Commercializing the carnivalesque: the V Festival and image/risk management

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    The V Festival has been held since 1996, and was the first large-scale outdoor rock and pop music festival in Britain to be held at two sites simultaneously over one weekend. Developed as a mainstream alternative to the Glastonbury and Reading Festivals, it struggled to create a distinctive identity or gain critical acceptance, especially among the more radical or countercultural of festival-goers and press. Managed by a consortium of highly successful concert promoters, it actively embraces commercialism, sponsorship deals, and a forward-thinking ethos of quality and customer service. However, rather than escaping the countercultural and carnivalseque imagery and meanings historically associated with outdoor rock and pop music festivals it has, to varying degrees, commodified, modernized, or subverted them. In the process, it has gained considerable popularity among festival-goers and secured the plaudits of music industry professionals. The event is at the forefront of initiatives regarding festival policing and safety, and offers a role model for the many new commercial events that are established each year. This article considers how the concept of the countercultural carnivalesque has been used in relation to large-scale outdoor music festivals, before examining the V Festival through a cultural economic focus. It demonstrates how the beliefs and backgrounds of its organizers have influenced the management and image of the event, and how it has helped to transform the large-scale outdoor music festival market more generally.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)39-51
    JournalEvent Management
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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