This thesis views popular-music festival tourism through the lens of pilgrimage. It combines Turner’s ‘structure and anti-structure’ model (1969) with Turner and Turner’s pilgrimage framework (2011), which requires a meaningful spatial transition. While many of the music festival tourism scholars utilized the first, most neglected to incorporate the latter. As Covid-19 led to policies prohibiting public gatherings, a secondary aim of the study became understanding past experiences in order to develop structures for future music festivals that will be safe while preserving the core structure of popular-music festival experiences. For this study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 respondents who had traveled across two national boundaries to international popular-music festivals (or more). Special attention was paid to the four theoretical processes (i.e., inclusion-exclusion, liminality, communitas and spatial transition), which were also thematically analyzed using the Atlas.ti software. The authenticity of the travelers' experiences was found to be influenced by exterior cultural and political factors. Specifically, gender and nationality affecting inclusionexclusion, and technological advances (cell phones) and low connectivity with the real world affecting both inclusion-exclusion and communitas. While all the experiences incorporate pilgrimage processes, they resembled the later framework of ‘tourism magic’ (Graburn, 2004) more than the Turners' framework. Due to the inclusion of post-travel element and the addition of the return-back-to-real-world process. The implication for future music festivals under pandemic conditions is to rely on groups of travelers to experience their communitas in smaller crowed (e.g.: capsulated tours), as the travelers do not require huge crowds to experience all the four processes. Moreover, some level of hardship or need for adaptation should be kept (e.g., lower communication with outside world, or need to adapt to different customs and behavior), since it is necessary to substantiate the traveler’s experiences of the festival as an out of their real-world surrounding.

, , , , , , ,
Hoeven, A. van der
Media, Culture & Society
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Leder, Yifat. (2021, January 4). God is a DJ: a thematic analysis of popular-music festival traveler’s experiences through Victor Turner’s framework of pilgrimage. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from