Reinventing a Rural Area: A Case Study into Cultural Festivals in Oldambt, The Netherlands

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The Oldambt area, in the northeast of the Netherlands, has recently suffered from depopulation and a negative image. However, four high-quality cultural festivals have been developed in or moved towards the area during the last decade. The festivals have different organisational models. This paper assesses how they contribute to rural regeneration through semi-structured interviews with stakeholders around the festivals and local youth. It adds to the existing literature by introducing the concept of rural regeneration, stemming from neo-endogenous rural development, into festival research and by conducting multiple case studies in one area. The paper investigates the festivals’ local legitimacy, rootedness, and ability to create interconnectedness. The findings suggest that the festivals are locally supported, use local resources, and benefit the area, notwithstanding their organisational model. The festivals also help to establish networks within and outside of Oldambt, and there is thus a positive effect on regeneration. The recent more positive developments in Oldambt may be related to the organisation of the festivals.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6921
Number of pages20
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • festivals
  • regeneration
  • cultural capital
  • community development
  • rural areas
  • The Netherlands


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