First a little language lesson. Street artists call themselves buskers; what they do is called busking, and where they do it is called a pitch. That said, there are a couple of primary pitches in Boston where jugglers, comedians, statues, musicians, magicians, balloon artists and more show off their talents.

(WBZ photo)

Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market

This is like the Holy Grail for Boston buskers; but it’s not a spot they can just drop in and perform at-will. These acts actually audition annually, hold permits, have undergone CORI checks and hold liability insurance. The marketplace schedules acts in two main circles and several smaller one. These are family friendly shows. No fire, knives or profanity allowed; and no amplifiers for musicians until after-hours. The best time to catch street performances here is in April. That’s when dozens of new acts audition in front of crowds, to try and earn a regular spot for the summer. Be sure to bring some small bills or change to contribute to your favorite performers.


Harvard Square

A hot spot for street performers for decades, this area of Cambridge is self-regulated by the buskers. It’s first-come, first-served for a spot, though most performers will rotate every hour or two with others who show up. So if you’re not enjoying the performance, check back in a little while. You’ll find mostly musicians during the day, entertaining the students and lunch crowd. Once the sun starts to set the variety acts move in. There are two main, large pitches for performers and several smaller spots for up-close acts. Performances here tend to be a lot louder than Faneuil Hall as they compete for audiences; amplifiers are allowed. All Cambridge buskers need to perform is a $40 permit from the city.

(WBZ photo)

MBTA Stations

Did you know that every subway station in Boston has a designated spot for musicians to perform? Because of the underground environment, the T regulates the noise level. No trumpets or drums are allowed – so you’ll mostly find singers, guitar, keyboard and saxophone players. They are all supposed to have a permit and wear a photo id.