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Street performers return to the Santa Monica Pier

Published on May 10, 2021

On May 1st, 2021, musicians, artists, and other street performers returned to the Santa Monica Pier

You can once again enjoy live performances, watch artists create original pieces, and see slight-of-hand magic tricks by the unique street performers who work at the Santa Monica Pier. In March 2020, the Pier was closed amid concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic. When the Pier reopened to guests in June, the Pier’s street performers were not allowed to practice their craft on the Pier deck due to restrictions from the State and County governments aimed at discouraging people from gathering. When LA County entered the Red Tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy street performers were once again allowed to work at the Pier, but for a limited set of hours early on weekday mornings. As of May 1st, 2021, the County eased these restrictions and the City of Santa Monica re-issued guidelines for artists to once again sing, dance, paint, and express themselves at the Santa Monica Pier.

As in pre-pandemic times, artists interested in performing at the Santa Monica Pier must obtain a performer permit from the City of Santa Monica and receive an assigned space on the Pier. There are three performance periods each day (morning, afternoon, and evening). Space assignments are issued at two public performer lotteries held at the east end of the Pier behind the Hippodrome. Artists performing without a space assignment or on unauthorized locations on the pier, such as walkways, the Pier bridge, or outside other Pier businesses, will be asked to leave and may be cited.

Artists interested in performing or busking at the Pier should first contact the Santa Monica Pier Corporation for details. Performers are required to obtain a performance permit issued by the City; permits are good for up to one year. Once the permit has been issued, performers can attend the performer lotteries where the spaces are assigned. There are 17 spaces available on the Pier during this phase of the reopening plan. Lotteries take place at 11:30 AM and 4:30 PM at the east side of the Hippodrome building 7 days a week. Once a performer has been assigned a space, they can perform there for the allotted time (8AM – 12 Noon, Noon – 5 Pm, and 5 – 10 PM).

Performers at the Pier include musicians such as acoustic guitar, violin, and vocalists singing over pre-recorded tracks; painters, calligraphers, and caricature artists making original art works; sculptures making original artworks in clay; and magicians who perform slight-of-hand illusions and card tricks.

Visitors to the Santa Monica Pier are encouraged to support this community of artists and performers. If you stop and enjoy the music or take a video of a performance for your social media channels, consider dropping a few bucks in their tip jar. Pier performers are not paid by the City or Pier, but their love for the pier, its guests, and their art keeps them coming back to the boardwalk every day of the week. If you see a performance in an unmarked space or have any other issue with a pier performer, drop us a line at

Feature image courtesy of @jdotzhou.