This is a Community Announcement from the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. It was not written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit Community Announcements, please send them to Matt Butler at

This Labor Day weekend treat your family and friends to the second annual Hupstate Circus Festival in Ithaca, NY. This multiple-day festival will bring dozens of circus artists to Ithaca from all over North America to perform from Sept 2-5, 2022. Shows include free and ticketed, indoor and outdoor, geared towards all ages, and adult-only offerings.

The Hupstate Circus Festival features multiple shows such as the highly anticipated Branché, a collective of circus artists from Montreal who create environmentally conscious site-specific circus shows with high-flying acrobatics occurring in the natural environment. The artists will be in residence in Stewart Park creating their show starting September 2 and will perform free shows for the public in the park at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4, and at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept 5   

Stars Above All American Open Air circus, which took Ithaca by storm last year, will be back from Sept 2-4 in the Press Bay backlot off of West Green Street. Its shows sold out to rave reviews last year. 

The festival also features a collaboration with the Cherry Artspace, where aerial rigging was recently installed to support more circus performances. The Artspace will host performances on Sept 2 and 3: Circus Shorts, a compilation of three different circus show excerpts, and Contemporary Circus Night, comprised of Looped (NYC), featuring flying aerial pole and live cello, and Surface Tension (Chicago, IL), a 60-minute juggling and acrobatics show that explores queer friendship. Finally, Freakshow, a 21+ event curated by local artist and culture bearer Billie Blackroot, will center an ensemble of circus, drag, and movement artists. These performers will join forces to celebrate the politicized and queered circus history and the artistic expression of their most authentic selves at 8 p.m. on Sept 4. 

There will also be free performances on the Commons pedestrian mall as part of First Friday Gallery Night on Sept 2, including a show by a circus troupe from Rochester, NY, a roving bubble artist Polly Solomon from NYC, and hand balancer and Cornell University architecture student Emily Caywood performing in the storefront window of the beautiful Adrina Dietra lingerie and apothecary shop on West State Street.

Ithaca’s Circus Culture founder Amy Cohen is the brainchild of this three-day circus celebration. She spent many years attending circus festivals found worldwide in her previous role as executive director of the American Youth Circus Organization, and wanted to bring some of the joyous nature of these festivals to Ithaca. 

“Circus is diverse and varied worldwide and in our community, region, and North America. Hupstate aims to continually expand the notion of what circus is and can be and to provide myriad ways for our community to experience a circus as an art form. It is very true to the spirit and history of circus to create access, bring circus to people, and include people in the magic. Hopefully, we can continue to build this via Hupstate year after year,” says Cohen.

Hupstate is a portmanteau of Hup, the universal word for “go” in the circus world, and upstate, where this festival is proud to be held. Hupstate is currently a program of Circus Culture and is slowly working on expanding how it can support the circus arts in NY State. In Spring 2022, Hupstate hosted the first ever US residency specifically for individual circus artists with the collaboration of the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts and Circus Culture – the residency will happen again in spring 2023. All artists participating in the festival will have access to Circus Culture’s studio to train and be in the community while in Ithaca.

True to Circus Culture’s commitment to never turn anyone away due to lack of funds, Hupstate festival ticketed shows all have a free sponsored ticket option. Patrons also have the opportunity to donate a ticket to those in need.

For more information about the Hupstate Festival, visit