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Carnival Party Games

By an Award-Winning Professional Party Planner

Get ideas for Carnival Party Games to go with your birthday party or celebration

About this Site

If this is the first page you've landed on, let me give you a quick introduction. I'm Matt James, a professional party planner, and the purpose of this site is to show you the most creative way you can use regular, shop-bought party supplies that can be found in most stores. Not everyone has the craft skills of Martha Stewart or the time to spend several days with a glue gun making things from scratch. It's fine to use shop-bought decorations and supplies—as long as you choose them carefully and know the best way to put them all together. So I'll share a few simple tips and trade secrets that anyone can use to add some creative touches to your party—whatever your budget.

Note: This site contains affiliate links to products. We may recieve a small commission on any sales (at no extra cost to you).

matt james

carnival Party Ideas

Below are ideas for Carnival Party Games. Don't forget to check out my other page of Carnival Theme Party Ideas—with tips for invitations, food & drink, decorations, and styling.

carnival party invitation
carnival carousel horse cupcake toppers
carnival party treat bags popcorn

carnival Party Games

Below are lots of suggestions for Carnival Party Games and Activities suitable for a Carnival theme party or kid's birthday.

Carnival Stalls

Here's a great tip from Martha Stewart for how to create side stalls and booths for the Carnival party games below. Just raid your linen closet for colourful sheets, beach towels, and blankets (or pick up some cheap fabric by the roll) and hang these from ropes or clotheslines tied between trees.

homemade carnival stalls
homemade carnival stalls

Printable Carnival Signs

Then all you have to do is create homemade signs for each of the Carnival party games below to hang on top. Alternatively, you can buy some of these printable Carnival signs from supplier 4.

Printable Carnival Signs
Printable Carnival Signs

Carnival Tickets / Tokens

One idea is to have the kids play individual Carnival party games to win tickets or tokens. You could use these cheap Bingo chips (which come in bags of 500) or a roll of star tickets (available in different colors) as the tokens. Both are available from supplier 5.

carnival tokens
carnival tickets

Carnival Party Game prizes

Then you can set up one big prize stall where they can redeem their tokens at the end. You can stock the prize table with a whole range of different size prizes and treats with different values (ie a large plush toy could be 10 tokens, whereas smaller items might need only one or two tokens). This way they can choose what they win and even leave with several prizes of different value. See supplier 5 for a range of toys and novelties which could be used as prizes for these Carnival party games.

carnival party games prizes
carnival party games prizes
carnival party games prizes

Award Ribbons

For other games, such as sack races etc, you could use these 1st, 2nd, 3rd place and honoree mention award ribbons, or these winner buttons as prizes. See supplier 3 for both.

award ribbons
award ribbons
award ribbons
award ribbons

Bean Bag Toss

Cut a large picture out of cardboard to act as the target, ex a clown face with a hole for the mouth. Then let the kids try to toss bean bags into the clown's mouth from a distance.

Alternatively, if you don't want to make this yourself, there are lots of variations of these Carnival party games available to buy, from simple canvas pouches (below right, from supplier 8) to clown print stand up options (below left, from supplier 2).

carnival Bean Bag Toss game
carnival Bean Bag Toss game

Dart Balloons

Attach lots of balloons to a cork board and use darts to see how many they can pop. Have a stock of spare balloons already blown up so that you can replace any that they pop quickly and easily. You can pick up packs of darts and balloons from supplier 3.

dart balloons

Tin Can Toss

Stack up tin cans in a pyramid and use rubber balls to see if they can knock them down. Alternatively you can buy this Carnival themed version from supplier 8 which includes the tin cans and bean bags.

carnival Tin Can Toss
Carnival Tin Can Toss

Ring Toss

The Ring Toss is a bit more exciting when the kids are actually trying to get the ring over a particular prize, so set up some small plush toys raised up on blocks. Alternatively you could just use simple objects such as wine / soda bottles (but remember to weight them down so they don't fall over when a ring hits them).

There are several variations of these Carnival party games that you can buy, such as this cardboard version (below left, from supplier 6) or this plastic bottle version (below right, from supplier 8).

carnival ring toss
carnival ring toss

Duck Pond

Set up a kids padding pool with lots of rubber ducks. Mark the bottom of some of the ducks in advance to indicate how many tickets they win (ex, none, one, two, etc). Give the kids fish scoops to try to catch a duck while blindfolded. You can pick up all the components from supplier 5.

kids paddling pool
carnival hook a duck

Penny Pitch

Lay out different targets on a table (or on the ground) and have the kids throw a penny to try and get it to land on the target. You can theme some of the carnival party games such as this one even further by using these cut outs (from supplier 3) as the targets and writing on the back how much each one is worth.

carnival cut outs

Tattoo / Face Painting

Set up a Tattoo booth with temporary / washable tattoos for kids. You could also combine this with face painting / clown make up classes. See supplier 3 for supplies.

carnival face painting

Duck Shoot

Set up a row of rubber ducks and let the kids use a super-soaker to try to shoot them off. Alternatively, you could use ping pong balls balanced on golf teas (stick the teas into a block of Styrofoam). Check out supplier 5 which has an enormous range of themed rubber ducks (as well as the supersoakers below) including baby shower ducks, superhero ducks, pirate ducks, viking ducks, hippie ducks.....the list goes on!

pirate rubber ducks
baby shower rubber ducks

Carnival Photo Board

Pick up this classic muscle man peep-through photo board (from supplier 3) or this general carnival themed one (supplier 2) and use it for photo-ops.

Carnival Photo Board
Carnival Photo Board

Wet Sponge Toss

Use the same muscle man peep-through plastic photo board (above) and let the kids toss a wet sponge to see if they can hit each other (or a parent!) in the face.

wet sponge toss

Ball in the Basket

Let the kids see if they can toss a ball into a basket from a distance. Alternatively, use this 3 in a row game from supplier 8.

carnival 3 in a row game

Carnival Sack Races

Use this pack of 12 carnival themed potato sacks from supplier 8 to hold sack races and award prize ribbons to the winner and runners up.

carnival sack races

Pin Drop

One of the more classic Carnival party games which isn't as easy as it sounds. Let the kids see if they can drop a clothes pin into a glass jar while holding their arm straight out in front of them.

pin drop

Coconut Shy

Balance coconuts onto wine / soda bottles (weigh the bottled down first) and let the kids see if they can knock them off with tennis balls.

coconut shy

Ball Toss

Set up some glass jars / tumblers and let them try to throw ping pong balls into them.

carnival ball toss game

Hot Potato

This inflatable hot potato game from supplier 3 is so cute. It comes with a music CD with 33 minutes of kid's songs. That should keep them busy for a while!

hot potato game

Fortune Teller

Have a parent or sibling dress up as a fortune teller and read the kid's palms and dispense fortune cookies. Or use one of these standees from supplier 2 to create your own fortune telling booth as part of the Carnival party games.

fortune teller stand up
fortune teller standee prop

Homemade Dunk Tank

A variation on the dunk tank: pick up some cheap disposable rain ponchos for whoever is going to be the target and let everyone else use water balloons to try and get them wet. You can get these from supplier 3.

rain poncho
water balloons

Decorate a Clown Hat

This kit is a great little activity to include in your games. It includes 6 hats with various stickers, pom pom and foam attachments for everyone to decorate their own clown hat. See supplier 8.

decorate a clown hat

Carnival Party Games: Coloring

These coloring activities are perfect for indoor parties or if it ends up raining on the day. Either color your own Carnival scene, or color in a Carnival themed paddleball game. Both from supplier 5.

carnival party games coloring
carnival paddleball coloring game

Carnival Party Games: Printable

Another great option for a rainy day is this carnival bingo printable from supplier 4.

carnival party game printable bingo


Set up some skittles for bowling (from supplier 3), or make your own using soda bottles.

bowling sets

Test of Strength

Let the kids play at being the Strongman by making some fake barbells using black balloons or Styrofoam balls sprayed black. Add the weight (ex, 100 lbs) to the balloons / balls using white cardstock. Alternatively, just use this Inflatable Barbell from supplier 3.

inflatable barbell

Lolly Tree

Use a Sharpie to paint lollypop sticks in different colors. Have each color correspond to the number of prize tokens they will win (ex, Green = none, Red = one, Blue = two etc). Have lots of the lower number colors and less of the higher ones.

Then, cut out a cardboard tree (or use this cheap cardboard tree, below left from supplier 3) and make numerous holes in it so you can slot the lolly sticks through. When viewed from the front you should only be able to see the head of the lollipop on the tree, not the stick. Have them take turns to pick a lolly to see what they win.

cardboard tree

Carnival Photo Booth Props

Use these carnival themed photo booth props and signs from supplier 4 to capture some fun memories of the day.

carnival photo booth props

Guess How Many

Fill a large jar with jelly beans or other small candies and have the kids try to guess how many there are.

carnival candy

Carnival Party Games

There are various ready made games available such as this Pie in the Eye disc toss, disk drop, or coin toss game. All are available from supplier 8.

carnival party game pie in the eye
carnival party game disk drop
carnival party game coin toss

Pin the Nose on the Clown

A simple variation of 'Pin the Tail On', this 'Pin the Nose on the Clown' version from supplier 1 ties in nicely with these Carnival party games.

pin the nose on the clown game

Carnival Pinata

Finish off your Carnival party games with a Carnival themed pinata, such as these Big Top or Clown Pinatas, both from supplier 1.

carnival pinata
carnival pinata

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Many thanks


carnival party ideas

About Matt James

Matt James is a professional event planner and owner of event agency Left Field Productions, which has produced events for Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin Spacey, Stella McCartney, David LaChapelle, John Waters, and Elvis Costello & Diana Krall. Since 2004, Left Field Productions has won 30 industry awards for excellence including Production Company of the Year.

matt james


  • Carnival Party Games

    by an award-winning professional party planner