Fire breathing, juggling, and mimes — Oh My!

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The Sun Life Financial Waterloo Busker Carnival is an annual festival that brings performers from all over the globe to uptown Waterloo for a weekend of street theatre, carnival rides, confections, and fun. This year’s edition ran Aug. 21-24 and featured performers from as far away as Japan, the UK, and the Netherlands performing such stunts as flame juggling, escapology, and, of course, hula hooping.


The Carnival began back in 1989 and has steadily grown to the point that it is now seen as one of the premier busking festivals in the world. Now in its 26th year, the Carnival features a mix of new performers and old favourites, all out to entertain a lively crowd throughout the weekend-long affair.


This year’s event was no exception, and I was very lucky to be able to see almost all of the acts during the afternoon I spent at the festival. While I do not have space to cover everything, I do want to highlight a few of the shows I really enjoyed at the event: Funny Bones, a comedy duo from Tokyo, Pyromancer, an eccentric fire breather from the Netherlands, the incredibly acrobatic Red Trouser Show from Boston, and Lisa Lottie, hula hoop and contortionist extraordinaire, also from the Netherlands.


The first performance I caught was The Red Trouser Show (so named because of their, you guessed it, brightly coloured performance attire), and needless to say, they set the bar quite high for the rest of the evening.


After a number of perfectly-timed fiery juggling tricks and incredible feats of acrobatics (including at one point one performer balancing head-to-head upside-down on the other and then juggling between the two), the two blew me away when they scaled a 20-foot ladder and performed synchronised handstands together.


Their strength and balance were incredible, and I knew I was in for one hell of a night if this was the first thing I saw at the Carnival.


I was not disappointed. As I aimlessly traipsed along the length of the festival, I ran into a second show, this one by first time Carnival performers Funny Bones, out of Japan.


The thing that fascinated me most about the duo was that throughout their entire act, they barely spoke — the whole performance was a mix of slapstick, dance, magic, and puppetry, all perfectly pantomimed to the accompanying music or performed with only the slightest of cues between the two.


Their act was very entertaining, and probably the one that I enjoyed the most out of all the shows that I saw.


Next up was Lisa Lottie, a contortionist/super hooper from the Netherlands who continuously wowed the crowd throughout her act with her flexibility and mad hula hoop skills.


The act was capped with Lottie managing to keep no less than seven hula hoops spinning using different parts of her body all at the same time. As a person who barely keep one hula hoop going, it was mind-blowing to me to see seven all going at once. I mean, just… wow. Colour me impressed.


The last show I watched that evening, and the last one I will cover here, was courtesy of the very eccentric Pyromancer (yup, that’s his name), also from the Netherlands.


Pyromancer lived up to his namesake through a show filled with everything fire — fire breathing, fire eating, you name it. The show’s denouement had him successfully light a put-out torch off of one over four metres away using his fiery breath — a more-than-fitting end to a very impressive night of performances.


Busker Carnival 2014 was an entertaining and enjoyable affair, once again proving that Waterloo has one of the top busker festivals in the world. It’s always a good time, so if you get the chance make sure to check it out next time it comes to town — you will not be disappointed.
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