lundi 25 avril 2016

Busking in Brussels

I often busk in Brussels, as it is my hometown when I am not on the road. I always enjoy it a lot, people nice and keen to take the time to listen. And you get to play for the whole world, as there are many tourists all year long.

Busking at Place de la Monnaie 
But there are many rules to busking in Brussels. You need a permit, and that permit states where and when you can play with unbelievably painfull precision. As a general rule you can only play at a given spot at even hours, and the spots where you are allowed to play are specified on the permit. In the UNESCO zone, ie the walking center of the town, only the spot facing galery St Hubert seems to be worth it really, and everybody fights over it. There used to be a nice spot behind the Bourse, facing Sint Niklaas Church, but they removed it recently (the spot, not the Church). Instead they created a new spot in front of La Bourse on the new walking street that is now Boulevard Anspach, known as Le Piétionnier. I have busked there a few times but the whole atmosphere isn't the same, I miss the old spot. Then there are a few spots around the UNESCO zone but still in the center, at Mont des Arts, Place de La Monnaie, and in the shopping street that is Rue Neuve, in front of the church.

To get the permit you need to head to the town's "Service de la Culture" on Rue Sainte Catherine, but beware of the opening hours which are very limited, to say the least: opened on Tuedays from 2 to 4pm!! Almost as if they didn't want you to busk...

To get the permit you need to comply with either one of these two conditions: you have an Artisitc Degree, or you have to pass an "audition". Don't worry about the so-called audition though, they basicallyu just check whether you are capable of playing or singing and that you won't be too much of a nuisance and scare people away...

Once you get the precious permit it is valid for 1 Month, after which you need to head back to "Service de la Culture" and ask them to renew it. This can be done 3 times over the course of a year, 4 times if you live in Brussels. And don't expect to get your new permit on the same day, you have to come back the week after to pick it up. Oh and bring a photo and a copy of your identity card.

The one good thing about busking laws in Brussels is that you are allowed to play with amplification, which is rare enough to be mentionned.

Now, can you risk it without the permit? Yes and no. In the UNESCO zone it's a bit tricky, and it's anyone's guess whether they'll bother you or not. It really depends on which cops are on duty that day: some won't mind and won't bother you, some are extra zealous and will stop your performance and give you a warning. They won't fine you if it's your first warning though... it's once you've been warned that it gets tricky. In rue Neuve it depends on cop patrols also, they have already bothered me there. Elsewhere as far as I can tell, if nobody complains and calls the cops on you, you should be fine!

You can always e-mail me if you have any questions about busking in Brussels, and here is the link to the city's page for the busking rules and permit:;

To end on a lighter note, here's a little video of me busking at Place de la Monnaie last November:

1 commentaire:

  1. Thanks for this article. I have always found busking in Belgium fun but didn't understand the rules in Brussels.