Why is Festival Culture so Popular? Exploring Why We Gather
Since the beginning of time people have come together to celebrate, worship, honor lunar cycles and celestial happenings. Whether it be at the ruins of Chicen Itza or full moon gatherings, communal gatherings or “festivals” have been a cornerstone of human evolution and connection. They have shaped generations and cultures worldwide. People have traveled far and wide to connect, share and take away something from the communal gathering experience.
The concept of community, expanding borders and bringing in individuals from different places and spaces, allows us the opportunity to share ideas, tastes, regional influences and cultures. This is a big reason why festivals have become so popular. The concept of gathering is one that reinforces community and sharing across all those who commune together. Gatherings allow us to bring pieces of our lives and contribute them to the whole. More recently festivals have filled this primal and historical need for gathering in many of the same aspects. From bringing in diverse and eclectic music to having attendees join in from around the globe, it falls in line with the gatherings of the past. As festival culture has grown rapidly over the past decade and festivals have become beacons of community and self-growth in society, we ask ourselves why are festivals so popular? Other questions that continue to arise are why do we gather at these events and how do we all click so well?
Festivals have become so popular because gathering together is built into our DNA. Ancient civilizations gathered to celebrate lunar and astrological events as well as harvests and the cycles of the seasons. It’s no surprise that modern day society has innately flocked to these events. There is a lot more than just fun and partying to be had at these massive gatherings. People need the sense of community and self-expansion that is fostered at a festival.
When the Mayans gathered ages ago at Chicen Itza they celebrated for weeks, after months of travel to commune to celebrate their gods and pay respects to their deities. Similarly, modern day music fans and local micro communities, travel to festivals around the world to pay respect and celebrate art and music but also bring a piece of their community with them to the larger commonwealth. We gravitate to these events because they fulfill a primal need for community and they weave a rich tapestry in the history of humanity.
The draw that arises from meeting new people, exposing yourself to new art, music, educational opportunities and people is part of the human experience. Communal celebration has been a part of civilizations across the world for eons. As Joseph Campbell chronicles in the Power of Myth traditions, mythology continues to permeate our experiences as humans. So it’s not so much that festivals have become popular, it’s that they always have been. The ways we gather and the communities we create are part of who we are.
Why do we gather at festivals? The answers are infinite to this question. Festivals are a reflective container for the human experience. They are a magnet for spiritual, community and self-growth framed against art, celebration and tradition. People can have a lifetime’s worth of experiences during a three-day festival and can also love for a whole lifetime there too.
Festivals feed all dimensions of one’s persona, they can engage you spiritually through yoga and ceremony, conversations, connection and transcendent experiences. They also can test and empower you physical through dance, movement, geographical exploration; and also strengthen and expand your community while interacting with other festival goers and people.
Festivals now have something for everyone, and if one event doesn’t have it, there are so many more to choose from. With this explosion in popularity, there is no longer a high barrier for entry. Every region has an offering for everyone and almost every taste. The gathering aspect itself fosters growth and encourages interaction amongst attendees that allows us to see others and ourselves in a way that we can’t in our day to day lives. Festivals allow us to express ourselves against the backdrop of others, where self-expression is celebrated.
Festivals across the globe have become a modern phenomenon, it’s no surprise that they have grown the way they have in the past five to ten years. People have gravitated towards gatherings and the opportunity to grow since the dawn of civilization and it’s embedded in our human code. We want to be around other people and it helps us grow. The curiosity and challenges that are presented at festivals also pique our interest to where we can find new art, flavors, ideas and people to expand our human experience.
The rise in popularity mirrors a need in society: the desire we have to grow and interact with our human family, and to share our story and communities with others. Festivals fill the need we have to be with others and see how we fit into the larger picture, to live out loud, and to explore beyond the boundaries of everyday life…