phone mail2 facebook twitter play whatsapp
Busking in Bristol: A Guide
Image Credit: Elle Curran/ via Flickr

Busking in Bristol: A Guide

30 December 2017 | Charlie Kenber

Bristol is well known as a hub for artists and musicians, and the city is teeming with talent. Here are a few tips for anyone considering a stint performing on the street...

Bristol has long had a great relationship with street performers, and it’s not uncommon to see musicians, magicians and entertainers thronging the city’s streets and adding vibrancy to the surroundings. Buskers also tend to be good at swapping pitches, moving around the city, and not hogging a particular spot, so you’ll usually find a variety of performances taking place.

Brilliantly, you don’t need a licence to busk in the main public areas of Bristol such as Broadmead or the Harbourside, which means anyone can show up and try their hand. You only need to be careful about private land and blocking highways, entrances or ATMs – if in doubt, make sure to ask the business owner first! Often they’ll be delighted to have you there to draw in the crowds.


Christmas Busking. Image credit: Mark Keohane/ via Flickr

There are plenty of good spots in Bristol: Broadmead is the most popular with other buskers, so you may have to explore a bit before finding a quiet enough pitch. Make sure you avoid the Galleries shopping centre, however, unless you have specific permission or are busking for charity. As private property, Cabot Circus is also unfortunately out of bounds unless you’re working for St Mungo’s – and even then they require extensive documentation.

However, there are alternatives: the bottom of Corn Street (where it becomes Clare Street) can make a decent spot, as can the covered Harbourside walkway in front of the Watershed – just make sure you don’t crowd any traders who might be there. Also, check out the top of Cascade Steps and Pero’s Bridge, both of which make good open spots for those with louder acoustic brass or woodwind instruments.


A Busker on Corn Street, Bristol. Image credit: Shareef Turner/ via Flickr

To make things as clear as possible, the Council have recently published updated rules on busking in the city, but it’s fair to say these are largely based on common sense and being considerate of others around you. The regulations say that you can only busk between 10am and 11pm, and performances must last a maximum of 90 minutes. This is to ensure that buskers move around the city, creating a flexible dynamic in which pitches are shared and residents and visitors get plenty of variety.

You’re also instructed to introduce range into your performance: nothing gets the complaints rolling like banging out the same cover of Valerie or Wonderwall on an endless loop. Taking short breaks is also encouraged, but make sure you don’t continue to collect money and make it clear you’re having a rest. The guidelines also outline that the volume of your performance shouldn’t be much greater than that of the ambient street noise, so perhaps leave your six-foot speaker stacks at home…


Busking It. Image credit: Matt Gibson/ via Flickr

The trickiest bit comes with selling CDs. Without a street traders’ licence you’re still allowed to put CDs on display, but only as long as you make it clear a donation is only suggested. The public aren’t obliged to give you anything, but people will generally be decent.

Finally, and most intriguingly, the guidelines also require you to clean up ‘where fire and chemicals are used as part of your performance’ – we can’t help but get excited about the idea of a flame-fuelled rendition of Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain. We’re crossing our fingers!

Ultimately, the best way to find out what works for you is to get stuck in, and just make sure you’re sensitive to people working and living around you. Busking epitomises the energy and creativity of this great city, so get out there and get performing!
 

Tell us what you think

You may also like

24 Hours in Sheffield

24 Hours in Sheffield

Set against the stunning backdrop of the Peak District National Park, Sheffield is a fantastic city to spend a day in. Once one of the country’s…

Louise Reay: ‘Hard Mode’ at the Brighton Fringe

Louise Reay: ‘Hard Mode’ at the Brighton Fringe

Award-winning comedian and journalist Louise Reay talks censorship and imagines living in an authoritarian regime.

Relive the Magic: Top 5 Harry Potter Locations to Visit

Relive the Magic: Top 5 Harry Potter Locations to Visit

It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than 20 years since Harry Potter and 'The Philosopher’s Stone' hit bookshelves. Since then, it’s become one of the…

A Culture Calling Guide to the Brighton Fringe

A Culture Calling Guide to the Brighton Fringe

Don’t look now but May is almost here, and in Brighton that can mean only one thing. The Brighton Fringe returns again this year (5 May-4…

24 hours in Easton, Bristol

24 hours in Easton, Bristol

Easton is one of Bristol’s most vibrant districts. Home to a wealth of independent shops, world cuisine and a burgeoning music scene, this cultural hotpot is…

A Music Lover’s Guide to Brighton

A Music Lover’s Guide to Brighton

If music be the food of love, head to Brighton. There you’ll find a smorgasbord of venues programming local artists alongside international stars. Folk, indie, hip…

Top 5 Fish & Chip Shops in Brighton

Top 5 Fish & Chip Shops in Brighton

They say never to eat fish & chips where you can’t see the sea. Luckily, that’s not a problem for Brighton’s seafront. We went searching for the…

An Interview with Corinne Bailey Rae

An Interview with Corinne Bailey Rae

The BBC’s ‘Sound of 2006’ poll crowned her as the number-one breakthrough artist for that year, releasing her debut album that February and becoming only the…

Oxford art collective, Intermix Jungle, talk about their upcoming pop-up

Oxford art collective, Intermix Jungle, talk about their upcoming pop-up

Art, music, design, performance: all within one space. Intermix Jungle is a new collective of over 20 young Oxford-based artists, whose first venture is a…

A Museum Lover’s Guide to Bristol

A Museum Lover’s Guide to Bristol

Once the second UK city only to London, Bristol has a complex cultural heritage stretching from the slave trade, to Brunel’s inventions, to the vibrant street…

{ad_alt}

Most popular

Exhibitions to Look Forward to in 2017

Exhibitions to Look Forward to in 2017

We take a look at what will be gracing galleries in 2017.
Theatre to Look Forward to in 2017

Theatre to Look Forward to in 2017

We look forward to the best theatre, opera and ballet on offer this year.
On Record: An Interview with Sophie Willan

On Record: An Interview with Sophie Willan

We talk to Sophie Willan about her experiences of social care and mental health, and her sell out comedy show.
The Best Healthy-Eating Restaurants in Bristol

The Best Healthy-Eating Restaurants in Bristol

Keep to your new year's resolutions of healthy-eating while still enjoying eating out.
 How to Survive Blue Monday in Edinburgh

How to Survive Blue Monday in Edinburgh

Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year, falls on 15 January this year. To cheer your day up try out one of these pick me ups.
Top 5 Roasts in Dover

Top 5 Roasts in Dover

It’s nearly that time of the week again! If you’re embarking on a little trip to Dover soon, make sure you visit one of these for a delicious Sunday roast.
Awards Season Films to see in 2018

Awards Season Films to see in 2018

You get the drinks, we'll get the popcorn.
Albums to Look Forward to in Early 2018

Albums to Look Forward to in Early 2018

Be up to date with the best music in 2018.
24 Hours in Birmingham

24 Hours in Birmingham

If you're headed to Birmingham, check out one of these hot spots for food, drink and culture.

Your inbox deserves a little culture!