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Street entertainment – Busking

The City of Melbourne is proud of its reputation for supporting lively street culture and greatly values the diversity of entertainment that buskers provide in the public realm.

Artistic and cultural life is integral to Melbourne as a creative city and the City of Melbourne encourages performers from all backgrounds, abilities and through different mediums to showcase their craft in the city.

Meet the buskers of Melbourne.

What is busking?

In the context of the City of Melbourne’s Street Activity Policy 2011, a busker is considered to be an entertainer who is actively providing a public performance in the public space in exchange for a donation.

Busking is defined as sounding or playing a musical instrument, singing, reciting or performing conjuring, juggling, puppetry, miming, dancing or other entertainment or doing any of those things concurrently. Busking also includes the activity of drawing any message, picture or representation on a pavement, paper or canvas surface.

Types of busking performances may include:

  • performing with an instrument or multiple instruments, conventional or self-constructed
  • performing a song, dance routine, mime, clowning, juggling, puppetry, comedy, magic or living statue act
  • actively working in an artistic medium such as painting, portraiture or chalk art 
  • performing a Circle Act with or without dangerous goods (includes the use of substances that are flammable, toxic or hazardous and implements such as swords, knives and whips).

What is not considered busking?

The activities listed below are not considered busking, so busking permits will not be issued though may be eligible for other permit types.

  • Selling or street trading of any kind – glow sticks, reindeer ears, flowers, jewellery and other merchandise sellers,
  • artists selling pre-fabricated work – pavement artists must be actively engaged in producing their artistic medium and not simply selling displayed artworks,
  • photography - Polaroids and print club included,
  • arts and crafts - macramé, origami, screen printing,
  • drawing and painting on postcards, t-shirts, bags or other goods,
  • touting, spruiking or advertising,
  • political rallying,
  • religious preaching/promotions,
  • fortune telling including tarot card reading and palmistry, 
  • massage, chiropractic treatment or any other physical manipulation, 
  • face or body painting,
  • temporary tattoo applications including henna,
  • cosplay and soliciting donations for photos taken while dressed in character costumes, 
  • mascots,
  • fundraising on behalf of a charity, cause or organisation,
  • events or promotions even if they involve any element of performance.

How to apply

This is the process to follow if you have never had a City of Melbourne busking permit or were issued with a permit before 1 July 2011. Please visit How to apply for information about how to apply for a City of Melbourne busking permit.

Busking permit reapplication

If your permit has expired or is soon to expire, please visit Busking permit reapplication for details of how to update a City of Melbourne busking permit.

Other busking opportunities

For further opportunities for street entertainment, please see our other busking opportunities.

Busking database – list of performers

The City of Melbourne busking database is kept strictly private and confidential. If you are looking for a performer for a gig, festival or corporate function or have any other opportunities for buskers, please send through all relevant and specific details, including any flyers, using our online contact form.

More questions?

First, please read through the Busking Guidelines 2011:

If you need assistance in a language other than English, please click on translation services for help.

If you have further questions, please call the City of Melbourne on 03 9658 9658 or contact us online.