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What makes a Good Festival? Understanding the Event Experience

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This article explores the nature of extraordinary experiences through a netnographic analysis of the views of committed attendees at the 2005 Sidmouth Folk Festival. After uncertainty over finance and the withdrawal of the previous event management company, the festival eventually went ahead under a different, collaborative organization and on a reduced scale. The new format was vigorously debated by posters to an Internet message board, Mudcat Cafe, providing a wide-ranging and unprompted set of opinions on the criteria for a successful festival. To provide a framework for analyzing these responses, a holistic prism model was developed from the literature to bring together the main external and internal elements of the festival experience: "Design and Programming," "Physical Organization," "Social Interaction," "Personal Benefits," "Symbolic Meanings," and "Cultural Communication." This was used to analyze the messages and explore the way in which festival-goers evaluate their experience. The findings support the view that festivals provide a space and time away from everyday life in which intense extraordinary experiences can be created and shared. These are evaluated through a subjective response to the whole event, interpreted within the broader narrative context of the consumer's life and their values.
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Keywords: CONSUMER EXPERIENCE; EVENT EVALUATION AND SATISFACTION; EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES; FESTIVAL AND EVENT MANAGEMENT; NETNOGRAPHY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • Event Management, an International Journal, intends to meet the research and analytic needs of a rapidly growing profession focused on events. This field has developed in size and impact globally to become a major business with numerous dedicated facilities, and a large-scale generator of tourism. The field encompasses meetings, conventions, festivals, expositions, sport and other special events. Event management is also of considerable importance to government agencies and not-for-profit organizations in a pursuit of a variety of goals, including fund-raising, the fostering of causes, and community development.
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