Carnivalising Pop: Music Festival Cultures: a one-day symposium at the University of Salford


Come and mark the start of the festival season at our Carnivalising Pop Symposium at the UNiversity of Salford organised by George McKay and featuring Gina Arnold, Alan Lodge and other researchers in the field of music festivals, as well as researchers from the arena concerts project coordinated by Benjamin Halligan, Kirsty Fairclough-Isaacs, Nicola Spelman and Rob Edgar.

Symposium 2014
Carnivalising Pop: Music Festival Cultures: a one-day symposium at the University of Salford

Friday June 13, 2014

Guest speakers:

Dr Gina Arnold, Stanford University, USA, author of Route 666: On the Road to Nirvana, Kiss This: Punk in the Present Tense
Alan Lodge, independent photographer and festival activist, discusses some of his classic images from 1970s free festivals and 1980s/1990s free party scene.

Other contributors include:

Dr Nick Gebhardt, Birmingham City University
Dr Roxanne Yeganegy, Leeds Metropolitan University
Prof George McKay, University of Salford
Dr Anne Dvinge, University of Copenhagen
Dr Mark Goodall, Bradford University
Dr Rebekka Kill, Leeds Metropolitan University
Prof Andrew Dubber, Birmingham City University (TBC).
Tipi Circle, Glastonbury Festival 2000
Tipi Circle, Glastonbury Festival 2000

… Newport. Beaulieu. Monterey. Notting Hill. Woodstock. Glastonbury. Nimbim. Roskilde. Reading. Stonehenge. Castlemorton. Love Parade. Burning Man… Popular music festivals are one of the strikingly successful and enduring features of seasonal popular cultural consumption for young people and older generations of enthusiasts. Notwithstanding the annual declaration of the ‘death of festival’, a dramatic rise in the number of music festivals in the UK and around the world has been evident as festivals become a pivotal economic driver in the popular music industry. In 2010, there were over 700 music festivals in Britain alone, and it is estimated that three million people attend music festivals a year. Today’s festivals range from the massive to community and ‘boutique’ events.

The festival has become a key feature of the contemporary music industry’s commercial model, and one of major interest to young people as festival-goers themselves and as students. But the pop festival also has a radical past in the counterculture, a utopian strand in alternative living, some antagonistic anti-authoritarian history, an increasingly mediated other presence, as well as a strong current ethical identity. In the community/communitas of festival, interpretations vary from Temporary Autonomous Zone to festival as pollutant of the rural, from celebration to destruction of the genius loci.

Jimi Hendrix, Woodstock 1969
Jimi Hendrix, Woodstock 1969

At the start of the 2014 pop festival season, we are holding this international event. The purpose of the symposium is to discuss and explore the significance of music festival cultures. In part the event presents work in progress from the forthcoming collection The Pop Festival: History, Music, Media, Culture (McKay ed., Bloomsbury, 2015 and The Arena Concert (Halligan, Edgar, Fairclough-Isaacs, Spelman, ads Bloomsbury 2015)

But we may also have some space for other current researchers and festival organisers in the field to share their ideas too—please get in touch, soon. The day will be of interest across disciplines, from Popular Music, Media and Cultural Studies, Performance, Film, History, Sociology, American Studies, Business, Tourism and Leisure, Organisation Studies. and it will be of interest to festival organisers and festival-goers too …


This is a free event, as part of the AHRC Connected Communities Programme. It is organised by Prof George McKay, Connected Communities Leadership Fellow (

Carnivalising Pop registration form

However advance registration is essential—to register, contact Dr Deborah Woodman, conference administrator,, +44 (0)161 295 5876, or download the registration form above, complete and return. Any queries to Dr Woodman.