Busking Europe, in Germany

walking-the-streets-of-rothenburg-ob-der-tauber

We arrived into Germany from the Netherlands and Belgium. Our aim was to cross the whole country, from west to east, to see what Germany had to offer.

 

Bonn

After a van breakdown in the Netherlands, we decided that nothing could possibly go wrong in a town called Bonn. So that was our first destination! It was a nice walk along the Rhine into the town. On the west bank of the river are lots of giant, grand looking residences that are worth a look, even just as you pass them by.

Most days there are bustling market stalls in the centre square of town. These are definitely worth a look and the food is recommended!

Busking in Bonn

There are many places to play in Bonn. There are countless streets and they criss-cross all over each other in the centre of the town. The only trouble is they are also packed with shops and not all shop owners felt enthusiastic about music right outside their door. There are a few places where there is a little bit of an open square that you can make the most of.

We also saw buskers a little way outside Bonn, in Konigswinter. There were about five on a Sunday and the place was tiny. So perhaps a permit is not needed here.

Rules for Busking

  • You need a permit to play
  • They can be got from the City Hall but, not on weekends
  • It costs 10 Euros and the permit lasts for two days
  • Not sure if it is a certain rule, but we were advised to move every half an hour or so and most other buskers also did
  • No amplification was seen, but the streets are narrow enough to not need it

 

Koblenz

Koblenz is a little way down the Rhine from Bonn. The centre is a mix of altstadt and new shopping streets.

Busking in Koblenz

We were not bothered by anybody official on the day that we were in Koblenz. Each spot we chose though, there was a person that told us to be quieter. So much that we lost the enthusiasm to keep playing in the end. It was a town where you were unnoticed if you didn’t have an amplifier but much too loud for shops if you didn’t. Even Tom’s un-amplified singing voice was too much for one man, at one point. There were a few spots to choose from though and in the end it was a strange, but enjoyable day busking.

sunset-on-the-bridge-at-koblenz

Rules for Busking

  • You can only play for 30 minutes in each place.
  • Not sure if a permit is needed to play or not

 

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Is full of American tourists. This is, I think the most picturesque town in Germany. It is definitely the most picturesque that we visited. So much so, that it kind of felt wrong to busk here, or that it definitely wasn’t allowed. An American orchestra was playing in the main square. There was to be a group there twice a week for most of the summer in 2017.

In the end we decided to be tourists here and made enough to cancel out our costs for staying here. We also made enough for some Schneeballen (Snowballs). A tasty, crazy German treat, these are the speciality of Rothenburg ob der Tauber and at around €2 each, they are a recommended snack!

Busking in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

We attempted a song or two, mainly just for some busking photos with beautiful backdrops. We were rewarded with a gift of fresh bread, delicious spread and tomatoes from a nearby shop owner. There were no other buskers here, which led us to believe that is was not really allowed, but we never clarified this or not.

 

Nuremberg

Once you get inside the inner city walls, Nuremberg is nicer. It is a strange place to attempt to busk. Until we found the one shopping street we could not spot a decent place to play at all. That was probably why we made very little here. The town is quite long and the streets are a bit like a maze.

Busking in Nuremberg

We took the spot of an accordionist who had just finished playing, but our guitars were not as loud as his accordion. So between the rain and lack of interest, we abandoned this spot and found the street of shops. We did a little better here, but there were a lot of people taking videos/photos etc., smiling and then walking away. Grrr.

Rules for Busking

  • You need a permit to play
  • The permit office address is: Liegenschaftsamt, Außere Laufer Gasse 25/27, 90403, Nuremberg
  • BUT they are only open Mon, Tue, Wed – 8.30-15.30 and Thurs, Fri – 8.30-12.30
  • The permit costs 12 Euros for three days.

 

Ingolstadt

This smaller town was our favourite place to play in Germany. That was because we don’t generally like the larger cities on the whole and this one was a nice size. We also happened to arrive at the start of the Bürgerstadt Festival, which was awesome! It happens every two years at the beginning of July and the streets are packed with food and market stalls. As well as this there are live music stages all over the town and a few main stages that put on a concert in the evenings. They also served German 1 litre Steins, so we felt as though we had a true German experience here. Our view of the town was definitely skewed and we have no idea what it would be like to play on a non-festival day.

Busking in Ingolstadt

We joined in the celebrations and ended up busking as part of the festival. There are a few  streets that we would have played on, regardless of festival or not. They were very long, so offered a lot of different spots to choose from. From what we experienced, we don’t believe that you need a permit to play here, but this isn’t certain.

busker-in-ingolstadt

Konstanz

The lake at Konstanz is worth a visit alone. It’s huge! And on a sunny day, it is beautiful. The town itself is also nice to walk around and explore. We did see some buskers on the lake, but we didn’t end up attempting it there ourselves. We decided to cross over into Germany for a day, after being in Switzerland for a while, to see how the busking experience was.

busking-in-konstanz

Busking in Konstanz

Our experience of busking in Konstanz is mixed. We had one really good day where we were passed by the Police and they didn’t say a word. The next day we were stopped immediately and told we needed to get a permit. When we were allowed to play it was great! The only trouble was we were never told how to get the permit.

Rules for Busking

  • You need a permit
  • It costs 10 Euros, but we didn’t find out how long this was for.

Singen

Given the name, we thought this town was worth a shot to busk. It wasn’t the nicest looking of towns that we’ve visited in Germany. It is right on the border with Switzerland and also close to France.

Busking in Singen

There were quite a few drunks in town when we tried to play and they came up to hassle us A LOT. In the end we hid in H&M until we were sure we had evaded them and gave up on busking. If it hadn’t been for them we might have had an alright day here. We never found out any of the rules.

Lörrach

It was in Lörrach that we first realised many towns in Germany and the rest of Europe kind of shut down on Sundays.

Busking in Lörrach

The town was deserted when we went, except for a few of the restaurants. We played near them for a while, but made very little. If it had been any other day we think we might have done OK here. There were no people, so there were no Police either that we saw. That meant we didn’t stick around long enough to learn the rules here.