Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 May 2020
This chapter discusses the role of city festivals in shaping and re-imagining urban space. There has been increased interest in festivals among decision-makers and marketers as vehicles for cultural profiling, regeneration, and social inclusion. The chapter views space as inseparable from economic and social structures and practices which govern urban life. It draws attention to the political aspect of city festivals as being mobilized for economic, social, and cultural purposes. It draws on Lefebvre’s and Massey’s conceptualizations of space as socially produced to discuss examples of theatre festivals based in Northern Europe. It shows how, more than simply putting on a show, these festivals aim to infuse the cityscape with new meanings. In doing so, the festivals become implied in (re)configurations of social patterns of representation and marginalization, for example regarding how they open or close urban space to different audiences. The chapter argues that a spatial perspective provides a critical means for examining how festivals organize bodies, social hierarchies, and relations of inclusion and exclusion in the city.