The Best Books on Global Festivals

Article by: unknown author

Mon January 07, 2013 | 00:00 AM


It’s curious in this digital age that there’s very few websites that I can recommend that outline the best festivals in the world (part of the reason I’m doing Fest300). But, there is a plentiful collection of great books I can recommend…

My Bible: Some books feature too many festivals and some not enough, but “501 Must-Be-There Events” by Bounty Books is my encyclopedia as it’s well-organized and has great photos.

501 Must Be There Events

Most Comprehensive: Tom Clynes’ book, “Wild Planet!,” isn’t pretty to look at but it’s got an authoritative resource section for the 1,001 festivals it features.

wild-planet-coverWild Planet

Best Book for Party-Goers: The Rough Guide to the World’s Best Festivals, known as “World Party,” also has a website (that isn’t updated enough) does a great job of giving fun details of some of the best-known festivals in the world.

The-Rough-Guide-to-the-World-s-Best-Festivals-9781843535287Rough Guide

Well-Organized By Time of Year: Lonely Planet’s “A Year of Festivals” takes you through the year by week and tells you what’s happening where.

a_year_of_festivalsLonely Planet

The Perfect Coffee Table Book on Festivals: Celebrated architect David Rockwell collaborated with designer Bruce Mau to create a visual feast, “Spectacle,” that also is comprehensive in its information about some of the bigger festivals and events in the world.


Best Book on Festivals Celebrating Women: Paola Gianturco’s beautiful “Celebrating Women” outlines – with visual splendor – the most interesting festivals that celebrate women as virgins, flirts, warriors, healers, and nourishers.

Celebrating-Women-Gianturco-Paola-9781576872291Celebrating Women

A Political/Social Overview of the History of Festivals: I’ve always thought of author Barbara Ehrenreich as a bit of a killjoy, but her book “Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy” is an enjoyable, yet academic romp through the history of festivals.

24452Dancing in the Streets

Cultural Anthropologists’ Perspective on Why We Have Festivals: French sociologist Emile Durkheim coined the phrase “Collective Effervescence” in his book from 100 years ago called “The Elementary Forms of Religious Life” which explores how we lose ourselves in the joyous spirit that emerges when we connect with others for a common purpose.

elementary_formsEmile Durkheim