Past Futures discusses the benefits of your organisation hosting its own festival by taking a look at the case study Soleil: St. Lucia's Arts & Heritage Festival.
This October we spent two weeks exploring the culture and heritage of St. Lucia, a commonwealth country in the Caribbean. St. Lucia has an exciting blend of history starting with the Arawaks and Caribs; extending to French, British and African influences.
The island has celebrated Creole Day at the end of October since 1981, but this year was the first time efforts were made to make October a month long celebration, showcasing the rich diversity this island nation possesses.
Other countries like Peru and the UK have monopolised on the unique history their ancestors have left behind, with history and culture being a key draw for tourists visiting these countries. So why shouldn't other locations seek to showcase their heritage too?
"This is a celebration of the richness and diversity of Saint Lucia’s cultural, ethnic and artistic heritage. With musical, theatrical and other performances, with seminars and lectures, with varied culinary experiences, with street parties and with art exhibitions"
Celebrations for the Arts & Heritage festival kicked off on 30th September, with the district of Choiseul hosting a Crafts Festival. Each community in Choiseul has its own indigenous craft; with many people having grown up learning their local craft, from coal pot making to wooden chair manufacturing. It was great to see the crafts created as well as sampling some delicious authentic Creole food!
The Jazz festival has long played a prominent role in St. Lucia's festival calendar, but as the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority looks to attract visitors from outside its usual remit of jazz festival goers and honeymooners, the Arts & Heritage festival could be a game changer in tourists heading to explore St. Lucia.
In recent years, efforts have been made to protect and promote the outstanding heritage sites St. Lucia has to offer. After all it is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site - The Pitons - which are two mountainous volcanic plugs synonymous with scenes of the island, and which are featured on the national flag.
Across St. Lucia you will see 'Heritage Tourism sites' labelled and pointed out, which is great for those who have come away on a cultural holiday. I was lucky enough to visit half a dozen of these sites during my stay; ranging from waterfalls, to former plantations and even 1600 year old rock carvings!
While St. Lucia is at the beginning of their cultural tourism journey, the addition of the Arts & Heritage Festival this year marks a turning point for growing the tourism sector in the future and attracting new audiences. There may still be a lot to do in terms of promoting the event, but I can' t think of another country which is showcasing the nations history in a festival format like this and this example shows there is lots of potential for others to be doing the same.
If you're interested in launching your own history festival, get in touch with us by sending a special Commission request to discuss your options now.