5 Pieces of a Good Outdoor Festival Culture

Festival Park in Greensboro, NC

It’s summertime and for many cities, that means the high season for outdoor festivals. I firmly believe some of my urbanism comes from experiencing places when the streets were open to people and a good party. I also believe it’s step number one in selling an uninitiated public on tactical urbanism strategies.  Two of the  2013 Next City Vanguards used streets to open up a lot of opportunities in their area and many more opportunities pop-up daily around the world. What do I think makes a good and lasting outdoor festival culture?:

  • Diversity: allowing a variety of groups to host festivals.
  • Centrality: Our downtown festivals are what makes this town unique and it also brings people together and to downtown. Even when downtown was empty, I always knew about it as a place of activity and festivity.
  • Universality: Provide a variety of activities for all ages and cultures, and also activities, such as ones specifically for children, that are expected.
  • Regularity: If you have a popular festival, please do what you can to stay solvent and provide the same experience year after year.
  • Affordability: Remember that your primary purpose is as a local showcase or a local market. Festivals are not the places to trot out your most expensive wares, activities, or dishes. High-end or exclusivity is only good in the brick-and-mortar realm.

Now I want to hear from you. What makes up a great outdoor festival culture? How has it lead to lasting urbanism and placemaking efforts in your community?


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