Carnivals are exciting, family-friendly events that combine the adventure of an amusement park with the wonder of a circus act. From the dizzying delight of spinning teacup rides, to intensely focused games of Bust-a-Balloon, and the soft, ultra-sweet clouds of cotton candy — there’s something for everyone at a carnival.
It’s these positive memories and experiences that make carnival-themed birthdays so popular. Children love the food, games, and activities a carnival celebration entails. And let’s be honest, parents love them too!
But if you’re going to plan this particular type of celebration for your little one, you’re going to need a list of carnival birthday party games to keep them (and all their friends) entertained.
Keep scrolling for our list of awesome carnival party games your child will love.
Spinning, paint, bright colors, fun — does it get more carnival than that? Spin art is a fun and engaging activity for any birthday party. It’s a chance to get a little messy and enjoy a whole lot of laughter! All you need to do is show up, suit up, and get those creative juices flowing. Plus, your little one will walk away with their own personal masterpiece — a keepsake they’ll treasure for years to come.
This score-based throwing game is easy to set up and a blast to play. All you need are a few buckets, a small, soft ball, and a permanent marker. How’s that for easy DIY carnival birthday party ideas? Be warned, though — this game gets super competitive in a hurry!
To play, set up four buckets in a vertical line. Write 5 on the first bucket in permanent marker, then 10 on the second, 15 on the third, and 25 on the fourth. Have kids line up and take turns throwing the ball into the buckets. Each child gets three tries. The highest score wins!
There are few birthday party carnival games ideas more quintessential than plinko. It’s a simple game that first debuted on the popular television show The Price is Right in 1983. Essentially, several nails are hammered into a large rectangular board, which is then hung or placed standing up. The player gets a chip and gets one try to drop it down into the board, watching as the chip bounces between the nails. At the bottom, there are several slots — each of which is labeled with a prize. Whichever slot the chip lands in, is the prize the player wins.
There are some carnival themed games you simply must include in your celebration — and ring toss is one of them. Every carnival has some variation of this game. Typically, it involves standing nine or more tall bottles (empty wine bottles work great for this) in close proximity to one another. The bottles in the middle provide the highest points, while those on the perimeter are lower. You give each child three rings to throw and the child who scores the highest wins a prize.
Anyone looking for cheap and entertaining carnival theme party games is sure to love this suggestion. It requires approximately 50 rubber ducks and some colored markers — that’s it! You’ll want to use the same color marker to place a dot on the bottom of two ducks, repeating the process until all of the ducks have been color-matched in pairs of two. Then place the ducks on a table so the dots can not be seen. Each player gets to flip over two ducks. If they choose two ducks with matching dots, they get a prize. If not, the ducks are turned over again and the next person gets to try.
A tried-and-true classic for every carnival games birthday party. Place a large quantity of tiny items in a jar (bubble gum, marbles, jelly beans — whatever you’ve got!) and have players guess how many there are. Record guesses on a piece of paper. When everyone has had a turn, the person closest to the exact number (without going over) wins a prize.
In need of competitive carnival birthday games that won’t take up too much space? This is a fantastic choice! Tape a few red solo cups to a large, rectangular board. Assign each cup a point value. Give each player three ping pong balls and watch as they take their shots, trying to get the ball into the cups. The player with the highest score wins.
There are certain carnival games for party celebrations that are sure to have guests giggling and lining up to play again. This is one of those games. You’ll need a large cardboard box. Cut a hole on each end of the box that’s big enough to put a hand through. Then remove the flaps at the opening of the box, so the top is completely uncovered. Place the box on its side so the top is facing forward. Have players stand behind the box, so they can’t see the opening or the inside of the box, with their eyes closed. Place an object inside the box. Other children can stand at the front so they can see what’s inside, but make sure they don’t give it away! The player then uses the arms holes on each side of the box to feel around inside and handle the object. Then they guess what it is based on touch alone!
As you can see, there are plenty of carnival games for birthday parties that are easy to set up and enjoy. It’s all about choosing the games you think your guests will enjoy most. And remember — if you book your birthday party with Spin Art Nation, you can still play carnival party games in our studio rental space. Ask us about planning your birthday party in San Antonio today.