Events, cities and the night-time economy

Authored by: Graeme Evans

The Routledge Handbook of Events

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367236489
eBook ISBN: 9780429280993
Adobe ISBN:


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Evening entertainment and night-time activities have long featured in tourism destinations as an essential element in what has been coined the ‘experience economy’ of events, live performance and social gatherings around clubs, bars, restaurants and other venues. These invariably cater primarily for tourists during the peak season. Cities and urban tourism on the other hand, offer a range of late-night activities all year round for a mix of residents, day visitors and tourists alike. These range from the traditional ‘night life’ of theatre, cinema and other cultural venues, as well as bar and catering outlets often located on and around routes that are designed for public movement and circulation such as squares, shopping streets, entertainment zones and squares – for example Leicester Square, London and Times Square, New York. These areas are often well lit and represent what Hannigan (2007) calls ‘controlled edge’, but they essentially provide a backdrop to consumption and visitor activity, window shopping and soaking up the night life atmosphere. Another familiar image of historic towns and cities is illuminated heritage sites and buildings – from cathedrals, churches to fountains and monuments. Events that bring the outdoor public realm together with cultural and heritage venues at night are however a more recent development (Evans 2010). These seek, explicitly or not, to extend the night-time economy of cities in a more festive environment, opening up traditional as well as more off beat areas and venues to locals and visitors alike. These late- and light-night events are the subject of this chapter.

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