Carnival Theme Birthday Party

circus banner for carnival theme party

For my daughter’s 10th birthday this year we decided to host a small carnival theme birthday party in the back garden. The Greatest Showman is one of our absolute favourite family films and was a good source of inspiration for the party. Our second source was Carters Steam Fair who we’ve had the pleasure of working with several times, and then of course Pinterest.


We started by coming up with a design for the party invitations. I drew them by hand (tracing over the first one to make sure they all looked the same). This was painstaking but we don’t have a printer. I also loved the handmade touch to them. They were completely personalised and matched the party theme perfectly. We made them in the shape of a circus show ticket with picture of a big top and all the party details.


We wanted to decorate the garden in a colourful carnival theme. We opted for lots of bunting all around the fence and trampoline. There were brightly coloured balloons and Happy Birthday banner balloons. I also managed to buy a big fabric circus banner from Facebook Marketplace. It looked awesome! You could also design some fab carnival artwork and signs using the templates available on the Carters Steam Fair website. They have free downloadable colouring in sheets too. Or if you really want to go the whole hog you could try out one of their sign-writing classes! Here’s the link to their website for more info:


Next we planned our carnival games. We already had quite a few of them in the shed and they can be reused any time when we’re playing in the garden. We opted for ‘hook-a-duck’, ring toss and skittles. The kids took it in turns to score points on the games and earn tickets. The tickets were like those you win on arcade machines. They were handmade by me and the kids. We also had hula hoops, diablos and swing ball to play with.

Face painting is really good fun and glitter tattoos too. Perhaps you could get some stilts or set up a tightrope? Juggling is another fun activity and plate spinning. There are so many things you can incorporate into this theme.

Once the kids had a couple of rounds on the games they used their tickets to ‘buy’ prizes from the prize booth. These were put in a coloured paper bag and taken home as their party bag. They absolutely loved choosing their prizes, it was a big hit!


For food I did a party finger food buffet. The kids designed carnival themed paper cups with each child’s name on it. We had red napkins and gold plates to match the carnival theme. Our sweet treats included popcorn, marshmallow strong man barbells and of course candy floss!

Birthday Cake

The birthday cake was an amazing circus big top with the Greatest Showman silhouette in the doorway. It was absolutely brilliant! We used sparklers as well as candles to really finish it off. The cake was made by Custom Cakes Didcot (aka Nanny!).

The Verdict

The party was probably the most relaxed and enjoyable party we’ve ever had. I was worried the kids might feel the games were a bit babyish but they had an absolute blast. My daughter said it was her favourite party ever. That’s good enough for me! Her second favourite was the Lego theme party I did a few years ago. You can find out more about that one here:

Disclaimer: Carters Steam Fair gave us the letter templates free of charge in return for including them in this post. All words, opinions and photos are that of my own.

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