What is busking?

Family Fun International Busking Day 2019

International Busking Day is fast approaching. In a few days’ time, the world’s largest celebration so street performance and art will be taking place at Wembley Park.

On Saturday 20th July, over 50 acts from around the world will be performing across five stages in Wembley Park.

And we aren’t just talking about musicians.

Across our stages, we have everything from singers to dancers. Unicycle experts to hula hooping professionals. Football freestylers to comedy acts. Oh and some Human Hedges!

Whilst we’re getting excited about the family-friendly festivities, we want to enlighten everyone on the art that is busking and why it is so important.

International Busking Day 2018 Sadiq Khan and Neil Rodgers Wembley Park International Busking Day 2018 Councillor Muhammed Butt ​ and Nile Rodgers Wembley Park

What is busking?

Busking dates back to antiquity. Basically, a very, very, VERY long time ago. Although busking has now moved on from people performing to beg for food or money, the art of street performance still lives and breathes – and wows us daily!

There is no real definitive answer to what a busker can do. Performers and performances are defined by literally anything that people find entertaining. Meaning you can find performers doing everything from acrobats, balloon twisting, comedy, dance, music, singing, caricatures, fire skills, fortunes telling, painting, magic, puppeteering – the list is literally endless.

Busking and street performance is celebrated in every culture around the world. It’s even evolved with the times and we now have ‘cyber busking’, where people use the internet and social media platforms to uploaded photos and videos of themselves performing.

Busking today

Street performances are often encouraged and supported in more modern times. Many councils map out ‘pitches’ where buskers can perform that have good footfall and plenty of space.

Transport for London has a particularly popular busking programme to liven up the commute, where talented buskers get a unique audience of around 3.5 million tube passengers every day.

The scheme is so popular in fact it has attracted a LOT of media international media attention, and these buskers are often snapped up for events or recording sessions. Some huge names like Ed Sheeran, Jessie J, Bob Geldof and Katherine Jenkins have all played on the Underground’s stage. 

London itself has a very fruitful busking scene, so much so that Busk in London (a not-for-profit street performance programme supported by the Mayor of London) was set up by Found in Music in 2016. They curate over 7,000 hours of free live music and street performances across the capital each year. The talent they have in their roster is seriously impressive. 

Busking has moved far beyond what it once was. The talent and creativity of buskers in the 21st century is completely unrivalled. Everyday huge talent is being spotted and their dreams are becoming true. Busk in London has given an incredible platform to so many performers. Hattie Briggs was spotted busking in Paddington Station by Alfie Boe. He immediately snapped her up and she opened for him on his 22 date tour, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd on his final show in the Royal Albert Hall. She has since been name ‘One to Watch by the Independent. Lucy May Walker was spotted by Jeremy Vine. She has since played live in the studio and Vine has played her new single on air (which is completely unheard of as producers fix the playlists NOT the presenters). Sherika Sherard was spotted by Seal when busking in London one day. They performed two impromptu duets and then she went on to open two nights of his show. More recently, one of her original songs, ‘We Don’t Need a Reason’, was picked by Spike Lee to feature in his Netflix series, ‘She’s Gotta Have It’. Busking is a huge and important stepping stone for many artists of tomorrow. 

Hattie Briggs single and music video, ‘You’re Not Alone’ – played by Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2. 

Some huge names all around the world began their career as buskers. Tracy Chapman began as a busker in Harvard Square. The incredible Genie himself, Mr Robin Williams, began as a busker in the street of New York City. Even rock-god Rod Stewart once hit the streets to perform. Celebrations like International Busking Day give performers and artists an opportunity they might not usually get.

International Busking Day 2019

Which leads us to today (or rather Saturday 20th July). With busking talent around the world getting better and better by the day, International Busking Day was started to celebrate all the weird and wonderful performances on offer. At Wembley Park, we’re proud to support some of the biggest talents from around the globe.

So on Saturday 20th July from 12 PM to 8 PM, we have partnered with Busk in London to bring you all the very best acts from the six continents. All for FREE.

The all-day family-friendly event will entertain all ages with the HUGE variety of acts we have lined up. And keep an eye out, as we have a super exciting headliner performing.

So come on down, support the incredible artists and have a fantastic day. Book your FREE tickets below or just turn up on the day! Simple.

To find out more about International Busking Day, click here.

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