Busking in Bristol

Busking in Bristol

Bristol busking and street performance guidelines.

Our busking guidelines were written in consultation with the:

  • busking community
  • Broadmead Business Improvement District
  • Police

If you’re a busker or a street performer then you’re expected to follow these guidelines.

1: Only be for a maximum of 90 minutes in any one place

You must move after 90 minutes. We have a culture of swapping pitches and moving around the city. One pitch must not be dominated by one performance artist.

2: Don’t set up in front of doorways and fire exits

You should also avoid blocking shop window displays. If you’re unsure, ask the business or building owner’s permission first.

3: Don’t play too loud

Your volume should be just above the street noise without being intrusive. If you make too much noise you could get a verbal or written warning which could result in a fine. 

Make sure there are no other buskers nearby who may be drowned out by your equipment.

4: Take breaks and don’t repeat material on the same pitch

Repeating a limited number of songs or performances is one of the main causes of complaints. Moving to another pitch after finishing your set of songs will make complaints less likely. 

If you’re taking a long break, move your equipment away so someone else can busk on that pitch. Do not hog the pitch by leaving your busking gear.

If you’re on a short break, turn off your equipment and don’t attempt to collect money. This will make it clear you’re on a break.

5: Avoid obstructing the pavement or road

Make sure your performance or your crowd doesn’t obstruct the road or pavement. This can upset people and you may be committing an offence under the Highway’s Act, 1980.

6: Be considerate of street traders

Think of others who use the public space to make their living such as Big Issue sellers and food vendors.

7: Clean up any chemicals 

If you’ve used fire or chemicals in your performance then clean the space when you’ve finished.

8: Have a street trading licence if selling anything

You must have a street trading licence to sell items on the street such as CDs. 

If you don’t have a licence then you may be committing an offence under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

You can’t do any street trading in Broadmead and some other streets in Bristol.

9: Donations received are made on a voluntary basis

You can display CDs or other items for people to take but you must emphasise that any money received is on a voluntary basis. This is so that the product or service is part of the busking act and people don't have to make any contribution.

You can use a sign and the possible message could be:
‘In order to comply with street trading legislation these CDs are not being offered for sale, any contribution you make is voluntary and at your discretion. Suggested contribution £x’

10: Don’t ask for money

You should not ask for money but you can accept donations.

11. You must be performing

Sitting holding an instrument is not busking, this will be treated as begging. You may be committing an offence under the Vagrancy Act. 

If you’re taking a break, get up, move away, and don’t attempt to collect money. Make it clear you’re on a break. 

12. Don’t play close to a cashpoint 

Busking close to a cashpoint is not allowed as this is likely to cause a nuisance. 

13. Only busk from 10am to 11pm

Performance times in Bristol are strictly 10am to 11pm

14. Be polite 

If you’re approached by anyone to discuss any issues then be polite. 

Members of the public should wait for a gap in your performance before approaching you.

15. Check if you need insurance

Check if you need public liability insurance, particularly if you involve members of the public in your act or use potentially dangerous materials.

Breaking the guidelines

If you don’t follow these guidelines you could get a verbal or written warning from our officers.

If you continue to break the guidelines after a written warning you could be served with a Community Protection Notice, under the provisions of the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, or even legal action.

The full guidelines

You can download the full busking guidelines (pdf, 86k) (opens new window) .