When the boring grind of the day-to-day is wearing down your characters, why not send them to a festival? Surely, something there will spark excitement, distraction, or consternation in your narrative!

Types of Festivals

There is no shortage of things that characters in your stories can celebrate. Stick to some favourites or invent your own. Here is a menu of trigger words to help you explore the kind of festival that could show up on your story’s doorstep…

  • celebration, annual event, commemoration, traditional practice, tribute or honour,
  • town carnival, city festival, municipal fair, panigyria,
  • feast, breaking a fast,
  • triumph, victory, prize, championship, champion,
  • religious holiday, spiritual rite, cultural festivity,
  • solstice, equinox, new moon, full moon, sun, star, eclipse,
  • all hallow’s eve, halloween, day of the dead, ancestor’s day,
  • sports, athletics, rodeo, track and field, joust,
  • showcase, demonstration, feature,
  • film festival, Shakespeare, arts, dance,
  • balloon festival, ice sculpture, flag,
  • music festival, polkafest, folkfest,
  • royal birthday, wedding, birth,
  • dominion day, independence day, rebellion day,
  • luck day, wish day, birthday party, song day, bubble festival,
  • sword day, sceptre day, tournament week,
  • serpent day, wolf’s day,
  • forest festival, hilltop equinox fete, mountain glory jubilee,
  • sacrifice, offering, ritual,
  • harvest, spring fiesta, winter, fall, summer, rainy season,
  • magic day, spirit day, mana day, day of the ancients,
  • celebrating a breakthrough, discovery, win, journey’s beginning or end, vision, omen,
  • choosing a leader, great mage, a future path, calling, delegate, champion,

Festival Descriptions

Festivals are invariably loaded with fun and celebration so we’ve included a bunch of those ideas but also a few other possible descriptions to color strange corners of your story…

  • lively, bustling, flamboyant, elated, jubilant, happy, joyful, ecstatic, filled with revelry, awesome, joyous, festive,
  • proud, glorious, exultant,
  • celebratory, honorary, momentous, triumphant,
  • loud, noisy, cacophonous, rambunctious, wild, driving, rowdy,
  • bright, light, flashy, sparkling, glittering, brillliant, radiant,
  • crowded, packed,
  • aromatic, sweet, perfumed, scented, spiced, delicious, delectable, tempting, tasty, sumptuous, fragrant, flowery, redolent, savory, rich, acrid, smelly, stinky, pungent, odorous, fetid, rotting, malodorous, noxious, miasmic,
  • dirty, unkempt, disheveled,

Festival Activities

  • concert, performance,
  • eat and drink,
  • rejoice, celebrate, have fun,
  • dance, hootenany, barn dance, traditional dancing, hoe down, shindig, round dance, polka, waltz, jive,
  • band playing, community jam, folk singing,
  • debauchery, carnal pleasure, orgy,
  • carnival, rides, amusement park,
  • parade, procession, march, military display,
  • worship, perform rites, observe, sanctify, bless,

Stuff at Festivals

Festivals are great places to introduce foreign, new, or bizarre elements to your narrative. If you want something out of the ordinary, all you need to do to justify it is set up a fair… low and behold, the “odd” thing comes to town in a mysterious wagon. This can happen in any genre any time so it is an amazing device.

  • fireworks, light show, flashing lights, marquee lights, grand chandelier, 1,000 candles, grand firepit,
  • magic show, tricks, juggling, comedy, a play,
  • colourful floats, balloons, streamers, confetti, thrown rice,
  • horns, noise, bells,
  • food, food trucks, food carts,
    • crepes, mini donuts, funnel cakes,
    • sweets, candy,
    • cotton candy,
    • hot dog, corn dog, hamburger, french fries, frites, chips, poutine, donairs, gyros,
    • falafel,
    • fried fish, fried chicken, roasted lamb,
    • kabobs, schnitzel,
    • dango, tacoyaki, yakitori, okonomiyaki,
  • wine, ale, beer garden, kegs, jugs, mugs, whisky, rum, mead,
  • turnstile, check in, registration, gate, parking lot,

Characters at Festivals

  • dancers, belly dancer, rhythmic dancers,
  • musicians, drummers, choir, singer, guitarist, trio, barbershop quartet, spoon player, fiddler, accordionist, band, orchestra, school band, rock band,
  • juggler, unicyclist, tightrope walker,
  • food vendor, hawker, peddler, server, waiter, dishwasher, cook, chef,
  • laborer, handyman, jack-of-all-trades, mechanic, grunt, worker, grip, engineer, builder, mason, carpenter, installer, repairman, gardener, stagehand,
  • cleaner, janitor, laundry worker,
  • ticket taker, clerk, agent, porter, concierge, steward, guide, greeter, cashier, host(ess), attendant, usher, turnstile operator,
  • security, soldier, police, officer,
  • ride operator, carnie, carny, attendant,

Ideas and Thoughts

  • a festival is a great place to have characters find something strange (check this link to get ideas)
  • if you need to drop hints or give a clue to your characters, there are always mystical people lurking about the festivals. It could be someone in a tent (fortune teller, gypsy, medium) or an unsavory character with knowledge of the “truth” (thief, pickpocket, blackmarketeer). There may even be camps of oddball types that follow the festival around doing various jobs or the broad savviness of a lifelong carnie worker who has seen the world.