The Mclaren circus story

It all started on 24 March 2005 in a hired tent that could seat 150 people at the blue route mall in Tokai, Cape Town. At the young age of only 21 David McLaren followed his passion and childhood dream and started the McLaren Circus.

McLaren Circus was built upon the nostalgic memories of a childhood dream to someday reintroduce the magic culture and variety of a traditional big-top travelling circus through shows that are staged in the same wholesome family spirit that enchanted audiences for centuries.

A delightful band of artists trained by a circus school in Cape Town assisted David with the first shows in 2005. David was the ringmaster and his older brother Duncan performed clowning sketches. The circus was funded entirely by David McLaren. During this first year, shows were held during school holidays.

At the end of 2005, nine months after the launch, it was decided that the show would be rolled out to the country side. In 2006 David invested in a larger 22m x 28m red and yellow marquee, manufactured in Cape Town. David set off down the garden route with two caravans, a trailer, a bakkie, his animals and artists.

The now famous red and yellow marquee could be seen trekking all over the country, mainly to small towns and villages with one day stands. The last show before returning to Cape Town for the holiday season was in Paarl at the end of 2006.

After careful consideration it was decided that the McLaren Circus would tour the Western and Eastern Cape provinces. An 8-ton truck, two camels, four ponies, and two lion cubs were acquired for the tour. It was an investment well worth it because this tour proved to be a great success.

Once back in Cape Town, 2009 was an historical year for the McLaren Circus. It had now become necessary to invest in a bigger tent, and the beloved red and yellow marquee made way for a bigger white and red four-pole big top. The circus acquired more trucks and started touring the whole of Southern Africa.

As 2010 rolled in, the circus continued to tour South Africa, playing all towns it came across, no town was ever too big or two small. The circus grew bigger and better and as more trucks, a ticket office and more animals was acquired. David was indeed living his childhood dream.

But with all the magic, love and laughter came tears in 2011. In the early hours of a Sunday morning in Witbank a freak storm hit the circus and caused a blow down. David stood helpless at his caravan as the freak storm blew down his circus tent causing mayor damage to the tent, king poles, equipment and seating inside the tent. The storm was over within a few minutes but left the circus in devastation. As the news spread through the circus world, David received calls from other circuses offering help and assistance. The McLaren Circus staff was amazing and all got up in the early hours of that morning to assist David.

But the show had to go on and the tent, seating, equipment and king poles were all repaired within 3 days. The show was back up and it was business as always for the McLaren Circus.

2012 became another historical year for the mclaren circus. A new 4-pole big top was purchased, a state of the art 12m canteen joined the colourful fleet. The new 4-pole big top can also be transformed into a 6-pole tent playing bigger venues and cities.

David mclaren is now 35 years old and is still driven by his passion and love for circus to keep the magic and wonder circus alive on the continent.
Mclaren circus is unique and one of a kind now being the only traditional travel circus left in southern africa that still tours all nine provinces on an annual or bi-annual basis

The circus, now a household name, still tours southern africa like in the beginning, on their own steam without any sponsorship or funding. Its you, the public and south african circus fans that keep the mclaren circus going and help us provide smiles to thousands of children of all ages every day by bringing entertainment to their doorsteps.

The mclaren circus management and staff would like to thank you all for buying circus tickets over the years and thus supporting the mclaren circus to become africa’s biggest and best circus.