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  • Festive Space and Dream Worlds: Christmas in London

    Adam Eldridge, Ilaria Pappalepore

    Chapter from the book: Smith A. & Graham A. 2019. Destination London: The Expansion of the Visitor Economy.


    From light displays to ice rinks and German-style markets, the Christmas period in London sees the capital transformed into pockets of ‘dream worlds’ (Buck-Morris, 1995). Christmasscapes prompt tourists and residents alike to be swept up into an atmosphere of festive spectatorship and participation. In this chapter, we explore the ways Christmas-themed events and spaces in London leverage Christmas values and symbolism to extend and intensify tourism and the tourist experience. The chapter starts by exploring the history and leverage of Christmas, followed by a critical discussion of Christmas themed events, Christmas shopping, and other commercial practices associated with the festive period. The discussion then turns to more recent work on illumination and the production of Christmas ‘atmosphere’. While these practices, events and spaces are often framed in terms of debates about commercialisation and the privatisation of public space, a more critical analysis reveals a complex picture, one where competing narratives of Christmas are played out. Drawing on cultural studies as well as tourism data and concepts, we argue that Christmasscapes in London not only challenge dominant accounts of theming, they raise questions about the articulation of everyday tourism experiences, urban tourism, the night, and the festive period.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Eldridge A. & Pappalepore I. 2019. Festive Space and Dream Worlds: Christmas in London. In: Smith A. & Graham A (eds.), Destination London. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book35.i

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    Published on May 21, 2019