Seven Ways to Make Up a Name for a Music Festival

Music festivals have names as varied as their artists, fans, and genres. But what if you were on the hook to come up with one? The easiest way to invent a name for a music festival is to use the following formula:

(Location) + (Genre) + Festival = Festival Name

See Examples:
San Francisco Jazz Festival
Telluride Blugrass Festival
Sweden Rock Festival
Mountain Jam Festival

But if you want to take festival naming to an expert level, you’re going to have to get creative. Here’s some tips from the best…

1. Use a Foreign Language

See the Osheaga Festival: 

Osheaga was a name used for the area that is now Montreal by some of the first European settlers in the region. The name is said to originate from Jacques Cartier when he met the Mohawks near the Lachine rapids in what is now Montreal. But so the Mohawk oral history goes the white man was waving with his hands, either offering to shake hands or asking about rapids on the river. The astonished Mohawks looked at each other and said “O she ha ga” which meant people of shaking hands. From the meeting Cartier transcribed the word Osheaga as meaning large rapids while the Mohawks would use the oral phrase to describe where they met the people of the shaking hands. — via Osheaga

2. Use a Song Title

See All Tomorrow’s Parties:

“All Tomorrow’s Parties” is a song by The Velvet Underground, written by Lou Reed and released on the group’s 1967 debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico. via Wikipedia

3. Use A Dictionary

See Lollapalooza:

“Back in the day, people had paper dictionaries,” he explained. “As a songwriter, I used to read the dictionary a lot…If I was hard up for a word, I would start thumbing through and sometimes it would trigger an idea for a song or a lyric. And laying on my back reading the dictionary, I came across ‘lollapalooza,’ which said ‘something or something great and/or wonderful.’ Then the second definition of it was ‘a giant swirling lollipop.’ And I thought about all the amazing, wonderful people I would bring together — not just the artists, but the people themselves, the patrons, the people that listen to it, the punk rockers or post-punk rockers, and the rappers and all these wild people — Gibby Haynes and Ice T and Henry Rollins, man, smashing them all together. I thought, ‘This is the perfect name.’ — via Yahoo

4. Use An Obscure Literature Reference

See Bunbury Festival:

To Bunbury or to go bunburying is to have a made up excuse to get out of doing something boring. From Oscar Wilde’s ‘The importance of being earnest’, where Jack creates a sick friend by the name of Bunbury to escape the boring countryside. –via Urban Dictionary

5. Use Oldie-Time Slang

See Bumbershoot Festival:

bum-ber-shoot
n. informal
An umbrella.

The word bumbershoot first appeared in the U.S. around 1915-1920. It is thought to be an alteration of the umber- part of umbrella plus a respelling of -chute (as in parachute). Bumbershoot was chosen as the Festival’s name as a metaphor for the Festival being an umbrella for all of the various arts and performers it encompasses. -via Bumbershoot

6. Use Local Landmarks

See the 80/35 Festival:

What’s with the name? 80/35 is the famous junction of two prominent interstates (I-80 and I-35) that meet at the corners of Des Moines. Locals call it eighty-thirty-five. We figured it’s the perfect name for a fest that brings together a variety of music genres, musicians and people. –via 80/35 Festival

7. Use Your Imagination..and a foreign language…and slang…and an album title

See Bonnaroo:

Well, we were based in New Orleans at the time we came up with the name, which was around 2001,” recalls Jonathan Mayer, co-founder of Bonnaroo production company Superfly. “We wanted to find a name that had a connection to where we were and what was inspiring to us. I remember sitting in my apartment looking up old records online and I came across this Dr. John album called Desitively Bonnaroo. The word ‘Bonnaroo’ looked cool. It turned out that it’s Creole slang for ‘good stuff.’ That just seemed to represent what we’re about. I Googled it and it didn’t seem like it was too widely used, which meant that it was a term that we could really brand as our own. It’s been a perfect fit.” – From Spin Magazine

Born during a sweaty, backstage, Bonnaroo downpour, the Chief Festival Junkie's mission in life is to dance, write, and travel to every great festival that this wide world has to offer. While his identity remains a mystery, you may have already met him, probably when he helped himself to your party favors.

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