Click individual photos to enlarge and enter the Lightbox Gallery.
We are introducing a brand new series of Photo Essays! Have a look at amazing Photo Sets all shot by talented photographers. Explore the vibe of the city, its hidden treasures, meet the Torontonians! This time, let’s have a look at Toronto through the lens of Carlos Bolivar!
One of the most spectacular festivals in Canada fills the streets of Toronto each summer. The 14th annual Scotiabank BuskerFest took Yonge Street by storm for three days at the end of August (this year, the event was held from August 22 to 25). The festival brings a large number of street performers of all kinds to Toronto — from silent comedy, slapstick, magicians, and daredevils to acrobats, clowns, and musicians. On each street corner and all along downtown Yonge Street, people formed circles around the amazing fire shows, with little ones screaming with joy when funny puppet shows began. But there’s much more to BuskerFest than just entertainment. It’s the largest event held to support the epilepsy treatment in the world and it’s also North America’s largest street performer festival!
The unbelievable becomes the new normal in the streets of Toronto during this festival. Peculiar costumes and eccentric performances leave you in awe. Before you say you don’t like these kinds of shows, let us remind you that the event’s list doesn’t feature any average performers that you might pass on your way to work. It’s more than 100 top-notch street performers from Canada and around the whole world who hit the streets — enthralling, thrilling and surprising. After last year’s tremendous success, with more than a million visitors who came to the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, the event expanded to Yonge Street (all the way from Queen Street to College Street) which provided more space. BuskerFest 2013 succeeded in filling the central part of one of the longest and most vibrant streets in the world. The event was open for all, as admission was voluntary donation to the non-profit organization Epilepsy Toronto. The only form of payment for the performers is their collecting money in a hat or guitar case after each show from their audience, so you alone decide which acts you like most and how much they deserve.
The tradition of busking is very old, going all the way back to 13th century jongleurs, musicians, and acrobats in medieval France. The word “busk” comes from the Spanish root word “buscar,” meaning “to seek.” Buskers seek fame and fortune by stepping onto street corners and hoping to win over the attention of passers-by.
“We wanted to create a unique and memorable experience that brought epilepsy out of the shadows and into the public eye: an entertainment extravaganza that supports a greater purpose in aid of people with epilepsy and their families,”
Epilepsy Toronto helps more than 40,000 Torontonians diagnosed with epilepsy and their families to get through the difficulties of this condition through counselling, employment support, advocacy, and education. You might be surprised to learn that one in every 100 Canadians has experienced some form of epilepsy, so this truly is a problem that needs all the awareness and support we can give it.
Each year, BuskerFest attracts the most talented street performers not only from across Canada, but also from distant parts of the world. But there’s no language barrier — the international language of the body plus toys and tools of all sorts are answered with the raucous laughter of the audiences. The organizers prepared two major benefit shows that donated all their proceeds to Epilepsy Toronto. Busker Fest is their biggest fund-raising event of the year. The first of the two events was the Fire Show, which brought the best artists performing fire stunts with such fierce names as Pyromancer or PyRomeo. For performers from all over the world, being a part of the main event, the Grand Finale, is a lifelong dream. Each year, the Metro People’s Choice Award grants the performer with the most votes from the audience an invitation to the next show. It must be an overwhelming feeling to know that among all the performers, you stole the most glances and hearts in the audience.
BuskerFest entertains the whole family — a special program for kids is always included. This year, Trinity Square Park boasted balloon animals, face painters, and hula hoops that put a smile on every kid’s face.
If you missed this year’s event, have a look at our photo report from the Yonge Street extravaganza. And make sure you drop by to watch the colourful spectacles next year. See you at BuskerFest 2014!
Where: Downtown Yonge Neighbourhood
All visual content is licensed by Creative Commons – you may use individual photos but you need to link them back to this original page properly and clearly attribute them to us.