My partner and I arrived the week schools let out, and apparently that makes this the first weekend of the good busking; the weekend of Summer Solstice. Summer’s Here!

Copenhagen is a haven for buskers, with crowded pedestrianized streets for miles, it’s fairly easy to find a spot, set up, and get down. Amplification is not allowed, but the buskers will tell you that you can get away with it after the local shops close. Copenhagen Streets

As we arrived downtown, I turned to my partner and said “any busker still out right now is hardcore” since it had just stopped raining 5 minutes ago. Yet, as I said that, I heard the sweet sounds of an acoustic guitarist under and umbrella, playing some classic Aerosmith, Sweet Child of Mine.

Guitarist under umbrellaThis is actually a different busker under and different umbrella.

if you are busking in Copenhagen you are used to the rain, and if you want to play, you’d better be prepared to get wet too. The weather here is really strange. The rain stops within half an hour of starting, but it will be back in an hour or two, and it’s easy to get caught, fire torches in hand, standing on the top of your box, drowning in torrential storms. Which really happened to poor Piper….

Piper Busking in Copenhagen

Piper somehow managed to keep his crowd on the sidelines, sheltering from the rain in doorways, even taking a meager hat at the end. Despite his show being rained off, he finished it with style and grace, and laughed it off.

Then the sun shines again! Here are some breakdancers, in the exact same pitch, literally 30 minutes after the photo above, killing it on the dry cobblestone without a cloud in sight.

breakdancers in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is a hodgepodge of different styles, and for the most part, the buskers are friendly and respectful with each other. I was told that Paul the piper was “a legend, one of the hardest working buskers, playing day and night, 7 days a week, and probably works harder than all of us”. He’s been around for more than 15 years, and yet he’s always willing to move or give space to another busker if they ask nicely.

Paul the Piper

There is no licensing system. The city once tried to put on in place, but it didn’t work out; since most of the buskers are transient it became a bureaucratic nightmare for the city. The police are usually nice, as long as the stores don’t complain about you being too loud.

The musicians used the local benches and had good crowds and after the night came, we all came together and had a beer on these same benches to celebrate a good days work. The buskers in Copenhagen were kind to me. It really helps when you know someone on the inside, like Piper, to show you the ropes. I was also rained off the pitch a few times, but that seems par for the course here, and you just have to wait out the storms.

Crowd Member takes photo

Violinist Plays

Although Danish people don’t have a culture of tipping, tips are still good. There are many tourists in the area, and the Danish people also value the entertainment. Your hat ends up being a mix of coins, mostly Danish Krona, British pounds and Euro’s, making it difficult to accurately assess of what you collected at the end of the day.

Puppeter and child

3 headed Thing

Piper eats firePiper did end up getting some sunshine and a good few shows into his day.

And just as we were leaving, this pan flute player was getting ticketed by the police. I didn’t ask what his story was, but I assume with his huge music set up, that it’s because of amplification bans throughout the city. So be careful with amps folks!

Piper Gets Busted

Otherwise, I would recommend busking in Copenhagen to anyone who loves a good crowd!