Street performance & busking

If you want to perform or busk on the city streets, you'll need a licence.

Street performer on unicycle with flaming torch.

Get a free street performance licence

The Council supports high-quality street performance and aims to build on our reputation as a busking-friendly city.

To do that, we must consider the needs of our inner city residents, businesses and other street users, and have some rules about performing on Wellington’s streets. The rules are to keep people safe, allow them to go about their daily business and activities, while supporting our vibrant street performance culture.

Street performers need a licence, which aims to protect both performers and the public.

Street performance principles

The Council encourages street performance in public places where the performance contributes to the city’s vibrancy, can be done safely, and doesn’t interfere with pedestrian or traffic flow, business activity, or residential living.

To give residents, retailers and workers a variety of performances, we expect street performers to fairly share the best performance spots (pitches).

Anyone who understands and can comply with licence conditions can obtain a street performance (busking) licence. We can cancel or refuse to issue a performer’s licence if we believe they are acting irresponsibly or unsafely, or not complying with the licence conditions.

Street performance is a valid way to make money, but people should not feel pressured to give money.

If performing with fire, sound greater than 4 amps or other potentially dangerous materials or objects, you will need a special street performance licence as well as the standard licence.

Your rights

Street performers

  • Can perform on one site for up to 90 minutes a day, with an extra hour to set up and take down equipment.
  • May politely ask the audience for money.

Members of the public

  • Have the right not give money to a street performer.
  • Can make a complaint if they believe the performance doesn’t comply with the Council’s licence conditions.

Business owners

  • Have the right to complain if they believe a performer is not complying with the Council’s licence conditions.
  • Can ask the street performer to move, if the performance blocks access to the premises or is too loud to carry out normal business activities.
 

Download

Busking Street Performers Map (69KB PDF)

Where you can perform

As long as you meet the licence conditions, you can perform a quiet walk-by or roaming act at any time and in any public place in Wellington, except the Railway Station building and subway, and public places requiring specific permission.

You need specific permission to perform in Civic Square, city parks, or Wellington Waterfront. Email info@wcc.govt.nz or phone 04 499 4444 for more information.

Image of a map of downtown Wellington showing where buskers can perform.
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Sound performance

You can have a sound performance in any public place in Wellington, except the Railway Station building and subway, and public places requiring specific permission, between 7am and 9pm. After 9pm and before 3am, you can perform in Courtenay Place from Cambridge Terrace to Taranaki Street; Cuba Mall from Manners Street to Dixon Street only; and the Railway Station outside forecourt.

Circle acts

Circle acts are only allowed in Courtenay Place, Cuba Mall, Oriental Parade, and at the Railway Station outside the forecourt.

Dangerous performances

Performances using dangerous materials or objects are only allowed in Cuba Mall and the Courtenay Place circle.

More information

If you have any questions, or would like to give us feedback on the licence process, email streetactivities@wcc.govt.nz or phone the street activities coordinator on 04 499 4444.