Hosting Events

Street Performance "Busking" Policy and Guidelines

Street performance, or busking, involves an individual or group who provides entertainment in the public realm for a voluntary gratuity from audience members. Such entertainment may include, but is not limited to, playing an instrument, singing, dancing, juggling, miming, or other form of creative performance.

The Street Performance "Busking" Policy and Guidelines have been developed to support a vibrant street performance culture and help performers, residents, pedestrians, retailers, workers and visitors understand the code of conduct around performing in Hamilton’s public spaces.


  • Performances are allowed in outdoor public places in Hamilton except where the space has been permitted for a specific time and use. Outdoor public spaces include but are not limited to sidewalks, courtyards, squares, exteriors of buildings etc.
  • Performances are allowed in public parks during regular park hours only except when the park, or a portion thereof, has been permitted for a specific time and use.
  • Busking is prohibited on private property without permission of the property owner.
  • Busking is prohibited at transit stops, in transit vehicles, or near public toilet facilities.
  • Buskers must not unreasonably interfere with pedestrian or vehicular traffic flow nor encourage audience formation in such a manner as to cause such interference.
  • Maximum performance time is three hours per busking location.
  • Only battery operated amplification may be used.
  • No high risk or unsafe performances, dangerous materials or dangerous implements which may put the performer or audience at risk such as knives, swords, chainsaws, fire or flammable liquids.
  • Consideration must be given for other acts performing in close proximity.
  • Buskers may receive monetary appreciation volunteered by an audience for their performance but may not solicit funds.
  • Buskers require a business license to offer goods for sale.
  • Performers must comply with all other statutory requirements, rules, regulation and bylaws of the City and/or other authority.
  • Public Space, which is being permitted by the City for a specific use and time, may not be used for busking during the period of the permit.
  • Performers must immediately cease any activity and remove any performance equipment or materials at the request of a Hamilton Police Service Police Officer or any person designated by the City for reasons of public safety.
  • Audience members are encouraged to provide donations for performances they enjoy.
  • Effort should be made to address concerns and complaints with the performer prior to seeking involvement of Hamilton Police Service.
  • Street performers, or buskers, are not contracted entertainers nor are they licensed as performers by the City of Hamilton.
  • Festival and event organizers, having secured a permit for use of a specific public space, may implement additional or different guidelines within the parameters of the permitted occasion, such as may require auditions, or identify specific locations for busking activity.

For the purposes of this Policy the following definitions apply:

  1. Street Performer: An individual or group who provides entertainment in the public realm for a voluntary gratuity from audience members. Synonymous with Busker.
  2. Busker: Synonymous with Street Performer.
  3. Performance: Musical, dramatic or other entertainment substantially involving musical, theatrical or circus performance skills.
  4. Soliciting of funds: The act of asking, begging, seeking or requesting money or goods from members of the public.
  5. Offer for sale: The display or demonstration of items, particularly multiples of items, with an implication that they are available for sale or otherwise in exchange for money (for example, CDs).
  6. Dangerous materials or implements: Materials and implements that pose risk, hazard or uncertain outcomes for people. Dangerous materials include flammable materials and chemicals, fire, fireworks, smoke, flares, heated elements, or anything giving off a level of heat or toxicity that poses a threat of harm or damage to members of the public and public property. Dangerous implements include but are not limited to knives, spears, swords, spikes, or anything which could cause harm or damage to members of the public and public property.