Sports and leisure

Busking in York

Busking is an important part of creating a vibrant, exciting and cosmopolitan atmosphere for residents, visitors and businesses in York.

Guide to busking in York

A culture of mutual respect amongst all those who share public spaces is encouraged. Our busking guidelines give information for buskers, local businesses and residents about what's expected.

The guide has been written up and agreed by:

Buskers should also review the busking byelaws and details about licenses and the sale of CDs.


Busking and COVID-19

This guidance is in addition to the full Busking Guidelines.

Legitimate concerns have been raised following an incident in 2020 involving large gatherings in the city. Enforcement action was taken against buskers who failed to consider the risk of transmission of COVID-19 among their audience. City of York Council, North Yorkshire Police, York BID and Make It York are all committed to ensuring York city centre can be enjoyed safely as we work to move out of coronavirus restrictions.

As an individual making money from street performance you are responsible for your own health and safety and other people involved in the act as well as the health and safety of your audience. You are required by Health and Safety at Work etc. act 1974 to carry out your own risk assessment, including Coronavirus transmission risk, and ensure that your act is carried out in a safe way. Failure to do so could result in enforcement action by City of York Council or North Yorkshire Police.

Busking safely during the pandemic

In order to adhere to government advice in relation to social distancing and ensure that you and your audience are safe, you should consider the following.

Your location

Allow enough space for people to watch and/or move past you and your audience safely. Singing can increase the risk of transmission. You should be at least two metres from all audience members.

Your set

Spending too long in one place could encourage larger crowds. Could you reduce the length of your set or take more regular breaks to encourage people to move on?

Your volume

Does your volume attract members of the public from too wide an area into your patch? Keep your volumes down to ensure you keep a manageable crowd

Your audience

Remind your audience at the start of your set and between each song/act to remain socially distant. It may be useful to have a helper who can direct your audience and prevent gatherings If people should sing along or fail to keep socially distant despite your requests, you should stop your performance and ask them to move along. You should not start again until people have complied, even if this means moving to a different pitch yourself.

Agencies will carry out monitoring to ensure buskers are taking appropriate measures to keep people safe. By encouraging an audience to gather but failing to ensure they are social distancing you may be breaching coronavirus regulations, anti-social behaviour law and Health and Safety legislation. Legal action may be taken against you under:

Additional considerations

Consider using contactless payments for the audience to give donations, or ensure when handling cash that you sanitise your hands regularly.

As well as the government’s Coronavirus Page, visit the Musician’s Union page for up to date information on busking during the pandemic.

Also see

Neighbourhood Enforcement Team

Community Safety Hub

West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA

Telephone: 01904 551555