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Street performers in public areas

The City does not require or issue permits for street performers in public areas. 

Street performers are permitted to engage in performances as long as they do not violate any City laws, statutes, or ordinances. Performers may ask for and accept contributions of money or property at a performance. Performers may also sell recordings of their own performances.

Still have questions? Contact:
Entertainment Licensing
1 City Hall Square, Room 809
Boston, MA 02201

Rules and definitions

Street performers must obey all City laws and ordinances

For example, street performers have to follow the City's noise ordinance and the laws against disorderly persons and conduct. Street performers must not block:

  • handicap ramps
  • doorways, or
  • emergency safety equipment.

Street performers also can't block the passage of the public through a public area. Sometimes, a crowd watching a performance may block the public way. If that happens, a local officer or park ranger can disperse the part of the crowd blocking the public way. They will not move a performer unless the performance affects public safety and order. For example, street performers may not force pedestrians to walk into the street.

Street performers can't produce unreasonable noise and exceed noise levels of 70 decibels at any time. They also may not exceed 50 decibels between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., per the City's noise ordinance.

Definition of 'street performers' and 'public areas'

"Street performers" are also known as "buskers." They include people engaged in, but not limited to:

  • playing musical instruments
  • dancing, acting, and singing
  • pantomime, juggling, magic, and puppetry, and
  • drawing, painting, and reciting.

"Public areas" include:

  • sidewalks, walkways, grounds, and
  • parks and other public pedestrian ways located in the City of Boston.
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