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Festival Cities: Culture, Planning, and Urban Life

Festival Cities, John R Gold, Margaret M Gold, Routledge, 2020

Festival Cities grew out of our interest in the relationship between festivals and their host cities.  We had previously considered the rationale for hosting one-off mega-events such as World Expos, the Olympics and European Capitals of Culture, but this book looks at the annual, biennial and other regular festivals that contribute to a city’s events calendar.

Festivals have always been part of city life, but their relationship with their host cities has continually changed. With the rise of industrialization, they were largely considered peripheral to the course of urban affairs. Now they have become central to new ways of thinking about the challenges of economic and social change, as well as repositioning cities within competitive global networks. Festival Cities aims to provide a reflective and evidence-based historical survey of the processes and actors involved, charting the ways that regular festivals have now become embedded in urban life and city planning.  After considering the historical context, there are four case study chapters charting the origins and evolution of the ‘pioneering’ festivals in Venice, Salzburg, Cannes and Edinburgh.  This is followed by a chapter analysing the proliferation of festivals – particularly in the last forty years taking theatre festivals, literary festivals and biennials as examples.  A further chapter analyses the way in which festivals can assert identity as in the case of carnival, St Patrick’s Day Parades and Pride Parades.  The conclusion reflects on current trends and challenges for festivals (including Covid-19).  This book is essential reading for those interested in a fuller understanding of the relationship between culture, planning and the city.

Margaret M Gold is an Associate Lecturer in ICCE and teaches on MA Events & Experience Management.

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