the Park 3

Big Top Pop Up in Your Local Park
“Midnight Circus takes place in an intimate one-of-a-kind little big top that sets up right in the very heart of each Chicago neighborhood we play . . . the local park!” shares co-founder Jeff Jenkins. “The cast is a wildly eclectic and award-winning group of artists that put together a show that is so jam packed, exciting and unique that it is the only American Circus to ever to play the world renown Montreal Circus Festival.” Indeed this circus offers a little bit of everything, from trapeze thrills to tightrope high jinx. The troupe includes ultra-talented acrobats, aerialists, eccentrics and one super smart (and sweet!) rescued dog.

Midnight Circus in the Park 2

Circus Fun at Your Feet
Midnight Circus pops its “Little Big Top” tent up in each and every park the day before the show. Under the colorful big top, bleachers seat about 500 people, and there’s no such thing as a bad seat. Little ones are welcome to sit in the grass at the foot of the bleachers so bring a blanket and be ready to have the show at your feet.

Midnight Circus in the Park 4

Building Community . . . One Circus at a Time
Attracting over 15,000 people every year to local parks across Chicago, from the far South Side to the north,  the circus has raised over $850,000 total for local Chicago parks over the last 10 years. “From day one the idea was to bring families and communities together for a world-class circus experience right in their local park and raise money to rebuild the playground,” explains co-founder Jeff Jenkins. As parents, artists, community activists and life-long Chicagoans, the Jenkins duo believes that public parks and public schools are the foundation upon which a great city is built. That in short, is why they do what they do.”

Midnight Circus in the Park

A Family Circus
Jenkins and his wife, Julie founded the circus in 1995 after a working trip to Europe, where they fell in love with the small circuses that performed in parks and piazzas of France and Italy. They wanted to create an intimate show that would bring families and communities of Chicago together for an evening of fun. Their two kids, Max an Samantha, have literally grown up onstage, alongside their parents, and it’s a joy to see this family working, and laughing, together during each and every show.

Run Away with the Midnight Circus
For its 2017 run, the Midnight Circus will again tour eight Chicago parks from August through October. Each show lasts 90 minutes, with refreshments and snacks available just outside the big top. Tickets are already on sale through midnightcircus.net and are $5 to $20, free for ages 2 & under. Discounts are available for groups of 20 or more.

2017 Schedule:
Gately Park – August 26 & 27
Hamilton Park – September 2 & 3
McKinley Park – September 9 & 10
Wicker Park – September 15, 16 & 17
Lake Shore Park – September 23 & 24
Kosciuszko Park – September 30 & October 1
Oriole Park – October 7 & 8
Welles Park –  October 13, 14 & 15

For more information on the Midnight Circus, visit the midnightcircus.net.

Have you experienced Midnight Circus in the Parks? Tell us about it in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers & Amy Bizzarri