One of the largest and most popular of Toronto’s summer festivals is the annual Buskerfest held at the end of August. For four days, several blocks of downtown Yonge Street near Yonge-Dundas Square are closed to traffic and converted to pedestrian-only areas, where local and international buskers (street performers) can showcase their skills. As one of them cleverly pointed out, this is the world’s second-oldest profession!
Throughout the years this festival has gotten bigger, outgrowing its original location near St. Lawrence Market on Front Street. In its 15th year, the Toronto Buskerfest is now the largest of its kind in North America, and attracts performers from every corner of the world. Donations at the entry points as well as performances on the main stage go to Epilepsy Toronto research and support programs; proceeds at individual street performances go to the buskers themselves. Of course, it’s up to you what you want to give, but every performer will remind you that they travel to the festival at their own expense, and are not paid by the organizers – and they really do put on a good show. There is also a Peoples Choice online vote, where the winners are guaranteed a return invitation to the festival next year.
All kinds of acts take place throughout the four-day festival, from individual performers to group shows. Many of them involve acrobatics, juggling, and street magic; there are also music performances and “roamers”, stilt-walkers that roam above the crowd. You’d pretty much be guaranteed to see something new and different every day. The whole atmosphere is carnival-like, and the audience loves the spontaneity and interactive nature of the acts. In the evening the fire-jugglers are especially popular.
The dry weather and mild temperatures made for a big turnout over the weekend, and the crowds only got bigger at night. These photos were taken over a span of two days.