Bread and Circus World Buskers Festival ready for busy weekend in Christchurch

Fire-juggling firemen, acrobatics and comedy are just some of the performances lined up for the 31st year of the Bread and Circus World Buskers Festival in Ōtautahi/Christchurch. 

Organisers have said the festival has bounced back post-COVID-19, with strong ticket sales and a large pool of international talent. 

The Circus Firemen, who juggle on a ladder with fire, told Newshub putting themselves on the line is what the punters love. 

"There's that danger element. We might get hurt, or one of us might hurt," said performer Angus, one of The Circus Firemen. 

"My brother is juggling a chainsaw now, which I'm really glad he's doing... and not me," Angus said. 

And if danger isn't your cup of tea, perhaps Gaku 'The Juggling Drummer' from Japan is.  

The pool of international performers is vast this year. 

There's also a freakshow physical comedy from South America.  

"They hardly speak English at all but they're crazy, and I really enjoyed looking at their things online," said festival director Scott Maidment. 

US performer Leah Orleans has a one-woman acrobatic comedy show.
US performer Leah Orleans has a one-woman acrobatic comedy show. Photo credit: Newshub.

And from Chicago, Leah Orleans performs a one-woman comedy-acrobatic show. 

"I've never been to New Zealand, this is my first time at the World Buskers Festival," Orleans told Newshub. 

"[There are] high level circus tricks and super-wild comedy, and I get to overshare a little bit. So, people end up getting to know a lot more about me than they needed to know." 

Despite a fifth wave of COVID-19 currently sweeping the globe, there are high hopes it won't dent crowd numbers.   

"We did have a couple of years where it could only be local performers and that was hard when it's called the 'World Buskers Festival.' But the world is... back in full force, said Maidment. 

Ticket sales so far have been strong. Up to 200,000 people from across Aotearoa are expected to attend the 10-day festival, pumping at least $500,000 into the local economy. 

"It's also about what it does for our brand and storytelling," said Loren Aberhart, Christchurch NZ general manager of destination and attraction. "Adding another layer of awesomeness to Christchurch."