Placemaking Examples: Festivals for Cultural Development
Great placemaking integrates the physical, cultural, and social identity of an area. Placemaking helps build and strengthen your community's unique brand. It also builds community pride and connection. Developing cultural events in your community gives your community members something to bond over, and also attracts tourism and outside investors. Promoting the unique features of your region also makes room for citizens to start businesses related to those features. Cultural development and placemaking are integral to economic development.
Excellent Festivals as Placemaking Examples
There are many ways to strengthen cultural development in your region; festivals are just one example. Here are four festivals across Canada that are a huge part of the cultural fabric of their region. These festivals are strong placemaking examples of how cultural events can have a major impact on the economy of a region.
Festival of the Maples
April 25, 2020
Features: free admission, Lumberjack skills competitions, maple syrup everything, concerts, pancake breakfast, food vendors and artisans, antique car show, safety skills demos, and a wide variety of family activities.
Started in 1976, the Festival of the Maples is the capstone of a month-long celebration of the maple trees in the region. Maple trees and maple syrup are an important part of Perth’s history and local economy. The celebration, on the last Saturday in April, attracts 15,000–20,000 people to the region for the day!
The one-day festival is the local Chamber of Commerce’s biggest revenue generator for the year.
Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival
June 25-28, 2020
Features: free admission, concerts, amusement attractions, sports demonstrations, artisans, exhibitors, food vendors, children’s activities, and dragon boat races starting every 10 minutes.
The Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival is recognized as the largest dragon boat festival in North America. Started in 1994, the event happens on the fifth day of the lunar month of the Chinese calendar, and attracts 75,000 visitors to the region. Dragon Boat Festivals are a longstanding Chinese tradition. They are a fertility ritual to ensure bountiful crops, and a commemoration of the death of Chinese poet Qu Yuan, a poet and Minister of State during the Chou Dynasty. The festival in Ottawa celebrates these Chinese cultural traditions, and the history of Canada’s relationship with the People's Republic of China.
The festival is supported by Canadian Heritage’s Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage program, Celebrate Ontario and the City of Ottawa Partnership Program.
Quebec Winter Carnival (Carnaval de Québec)
Quebec City, Quebec
February 7-16, 2020
Features: Masquerade Ball with up to 400 participants, ice palace, snowboarding, ice canoeing, snowshoeing, hockey, horse and sleigh races, dog sledding, free breakfasts and brunch, international snow sculpture contest, outdoor dance parties, many family activities, daytime and nighttime parades, as well as various public and private events throughout the city.
Started in 1894, and held annually since 1955, the Quebec Winter Carnival is a world-renowned 10-day celebration of winter. It is one of the largest festivals in the world, and quite likely the largest winter festival. The event has attracted upwards of one million attendees in the past.
Bonhomme Carnaval, the mascot of the festival, represents the character and spirit of the festival and the whole community. The whole festival, much of it celebrated outdoors during some of the coldest weather of the year, really highlights the joie de vivre of the Quebecois people.
The festival generates $28 million in tourist spending, and $38 million in overall economic impact, and supports approximately 600 jobs. The carnival is supported by the Office du tourisme de Québec, Tourisme Québec and the Canadian Tourism Commission.
July 3-12, 2020
The Calgary Stampede, “the greatest outdoor show on earth”, began with the first exhibition of agriculture in 1886. The world-famous event has evolved into a 10-day celebration of everything Alberta has to offer, from agricultural heritage to the arts and industry. It was officially named the Calgary Stampede in 1912. In 2012 the Stampede celebrated its official 100th birthday. More than 200,000 pancake breakfasts happen across the city each year. It is a volunteer-driven event, with over 2500 volunteers each year. The Stampede features events of all kinds including the famous parade, midway, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions, rodeo events, and First Nations exhibitions. The Stampede attracts tourists from all over the world, and has featured a long list of famous guests over the years.
The economic impact of the Stampede on the city of Calgary is estimated at $300 million, and $325 million for the province of Alberta.
Considering a Festival in Your Region?
These festivals across the country have unquestionably contributed to establishing a sense of place for their regions. They’ve also gained international recognition, attracted significant tourist dollars, and made huge contributions to the economy of their regions. The festivals have also helped develop a sense of pride, connection, and unity in their communities.
Festivals and cultural events showcase the best your community has to offer. Working closely with the businesses in your community during festival times and off-seasons gives you better insights into how you can continue to help your community prosper, grow, and celebrate. With our Triage BR+ETM platform, you can survey businesses in your community as little as 10 weeks and provide support to them in all facets of your local economy, including: businesses involved with or interested in starting or expanding festivals or those that feel hindered by these events. With a strong BR+E strategy you can encourage further cultural development that helps your community build a uniquely local sense of place. Input from your business community is an important consideration when weighing options and assessing the impact of a festival.
Support the Unique Cultural Assets of Your Region