Victorians will be treated to world-class street entertainment when the first annual Victoria International Buskers Festival arrives on Friday, July 15.
The 10-day event was inspired by buskers festivals in Edmonton and Halifax, says founder and organizer John Vickers. “I wanted to help put Victoria on the map as a fun destination, instead of just a relaxing, quiet destination,” he says.
With six stages set around the downtown core, the festival will have non-stop action and entertainment for the whole family.
Performers include award-winning contemporary clown Fraser Hooper, who uses mime, juggling, dance and comedy to delight audiences of all ages; Becky Hoops, one of the world’s best hula hoopers from Montreal; The Aerial Angels, a high-flying show featuring acrobatics, trapeze, fire-eating and aerial fabric — hung 60 feet in the air at the Bay Centre; Victor Rubilar, Guinness World Record juggler from Sweden; Jonathan Burns, a comedic contortionist from Pennsylvania; Flame Oz, offering cutting-edge fire performances; Greg Frisbee, a master juggler, comedian and magician from San Francisco; Bendy Em, a comic contortionist who can squeeze into a 16-inch perspex box; and Sharon Mahoney, a former Victorian and quintessential Canadian who wows the crowds with her brand of social interaction and comic possibility, among many, many more.
With over 500 applications, Vickers was overwhelmed at the response from performers looking for a spot.
“There’s this whole community that travels the world going to these busking festivals. I wish we could have brought in 30 acts, but we decided on about 20,” he says.
Along with between 25 and 30 local “Busk Stop” performers, spread throughout the downtown core, there will be almost 50 performances to see.
“If you want to know who is performing where, you need to get a festival guide,” says Vickers. Guides are being sold for $2 at various locations, including the Monday Magazine office at 818 Broughton St. Fifty cents from the sale of each guide will go to the Youth Clinic — a confidential free health clinic for youth aged 14 to 24.
This family event is free to attend with buskers passing around the hat at the end of their performances, scheduled every hour on the hour at the various stages throughout the 10 days.
“In the true nature of busking, all income is earned primarily through tips,” says Vickers. “The great thing about tipping is that regardless of your economic status, you can give what you can. We want the buskers to go away as financially happy as possible so they come back again next year.”
Langley Street will be closed for 10 days to host the 100.3 the Q/The Zone@91.3 Stage. Performances will last about 45 minutes, each between noon and 10 p.m. Daily.
“There are bleachers in some locations, but I suggest you bring chairs or a blanket because some people will be standing for awhile,” Vickers says.
The festival also features the International Buskers Bistro on the slip on the Inner Harbour. Run by local chef Steve Walker-Duncan from the Ambrosia Centre, the 19+ bistro and bar will offer busker-themed meals and snacks along with the festival’s only licensed bar. The French Bohemians will be playing gypsy acoustic guitar and saxophone at the bistro every evening until 10 p.m.
The Cridge Centre for the Family is welcoming the general public and their residents to the Cridge Village Seniors’ Centre (1307 Hillside) for two shows, Wednesday, July 20, at 11 a.m., and Friday, July 22, at 3:30 p.m. in the upper parking lot.
“There aren’t many festivals that cater to people from 3 to 93,” says Vickers. “This festival really has something for everybody.” M
Beginning Friday, Performance locations include:
1. Telus Stage — At Ship Point in the Inner Harbour
2. Harbour Air Stage — Next to Inner Harbour float plane terminal
3. Greater Victoria Harbour Authority Stage— along the lower causeway
4. Tourism Victoria Stage — on Fairmount Empress front lawn
5. 100.3 the Q/The Zone@91.3 Stage — Langley Street, beside the Maritime Museum in Bastion Square.
6. The Bay Centre Stage — centre court (noon and 1 p.m. daily)