Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Urban studies (Planning and development)

Publication Details

In Urban Studies, Vol. 42, No. 5-6, 927-943 (2005). DOI: 10.1080/00420980500107250 Available from:


There has been a remarkable rise in the number of urban arts festivals in recent decades. The outcomes of cities' engagement with arts festivals, however, remain little understood, particularly in social and cultural terms. This article reviews existing literature on urban festivals and argues that city authorities tend to disregard the social value of festivals and to construe them simply as vehicles of economic generation or as 'quick fix' solutions to city image problems. While such an approach renders certain benefits, it is ultimately quite limiting. If arts festivals are to achieve their undoubted potential in animating communities, celebrating diversity and improving quality of life, then they must be conceived of in a more holistic way by urban managers. Currently, the tasks of conceptualising the problems at issue and devising appropriate policies are hampered by the scarcity of empirical research conducted in the area.