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Busking in Columbia Resources

Hello Buskers! So you may have seen our emails or checked out our posts about Busking around town. Well, check out this page to catch up on all the latest happenings for buskers.

Make Music Day 2019. Photo courtesy of One Columbia for Arts and Culture
Make Music Day 2016. Photo courtesy of One Columbia for Arts and Culture

“A Busker is a person who performs in public areas; accepts donations from the public; and has obtained a permit pursuant to the ordinance.

“Perform” includes, but is not limited to the following activities; acting, singing, playing musical instruments, pantomime, juggling, magic, dancing, reading, puppetry, sidewalk art and reciting. Buskers shall not offer items for sale but they may offer items in exchange for a donation.”

Make Music Day 2016. Photo courtesy of One Columbia for Arts and Culture

Buskers are a vital part of our burgeoning arts community. Artistic performances enliven our growing entertainment districts while further cementing the creative community we have in our city. So if you’re a Busker looking for events and spaces to perform, check out this page for the happenings in town!

Getting Permits

 Permits can be obtained from the City of Columbia Business License Division located at 1339 Main Street (first floor) between 8:30am and 5pm Monday through Friday. 

$15 annually (from date of issuance) — $2.50 daily (up to 3 consecutive days) — $5 for replacements 

 The Regulations 

  • Permits are required and must be on display during the performance 
  • Each member of a performance group is required to have an individual busker permit 
  • Keep at least 50ft of space between you and your fellow buskers and street performers 
  • Busking hours – 9 am – 10 pm, but low noise or no noise activities can take place between 10 pm-12 am at least 100ft from any residential units or hotels 
  • Clean up after yourself 
  • Signs requesting donations are allowed, but must be smaller than 12in by 18in and cannot contain advertising 
  • Selling things is not permitted, but goods can be offered in exchange for donations 
  • Set up at least 100ft away from schools, libraries, hospitals, funeral homes, or churches while in session 
  • Stay in the public areas — public sidewalks and parks 
  • Avoid obstructing sidewalks, doorways, roadways and/or driveways and leave at least 5ft open on the sidewalk in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act 
  • Fire, projectiles, animals, knives or megaphones can’t be used in your performance unless the performance is connected to a city-authorized street festival and with the express permission of the organizer. Police or fire marshal personnel must be on site for street performances that involve dangerous materials or objects. 
  • Don’t drink on the job or perform intoxicated. 

Additional Busking Information

Information on Busking in Columbia (pdf)
Application (pdf)
Ordinance (detailed rules and requirements)

Noise Ordinance for the City
City of Columbia Licenses and Permits

 The full text of the busking ordinance (2012-057) is available here:

Contact the City of Columbia Business License Division
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 147,
Columbia, SC 29217

Physical Address: 1339 Main Street (1st Floor),
Columbia, SC 29201

Phone: 803-545-3345 | Fax: 803-988-8025
Email Address:

Office Hours: Mon-Fri – 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Opportunities for Buskers

If you’re a licensed busker, looking for opportunities to perform. Here are a few opportunities happening this fall. Some opportunities may be limited, if you have any questions, feel free email One Columbia at

Soda City Market
Main Street
Every Saturday (location may change due weather) | Soda City market has buskers performing during the market at no cost. If you’re a licensed busker, this is a great opportunity to come out and share your musical talents with your fellow neighbors. If you’re interested in participating, feel free to reach out to Soda City at