Live events are funny things; can their spirit be captured or do you have to “be there to get it”? Personally I don’t think you can, so why are we archiving festival websites?
Running throughout the year, though most tend to be clustered around the short UK summer, festivals form a huge part of the UK’s contemporary cultural scene. While it’s often the big music festivals that come to mind such as Glastonbury and Reading or perhaps the more local CAMRA sponsored beer and cider festivals; these days there is a festival for pretty much everything under the sun.
In part this explosion of festivals from the very local and niche to the mainstream and brand sponsored has been helped by the internet. You can now find festivals dedicated to anything from bird watching to meat grilling to vintage motors.
With the number of tools and platforms available for website creation and event and bookings management and the rise of social media, it seems anyone with an idea can put on a festival. More importantly with increasing connectedness that the web gives us, the reach of these home grown festivals has become potentially global.
Of course most will remain small local events that go on until the organisers lose interest or money such as Blissfields in Winchester which had to cancel their 2018 event due to poor ticket sales. But some will make it big like Neverworld which started in 2006 in Lee Denny’s back garden while his parents were away for the week but now 10+ years on has sold out the 5000 capacity festival venue it has relocated to.
The UK Web Archive‘s Festivals collection attempts to capture the huge variety of UK festivals taking place each year and currently has around 1200 events being archived that are loosely categorised based around 15 common themes, though of course there is a great deal of crossover as they can be found combining themes such as:
In this collection of UK festivals sites, while we cannot capture the spirit of a live event we can still try to capture their transient nature. Here you can see their rise and fall, the photographs and comments left in their wake, and their impact on local communities over time. Hopefully these sites and their contents can still give future researchers a sometimes surprising and often candid snapshot of contemporary British culture.