When Kings of the Street (Kraljevi Ulice), four street musicians known mostly to locals living in the city center, decided to organize a small festival gathering street performers twenty years ago, no one could have guessed it was going to become one of the biggest events in Zagreb. At first it was looked at as a sweet try of complete amateurs to put a spotlight on a profession no serious expert in event management or marketing would find viable. Then they repeated the concept, drawing in more street performers, setting up silly races around town, like the ever popular street cleaners bike race, and creating content at places that were looked over by other events and festivals. People noticed, and found it charming, unpretentious and most of all – fun.
As the festival spread each year from street to street, more and more performers from around the world started arriving at Cest is d’Best (Cesta = street), performing, as they do, for the donations of people who watch them on the street. Places like Strossmayer promenade in the upper town has seen new life injected into it and has become an unskippable part of summer nightlife in Zagreb, attracting different artists, performers and musicians to come there way past the festival itself.
And so, yesterday May 26th, twenty years after those four chanson singers (who are still active today) gathered a few other street performers and hit the streets, Zagreb has become one big ten day playground for mimes, clowns, acrobats, illusionists, jugglers, singers, experimental instrumentalists and all other forms and shapes of street entertainers. More than 700 of them will show off their skills on the streets of Zagreb during the festival.
Cest is d’Best is being held all around the city center with performers set up on different points on the street. Most acts perform on Cvijetni square and ban Jelacic square, with evening screenings on Grade plateau and concerts, art colonies and plays at Stross promenade. All events are free (you can always trow a few bucks into their hats), and you can check out the entire schedule HERE.