Billy Smart's Circus due to take place on Lincoln's South Common has been cancelled.
The circus was set to open on Monday, February 18, and run until Sunday, February 24, as part of a 2013 tour.
Organisers say that they needed to arrive the weekend prior to opening in order to set up its big top, train new staff, welcome international acts and start rehearsals.
However, the City of Lincoln Council is said to only have allowed the circus to arrive as early as Thursday, February 15.
A statement from Billy Smart's Circus said: "We needed to arrive the previous weekend to have ample time for rehearsals and the arrival of arists and staff from all over the world.
"The council officials refused permission for the circus to arrive until the Thursday, which is inadequate time for this, the cream of European circuses, to erect its huge big top and equipment, train new staff and welcome international acts, let alone rehearse and produce a show worthy of the great Billy Smart name."
The cancellation means that a gala charity performance on the opening day, raising money for St Barnabas Hospice, has also been cancelled.