Sunday, 5 February 2012

The History of Festivals

so, why?
If you compare an ancient religious ritual to today's music festivals (Burning Man, Glastonbury et al) there will be many obvious differences; the religious ceremonies, the activities available and the outfits. However, some things stay the same; in Ancient Egypt, people would sing and dance and listen to music at religious rituals and many other ancient festivals would include lots of music just like today's music festivals have live acts. From 4500 BC there is evidence of singing and dancing at religious festivals but they would also have elements of religion and politics. Below are three very different festivals and a brief history of each one. 

Oireachtas na Gaeilge 
wet behind the ears.The first really successful recreational festival took place in Dublin in May 1897. It was called Oireachtas na Gaeilge and it attracted thousands of visitors in its first year which was far more than anticipated. In 1897 it was a half day event. The afternoon activities involved mostly literary competitions and poetry and short story readings. The evening was then taken up by a music concert. Many believe this festival to be the birth of the music festivals that we know and love today. Before then, the only recorded festivals where music, singing and dancing had been widely accepted were religious. Oireachtas na Gaeilge was advertised around Britain in Gaelic and English telegrams and rail-road authorities offered return tickets for the festival goers. Oireachtas na Gaeilge is still around to go to today. It is now known as the Irish language festival and is predominantly literary competitions and media awards; an arts festival that celebrates Irish culture. It runs for a week and features performances, demonstrations and competitions. One of the main differences between the 1897 Oireachtas na Gaeilge and today's festivals is that they are less focused on music and more on literature but they do have singing and song writing contests as well as discos to suit a younger target market. You can book tickets for this November by visiting this website. The webpage comes up in Gaelic but it can be translated to English in the top right hand corner. You can find more information about the festival on the website. 

This is the festival that I really want to go to. You can go without an over eighteen when you are sixteen. It is not on this year but next year it will be. I think I will save up and arrange to go when I'm eighteen though because then I will hopefully be able to experience everything and get my money's worth. It is probably Britain's most famous festival because it has all the most contemporary acts from all over the world. Beyonce was part of their line up last year; which big star will be next? The festival made its d├ębut in 1970 and had an attendance of one thousand five hundred. It only cost £1 to enter whereas today it costs over £200. Glastonbury celebrated its fortieth anniversary last year with many special events. Maybe it would be a good idea to go in 2020 because there fiftieth anniversary should be even bigger. For more information head over to the festival's website.

Burning Man
motley photos.I think that this festival has the most interesting history. It has built up over the years and has had many documentaries and the like. I heard about this wild Nevada festival in Vogue's Great Escapes issue where model, Tali Lennox Fruchtmann took her dad there. She said that some people would think that a crazy thing to do as this festival is so hardcore that some people literally run around naked. Nevertheless, she said that her father was more like a very cool friend. The event first took place in 1986 when Larry and Jerry James built an 8 foot man sculpture and burnt it in honour of Summer Solstice. The first Burning Man had only 20 participants. It took place on Baker Beach in San Francisco until 1990 when it moved to Black Rock Desert in Nevada. It was named the Burning Man in 1988. In 1989, the police arrived at the site of the Burning Man and as it was still not an official event they tried to stop it. In 1990 a society of carpenters help to construct the man. The police arrive again in 1990 and and ban the burning but they reach a compromise and that is why the festival now takes place in Nevada in a desert because it does not get in anyone's way. It has now become so much more than a festival for so many people. It is artistic and encourages self expression. Some people go to meditation courses in India to find themselves and some people go to The Burning Man festival in Nevada where people roll around in the mud and make a city only to destroy it. Burning Man is not for the faint hearted: the site even contains a survival guide. However, the fact that it is in a desert means that each year a city of art and sculptures and wildness is created in a week and then the tens of thousands of people leave a week later, not leaving a trace behind. Then they reunite next year to do it all over again. This is definitely not a regular music festival but it sounds like a fabulous experience nonetheless. Each year there is a different theme that usually has a deeper meaning behind it (e.g. the environment.) In 2009, the festival had 43,558 participants and the theme was evolution. Burning Man is a culture, a community, a way of life. To read more about Burning Man's very intriguing history click here.     

1 comment:

  1. I agree there are a lot of similarities and differences between religious gathring and music festivals. Instead of being for one religion, all people of all religions are welcome to come together for one common interest: the music!
    It's music, not religion, that brings people together for a common purpose. But what comes of that within one of those music packed weekend is its own spirituality of connectedness with others.



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