April 7-11, 2021

Cole Bros. Circus Not Touring in 2016

The North Carolina Azalea Festival received word this week that one of the long-standing traditions of the Azalea Festival, the Cole Bros. Circus, will not be on tour this year.  Thousands of Wilmingtonians and visitors alike enjoyed time with their children and families at the Cole Bros. Circus during the Festival each year.  Though Festival leaders were not given a specific reason, they were told the Circus would not be traveling anywhere this year.

The Cole Bros. Circus was founded in 1884 as the “W.W. Cole’s New Colossal Shows.” During the 1920’s, the show traveled to the western frontier, making appearances at military bases, mining camps, and in remote boomtowns.  The Circus has been a standing staple of American history – surviving through the Great Depression, adjusting their road show to the improvements in transportation (from horse-drawn parades to double-length rail cars to automobiles and trucks), and even appearing in President Harry Truman’s inaugural parade in Washington, D.C., when the steam calliope played “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louie.”

In recent years, children of all ages enjoyed the “human cannonball,” the motorcycle acts, dog shows, and flying trapeze feats.  North Carolina Azalea Festival President, Robby Collins, states, “The Cole Bros. Circus has been an important part of Festival history.  For over thirty years, hundreds of thousands of children have experienced the thrill of these acts, while enjoying time spent with their families.  We know this will be a disappointment to everyone who enjoyed the special times and making those memories, and hope you will find a way to join in one of the other wonderful events happening in our community during the Azalea Festival.”


For more information on the upcoming 69th Annual North Carolina Azalea Festival, visit www.ncazaleafestival.org or contact Executive Director Alison Baringer at alison@ncazaleafestival.org or (910) 216-9400.


The North Carolina Azalea Festival Thanks Its Sponsors


Miller Lite

Duke Energy

Hilton Wilmington Riverside

Wells Fargo

New Hanover Regional Medical Center

R.A. Jeffreys

UNC Wilmington

LM Restaurants

BB & T

Wilmington Health

BlueCross and BlueShield of NC

Coastal Carolina Neonatology/Coastal Children’s Services



Live Oak Bank

MassMutual Financial Group

NewBridge Bank

North Carolina Ports


Parkway of Wilmington



SEPI Engineering & Construction