February 21, 2024

The buskers are abusking

A set of images from two of my favourite places in London for catching street performers at work – Covent Garden and SouthBank. Although Covent Garden is no longer the fresh fruit and vegetable market that it was for a few centuries, it is today one of the best places in London to walk around in – and this is largely due to the buskers in the area. SouthBank is even nicer, somehow the atmosphere is more relaxed – it is perhaps the fresh cool air from the Thames – and the artists more friendly and fun. Apart from these, Leicester Square on weekends and the London Tube stations are places to find some of the best in the business.

London takes it street performers very seriously. Street performing is illegal in London – I just read that the Covent Garden Market Association pays hefty sums of money to the government for the privilege of having buskers all the year round. Though the comics and acrobats do not need licenses to perform, the musicians – especially the musicians on main squares and the Underground circuit – go through auditions and are checked for quality before they are issued licenses. And there is even a street performer of the year contest.

This is usually a smash hit with kids – look ma, no head!

Looka ma, no head!

I like the way these artists engage with people on the streets, drawing them into their circle, making them laugh and pay up willingly…

Come dance with me

I have spotted some of the best photo-ops when the artists are on a break – stolen images from their moments stolen from work…

Counting his blessings

It's beer time!

These artists are to be found everywhere in the world – art at work…

Paint me pretty

The entertainers and acrobats are fun – but the musicians are my favourites – there is great talent out there – many of them have been performing in their spots for years, some happy to just earn a living, some still hoping to be noticed by agents and companies…

The agony and the ecstasy

The awesome quartet

And finally the ‘you pay and we move’ ones…

All that glitters

Street silver

Just as I wonder how it is to wear silver paint and stand still all day, I read this about a silverman at Covent Garden – On a sunny Saturday or Sunday, in a good spot, as much as £50 an hour rattles into his hat. More on the busking business here.

An earlier post on Covent Garden

8 thoughts on “The buskers are abusking

  1. “Street Performing is illegal in London”? Really?
    I thought one just needs a license to perform (which doesn’t make it illegal) and in designated locations. You can find street performers all over London – not just Covent Garden or South Bank, although these two places are the definitive hot-spots for street performance, simply because of their touristy significance. Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square fall in this bracket too.

    I like that picture of the golden man – contrasts nicely against the red. 🙂

  2. We’ve enjoyed buskers in England and through our travels in Europe. This year, we (as founders of Child’s Play India Foundation http://www.childsplayindia.org) brought busking to India. As part of World Busk Day, we busked at three venues in Goa to raise funds for Musequality and CPIF. It was great fun. Next year, perhaps we’ll have a bigger team spread throughout the country!


  3. I really liked the one with no head! I have seen these street performers before but I did not know that they were called Buskers. The silver-paint, stand/sit-still performers are simply amazing.

  4. Lovely pictures. I saw the buskers only at the station. But I was told that the street performers here are great. A little niece also offered to be the volunteer for a magic show and this has been the best moment of her trip to London.

  5. The man with the golden bike and paint…I always think he is Richard Hammond..maybe its just me!
    Busking on the tube again..is legal and they have little physical spaces carved out for them! I guess they are as much a part of the this town as the architecture.
    Nice post and pictures.

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