Busking in Vancouver streets and parks

Example of busking in Vancouver

Buskers and street performers sing, dance, juggle, mime, do magic, and draw caricatures to entertain crowds and receive donations on streets and in parks.

We encourage a wide variety of street entertainment and provide permits according to performance type and content on a case by case basis.

Find out where busking is allowed, learn about the City's guidelines for respectful busking and volume levels, and apply to get a street entertainment permit.

Locations where busking is allowed

To busk on most Vancouver sidewalks, you need a street entertainment permit.

Busking locations where you don't need a permit

Entertain the crowds at these locations – no permit needed:

  • Parks, unless specifically prohibited
  • Library Square, specifically the sidewalks along:
    • 300-block West Georgia Street
    • 700-block Homer Street
  • Queen Elizabeth Theatre, specifically the sidewalks along:
    • 200-block West Georgia Street
    • 600-block Hamilton Street
  • Science World, specifically the sidewalks along:
    • West side of Quebec Street
  • Seawall from Science World to Cambie Bridge, specifically:
    • East and north sides of False Creek
  • SkyTrain stations, specifically the sidewalks adjacent to the stations (unless refused by TransLink)
  • Terry Fox Plaza, specifically the sidewalks along:
    • 700- and 800-blocks Beatty Street
  • Vancouver Art Gallery, specifically the sidewalks along:
    • 800-block Robson Street

Locations where busking is prohibited

You are not allowed to busk:

  • Around the Stanley Park totem poles and gift shop
  • Within 10 m of the Gastown Steam Clock (corner of Water Street and Cambie Street)

Busking conditions and guidelines

We understand the adrenaline generated when performing for an audience. However, take care not to irritate neighbouring businesses or residents.

Anywhere you busk in Vancouver – permit-only area or not – you need to follow these conditions and guidelines, as well as all City and Park Board bylaws.

Performance durations and times

  • Up to two performances are allowed on a street block face or park, except on Robson Street west of Burrard St, where up to four performances are allowed on each block face.
  • The maximum performance time is 60 minutes at any one location. After 60 minutes, you must move to a different location at least one full block away or in a different park. Portrait artists can be at one location for up to two hours.
  • On city streets, performances may take place between 10:00am and 10:00pm, seven days a week.
  • In parks, performances may take place only during normal park hours while the park is open to the public and must end by 10:00pm.

Safety and comfort

  • Performers and their audience must not block doorways, display windows, sidewalks, paths, bicycle routes, or park or city streets and roads.
  • Performances must not jeopardize the comfort and safety of others. Performers must respect the wishes of nearby residents and visitors, particularly regarding the loudness of the performance. Refrain from requesting the crowd to cheer or yell.
  • The use of sharp or dangerous objects is prohibited, including juggling knives, hatches, chainsaws, or flaming objects.

Volume levels and amplification

  • Voice amplification is not allowed, although we give case-by-case consideration to rap music performers.
  • Battery-operated amplification can only be used for instruments that need an amp to be heard (when you apply for your permit, we ask you to describe your instrument or accessory to be amplified).
    • For example, an acoustic guitar does not need amplification to be heard.
  • Amplification is only allowed for the instrument identified on the permit.
  • Performances using amplification must be in a location that will not disturb others. Performers must respect the wishes and concerns of others.
  • The volume must be kept to a reasonable level, under 70 db and intended for an audience within 10 m, within the guidelines set by the Noise Control Bylaw.

Amplification at English Bay

  • Amplification is not permitted in English Bay. Permission may be granted to use amplified sound in other parks if it doesn’t carry beyond park boundaries. To obtain permission, contact the Park Board office.  Park Board staff will attend your performance and discuss the possibility with you.

Equipment

  • Portrait artists may use one easel and two small folding chairs, and display up to three pieces of their art including the working drawing. The sale of pre-drawn work or photocopies is not permitted.

Groups

  • Busking in groups of up to three performers is allowed. In permit areas, each performer needs a valid permit while performing.
  • Groups must limit their footprint to ensure enough space for pedestrian traffic.

Sales

  • Musicians are permitted to sell recordings of their original work during their performance. No other sales are permitted.

Cooperation with officials

  • Performers must cooperate immediately with requests by any member of the Police Department or the Park Board, and City of Vancouver officials.
  • In permit areas, the permit must be on display during the performance.

Young performers

  • Performers aged 13- to 15-years must be accompanied by a parent at all times during performances.
  • Children 12 and under are not eligible for busking permits.

How we handle complaints

If you don't follow these conditions and guidelines, you may:

  • Be told to lower your volume or find a new location
  • Get a warning or fine
  • Have your equipment confiscated
  • Have your permit suspended or cancelled
  • Lose the privilege to perform on City streets for six months

Suspended or revoked permits are not refunded.

Qualifications

To apply for a busking permit, you need to:

  • Be at least 13 years old
    • If you are 13 to 15 years old, your permit will be issued in your parent's name.
  • Have valid photo ID

How to apply for a street entertainment permit

  1.   You may apply for a Street Entertainment permit in person at Engineering Services with your:
    • Completed Details Form (64 KB)
    • Permit fee (in cash, debit, or credit)
    • Valid photo ID

      Engineering Services
      5th floor, 507 West Broadway
      Vancouver BC

2016 Fees

Permit length Fee
4 months $39.11 + GST
1 year $116.08 + GST

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Find and contact us

Contact Street Activities

Location
5th Floor
507 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC V5Z 0B4

Hours
Monday to Friday
8:30am to 5:00pm

Mailing address
Engineering Services
320 - 507 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC V5Z 0B4

street.activities@vancouver.ca

Contact the Vancouver Park Board

Location
2099 Beach Ave
Vancouver BC, V6G 1Z4

Hours
Monday to Friday
8:30am to 5:00pm

Fax: 604-257-8427

pbcomment@vancouver.ca

Other busking programs

Busk in SkyTrain stations

Learn how to get a busking permit for SkyTrain stations at the TransLink website.

Busk on Granville Island

Learn how to get a busking permit for Granville Island on the Granville Island Buskers website.

Busk on Granville IslandBusk in SkyTrain stations