The life of Dublin street performers: Mandatory permits and plenty of rules to follow

Dublin street performers and buskers cannot perform at all sites in the city, not even with a permit.

People who come to Dublin for the first time may be surprised by a huge number of street performers and buskers, especially on the tourist-packed Grafton Street. They have become part of Dublin’s cultural life.

The legendary U2 frontman Bono, Oscar-winning Glen Hansard and recent Ireland’s discovery Dermot Kennedy have all crafted their art also on Dublin streets.


Yet, Dublin City Council introduced legislation, back in April 2015, to regulate street performances after complaints had been made by businesses and locals over the noise and blockages to shops. The by-law was updated in August 2016.

Permits required

Any street performer or busker is obliged to obtain a performance permit from the Dublin City Council (DCC). Besides, if they want to use the amplification equipment, they need another permit to apply for.

The application form, available in English, Romanian and Portuguese, can be downloaded on the DCC website. Only after submitting the application with two recent photos of a street performer and paying fees, the street artist is granted permits.

They are valid for one year, but each performer is first subjected to a probationary period of six weeks during which they cannot break the 2016 by-law. The permit costs €30. However, if a foreign street performer or a busker visits Dublin and wants to perform, they may apply for a two-week permit for €10. The latter may be, however, renewed only once in a year.

“Dublin City Council issued 501 annual street performers licences in 2019 and 110 visitors permits,” the DCC said to Babylon Radio.

As regards permits to use amplification, a yearly permit costs €60. Visitors staying in Dublin for two weeks pay €20. This permit was introduced because there are additional costs in monitoring sound levels, the Dublin City Council said.

“There is no proposal to increase the permit fee in 2020,” the DCC added.

If an ensemble or any other group perform on Dublin streets, each member must apply for a permit!!! These permits must be on display during their performance, besides.

Buskers and street performers under 18 need to have their application signed by a guardian or parent.

Music curfew

Street performing artists in Dublin can showcase their craft between 9.00am and 11.00pm each day. In case of pedestrian streets such as Henry Street and Grafton Street, street performances are allowed from 11.00am for health and safety reasons.

[pullquote align=”normal”]Dublin City Council issued 501 annual street performers licences in 2019 and 110 visitors permits. [/pullquote]

Moreover, an artist can perform in one location for no more than two hours. Afterwards, they must move to another spot, which is at least 100 metres further of their previous location. They cannot return to the previous spot until the next day.

There are different rules applying to Grafton Street, however. Buskers and street performers can perform only in designated “pink” areas for a maximum period of one our and then move elsewhere.

Each performance is to start and finish on the hour mark. Also, performers must stand at least 50 metres away from one another, must cease their performance if a street is blocked, and should not perform within three metres of the entrance to any business or other premises.

Dancing on Grafton Street

As Grafton Street gets quickly packed with people, and many shops are also located on the main street, there have been special restrictions introduced in the by-law.

Bands of five or more members and circle and dance groups are not allowed to perform at any hour they wish to. The restriction concerns the space between the junction at Nassau Street/Suffolk Street and the junction at South King Street/St. Stephen’s Green.

Big groups and ensembles may perform between 11.00am and 5.00pm at South King Street/St Stephen’s Green, where a performance area was designated for their needs.

The General Post Office is an area around which street performers and buskers are not allowed, generally speaking, to perform. However, they may do so between 5.00pm and 11.00pm from Monday to Saturday and between 11.00am and 11.00pm on Sundays.

Performers can show off in the Temple Bar area unless they use amplification equipment. But no performances of any kind are allowed in this area comprising Asdill’s Row and Bedford Row.

No more than 80 decibels

Artists are, in addition, not allowed to use backing tracks and the sound produced should not get beyond 80 decibels, or 75 decibels in the Temple Bar area. Furthermore, they cannot ask for money, but people may give money to a street performer.

Performers are required not to use offensive language and to have a sufficient number of songs to sing as a song cannot be repeated for half an hour.

Performers should not, besides, power their equipment using a cord or wire connected to a nearby building or power source.


If an artist breaches any of the rules stated in the by-law, they may be asked to pay €75 to the DCC. If the fine will be paid within 28 days, the performer will face no legal proceedings.

The fine can, in fact, get as high as €1,500 if a street performer or busker commits an offence, including a refusal to provide their name and address, and is convicted.

“Dublin City Council will commence the review of the bye laws in the near future,” the DCC claimed.

Dublin is not the only Irish city to have introduced restrictions for street performers and buskers. In 2019, Galway came under fire after it approved similar by-laws, which became effective from 2020.

Peter Dlhopolec
Peter Dlhopolec

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