There are sixteen incredible shows to watch at this year’s Halifax International Busker Festival. Here are six of our favourites.


Chalkmaster Dave

He uses chalk. He is a master. He’s called Dave. Welcome to Dave’s sidewalk.

Over the past 25 years, Dave has perfected the skills required to become a chalk legend, a twister of minds, a “your kids will love this photo” generator and all-round 3D (and realistic) chalk guru. But it’s not just his brains, planning, knowledge and talent to create stunning, beautiful artwork that’s impressive – he is also a grown man who can sit on a hard floor for hours on end, showing that physical feats are not just for the world record holders below.

All joking aside, if you want to take the best photo of your family at the festival, wander over to Dave’s supreme chalk drawings. Oh, and here’s a moment of zen: Chalky (as I’m sure he hates to be called, so probably best not call him that to his face) isn’t frustrated when his art is washed away by rain or feet; he loves that his work is temporary. He believes that the fact that it only lasts a few days is a good reminder to live in the present and appreciate the moment. And so should you.

You can view his profile and donate to Dave here:


Space Cowboy

On the other end of the naming scale, Chayne Hultgren (neither of those words are typos) isn’t from outer space and doesn’t herd cattle.

He does, however, have phrases attached to his show that are other-worldly. Like this one: “Most weight dragged with hooks in the eye sockets”. Or this one: “His theater act has included swallowing a 60 cm 2,000-volt neon glass tube with a microphone on the end (his heart can be heard beating as the light shines through his skin from the inside).” Awesome. And guaranteed to make the whole family squirm.

Another moment of zen: next time you’re doubting fate, think about this: Chayne is the kind of guy who calls his daughter “Scarlett Showbiz Wild”, puts metal implants in his chest to make it look weirder and extinguishes blowtorches with his tongue. He couldn’t have known, starting off on this career path, that he has a medical disorder called “congenital division of the stomach”, meaning it sits further down his body. But he does. And that means he can swallow the full 72 cm of a full-length sword. Fate, right?

You can donate to Chayne here:


Madame Guillotine

“Historically, executions were entertainment, what makes now any different?”

That’s one way of looking at Kate Mior’s comedy kill-fest. Another is “humans are so screwed up for actually celebrating executions way back when.” True. But that doesn’t stop you enjoying them.

Kate has brought her show throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Africa, showcasing her wind-up doll, living portrait and circle shows. In addition to being a hardworking, DIY performer (she makes all her own costumes from scratch), Kate is also a buskers’ rights advocate in Canada, meaning she’s not just highly entertaining, she’s also one of the best people on the planet.

A festival favourite and Torontoan hero, Kate is a powerful force both on and off stage. So, go see her show, and either enjoy wallowing for an hour in your bloodthirsty ancestry, or try to get in on the act, by volunteering your annoying uncle and hoping that the trick fails.

You can view Kate’s profile here:


Pogo Fred

Meet Fred. He pogos, and has been pogoing since the birth of “Xpogo” – the extreme version of bouncing on a stick.

Pogo Fred is one of the original founders of “stunt pogo”. Using his ten-foot high pogo stick, Fred jumps ten feet in the air (side note: I believe that sentence from wikipedia means he’s jumping 20ft total – not that his pogo stick is broken).

He delights audiences with backflips, front flips, spinny jumps, limb-free jumps and I’m really not doing its awesomeness justice by listing them. In fact, all the tricks have proper technical names, just like skateboarding and Kama Sutra, so if you want to learn them all, either listen to the weekly web series Fred co-hosts (called “The Pogo Kings”), or better yet, go watch Fred’s stunning show.

You can donate to Fred here:


Mama Lou

With her retro-glam style and “can do” attitude (as in “I literally can do anything”), this strong woman spends her days bending bars, breaking chains and tearing telephone books in two. She holds a world record that includes both the words ‘biceps’ and ‘apples’ (don’t google that, just go see her perform). Having fallen in love with busking at an early age, Mama Lou has a well-honed show that combines strength, song, and physical stunts.

This self-taught star now uses her physical prowess to remind her audience that they’ve spent far, far too much time on their phones/computers, and not enough time laughing your head off at live comedy shows in Halifax. Your head. You. Go have fun.

You can view Mama Lou’s profile (and hire her) here:



And last but not least, Alakazam is the annoying kind of street performer who has the annoying habit of annoyingly winning all the people’s choice awards at buskerfests.

I assume that’s how other buskers introduce him. Al Millar, a.k.a. Alakazam, a.k.a. the Human-Knot, started busking as a teenager in Australia. Over the past 20 years, he has performed in 35 countries, and expanded his act to include contortion, comedy, juggling and more.

In addition to busking, Alakazam also mentors up-and-coming buskers in the art of street performance. He uses his years of experience to teach others how to engage their audience, how to build suspense within an act and how to write jokes. That’s right, he’s a “busker consultant”. So, if you’re a consultant too, watch Al’s show, and see what could have been if you’d chosen to work in the great outdoors making people’s days brighter and filled with love, instead of for a giant corporate beast. Just kidding!

You can donate to Al here:

You can see all the acts along the Harbour water front below, and download a festival schedule here