Festivals Can Provide Attendees a Lasting Sense of Belonging
I’ve been going to music festivals since I was a teenager. I’m so passionate about them and their ability to unite people that I invested in Elements, an upstart camping festival that was dubbed “burning man meets Brooklyn” by Gothamist.
One of the things I love the most about festivals is the plethora of serendipitous moments for coming together. As you wander through the festival discovering a new act or stumbling into an art installation, there are a range of opportunities for strangers to find belonging.
These moments are more than just fleeting. A recent study of festivals across the US and UK discovered that 63% of festival attendees said they had undergone a “transformative experience,” which resulted in feeling more connected to humanity and more willing to help strangers. The researchers went on to uncover that the transformative experience and prosocial feelings lasted for “at least six months.” (!)
Festivals curate an environment where like-minded individuals can come together and share a carefully cultivated set of experiences together. Sociologist Emile Durkheim calls it ‘collective effervescence.’ In a world where we chase ephemeral experiences and people feel more disconnected than ever, festivals provide an opportunity for unity and connectedness that lasts.
If you’re looking for a way to boost your mental well-being and feel a lasting sense of belonging, consider attending a festival. Just make sure it’s a camping festival (e.g. Burning Man) and not a city festival (e.g. Lollapalooza) so you’re fully immersed.
For those who have attended festivals, I’d be curious to hear which of them have given you the biggest sense of belonging.