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What Is an Art Festival?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated: May 23, 2024

An art festival is a celebration of both art and artists, and is often used to promote art among the masses. Typically held in an aesthetic setting, such as a waterfront park or historic home, a festival typically features displays of artwork by several artists. The art at the festival is often available for purchase, and artists also use the event to receive commission work by demonstrating their talents. The event may highlight one type of art, such as wood carving, stained glass or sculpture, or may have a combination of many different arts. A festival can also feature workshops, studio demonstrations and meet-and-greets with artists.

Most art festivals are either open to the public or to a certain group of people, such as patrons of a particular art gallery or members of a group or association. The event can serve as an opportunity for fans of particular artists to actually meet the artists and have purchases autographed or personalized. Some artists will even create specific artwork or commemorative pieces for an art festival. For annual art festivals, these commemorative pieces are often highly collectible items that are available in limited quantities.

Art festivals can be used as a way for artist groups or clubs to display and sell members' works. Art galleries can also use an art festival as a venue for showcasing artwork from the gallery's stable of artists. A festival can put the work in front of potential customers who may not frequent the gallery, thereby expanding the number of people who view the artists' works. The events also provide an opportunity for galleries to promote themselves with outside artists.

Some artist organizations will host an art festival to showcase their members' work in one large event. Often, the organizations will offer classes and seminars for the artists and art patrons during the festivals. This offers the artists a chance to hone their skills, and art lovers an opportunity to learn more about artwork and artists.

An art festival can offer an opportunity for festival-goers to watch artists work at their craft. Many festivals feature studio-style displays where attendees can watch artists' creations come from concept to fruition. Often, the artwork created at the show will also be available for sale at the event, allowing festival-goers the rare chance to purchase art they had watched being made. Some festivals will include artworks by only local artists, while larger events will feature artwork created by artists from all over the world.

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Discussion Comments
By Mor — On Apr 08, 2014

@KoiwiGal - That sounds like it could be a lot of fun. I think there are quite a few art festivals like that, it's just that they might have very high standards or are only looking for particular kinds of art. But if you can get through the application process, they will let you display your work. They have to get their artists from somewhere.

By KoiwiGal — On Apr 07, 2014

@croydon - I really love art festivals that highlight the process of the artist as well as the finished product.

I think my favorite festival though is one that happens every couple of years here where they invite anyone who wants to enter artworks for sale and have a cap on the price so that the average person can afford original pieces.

They invite some big name artists, but mostly it is a bunch of skilled amateurs who are usually available to explain their work to you if you are curious about it and who are going to be extremely happy to sell anything.

I love the idea that average people get to buy art without needing to win the lottery, while new artists can get the exposure that it can be so difficult to achieve before you become a household name.

By croydon — On Apr 06, 2014

There is an awesome sculpture festival that my local city council holds each year, where they bring in stone sculptors from around the world and set them up in the park with a big chunk of stone each so that they can carve something over a couple of weeks and people can watch their process.

It can get very dusty in the area, but it is so fascinating to watch the different sculptures take shape over the days and it's fun to see artists with chainsaws and other power tools as well.

They auction off all the sculptures at the end of the festival and give some of the money to charity I think.

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