»Why festivals? Questions of character and social context”
By Thomas Oberender

Firstly, I would like to consider the reasons why arts festivals and festspiele came into being in the 20century and why, as time has passed, more and more festivals have ome to be held. What are festivals? Also, what is the difference between festspiele and festivals? For example, if we look back through history, we can see that the forerunners of festspiele and festivals were feasts of royal courts, and religious festivals such as those in ancient Rome that celebrated the gods of agriculture and abundance and harvest festivals. There is a fundamental difference between such ancient festivals and modern-day festspiele and festivals. Today’s festspiele and festivals are unrelated to religious or social traditions, or, in other words, traditions that demand the participation of entire populations. Modern festivals have been distilled to become events that arouse interest in specific groups or sectors of society. This group-based enthusiasm is limited to specific fields. Accordingly, the group-based criterion is an important factor in the creation of festivals today. The group becomes focused on a particular event or idea, from which a transitory community is formed. For example, there are festivals that celebrate specific composers, such as a Mozart or Wagner, and others that celebrate musical genres, such as African music or electronic music, and still others that celebrate the works of specific playwrights, such as the Norwegian Henrik Ibsen. These kinds of festivals are not based on religion that draw all people in, nor are they designed to create a social or political order, such as the ancient festival of Dionysus.