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Festival Spaces and the Visitor Experience

By Michael Morgan

Abstract

A festival implies a special use of space for both the organiser and the visitor.\ud On the practical level of events management, it is a series of temporary per -\ud formance venues presenting special organisational problems. For the festivalgoers,\ud it is a space set apart to which they come seeking an extraordinary\ud experience. This experience can have an emotional and symbolic significance,\ud which they then come to associate with the place itself.\ud For this reason, festivals and special events are increasingly used as part\ud of strategies to regenerate or reposition urban areas or coastal resorts. Events\ud attract additional visitors, creating economic benefits for retail, leisure and\ud other businesses. The publicity can be used for place marketing aimed not\ud only at attracting visitors but also new businesses and investment to the area\ud (Jago et al., 2003; Morgan et al, 2002). They can also give a boost to the\ud cultural or sporting life of the residents and increase local pride and selfesteem.\ud Festivals are part of the area’s ‘experience economy’ to use Pine and\ud Gilmore’s (1999) term, creating a temporary ‘creative space’ which can attract\ud visitors (Richards and Wilson, 2006).\ud But how should that space be designed to optimise the experience of the\ud festival-goers and contribute to the success of the event? Answering this\ud question requires an awareness of how festival-goers perceive the impact of\ud the location and its layout on their enjoyment of the event. The role of space\ud can best be explored within a wider conceptual framework that maps the\ud visitor experience of the event.\ud This chapter is based on research into the 2005 Sidmouth Folk Festival,\ud a long-established event which saw a significant change in ownership and\ud organisation from previous years. This sparked a lengthy discussion on an\ud enthusiasts’ internet message board about how successful it had been. One aspect of this was the rival merits of a festival based in a showground and\ud one spread over existing venues around the town. An analysis of these\ud discussions was used to explore the elements of the event experience and the\ud ways in which festival-goers evaluate i

Topics: tou
Publisher: Lesiure Studies Association
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk:4821

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