Co-creation of experiences at dark tourism festivals
Keywords:Dark Tourism, Festivals, Co-Creation of Experience, Liminality, Performance, Sharing Economy
This work-in-progress paper presents a novel area of thanatourism research, dark tourism festivals. These alternative festivals are located at the lighter end of the thanatourism spectrum, focusing on fun, culture and entertainment. This paper focuses in particular on the co-creation of festival experience at dark tourism festivals. Preliminary findings are presented, predominantly based on data gathered at the Whitby Goth Weekend, which will later be supplemented by research at other dark tourism festivals. Preliminary findings indicate that aspects such as emotional involvement, authenticity, performance and embodiment are important elements during the co-creation process. Embodied performances during which participants engage in creative practices, such as dressing up in elaborate costumes whilst having their photographs taken, enable them to escape from the routines of their day-to-day lives. Initial findings also indicate links between the festival experience and the concept of liminality. Also, participants engage in meaningful social bonds and essentially take ownership of the festival experience. Whilst engaging in these activities, participants become part of the co-creation of a performance. Festival spaces are specifically managed to enable co-creation, whereby festival participants form part of a sharing economy and actively co-create the festival experience together with the organisers, who enable this process by providing a safe and inclusive festival space.
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