Online festival experiences, eventscapes and cultural value: insights on the dilemmas faced by two South African festivals during COVID-19

Jen Snowball*, Delon Tarentaal, Fiona Drummond, Roberta Comunian, Jonathan Gross

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As in many countries, lockdown measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa resulted in the large-scale cancellation of cultural festivals. To preserve business continuity, many festivals shifted to online events to continue providing value for audiences, sponsors and artists. This paper focuses on the experiences of two of the oldest and largest mixed festivals in the country: The National Arts Festival and the Klein Karoo Nationale Kunstefees. Both festivals adapted by shifting online, necessitating significant programme, business model, and management innovation. Using the framework provided by the literature on visitor leisure experiences and e-eventscapes, the paper questions how arts festivals have achieved new e-eventscapes alongside providing online cultural programming. The paper uses a mixed methods research approach to analyse the experiences of festival managers and audiences in the differing approaches developed by the two festivals. Theoretical and practical implications from the study are discussed in the conclusions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Leisure Research
Early online date1 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Nov 2023


  • Festivals
  • COVID-19
  • Online
  • Eventscape
  • Adaptation
  • Experiences

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