Symbols, Practices and Myth-making: cultural perspectives on the Wexford Festival Opera,
Document Type Article
Tourism Geographies, 5, 3, pp. 329 – 349.
In recent decades geographers have paid increasing attention to festivals. They have construed festivals as important practices through which people connect with their place and as authored landscapes designed to promote particular sets of values and attach specific meanings to place. Tourism influences the processes and dynamics ongoing in festival settings and this paper seeks to unravel some of the complex ways in which it influences the reproduction of cultural meanings there. It draws on research conducted on the Wexford Festival Opera in the Republic of Ireland and analyses the symbolism, practices and meanings found to be associated with the festival. It discusses how ‘official’ festival meanings sought to balance elitism with inclusivity, and international appeal with local support but identifies a contrasting set of ‘unofficial’ meanings being communicated through the attitudes and practices evident in the local population. Tourism’s role was found to be critical in reproducing ‘official’ meanings and in sustaining myths encasing the festival.