The Lonely Planet Dublin City Travel Guide describes Grafton Street as the “buskers’ Carnegie Hall” and praises some of the performers that ply their trade there by hailing them as “absolutely sensational”. Speaking from first hand experience, they are not far wrong. I picked up the Dublin City Travel Guide for my 3 day stay there back in April. They cover most of the things you’d expect to see such as the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin nightlife, Book of Kells etc, which of course are all high on the list of things to do in Dublin, but if you’re looking for some family-friendly, free fun, then take a walk down Grafton St.
You'll have a hard time finding this guys pot of gold
Grafton Street is bang in the heart of Dublin city center. At one end of this remarkable pedestrianized street you’ll find yourself a short walk from the gates of Trinity College, while up the other end you can enjoy St. Stephen’s Green park, and shopping center. But it’s in between these 2 points where all the fun is!
Some decent bands show up and play a free gig
Buskers and street entertainers have been plying their trade on Dublin’s Grafton’s Street for many, many years. You will get everything from fire eaters, magicians, jugglers, musicians, break dancers and everything in between. You will get the weird, the wacky, the mesmerizing, the beautiful and the unbelievable. You do not want to miss out on your chance to see the performances of some of these entertainers, if you are anywhere near Grafton St.
Some of the buskers are incredibly creative. Take a look at this guy playing a guitar he made from a Castrol Motor Oil can. He was managing to get an incredible sound of it – that was until his amp blew out! He laughed that off, and humbly called it a day. I’m sure a guy with talent like he had wouldn’t take long to get back out there.
A creative Dublin Busker
I probably easily spent an hour and a half, with my family, strolling up and down Grafton Street stopping at almost every entertainer for at least a few minutes. We would’ve spent longer, but we were in a hurry to catch our train back to Cork. You could easily spend hours there though. You may catch a good band or magician, and be hooked in for 20 or 30 minutes.
This guy dedicates his day to standing still - even when the pigeons think he's the real deal
Some performers obviously are far better than others. You’re going to get everything from the college student busking to make ends meet, to the professional entertainer who relies on this type of work to survive. Even Bono has been known to join in on a few songs for charity with an appearance on Grafton’s Street.
I’ve heard weekends, between regular business hours, are usually when the very best entertainment is on show. If you go there after 6, or let’s say on a Wednesday morning, you may not have a ton of options. But there’s always going to be something for you to enjoy.
Keep in mind that these people are not doing the performances completely out of the goodness of their heart. They’ll definitely appreciate it if you can flick a a bit of change into their hats, guitar cases, tip jar or anywhere else near them. And trust me! After seeing some of these guys perform, you’ll find yourself willingly giving them a couple of coins. They are awesome!
The Lonely Planet Dublin Guidebook also recommends Temple Bar for street entertainment, and they also give a mention to the artists who gather across from the main entrance to Trinity College as being worth a visit. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see what those guys had to offer, but there’s always next time : )