12 Unique Carnival Party Ideas

Looking for some exciting carnival party ideas? At Peerspace, we get it! There’s something about the atmosphere at a carnival that inspires good times. Maybe it’s the games, the rides, or the food (preferably on a stick). Or maybe it’s the combination of everything that creates a certain kind of magic.

And if you want to capture a little carnival magic for your next party or event, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to discover some of our favorite carnival party ideas to make your day special. 

1. Set up carnival booths

anaheim carnival garden
Source: Peerspace

Every carnival needs some engaging booths with games. Balloon pops, spinning wheels, guessing games, and beanbag tosses are all carnie staples. Create a list of some of your favorite carnival booths and attractions, and think of ways to incorporate them into your carnival party.

If you need space to set up all of your booths, keep an eye out for Peerspace venues with plenty of space to spread out, like this carnival garden in California

2. Chow down at a food truck

Urban Outdoor Event Space with a Food Truck
Source: Peerspace

Food trucks are a common sight at many modern carnivals. Their inventive menus fit right at home into the novelty of a carnival day. Plus, they look perfect between booths and can offer restaurant-style food without taking up space.

Plenty of rentable venues come with their own food trucks on-site, like this outdoor venue in Miami, FL. The venue is also home to a performance stage where you can put our next carnival party idea to good use. 

3. Enjoy live music 

dining patio with stage
Source: Peerspace

This carnival party idea helps you set the mood at your event. Musical acts are right at home at carnivals and fairs. They can enhance the atmosphere and help your guests feel relaxed and welcome. Thumbtack is an excellent resource to find local performers in your area. And if you need A/V equipment at your venue, Peerspace’s Concierge service has your back, so long as you booked your venue with the site. How cool is that? 

4. Hang out with animals at a carnival petting zoo 

Carnival Party Ideas
Source: Peerspace

Carnival party ideas like this will help bring a cute element to your event. Try hosting your carnival at an outdoor petting zoo where guests can spend time with animals.

This Peerspace petting zoo is home to alpacas, sheep, goats, donkeys, chickens, and even horses. It can help bring a “county fair” vibe to the party and allow your guests to get closer to nature as they enjoy the company of farm animals. 

5. Enjoy a drive-in movie 

birthday ideas during covid drive-in
Source: Peerspace

Do you have a favorite movie that features a carnival or circus — like the spooky Carnival of Souls, or the modern musical The Greatest Showman? Why not air the movie at your carnival party to help set the tone? 

We’ve got you covered if you need a place to set up carnival booths alongside a projection screen. Check out this drive-in movie theater in Santa Monica. This venue has been home to Sanrio’s limited-time Hello Kitty Carnival and plenty of other special events, including movie premiers and pop-ups. Check it out on Peerspace if you’re looking to throw a unique carnival party. 

6. Make a splash at a dunk tank 

an outdoor production space in detroit
Source: Peerspace

Do you want to really make a splash at your event? This carnival party idea has you covered. 

Set up a dunk tank where guests can try their hand at dunking an unlucky individual. If you’re raising funds for charity or a special cause, then charging for throws is an excellent way to rack up funds. Just make sure that the dunkable person is on board with the idea beforehand! 

7. Snap pics at a photo cutout 

Studio Maternity Photoshoot Ideas
Source: Peerspace

While your guests are busy having a blast at your carnival party, they’ll want to capture memories to share. Setting up a photobooth with carnival-themed props can provide a designated spot for guests to capture snapshots of their day at the carnival. If you want to put a kitschy spin on it, try making a DIY photo cutout that reflects the theming of your carnival. 

8. Compete at cornhole 

half acre urban farm in seattle
Source: Peerspace

Cornhole is a classic carnival-style game to pass the time. Plus, it brings out some competitive spirit in your guests – especially if prizes are involved.

You can find cornhole games online, make a DIY one to suit your theme, or rent a venue with the game included, like this urban farm in Seattle

9. Pitch a tent 

Carnival Party Ideas
Source: Peerspace

We’re taking a cue from circuses with this carnival party idea. If you want to channel the openness of an outdoor carnival but don’t want the confinement of an indoor space, a tent can offer the perfect middle ground. Tents can create a festive environment that feels exciting, fun, and welcoming for carnival games.

If you need help finding a tent in your area, keep an eye out for Peerspace venues with spacious tents, like this outdoor mini-Thunderdome in Texas. 

10. Pig out on popcorn

food truck in LA for rent
Source: Peerspace

Popcorn is a quintessential carnival food. It’s easy to eat while you walk and talk and simple to hold in one hand while you play games. Plus, it can come in a full range of flavors, from savory to sweet, making it a versatile fair snack.

You can set up a popcorn stand at your carnival with pre-popped baggies for guests, or better yet, see if the Peerspace Concierge service can help you out with a rentable machine. Fresh popcorn and a day at the carnival? Yes, please! 

11. Fluff up the cotton candy 

Carnival Party Ideas
Source: Peerspace

What’s a carnival without cotton candy? This fluffy treat provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy a dessert that takes you straight back to your childhood days at the fair.

You can find cotton candy machines online or ask Peerspace’s Concierge service to put you in touch with a rentable machine. Better yet – put a gourmet touch on this carnival treat by learning to make dragon’s breath, AKA traditional Chinese cotton candy. 

12. Have a drink

Unique Neighborhood Brewery seattle rental
Source: Peerspace

If all this talk about food has you thirsty, don’t forget the drinks! If you want to put a more adult slant on your carnival event, consider hosting at a brewery where guests can learn how their favorite beverages come to life and enjoy carnival games with a refreshing brew in their hand. 

It’s just one of many carnival party ideas you can make possible through Peerspace

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