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Celebrating festivals from the past and present

Updated Monday, 20 July 2020
The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) has curated a virtual festival to showcase and celebrate some of the lesser-known festivals of the past and present. Explore festivals dating back to Ancient Greece and Rome, discover the rise of literary festivals and ‘protestivals’, plus take a look at two very different sides to Glastonbury.

What thoughts and images are evoked when you think about ‘festivals’? Tents, muddy wellies, Woodstock, peace and love and alternative music, perhaps?

Glastonbury might be synonymous with large tents, stages and sound systems built to weather the most tempestuous storms, but as a medieval town in southwest England, its history is far richer. Music festivals have certainly gained popularity in recent decades, but many festivals can actually be traced back to ancient times.

To explore the video content on this page, click on the individual sections below to uncover the festivals. Enjoy!


The Compitalia, Parentalia, Panathenaia, Amphiaraia, Lenaia and Vinalia festivals

Festivals were the heartbeat of Greek and Roman society and fulfilled significant roles in their social and political organisations. Learn more about these ancient events.


Glastonbury festival

Did you know that Glastonbury festival is not actually held in Glastonbury? The town itself is a popular and sacred pilgrimage site though.



Groups such as Extinction Rebellion and the Red Rebel Brigade have been carrying out protestivals, as part of the climate movement. Discover the origin of protestivals and the elements which make up their model.


How to prepare for playing at a music festival

Timing can be everything when it comes playing at a music festival. Dr Sean Williams explains how he made the transition from darkness to sunrise so memorable at a music festival in Nevada.


Literary festivals

Dr Shafquat Towheed discusses the history of literary festivals and how they are uniting people in the literary world.



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