Busker Carnival to get new location

Festival to move from King Street South to behind Waterloo City Hall due to construction of LRT

File Photo by Heather Davidson
File Photo by Heather Davidson

This year’s Sun Life Financial Waterloo Busker Carnival, an annual event that celebrates street performers and artists, will be moving to a new location. The event, which takes place Aug. 27–30, will now be located behind Waterloo City Hall.

The permanent relocation comes as a result of upcoming summer construction for the Region of Waterloo’s light rail transit project. Some of the project’s construction will be taking place on the portion of King Street South where the busker festival has been situated in the past.

Regional council recently specified where the expected summer construction would take place, with the majority of the work occurring between Grand River Hospital and the Waterloo Public Square.

In addition to the location change, the festival will also change its focus as far as theme. The traditionally spread out street-style event will now have more of a carnival focus, highlighted by less space between buskers.

“Now we have a more open space where pitches will be in a more intimate setting, and we’re planning to change that whole space into a more carnival-like atmosphere,” said Stephen Young, the festival’s director of marketing.

“In a lot of ways, it’s an opportunity for us to improve on the carnival.”

Parking availability  was one consideration that was key in determining the new location. The new location offers similar parking options to the previous busker festival location, with several lots available to service attendees during the four-day event around the uptown core.

Many traditional busker festival features will still be available even with the change in location. For example, the children’s midway, featuring activities and attractions for younger attendees, will still be part of the event.

“The midway will be a larger space,” said Young. “All the things we’ve always had will still be there, but just in a different shape, if you will.”

The busker festival has traditionally been a street-based event, hosted on King St. since its inception. However, the organizers are not overly worried about the possibility of lower attendance, mostly due to the nature of the festival’s fans.

“We have a very strong following of busker fans; we’re actually one of the best in Canada and in the world, and we know this from buskers who travel all over the place that they get their largest [profits] right here in K-W,” said Young.

“That’s because of the region itself and the people who appreciate the arts.”





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