Toronto International BuskerFest for Epilepsy

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Photo Credit: Buskerfest (torontobuskerfest.com)

The 17th annual Toronto International BuskerFest for Epilepsy is happening this Labour Day Weekend, September 2-5 at Woodbine Park in The Beach neighbourhood (1695 Queen Street East). Besides the new date and venue, there are plenty of other exciting, new additions to this well-loved festival.

“Woodbine Park provides the ideal space for our family areas, allows us to add a licensed beer garden, and offers far, far more green, grassy seating from which our audiences can relax and enjoy an eclectic mix of world class performers. We can’t wait to bring busking to The Beach, and the beach vibe, to the festival!” says Epilepsy Toronto Executive Director, Geoff Bobb.

New this year is the Be A Busker Zone, an interactive area for kids to get some hands on experience in a few of the many busking arts. From aerial arts with the Circus Academy and hoola-hooping with Dispatch Talent, to balance and magic with The Magic of Balance, this area is meant for hands-on fun!

The Family Fun Zone includes face-painting, balloon twisting, giant games, the Toronto Education Workers’ Bus, and Bébe Station, an all-purpose tent for parents who need to nurse, bottle-feed, and change their little one while at an event. And for those seeking a little thrill ride, a Midway with rides, games and bouncy castles will be located in the Parking Lot on the north side of the park.

What’s better than relaxing in a park while watching a great busking show? How about relaxing in a park while watching a great busking show and enjoying a beer!? NEW this year, BuskerFest features its own Beer Garden, sponsored by Carlsberg, right in the centre of the action.

For the first time ever, BuskerFest features a Car Show on Saturday, September 3 (rain-date: Sunday, Sept. 4), from noon to 7pm on the park lawn closest to Coxwell St. Both classic and new cars will be on display, presented by Downtown Toronto Ford Dealers.

Epilepsy Toronto is working to ensure all visitors enjoy the festival with ease. At the BuskerAccess Tent, located with the festival Info Tent, visitors with disabilities are provided with assistance – such as an escort to one of the accessible stages – by accessibility volunteers wearing an identifiable accessibility symbol on their shirts. Non-verbal performances by Dan Marques’ Ace-K (Japan) and The Budapest Marionettes (Hungary) take place daily throughout the festival. Additionally, on Friday, September 2, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., 3 performances will be accompanied by ASL interpretation.

The new BuSK App – recently launched at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – is a Pokemon Go-style app for buskers! It aims to help audiences find street performers, and tip them with cashless payments. Created by The Busking Project, a social enterprise and community network that seeks to challenge negative stereotypes about buskers and showcase their talents and contributions to the cultural fabric of cities, the app promises to transform the way audiences find, interact with and tip street performers. With fewer and fewer people carrying cash, this app may be the way of the future in the world of busking!

Special Performances

Morro & Jasp – The Biggest And The Bestest! It’s true, this beloved Toronto Clown Duo are coming to BuskerFest to host cabaret benefit shows, on Friday and Saturday night of the festival at 7:30pm on the Gazebo Stage. The shows will feature a collection of performers from the festival’s line-up along with a few special guests (friends of Morro & Jasp), and a fiery finale! The hats from these benefit shows will be donated entirely to Epilepsy Toronto.

Dr. Draw & The Strange Parade – Dr. Draw returns to BuskerFest to once again invigorate and enthrall the crowds with his unique style of violin playing that brings elements of classical, jazz-rock fusion, folk, pop and electronic music together into a riveting masala of sound. Performing on the gazebo stage Friday and Saturday night of the festival, he brings with him The Strange Parade, a collective consisting of a full band, multi-disciplinary artists and beat maker DJ BSMNT.

Hip Hop Champions, hosted by Scott Jackson – Canadian Beatbox Champion Scott Jackson hosts a one-of-a-kind show featuring some of his most acclaimed friends from the Hip Hop world: unanimously appointed 2015 DMC Online World Champion DJ Vekked, the Sound Battle Royale Champion Fresh Kils, with multiple JUNO nominations under his belt, and extreme break-dancer Switch B. This Hip Hop super show is performed every evening of the festival, Friday – Monday at 6pm on the Gazebo Stage.

The Grande Finale is always a lively and spontaneous collaboration. This year it is hosted by Beatbox phenomenon Scott Jackson and features performances by an outstanding collection of festival performers, a special guest performance by Arashido Taiko and the announcement of this year’s BuskerFest People’s Choice Award winner. The hat from this show will be donated entirely to Epilepsy Toronto.

Festival admission is by donation to Epilepsy Toronto, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping more than 40,000 Torontonians with epilepsy and their families through counselling, employment support, advocacy and education. Tips collected by the performers in their hats, goes to the performers, except at designated benefit shows. This year, for the first time, advance passes are available online and can be used for express entry to the event. Anyone who makes an online donation will be entered to win daily prizes leading up to and during BuskerFest. Contest prizes include local gift certificates for food, merchandise, event tickets and more!

“Thanks to the generosity of BuskerFest visitors who donate to Epilepsy Toronto, we are able to provide much needed support to the 1-in-100 people in Toronto living with epilepsy,” says Bobb. “This is one of the most amazing festivals in Canada. We are incredibly excited about all of the international and Canadian performers who make this festival come alive and who share their talents at the festival in support of Epilepsy Toronto.”

17th Annual Toronto International BuskerFest for Epilepsy
Friday, September 2 – Monday, September 5, 2016
Woodbine Park in The Beach (1695 Queen Street East – Coxwell Ave. at Lakeshore Blvd. & Eastern Ave.)

Friday, noon – 11 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Monday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Admission by donation to Epilepsy Toronto
For Advance Passes or information, visit: www.torontobuskerfest.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BuskerFestToronto, Instagram & Twitter: @BuskerFestTO #BuskerFestTO #BuskersAtTheBeach

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