Festivals And Events

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Festivals and Events

Festivals and Events


First, we will offer some general statements about the importance of festivals in communicating community identity, history and cultural practices for visitors. The sounds, colours, costumes, displays and maybe smells of a festival may leave visitors with memorable experiences and a photographic record of the occasion. So festivals may for the tourist help to define a sense of where they are, though of course no means all festivals will necessarily attract tourists in and of themselves.

The significance of various types of festivals and events

It is worth defining and categorizing various types of festivals and cultural events as these have implications for their potential appeal to tourists and their wider social significance, while recognising that there are overlaps between the simplified categories that follow. First, we can identify various celebrations of particular cultural identities including so called 'ethnic' community festivals including carnivals, melas, Chinese New Year celebrations etc. These may be of local, regional, national and international significance. Religious events, parades and ceremonial occasions may also be included in this category along with commemorations and anniversaries to mark, celebrate or mourn historical events (it is of course important to note that not all festivals are celebratory occasions). Second, Arts Events including various artistic genre festivals, exhibitions, award ceremonies, street arts, installations and performances may be identified in the context of any community-based destination. Third, State and Political Occasions taking in inaugurations (such as of the King of Tonga in the image), national anniversaries / commemorations, VIP visits and tours and often controversially political rallies and demonstrations are all events with spectacular festive dimensions.

Fourth and finally, we may consider the cultural aspects of business conferences and events, sport (e.g. Cultural Olympiad), educational and scientific events for their tourism dimensions.

Next We will outline some key International Trends in Festivals and Cultural Events where we observe that they are growing in number (with 900 + in the UK alone); that many are financially marginal and rely on public funding and/or sponsorship in order to survive; that they are increasingly packaged in place marketing (where the destination manager comes in) and that as a 'sector' there is a growing commercialisation and professionalism (not least in a proliferation of courses, research and professional development programmes).

So how can destinations develop a reputation for their festival and event programmes?

We identify here three broad approaches that may be observed at different levels. The first may be termed a mega-event approach where nations, regions and cities set out to attract and host events with global media reach and mass audience appeal. There are very few of these, with the Olympics and football World Cup being the most prominent. Observations on this approach are that such events are these events are typically infrequent and that bidding for them is extremely competitive and expensive. There are huge associated costs and dependence on commercial sponsorship. Economic and social benefits are usually assumed but these may not be sustainable or equitable and that such events tend to favour ...
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