5 Scottish Busking Events

SURGE conflux street theatre busking glasgow performance
SURGE: Used To Be Slime, photo by TheArches 2010. Some rights reserved.

Today is International Busking Day, and musicians and street performers everywhere are gathering to celebrate. Scotland has a thriving street arts scene, so we’ve put together a list of street events that happen throughout the year. Step outside today to offer your local buskers your support, then use this guide to keep on experiencing the street arts world.


Glasgow-based Conflux are Scotland’s leading champions of street performance. Each year they unleash hordes of street artists on Merchant City in a festival of street theatre named SURGE. The result is a chaotic mass of clowning and colour, with previous performances including a parade of deep sea creatures and a brief attachment to the Commonwealth Games. You can next attend the festival at the end of July, where two dragons are promised to appear.

Inverness Street Theatre Festival

Returning in 2015 for its sixth year was Inverness’s Street Theatre Festival, where street theatre artists and performers descended on the Highland hub for four days. The Inverness BID, who funded the project, encouraged artists to enter shops as well as busk on the street. Conflux, of course, has paid the festival a visit. Other favourites amongst the locals include Granny Turismo, a trio of senior impersonators who perform daring stunts on shopping trolleys, and Big Rory and Ochie (a giant and his shaggy dog).

Samhuinn Fire Festival

Samhuinn is a pagan festival that traditionally takes place on Hallowe’en. Participants perform a battle between the Summer and Winter kings, with Winter rising victorious at the end. In Edinburgh we are lucky enough to have the Beltane Fire Society, who organise a procession through Old Town that is free to attend. Fire, dazzling costumes, and battle cries fill the city on this ceremonial night, making it a truly unique addition to the street arts calendar.

National Busking Festival

Last year saw the launch of Scotland’s first ever National Busking Festival. Taking place in Stirling, locals gathered for two days in June to celebrate street musicians. Performers flocked from all over Scotland, proving the diversity and strength of the grassroots music scene the country over. The festival also hosted the first National Busking Awards, naming Struan James Garry from Buchlyvie Busker of the Year 2015.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh’s premiere festival isn’t only famous for its comedy venues. There is also a wealth of outdoor performances that take place on the Mile and the Mound. Both are central areas where the crowds tend to congregate, lending to the vibrant atmosphere that street arts create. Obviously the Fringe is huge, so it attracts a fantastic array of artists including clowns, bagpipers, percussion bands, and also theatre groups giving tasters of their shows that are shown in full indoors.