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ATLAS SIG meeting - Event and Cultural Tourism
22 October 2020, ONLINE

Festival Cities and Cultural Tourism


Update June 2, 2020

After giving thorough consideration to the present and future Covid-19 situation, it has been decided that the meeting in Edinburgh will unfortunately not take place face to face. It is still uncertain whether it will safe enough or possible for everybody to travel to the meeting this October. However, the good news is that we will be organizing the meeting online!
The online meeting will take place on Thursday October 22, 2020.



Edinburgh Napier University and ATLAS welcome you to an online one-day seminar on Festivals, Culture and Tourism on Thursday 22nd October 2020. It is not possible to invite you to Edinburgh, the world’s festival city, in person but we will be bringing the spirit of this international, eventful city to our virtual seminar. Following the original call for papers we have a wide variety of work to share with you, courtesy of many excellent contributors, that we can't wait to hear from.

Edinburgh remains the symbolic home for our seminar. The strategic use of festivals has benefited Edinburgh for many years, but what are the costs and who pays? Where is the space for grassroots festivals, both in the calendar and in the city’s urban topography, and what is being done to make it accessible to residents and communities? 

ID 98169900 © creativecommonsphotos |

From the festival city, we’ll be asking what is a “festival” anyway? Has the word lost its meaning, or gained new ones? What role do host communities play? How are festival places experienced, marketed and remembered? Who are the guardians of festivals today, and what does the future hold? Festivals and cultural tourism of all kinds will be welcome for discussion.
The aim of this meeting is to review the current challenges that festival cities face: grassroots involvement, sustainability in all its forms, emerging trends in the festival landscape, and the forces at work in these turbulent times. The meeting will bring together leading international scholars in the festival and event studies field, as well as industry practitioners and policy makers in Edinburgh and beyond.

Join us online for this meeting of ATLAS's two Special Interest Groups (SIGs) in Events, and Cultural Tourism. Welcome also to the wider world, as parts of the seminar will be broadcast live on YouTube. With our industries facing uncertainty there has never been a more important moment for researchers and lecturers to engage with practitioners and students.

Credit David Monteith Hodge
Retrieved from



Meeting themes

Themes for the meeting will include:

  • Festival cities: the current state of play
  • Festival economies: who pays and who gains?
  • Festival tourism
  • Festivals as community: inclusion and exclusion
  • Festivals: place-making, place-breaking, place-less
  • Festival identity and meaning
  • Festivals as experiences
  • Festivals and governance
  • Festivals and social change
  • Festivals as heritage
  • Festivals as catalysts for urban development



Publication details

Because of the changed circumstances, we will also be using this online event as the first step in a longer-term process. The October meeting will be the first step towards a book publication on the theme of the meeting. To facilitate rapid and inclusive publication we will be willing to consider flexible formats for this. We hope to be able to work quickly on this so we can present (or even launch) the publication during a special track to be organized at the ATLAS annual conference in Prague, which has been postponed to September 7-10, 2021.

The suggested chapters of the publication
"Festival Cities and Cultural Tourism"

Greg Richards, Brian King
The experience of cultural festivals: evidence from Hong Kong

Maria del Pilar Leal Londoño, Alexandra Georgescu Paquin, Jordi Arcos
Food festivals as builders of the image of a tourist destination

Alba Colombo, Esther Oliver-Grasiot
Intensities of the use of public space by cultural festivals: an evolutionary map of Barcelona

Alba Colombo, David McGillivray, Bernadette Quinn, Andrew Smith
Cities of Festivals: European Perspectives on Festivalization and Urban Public Space

Montira Intason, Willem Coetzee, Craig Lee
The transference of family values in the Songkran Festival

Michael Luchtan
Festival and Events as the Locus for Global Musical Heritage

Amber Herrewijn, Marjorein van Houten
Event Echoes: The influence of social memory recollection of a music festival experience on participants’ happiness

Enrico Nicosia
Film festivals as tools of socio-economic, territorial and touristic development: the case study of Taormina Film Fest

Danielle Lynch
Embedding Festivals in Place: untangling actor networks in festival settings

Edit Kővári, Ágnes Raffay
Can festivals bring social change in an ECoC city? Emotional intelligence and willingness of volunteering of youth

In the second session of the meeting authors will pitch their contribution towards the publication.


Greg Richards

Greg Richards is Professor of Placemaking and Events at Breda University and Professor of Leisure Studies at the University of Tilburg in The Netherlands. His recent publications include the SAGE Handbook of New Urban Studies (with John Hannigan), Reinventing the Local in Tourism (with Paolo Russo) and Small Cities with Big Dreams: Creative Placemaking and Branding Strategies (with Lian Duif).

Brian King

Brian King is Associate Dean and Professor in the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He specializes in the cultural dimensions of tourism, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. He has published books and articles on tourism marketing, resorts, VFR travel and Asia-Pacific tourism. He is Co-editor-in-chief of Tourism, Culture and Communication.

Michael Luchtan

Michael Luchtan researches Bluegrass events in Europe as a doctoral grant-holder at Barcelona’s Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. He is in the FESTSPACE research group.

Enrico Nicosia

Enrico Nicosia is a Researcher of Geography and Lecturer of Cultural Geography in the Department of Cognitive Science, Psychology, Education and Cultural Studies, University of Messina.



Scientific committee

  • Jane Ali Knight - Napier University Edinburgh, UK
  • David Jarman - Napier University Edinburgh, UK
  • Greg Richards - Breda University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands


Provisional programme

9.30 - 11.00 ( 11.30 - 12.00 CEST)
Opening panel: Edinburgh Festival Directors

12.00 - 14.00 (13.00 - 15.00 CEST)
Pitching presentations for book inclusion

15.00 - 16.00 (16.00 - 17.00 CEST)
Second panel session, led by David McGillivray of University of the West of Scotland

16.00 - 17.00 (17.00 - 18.00 CEST)
Closing session and next steps PRIVATE



Conference organisers

The meeting will be hosted by the Tourism & Languages subject group at Edinburgh Napier University (, with support from the Edinburgh Festivals. The organisation of the meeting will be supported by ATLAS, and the ATLAS Special Interest Groups in Events, and Cultural Tourism.



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