An interesting tradition here in London are the 'buskers,' street performers of every description.  In some areas, they are regulated, and have to appear before local councils to get a spot in which to perform.  This is the case in Covent Garden, where most of these photographs were taken.  In other place (like the tube stops) buskers are not allowed; however, they are often tolerated in the less-busy stops.  There is a fascinating array of talents and acts on display, and they change over the course of the day on some predefined but not-easily-discerned schedule.  You can also occasionally see the same busker in a different part of town.  Some of the acts are quite simple; one guy just has his hair and tie stiffened so that he looks like he's in a high wind, and then just pantomimes trying to walk.  Others, like the sting quintet, are much more elaborate.  All apparently are making some money at it, as they keep showing up, even in the dead of winter.



Audience participation is one technique that seems to bring a crowd. This guy does eventually get up on the unicycle, and even juggles at the same time.

Unicycler 2

But, before he gets there, he shows his flexibility. There were at least sevens guys helping him out, guarenteeing him an appreciative crowd, just from the friends and families of the particpants alone!

Unicycler 3

Almost there! Keeping the crowd around means not succeeding too quickly! The longer they hang around, the more obligated they're likely to feel, to offer some coins for 'value received,' i.e., entertainment.

Straight Jacket

An old Houdini trick, escaping from a strait jacket. An entertaining patter while performing this trick keep the crowd amused.

A Traditional Approach

There are people all over just playing and singing; here, in Covent Garden, and in 'tube stops' and on the street.

Bicycle Guy

This guy did many tricks with his bicycle; this was the easiest to photograph.

Holding Still

There's a sub genre of buskers who's main trick is to have some outlandish costume, and then mostly hold still. It's a sort of 'living statue' motif. I saw this same women in two entirely differnt parts of town; here in Covent Garden, and another day at the Portobello Road Market.

The Space Man

Here's a busker between 'performances.' He wears head gear, and is supposed to look like some alien, I guess. The main trick is, his one arm can appear to be very, very long.


Another way to go is to have a more traditional talent. This woman had a tape player nearby, and sang arias. She was very, very good.

String Quintet

There's a 'sunken' part of Covent Garden that includes an outdoor 'wine bar.' A series of classically oriented performers appear there. They usually have someone to pass a hat among the observers lining the railing above.

Football (not Soccer; this is London!)

This gentleman could do amazing things with his football, never touching it with his hands. I did wonder, given the importance of football in this country, if his performance was appreciated more by the American tourists than the natives, who see people doing amazing things with a football all the time.

Spining Wheels

A tumbler and wheel-spinner, this man managed to entertain with cast off bicycle wheels, balancing as many as three at a time.

Piano Man

Many of the musical acts (the Diva, the string quartet, etc.) had CD's for sale, which you can see here in the top of the piano 'case.'

Something for Everyone

The kids really enjoyed this pupet show. The whole 'theater' is worn by the performer, and so is quite mobile.


The art of 'circular breathing' is the key to playing this instrument, of aboriginal Australian origin. This gentleman was also selling CD's.

Steel Drum

I visited the Portobello Road Market on twice (once taking Sara and Ronnie), and this gentleman was near the entrance both times... I think. I didn't have my camera with me the second time, but I could have sworn that was not the same guy as the first time!

Irish Harp

What made this performance so unusual was the selection being played; calyso! This was in the 'subway' (an underground pedestrian tunnel) near the Natural History Museum.

Covent Garden

Shops of all descriptions, eateries, and crafts booths are the draw to Covent Garden that brings the crowds, which draw the buskers. The main buildings are surrounded by a wide cobbled road that allows few cars (deliveries only, I think), and thus provides the perfect venue for the performers.

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