Submissions: abstract of maximum 350 words plus one image.
Click here to submit your abstract

Conference Theme:
Architecture, Festival and the City

Historically the urban festival served as an occasion for affirming shared convictions and identities in the life of the city. Whether religious or civic in nature, these events provided tangible expressions of social, cultural, political and religious cohesion, often reaffirming a particular shared ethos within very diverse urban landscapes. In the life of any city some festivals inevitably become obsolete, some start afresh, while others transform into new expressions of communality that can be characterised using more recent concepts such as hypermodernity or supermodernity. Architecture, both temporary and permanent, has long served as a key aspect of festive space, exhibiting continuity in the flux of these representations through the parading of elaborate ceremonial floats in such cities as Venice, Florence and Rome (from the 13th through to the 17th century) as well as contemporary manifestations such as Notting Hill Carnival, Rio Carnival, or the ‘Day of the Dead’ throughout the Americas. These processional festivals have often been complemented by other forms of festival, such as annual music festivals or political rallies, which, although often fixed, also contribute to the transformation of the urban environment. These more recent developments raise important questions about the definition and status of festival, carnival and ritual in the contemporary world, and to what extent traditional practices can serve as meaningful references.

Papers for this conference could look at any form of civic, religious, musical, theatrical, commercial or political festival and establish what relationship it has, if any, to its urban setting. This may involve critical evaluations of historical as well as contemporary settings and their relationships to the community they support. Delegates may also consider the Janus-faced nature of many festivals; in the way they incorporate both orderly (authoritative) and disorderly (subversive) components. At the same time, utilising different approaches fostered by different disciplines (including performance, film, drawing and music as well as written papers), papers can investigate this rich landscape of civic phenomena in order to ask how, where and when (if at all) festivals offer significant and meaningful forms of public engagement.


There have been a number of conferences and publications on festivals but they are often very specific, historical, and focussed on the performative nature of events (most recently in Mons, 2015, on Festivals in Hainault at the time of Jacques du Broeucq: The European Importance of Festivities to honour Charles V and the future Philip II (1549)). The Society for European Festivals Research (SEFR) although multi-disciplinary, is based in the school of Theatre Studies at Warwick University and, as a consequence, also focuses much of its attention on aspects of festivals in such publications as Performativity and Performance in Baroque Rome (Ashgate; 2012). Relatively recently Bonnemaison & Macy’s Festival Architecture (Routledge, 2008), building upon Oechslin and Buschow’s Festarchitektur (Gerd Hatje; 1984), began to concentrate on the key relationship architecture has to festival by focusing on various manifestations of festive ephemeral architecture in various periods. This conference aims to build on this work and recast the multi-disciplinary discussion on festivals with architecture and the city at its core, looking at the permanent legacy of festival on the city and society as well as its short-term impact. This shift in emphasis does not exclude any particular approach but asks all delegates to consider their discipline in relation to architecture and the city.


We are keen to ensure that different practices in relation to the conference theme are explored throughout the conference but also in the various sessions. Therefore, we would be looking to explore different ways of grouping papers so that delegates experience different aspects of festival broadly within their own interest.

Contributions may also include performances (live or filmed) in chosen urban locations or descriptions of particular events (visually or verbally). Through a combination of carefully choreographed actions/gestures and a re-articulation of settings through temporary installations, these short events could serve to synthesise the some of the research topics discussed in the papers and critically speculate on what contemporary festivals ‘could be’ today.

Disciplines who would be encouraged to engage with the conference

Architecture, Art, Sociology, Urbanism, Performance, Fashion, Music, Media, History/Historiography, Philosophy, Geography, Law/Jurisprudence, Literature, Film making

Conference Sessions

20 Minute Papers for conference sessions
20 Minute Short films for conference sessions
20 minute Reportage for conference sessions

Exhibition in the Parkside Foyer

Posters, paintings, drawings or photographic essays of events
Short films for exhibition presentation