festivals

Many branches of the arts hold festivals each year in towns and cities throughout Britain and the US. Some of the larger festivals last several weeks and include music, drama, art and literature. People travel a long way to hear the top international performers that such festivals attract. Smaller festivals concentrate on one art form, such as poetry. Because the US is so large, most of its festivals are local, although a few famous ones, such as the Monterey Jazz Festival in California, attract people from around the world. Americans most like summer festivals where they can enjoy art, music and food outdoors.
  Many festivals try to obtain sponsorship money from local businesses to help cover the costs. In the US events are relatively cheap so the entire family can spend the day out. In Britain, however, tickets may be expensive. This tends to restrict the number and type of people who go to the main festivals, and many festival-goers are middle-aged, middle-class professional people. This in turn can affect the type of music or drama that the organizers put on.
  Some festivals, such as the Edinburgh Festival, have been running for many years. A special feature of the Edinburgh Festival is the Fringe. Fringe events are usually avant-garde and attract a wide audience. They also get a lot of attention from the critics, and this can help the careers of younger performers. In Wales, several eisteddfods celebrate Welsh culture and include competitions for composers and artists. In the US the Carmel Performing Arts Festival in California offers a range of music, dance, theatre, stories and poetry.
  Many festivals concentrate on music. In Britain, the Aldeburgh Festival was founded by Benjamin Britten. The most famous British music festival, however, is the Proms, held each summer at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Concerts contain a mixture of old favourites and new, specially commissioned pieces. Classical music is less popular in the US, but several festivals offer a mixture of concerts and classes, e.g. the Aspen Music Festival.
  Festivals of rock and pop music are often huge informal open-air events attended by thousands of people, many of whom camp overnight in a nearby field. The biggest rock festivals in Britain include Glastonbury, Reading and the Download festival, Donnington. There are huge numbers of festivals every year across the US for different types of music. These include Rock Fests, for example the one held near Cadott, Wisconsin and the Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Music Festival which celebrates the music (and Cajun food) of Black French and Creole peoples. The Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis and the W C Handy Blues and Barbecue Festival in Henderson, Kentucky, celebrate the blues.
  Film festivals are especially popular in the US. The best-known is the Sundance Film Festival organized by Robert Redford s Sundance Institute in Utah. The Hollywood Film Festival attracts big stars, but America’s mix of people from different races and cultures has led to many smaller events such as the Boston Jewish Film Festival and the Los Angeles Asian-Pacific Film Festival. The main event in Britain is the London Film Festival, run by the BFI (British Film Institute). There is also the Celtic Film and Television Festival, which promotes Celtic languages and cultures and takes place in a different town each year in Cornwall, Ireland, Scotland, Wales or Brittany.
  Fewer people generally attend literature festivals, but in the US the annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival has become a major event. It includes performances of Williams’s plays and a walking tour of ‘Williams’s New Orleans’. The Dodge Poetry Festival is held every two years in New Jersey. In Britain the town of Hay-on-Wye has a literary festival, and Stratford-upon-Avon has a poetry festival every summer.
  In the US the most common festivals are arts, or arts and crafts, festivals. For example, the Utah Arts Festival mixes art with music, theatre and cooking.

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Universalium. 2010.

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