Busking in Covent Garden

Central London is very well-known for its diverse street performances ranging from street mimes, dance performances, all the way to opera singing. Watching these street performances was definitely one of the memories that stuck with me most during my first strolls around Covent Garden. Looking at the professionalism and creativity of every performer, it has never occurred to me to consider any possibilities of potentially busking around Central London.

If you’ve read some of my blogs, you would have probably heard me rave about my experiences being involved with Imperial A Cappella society. After a series of lockdowns and preparation for competitions, we finally got the chance to spare a weekend to head out to busk at Covent Garden! As a collegiate A Cappella group, busking remains one of the best ways for us to earn some side income for subsidising events, merch, or in our case, releasing our first ever EP!

Busking licenses are required in order to busk around Central London. However, the process to apply for one is fairly simple! We were required to submit some identification details, a copy of liability insurance, followed by some short description of our performance details. A busking license is valid for 6 months and costs only 10 pounds. Within two weeks, our licenses were approved and we could busk in designated locations around Covent Garden!

Being in London for almost four years, I have learned to always just carry an umbrella around at all times instead of checking the weather forecast daily, as I am well aware that the only way to counter the unpredictability of London’s weather is to always be prepared. It didn’t occur to me how drastically the weather might affect our busking experience, as no one likes walking around under a pouring sky. On the day of busking, the weather forecasted a full day of mild rain, and throughout the day, we were all just praying for the rain to stop.

Fortunately enough for us, we were welcomed by a clear sky when we reached Covent Garden at 5pm. After setting ourselves up and picking our busking spot, we started singing. Busking in the open air is by no way similar to rehearsing in a closed space. With the hustle and bustle surrounding us, we could barely hear the voices of people around us. However, we managed to follow through with our performance set by loads of hand motions and interactions with the audience.

It was such a tremendously fun experience being able to share our joy with the rest of London during a Sunday evening. People came up to us to dance along to our music, asked us about our social media, and came up to us to say how much they appreciated our music. Even though it was daunting putting ourselves out in the open, I can’t wait for more opportunities to perform to a crowd of people again.

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