Travelzoo’s Guide to Cirque du Soleil: Which Shows to See & Where to Sit

Sep 24, 2015
Cirque du Soleil has been blowing minds and delighting audiences for 30 years. Having performed for more than 155 million people around the globe, the company has a reputation for staging imaginative and mesmerizing shows, and creating a truly awe-inspiring experience. As a Cirque du Soleil Deal Expert, I’m here to answer your questions about the different types of shows.

I really want to see a show, but I don’t know what options are available to me. Help!

For the most part, Cirque du Soleil produces two types of shows: resident and touring. Resident shows -- such as “Mystere” in Las Vegas and “La Nouba” in Orlando -- have been performed continuously for years. If you’re interesting in seeing a resident show, click here for a handy guide on the eight shows in Las Vegas. If you’d like to see Cirque du Soleil perform in your hometown, keep reading.

Touring shows do just that -- they travel around the world, often changing as new shows are added and older shows retire (check Travelzoo regularly for deals). They can be broken up into two varieties: Big Top and Arena.

Big Top

Big Top refers to the Grand Chapiteau -- the signature yellow and blue-striped tent that serves as the show’s home. It’s appropriate that “big” is in the title, because there’s nothing small about these shows: big production value, big entertainment, big thrills ... it’s just an overall big experience.

The Grand Chapiteau is literally a mobile village. It houses the venue itself, as well as a kitchen, school, rehearsal space and other items needed to support the cast and crew.

Wow, that’s amazing. Sounds like a big endeavor.

You’re absolutely right.

Fun fact: it takes roughly eight days to construct the site and three days to pack up. Anywhere from 50-75 trucks are needed to haul more than 1,300 tons of equipment. It is a huge endeavor, so naturally these show stay in town for 1-3 months at a time.

Check out this video for a behind-the-scenes look at the touring life of the newest Big Top show “Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities.”

OK, so I know what a Big Top show is, and there’s one coming to a city near me (yay!). Now where should I sit?

Oh great! You’re in for an amazing time. Cirque du Soleil has creative control over every square inch of the space, and they’ve created a truly immersive experience. Shows are performed in the round, with action happening from all angles. The venue seats more than 2,500 people; it feels surprisingly intimate and all seats are near the stage.

Seats are categorized by Price Level. Premium and Price Level 1 seats are considered the best, with Price Level 2 being the next best and so on. Where you sit depends on what sort of person you are. Do you like to be in the action, or distanced a bit more to take it all in? If I could sit anywhere, I’d choose the front row of the 200 Level, because I’m still super close to the action, but I’m removed enough to have prime views of what happens above me. As I said, the action happens from all angles.

Wherever you sit, get there early. Characters walk around amongst the crowd before the show, and the preshow is a spectacle in itself.

Arena Shows

Surprise! Arena shows take place in ... an arena. Setup is easier, so for this reason, Cirque du Soleil can travel to a lot of places in a lot less time. Whereas Big Top shows stick to highly populated cities, Arena shows can go most anywhere with a stadium-like venue – from New York City to North Little Rock, Arkansas.

These shows stay in town for a handful of days (sometimes only a weekend, sometimes up to two weeks) so you have to catch ‘em while you can. Arena shows are often former Big Tops that have been reworked for an arena setting. For example, “Ovo” was a Big Top show that traveled the US, Australia and Japan starting in 2009. Next year, the show is coming back to tour arenas in North America. This means that if you missed a Big Top show (maybe it didn’t stop at a city near you), you may still be able to catch it. Other times, arena shows are brand new. That’s the case for Cirque du Soleil’s new show “TORUK – The First Flight,” which is inspired by the movie “Avatar.”

Whoa, really!? I can’t wait to see “TORUK.” Where do I sit?

"TORUK – The First Flight"

Each arena is different, but you can use the pricing system as a guide. Similar to Big Top shows, seats are divided into Price Levels. It’s safe to assume that higher-priced seats offer the best views. Many of our deals allow you to select your own seats, so play around with the seating map until you find the right place for you.

Now that you’re a Cirque du Soleil expert, look for shows in your area. Click here to search by state or city, and be sure to check Travelzoo regularly for deals.

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