There are still two weekends for you to catch the show

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — Circus Vargas pulled into town last weekend and will be making the Madonna Inn Meadows its home until July 11. The family-friendly circus has been coming back to San Luis Obispo (SLO) for the last 11 years. 

“We are coming with a brand new show, just like we do every year. This year’s called the Circus Vargas Express,” said Katya Quiroga, who co-owns Circus Vargas with her husband, Nelson. “We have a team that … you know how the circus got started and traveled from town to town in the old days. So, a big train would come in, and you’ll see that train when the show starts, [it] comes in and picks up the artists and brings them from town to town and then sets up the tent and presents a fantastical, amazing show.”

Circus Vargas, which has existed for over 52 years, brings audiences magic, electrifying performances, and class acts from all over the world.


“We have a group from Romania, an acrobatic teeter-board act; we have a juggling act from Czech Republic, we have the flying trapeze, the fan favorites, contortionists, we have the motorcycles in the cage. This time it’s three motorcycles, so that’s more than we’ve ever had before,” added Quiroga. “We scout the acts from around the world. So, we visit circuses around the world, and we look at something we like, and we bring them here for different tourists. Every year we have new performers and new ideas. Every year we also have a new theme. I guess that’s one of the fun parts of circus.”

The show is a two-hour-long performance that’s jam-packed with exciting visuals, beautiful costumes, comedy, and talented acts that bring the house down. Atascadero News was invited to opening night and immensely enjoyed their time watching the show. Circus Vargas is an animal-free circus, and most acts perform to instrumental versions of popular songs. 

“Definitely, this year is one of the best with one of the biggest casts we ever had,” Quiroga said. “We have over 30 people in our performance. And we’re really excited to be able to bring this.”

Katya and Nelson have been running Circus Vargas for the last 16 years, but their history with the circus doesn’t start there. Both sets of the Quirogas’ parents were brought to America to perform in Circus Vargas in the 1980s, which is where Katya and Nelson met. They’ve been married for over 30 years and have three daughters.

“Of course, it [Circus Vargas] is a business, it’s a company, but more than anything, it’s a family,” Katya Quiroga said. “We’re all family here on the show. Even the ones that are not blood-related, we’re like family to each other. And that’s the beauty of the circus, and that is what makes life so amazing is to have that family feeling. You know, being like a little city that travels around without a zip code.”

In 2021, San Luis Obispo was the first town that Circus Vargas opened up in after the pandemic, and they’re excited to be back a year later.

“Thanks to our fans that we’re still here after the pandemic and that we’re able to come back again every year,” concluded Quiroga.

You can catch Circus Vargas at the Madonna Inn Meadows with multiple showtimes through July 11. For showtimes and more info, go to