Tensions and disputes over public space in festival cities: insights from Barcelona and Edinburgh

David McGillivray*, Alba Colombo, Xavier Villanueva

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Festivals and events are important to cities, residents, cultural workers, and visitors, growing over time to have an inseparable relationship with the places that host them. In this article, we are concerned with the way outdoor urban public spaces in two self-identified Festival Cities are used to host festivals and events, including the tensions and disputes generated. Methodologically, we draw on in-depth case studies of the use of public space for festivals and events in Edinburgh (Scotland) and Barcelona (Spain). We found that both cities have experienced similar problems, with evidence of tensions and disputes over who can make use of public space to celebrate their festivities and with implications for access to those spaces for others. Open public space traditionally used for popular festivities is increasingly brought under the gaze of planning and management to maximise external reputational benefits over local citizen interests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-241
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events
Issue number3
Early online date5 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2022


  • public space
  • festivals and events
  • Barcelona
  • Edinburgh
  • tensions


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