A Look at the Busker Festival
Last month Halifax celebrated its 25th International Busker Festival. The city welcomed performers from around the world as they shared their talent and performances with us. Have you ever wondered where busking originated, how it has changed over the years and what makes someone a busker?
Busking is an art form and anyone can be a busker. A busker is someone who performs on the streets, usually high traffic areas, for tips. They could be a magician, a fire eater, a mime, or someone who performs any type of art that will be enjoyed by pedestrians. They perform for many reasons - to test new material, to meet new people, or for new artists to gain exposure.
The term busking first appeared in the English language in the mid 1860s. The word busk comes from the Spanish word buskar, meaning to seek or wander, this was applied to street performers of the Middle Ages. They wandered from place to place, sometimes as entertainers, news reporters, or message bearers. It was common for inns to pay buskers with a meal or a bed for the night instead of money. Prior to the 1900s in Europe busking was referred to as minstrelsy; in France they were called trouveres, in Germany as minnesingers, and in Italy as buscare.
During medieval times local merchants would ask buskers to perform in front of their stores to attract pedestrians and increase business in exhange for payment. This helped street entertainment become a popular attraction. Over time busking became a popular form of entertainment and spread through out the world, and remains almost the same today. Modern conveniences like the internet make it easy for buskars to select their destinations and busking festivals.
Tell us about your busking experiences and share your photos.