Julie WILSON, UOC- Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open University of Catalonia), Spain
Laura LAMAS, UOC- Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open University of Catalonia), Spain
Tourism and leisure activities have undergone substantial changes, not only in the way they are designed and produced but also in how they are lived and experienced. Both academic and industry communities have long been interested in analyzing participants’ experiences of cultural activities and events; not only those linked to local communities, but also those oriented towards tourism and placemaking perspectives.
The global COVID-19 pandemic, which emerged across Europe in early March 2020, has not only triggered an exponential acceleration of these changes but has also created a whole new range of peculiarities via new ways of staging, placing and arranging ‘restricted’ leisure. In other words, restrictions on mobility - and consequently on tourism - have left more space for locally-oriented activities. Such activities have in turn been transformed and adapted during the pandemic - particularly in terms of their rediscovery by citizens and local communities.
This article focuses on the transgressive reactions and responses of citizens and communities of the city of Barcelona, now rediscovering and reclaiming leisure spaces, festivals and events for themselves. We employed in-depth interviews and participant observation, which permitted understanding of the context and breadth of the current situation and the experience lived by both participants and organisers. We conclude with a critical appraisal of the options now open for managing and reconfiguring the tourism saturation that Barcelona was experiencing pre-pandemic.
The article draws upon research findings from the FestSpace project, funded by HERA and coordinated by the University of the West of Scotland, with the Technology University Dublin, Westminster University London, Göteborg University and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.
Keywords: events|tourism|public space