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Events, urban spaces and mobility
David McGillivray & Michael B. Duignan
To cite this article: David McGillivray & Michael B. Duignan (2022) Events, urban spaces and
mobility, Annals of Leisure Research, 25:1, 1-4, DOI: 10.1080/11745398.2022.2027251
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© 2022 Australia and New Zealand
Association of Leisure Studies
Published online: 22 Feb 2022.
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Events, urban spaces and mobility
David McGillivray
and Michael B. Duignan
Centre for Culture, Sport & Events, School of Business & Creative Industries, University of the West of
Scotland Paisley Campus, Paisley, UK;
School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of
Surrey Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences, Guildford, UK
This special issue seeks to critically examine the relationship between events, urban
spaces and mobility. Specically, it seeks to explore how and why events enable and/or
produce new spatial (re)congurations when staged and how these changes inuence
mobility, exploration, engagement and/or consumption across host environments
whether at an international, national, regional, city and/or community level. Events,
irrespective of their size and composition, inuence the way people move, explore,
engage with and/or consume the urban environments that stage them (Giulianotti
et al. 2015; Mhanna, Blake, and Jones 2017). They are often managed in private venues,
yet are increasingly staged in public spaces like street, squares and parks (Smith 2016).
Utilizing urban public spaces to house events, whether a beach, park or plaza, often
requires temporary urban rearrangements, producing what are sometimes referred to
as Host Event Zones(HEZs). These are temporary designated areas where event acti-
vation activities take place (McGillivray, Duignan, and Mielke 2020). Sometimes HEZs
are public and open to all, other times they are private and closed, requiring a ticket to
access and the rights of sponsors and other commercial actors being protected by excep-
tional planning regulations. Beyond the demarcated boundaries of HEZs, events also
extend their territorial presence and reach in a number of creative ways, including the
emergence of fringe spaces. For example, food festivals have sought to engage periph-
erally located restaurants as a way to move visitors out of central urban areas (Duignan
et al. 2017). In contrast, mega sport event organizers create strategically located live
sitesand fan parksto house non-sporting cultural and commercial activity, deploying
tactics to circulate visitors to and contain them within global spaces of consumption
(Armstrong, Giulianotti, and Hobbs 2017).
Relatedly, a nascent body of critical research has illustrated how new spatial conditions
have the power to include and exclude particular social groups across the events lifecycle
(Walters and Jepson 2019; Duignan, Pappalepore, and Everett 2019). Hassanli, Walters,
and Friedmann (2020) found that multicultural festivals allow ethnic minority migrants
and refugees the opportunity to express their identity and engage in cultural practices
in a safe space. Festivals and events organized at the community level have been
shown to generate a shared sense of belonging and identity (Gibson and Connell
2015). The very act of drawing together diverse interests within a community to plan
and organize place-based community events can produce short-lived surges of convivial-
ity which can loosen social and spatial relations (Stevenson 2021), disrupting conventional
© 2022 Australia and New Zealand Association of Leisure Studies
CONTACT David McGillivray
2022, VOL. 25, NO. 1, 14
ways of being in neighbourhoods, if only temporarily. Richards (2017) has also suggested
that smaller, iterative events can enhance a local area, in contrast to the more detached
larger pulsar events. Space is an important dimension in community festivals too as com-
munities and neighbourhoods are complex territories with their residents distributed in
dierent wards or areas and outdoor public spaces playing an important role in owner-
ship of place. As Misener and Mason (2006) suggest, events play an important role in
marking who makes claims to civic space(394). In this sense, events and the urban
spaces they utilize can be the site of contestation and negotiation over place, identity
and access. For example, when civic spaces are enclosed for extended periods of time
to stage concerts, motor-races, Christmas markets or related festivities, disaected resi-
dents often resist and campaign groups pressure authorities to minimize local disruption
(McGillivray, Guillard, and Reid 2020; Smith 2021).
In this Special Issue, we include contributions from motorsport to the Olympic Games,
and recurring festivals and events which are inseparable from the places that stage them,
across a range of contexts from a Heavy Metal Festival in Germany to motor sport racing
in Australia. In total, we include eight papers.
Jamieson and Todd argue that festivals require a greater representation of deaf and dis-
abled communities to advance inclusivity and diversity agendas and make public space
accessible. They specically look at the context of Edinburgh (UK), a city that proclaims
to be the worlds leading Festival City. Facilitating access and overcoming barriers to
leisure consumption connects to the Annear, Shimitzu, Kidokoro and McLaughlan article
too; they argue that hosting large-scale sporting events like the Olympic Games provides
a unique opportunity to re-imagine public space to promote active leisure. They carried
out walking audits of key Olympic sites to examine usage by utilizing a framework called
the Physical Activity Resource Assessment (PARA). The authors found six key challenges:
limited resource accessibility, lack of amenities, health, nuisance, vegetation overgrowth,
heat eects and disaster, identied as barriers to active leisure.
Drawing on a series of large inner-city events in Brisbane, Dorreboom and Barry studied
how barriers erected prevented access to the city. They suggest that opening up access to
public space and encouraging inclusive event participation is a key policy and practitioner
challenge that owners and organizers must recognize and overcome if they are to
promote inclusive experiences. The authors argue that security imperatives legitimize a
reconguration of space that interrupts and redirects pedestrian mobility, and although
they recognize the importance of making events safe and secure, they argue this con-
dition can impact the events festive atmosphere. Duignan, Smith, Pappalepore and Ivanes-
cuspaper takes a similar focus but in the context of the Rio 2016 Olympics. The
relationship between security and the reconguration of urban space is particularly strik-
ing in an Olympic city as so much urban infrastructure from transport systems to entire
tourist attractions is transformed. The authors oer two main analytical points. The rst
is that existing tourist bubbles (i.e. Copacabana beach) are overlaid with temporary
event regulations, producing a double bubbleeect signicantly inuencing how tour-
ists behave and experience the city. Second, staying with the bubbles theme, they argue
that the citystransportation network acts as a bubble wrapping’–encasing tourists in
the city and preventing them from alighting across parts of the city. Therefore, precluding
interaction with some parts of the city.
Johnson, Everingham and Everinghamsarticle shifts the focus from a cultural event and
softer metaphors for how events take over public space to what they refer as the
juggernaut eectproduced by the staging of high-octanemotor racing events in the
city. They argue that these spatial processes are fuelled by power and political plays,
from boosterism to brinkmanship orchestrated by local elite stakeholders through a
coalition between public and private partnerships to squash community resistance to
the changes impacting their daily lives. Jordanswork also critiques governance
approaches. Her work specically examines how those institutions governing festivals
can produce social spaces and relations that alienate local cultural communities and poten-
tially limit social mobility. Creating positive relationships between events and hosting com-
munities is a key theme that underlies a number of the articles, yet there is clearly a way to
go and a series of recommendations to be considered to harmonize this relationship.
The nal two articles focus on the social and economic development role events play
for communities and participants. Bohn and Bernardi examine the heavy metal festival
Wacken Open Air (Germany). They explore how host event zones are developed and
the way they balance (or not) the dynamics between temporality, spectacle and ritual
as a commercial site and how this intersects with existing inhabitants and everyday
living. Then, to close, we have Nava, Carr, Miller, and Coetzeesstudy looking at how
hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2011 served to redene the way in which New Zealands
authorities approached camping. They note how events act as exceptional vehicles to
craft new special legislation, in this case to guarantee the right to practice freedom
camping. They conclude that counter to initial objectives these regulations intensied
mobility restrictions.
Our special issue usefully illustrates how events are powerful drivers for social, economic
and environmental change, often having longer-term consequences for host communities,
cities and countries after the event draws to a close. This is, however, a doubled-edged
sword. Events can be used as a force for good and serve as a way to be highly inclusive
to some stakeholder interests, but often at the expense of others. Staging events does
not have to be a zero-sum game and numerous authors argue that more careful planning,
specically taking into account the ways events impact local people and livelihoods, to
advance mobilities and inclusionary agendas as opposed to immobilize and exclude
those who may not have the social or economic capital to participate.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the author(s).
Notes on contributors
David McGillivray holds a Chair in Event and Digital Cultures and his research focuses on two main
areas of activity. The rst area of interest is the contemporary signicance of events and festivals
(sporting and cultural) as markers of identity and mechanisms for the achievements of wider econ-
omic, social and cultural externalities. The second area is the aordances of digital and social media
in enabling (and constraining) participation in civic life, including in relation to major sport and cul-
tural events. He is currently Principal Investigator on two major European research projects, FEST-
SPACE and Event Rights. The former focuses on the role of festivals and events in the generation of
inclusive public space in Europe. The latter is concerned with the relationship between mega sport
events and human rights.
Michael B. Duignan studies the social and economic impact of planning and staging major events at
the community, regional, national and international level, with a specic focus on human and com-
munity rights. He is Head of Department and Reader in Events at the School of Hospitality and
Tourism Management, University of Surrey, and Director of the Observatory for Human Rights
and Major Events(HaRM) - the UKsocial Olympic Studies Centre endorsed by the International
Olympic Committee. As of November 2021, he became the Editor-in-Chief of the leading inter-
national journal in the study of events and festivals: Event Management.
David McGillivray
Michael B. Duignan
Armstrong, G., R. Giulianotti, and D. Hobbs. 2017.Policing the London 2012 Olympics. New York:
Duignan, M. B., S. Everett, L. Walsh, and N. Cade. 2017.Leveraging Physical and Digital Liminoidal
Spaces: The Case of the #EATCambridge Festival.Tourism Geographies 1: 122.
Duignan, M. B., I. Pappalepore, and S. Everett. 2019.The Summer of Discontent: Exclusion and
Communal Resistance at the London 2012 Olympics.Tourism Management 70: 355367.
Gibson, C., and J. Connell. 2015.The Role of Festivals in Drought-Aected Australian Communities.
Event Management 19 (4): 445459.
Giulianotti, R., G. Armstrong, G. Hales, and D. Hobbs. 2015.Global Sport Mega-Events and the
Politics of Mobility: The Case of the London 2012 Olympics.The British Journal of Sociology 66
(4): 118140.
Hassanli, N., T. Walters, and R. Friedmann. 2020.Can Cultural Festivals Function as Counterspaces
for Migrants and Refugees? The Case of the New Beginnings Festival in Sydney.Leisure Studies 39
(2): 165180.
McGillivray, D., M. B. Duignan, and E. Mielke. 2020.Mega Sport Events and Spatial Management
Zoning Space Across Rios 2016 Olympic City.Annals of Leisure Research 23 (3): 280303.
McGillivray, D., S. Guillard, and E. Reid. 2020.Urban Connective Action: The Case of Events Hosted in
Public Space.Urban Planning 5 (4): 252266.
Mhanna, R., A. Blake, and I. Jones. 2017.Challenges Facing Immediate Tourism Leveraging:
Evidence from the London 2012 Olympic Games.Managing Sport and Leisure 22 (2): 147165.
Misener, L., and D. S. Mason. 2006.Developing Local Citizenship Through Sporting Events:
Balancing Community Involvement and Tourism Development.Current Issues in Tourism 9(4
5): 384398.
Richards, G. 2017.From Place Branding to Placemaking: The Role of Events.International Journal of
Events & Festival Management 8 (1): 823.
Smith, A. 2016.Events in the City: Using Public Spaces as Event Venues. London: Routledge.
Walters, T., and A. Jepson. 2019.Marginalisation and Events. London: Routledge.
Smith, A. 2021.Sustaining Municipal Parks in an Era of Neoliberal Austerity: The Contested
Commercialisation of Gunnersbury Park.Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 53
(4): 704722.
Stevenson, N. 2021.The Contribution of Community Events to Social Sustainability in Local
Neighbourhoods.Journal of Sustainable Tourism 29 (1112): 17761791.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
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