Nfld. & Labrador

Magic and acrobatics mesmerize at Buskers Festival

Acts at the festival in St. John's include a talented spray-painting artist and 14-year-old puppeteer.

It's as close as you can get to a circus on Water Street

At the annual downtown St. John's Buskers Festival last year, there was one act in particular that stood out to Josh Martell.

Alex Wilkie, armed with his cans of spray paint, old paper and bowls, created galactic pieces of art in front of a live audience.

Martell was captivated.

"I was there for at least a couple hours. Watching him. Videotaping," he said. 

"I wanted to try it. I watched it before on YouTube and stuff but I never saw it in person."

Now, at the 15th annual festival, it's Martell whom the crowd is watching. 

"I'm kinda nervous," he said with a smile. 

The young teen from Conception Bay South and puppeteer Jake Thompson, 14, are this year's local Busker Festival acts.

"I always loved the Muppets and puppets," Thompson said, clutching Lou, a bright blue, fuzzy puppet with a bulbous purple nose and hair that sticks straight up.

"Since I was two, I started watching the original Muppet Show. I wanted to start a YouTube channel and it grew from there."

Thompson has a TV show on Rogers called NL Now, where puppets Gary and Wheeseltin interview interesting people in the province. 

Jake Thompson and his puppet Lou draw a crowd at the 15th annual Buskers Festival in downtown St. John's. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Every year clowns, magicians and musical talent come out into the streets of St. John's to perform. This year, there are four international acts. 

"We have performers who have won best in show in buskers festivals all around the world," said Gaylynne Gulliver, marketing and special events manager with Downtown St. John's.

Seeing performers like Martell pick up skills from other buskers is what the festival is all about, Gulliver said. 

"You're fostering a legacy and developing art and skills that may have not been available or come to the city, if not for this event."

The St. John's Busker Festival runs all weekend, at three locations on Water Street. For more details visit

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.