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City alive with buskers

The third annual Victoria International Buskers Festival takes over downtown July 19-28
Vancouver-Island based Vesta Fire is one of many busker teams making their way to Victoria for the Victoria International Buskers Festival, July 19-28.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step right up and behold astonishing feats of strength, balance and hilarity at the third annual Victoria International Buskers Festival, taking over downtown July 19-28.

With performers coming from 34 countries carrying out hundreds of performances over 10 days, this year’s festival is sure to be the best yet — especially since all the performers are new to the show.

“We had a number of performers brought back for the second year, but decided on a whole new slate of performers for this year’s festival,” says director John Vickers. “We’re planning to do an all-star lineup for the 2014 festival.”

One of the highlights of the festival will be Funny Bones, a duo from Tokyo, Japan who feature rock ‘n’ roll lions, juggling, voice percussion, magic and giant hilarious puppets. Funny Bones was named Best International Act at the 2011 Christchurch, New Zealand World Buskers Festival, one of the largest in the world.

Four of the performing groups have previously worked with Cirque du Soleil, including The Mat Velvet and Charlie Show, with their wheel in motion.

The USA Breakdancers present a spectacle packed with stunts and the hottest dance moves, complemented by the trio’s hilarious antics.

One of the local groups performing this year is Vesta Fire, a four-member team from the Island that combine circus stunts with fiery displays, stunning costumes and amazing feats of juggling.

In what will be one of the busiest weekends of the summer, July 19-21 will combine the opening of the Buskers Festival with Northwest Deuce Days, a celebration of hot rod culture that is expected to bring more than 40,000 people to the Inner Harbour.

Last year’s busker festival drew 146,000 people to the downtown core over 10 days, and Vickers says his goal is to break the 200,000 mark in the years to come.

Performances on the stages around the Inner Harbour will begin each day at noon.

Government Street closes daily at 5:30 p.m. between Fort and Yates to host one of seven stages. On July 21, the closure happens at noon, marking the first full day closure of the festival’s history. Langley Street, at the top of Bastion Square, will also close each evening, as well as the afternoon of July 20. Expect to see live music and vendors gathered in the square each day.

And although the festival is free to attend, the performers make their living with the tips received from the audience, so make sure you bring some pocket change to tip your favourite buskers.