Top 10 North American Buskers Festivals for the Summer of 2018 – Off Stage and on the Streets

With summer finally here, it is time to get out and enjoy all that it has to offer including busker festivals.

Living and working in Halifax, NS, Canada, I know a thing or two about these festivals and how they can generate tremendous economic spin off for the host towns and cities with hundreds and thousands of people visiting these areas to watch these amazing street performers.  Not only is it great for hotels, restaurants and bars, but other retail sectors also see the spin off with increased visitor presence.  These festivals are also a great way for local, national and international businesses to advertise at these events to promote their brand and make these events possible at the same time.

Now if you have ever been to a busker festival then you will know that the performers themselves are not compensated directly for their attendance at the festival, but will pass the hat, bucket or whatever will hold money around after their act is completed for spectators to give money.  There is no set amount to give, but as you will here often, “Just fold it up and put it in the hat,” the joke being that in Canada we have the loonie and toonie so the first bill would be five dollars, you will here this a lot, but it never gets old and they have fun with it.  

These festivals are set for different age levels with the more family friendly events during the day and then more adult appropriate content for the evening performances truly offering something for everyone to enjoy.

These are our top busker festivals for the Summer of 2018 that will offer something for all with amazing venues to enjoy the spectacular performers.

Kamloops International Buskers Festival 

Rank: # 10

When: July 26th – 29th, 2018
Where: Kamloops, BC, Canada

Why: Well Kamloops, located in the BC’s Interior, is more than a city, it’s a state of mind. Resting on the shores of two picturesque rivers of amazing scenery. This might be the First Annual Kamloops International Buskers Festival (formerly the Victoria International Buskers Festival) but Kamloops is ready and welcoming the world to its beautiful downtown for an amazing 4 days of exciting entertainment.

Professional street performers from the region as well as from across Canada, Europe and Australia, will converge for this festival offering something for everyone to enjoy.

This is a family-oriented festival, which is free to attend and presented on outdoor stages to be enjoyed by all.  In true busker fashion, tips to busker’s hats are always welcomed and appreciated by the performers.

For more information visit: http://kamloopsbuskers.com/

Follow on Twitter: @kamloopsbuskers

Follow on Facebook: @KamloopsBuskers

Buskers in the Burg

Rank: # 9

When: September 28th – 29th, 2018

Where: Ellensburg, WA, USA

Why: This amazing two-day event will have the whole family smiling and a great way to end the summer of 2018 with a whole plethora of activities for all on Friday and Saturday. 

Buskers in the Burg festivities take place downtown and center on the corner of 4th Ave and Pearl Street.  This is a family-friendly event and activities include an art parade, a straw maze, pumpkin painting, pony rides, bounce houses, and of course amazing buskers!!!

For more information visit:  http://buskersintheburg.org/ 

Follow on Facebook: @BuskersInTheBurg

Downtown Victoria Buskers Festival 

Rank: # 8

When: August 30th – September 3rd, 2018
Where: Victoria, BC, Canada

Why: Like you need a reason to visit beautiful Victoria, BC, but if you do this amazing event is only in its second year and offers five-days of family-friendly entertainment that showcases quirky and unique street talent from around the world as Victoria becomes a hub of busking talent with performers coming from far and wide – with a good dose of some home-grown Canadian talent thrown in.

The festivities will have talents scattered at busking “Pitch Stops” across the downtown core that make for a fun-filled day for people of all ages. So bring the kiddies, parents, grandparents, loved ones and even your furry friends along to check out some of the world’s best and brightest busking stars!

The Downtown Victoria Buskers Festival is committed to being low impact.  The 2017 DVBF was a Carbon Neutral Festival and we are committed to keeping it green for 2018!

For more information visit:  https://downtownvictoria.ca/downtown-victoria-buskers-festival/ 

Follow on Twitter: @myDVBA

Follow on Facebook: @DowntownVictoria

Follow on Instagram: @downtownvictoriabc

34th Edmonton International Streetfest

Rank: # 7

When: July 10th – 15th, 2018

Where: Edmonton, AB, Canada

Why: What is not to like; unicyclists, puppeteers, tightrope walkers and acrobats unleash their outlandish street theatre acts during six lively summer days.

Watch dancers spin innovative body tales and mimes pull laughs out of thin air. Run into roving character actors whose gig is launching an improv interaction…with you! Every July more than 60 international, national and local artists fuel a daily juggernaut of 150 zany outdoor performances when the International Street Performers Festival turns Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park into busker central.

A creative whirlwind of acts – witty and wonderful, kooky and comical or just plain silly – this is the best of entertainment and art on a street level: short, sweet and accessible to anyone, even kids. Try out the Be Your Own Busker workshop and learn tricks of the trade and play some fun games. Push the envelope of naughtiness and laughter at Late Night Madness, evenings of big kid-oriented cabaret performances on an indoor stage. And the nightly closing act of Troupe du Jour showcases the best of the fest with an hour-long gala featuring different performers every night staging family-friendly variety shows.

Admission – you decide by honoring the ‘Pass the Hat’ tradition just make sure that it folds nicely.

For more information visit:  http://edmontonstreetfest.com/ 

Follow on Twitter: @YegStreetFest

Follow on Facebook: @EdmontonStreetFest

Follow on Instagram: @EdmontonSPF

Waterloo Busker Carnival

Rank: # 6 

When: August 23rd – 26th, 2018

Where: Waterloo, ON, Canada

Why: The Waterloo Busker Carnival is a not-for-profit, volunteer operated busker festival in Waterloo, Ontario where families from Waterloo, Kitchener, Guelph, Cambridge and communities in the Region of Waterloo are treated to street performances by buskers from Canada and around the world. 

Started in 1989, the carnival is now considered to be one of the premier busker carnivals not just in Canada but around the world. 

Nearly 80 thousand people attend the 4-day event held during the last week in August

For more information visit:  http://waterloobuskers.com/ 

Follow on Twitter: @WaterlooBuskers

Follow on Facebook: @SLFWBC

We are now into the Top 5:

27th Annual Buskers on the Bay Festival

Rank: # 5

When: July 18th – 22nd, 2018

Where: Saint John, NB, Canada

Why: Well for starters Buskers on the Bay Festival is one of the oldest festivals in Canada and unique to New Brunswick and a signature event for the region. 

The event hand selects the cream of the crop of professional street theatre artists and performers from every corner of the globe, delivering a truly international festival that is a feast for the senses! 

See astounding acrobatics, hear uproarious laughter mixed with musical marvels, smell scrumptious scents of delectable eats, be touched by impeccable artistry and get a taste of the incredible energy that earned a Hospitality Legacy Award.

For more information visit: http://marketsquaresj.com/buskers-on-the-bay/contact-us-buskers/

Follow on Twitter: @BuskersOnTheBay

Follow on Facebook: @buskersonthebayfestival

Sidewalk Performing Arts Festival

Rank: # 4  

When: August 4th – 5th, 2018

Where: Detroit, MI, USA

Why: This is not your traditional busker festival, but it is a Sidewalk Festival that is back for its 6th annual celebration of Detroit landscape and culture through performance and interactive art.  

Like a busker festival, they stay away from traditional stages where most performances take place in alleys, community gardens, storefronts, sidewalks, parking lots, the roofless warehouses of Artist Village and the street itself.

Sidewalk Detroit is a grass-roots, community arts presenting organization. Sidewalk Detroit celebrates the landscape and culture of Detroit through presentation of original place-based and traditional performance, installation art and land art. 

Sidewalk Festival an outdoor celebration of performance and installation in the heart of Detroit’s Northwest side that brings unique and independent performance to places unexpected, featuring local Detroiters and national artists. 

This is one festival not to miss!!!

For more information visit: http://sidewalkdetroit.com/

Follow on Twitter: @SidewalkDetroit

Follow on Instagram: @SidewalkFestivalofPerformingArts

Toronto International Buskerfest

Rank: # 3 

When: August 31st – September 3rd, 2018

Where: Toronto. ON, Canada

Why: Because it’s spontaneous, it’s outrageous; it’s fun, funny and fabulous – there is literally something for everyone at the Toronto International BuskerFest for Epilepsy. 

The festival features spectacular circus artistry, non-verbal shows that can be understood by all, and one-of-a-kind entertainment that will have you questioning your very eyes. Music, magic and mime; feats of the impossible, and the ridiculous performed by comedians, fire jugglers, acrobats, aerial artists, clowns, daredevils, beat boxers, break-dancers and much more. Four days of non-stop, action-packed fun! 

What many spectators don’t realize is that this world class festival not only supports a local charitable organization, Epilepsy Toronto, it is actually organized and run by them and is their largest fundraiser of the year. 

“We wanted to create a unique and memorable experience that brought epilepsy out of the shadows and into the public eye; an entertainment extravaganza that supports a greater purpose in aid of people with epilepsy and their families,” says Geoff Bobb, Executive Director of Epilepsy Toronto. “One in every 100 Canadians experiences some form of epilepsy and this amazing festival is the single-largest fundraiser for Epilepsy Toronto and the largest epilepsy event in the universe!”

So, if the amazing talent at the festival was not enough to attend then the fact that you will be supporting Epilepsy Toronto and we can’t think of a better reason to attend.

For more information visit: http://torontobuskerfest.com/

Follow on Twitter: @BuskerFestTO

Follow on Facebook: @BuskerFestToronto

Follow on Instagram: @buskerfestto

The 27th Ottawa International Buskerfest

Rank: # 2 

When: August 2nd – 6th, 2018

Where: Ottawa, ON, Canada

Why: Well the venue is amazing and Historical Sparks Street, which is a vibrant capital city destination offering everything from shopping to a relaxing drink at a pub and bar while enjoying the sun on the patio as they have 12 to choose from so you do not miss any of the action.

Sparks Street is home to Ottawa’s favourite festivals like the Ottawa International Busker Festival for 4 exciting days and will dazzle your senses and captivate your imagination. It is always a good time with friends and family for amazing entertainment, diverse shopping, delicious dining and simply great fun!

The 27th Ottawa International Buskerfest offers world class performers from all over the world come to entertain and amaze crowds in downtown Ottawa with award-winning shows perfected after many years of training and practicing in blood, sweat and smiles (no tears here)! 

This amazing event is brought to you by Bell Media, On-site Sponsors, Orbital Talent and Sparks Street.

Spectators should be prepared to be enthralled by fire-breathers, contortionists, acrobats and more. Get ready for stomach clenching comedy too, these performers all know how to make an audience laugh.

For more information visit: https://ottawabuskerfestival.com/

Follow on Twitter: @OttawaBuskrfest

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Follow on Facebook: @ottawabuskerfest

Follow on Instagram: @OttawaInternationalBuskerFestival

The 32nd Annual Halifax Busker Festival

Rank: # 1

When: August 1st – 6th, 2018

Where: Halifax, NS, Canada

Why: Well not only is this festival in my home town, well city of Halifax, it is an event that I have been attending all my life, from my days in a stroller to my adult life and an event that I look forward to every year.  For six amazing days in early August, the Halifax Busker Festival explodes across Halifax’s beautiful and historic downtown.  Halifax also offers many other attractions and venues for festival goes to attend before and after each day’s events making it an experience like no other.  

The festival features hilarious, wacky and breathtaking entertainment that can only be found at the annual Halifax Busker Festival that is back from its amazing 32nd year with spectators sure to be treated to mind blowing shows from the world’s top street performance artists as they showcase their unique talents and skills with acrobatics, music, visual arts, comedy, fire shows and so much more.

There is truly something for everyone from the young to the young at heart.  With family friendly performances by day and more adult focused entertainment by night with stages located all along the beautiful Halifax Waterfront.

This is a festival not to miss and it promises to have hundreds of jaw dropping shows that are open to the public.  It is free to attend, but the performers and artists do rely on support from the crowds to make for an exciting show and cover their expense for coming to the festival.  So they will ask for support from the crowd for both however, it is entirely up to you.  As the performers will say, “If you liked our performance and enjoyed the show, give a little… if you loved it, give a lot, either way fold it up and place it in the hat.”

I hope to see you all at this year’s events and you will not be disappointed.

For more information visit: https://buskers.ca/

Follow on Twitter: @BuskersHFX

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Follow on Facebook: @HalifaxBuskers

Follow on Instagram: @buskershfx

As you can see there are many amazing busker festivals to choose from for this summer.  So, we hope that our top 10 busker festival picks for the summer of 2018 can surely give you a couple of ideas to find what you are looking for according to your mood, tastes and the festival’s atmosphere. We want your summer to be the best of your life and your festival experience to be memorable for all the right reasons.

Remember to tag us on social media at @spotlightbizmag and use #Top10Buskerfests so that we can share your experience with our readers.

By Calli Gregg