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Crowds gathering in the sunshine at the afropunk festival.

News Time-lapse Trends: festivals from around the world

14 June 2019 Kate

“Time-Lapse Trends” is a video blog series which draws attention to some of the many exciting trends in time-lapse production. We feature a new trend in each instalment, to demonstrate the scope of the medium and the various ways in which it is applied, ranging from the popular to the more obscure.

It’s been raining a lot in the UK which means that festival season is well and truly under way. What can time-lapse lend to the representation of festivals taking place worldwide?

Festivals are not strictly for music, although these are the kind that perhaps first spring to mind.

We begin with a fiesta observed every year in Bristol, UK: the International Balloon Fiesta. This is the largest of its kind in Europe, which attracts hot air balloons, other balloonists and spectators from around the world.

This time-lapse video uses the technique to capture this extraordinary sight as the sky is filled with balloons bobbing up and down above the city of Bristol.

Among our own time-lapse work which tracks special events such as festivals, is our edit for the British Film Institute.

Two camera systems (one external, the other internal) were installed at London’s Victoria Gardens to capture the construction of a temporary cinema venue, part of the 60th anniversary of the London Film Festival in 2016.

An iconic event in the arts’s annual calendar, the BFI were eager to mark this special occasion with the capture of the entire build and the full interior fit-out.

Due to the popularity of this truly unique venue, the Embankment Garden Cinema returns each year for the London Film Festival.

The excessive movements of large crowds, lighting, activity on stage all make for compelling things to watch in relation to festivals. Time-lapse helps to emphasise the energy that is contained in every one of these aspects.

Additional techniques

Of course, no two festivals are the same and have certain attributes which make them their own unique experience. Burning Man – an annual event taking place at Black Rock City in the USA – is a prime example of this.


Taking place in late August every year, the event is influenced by principles including radical self-expression, community, civic responsibility and decommodification.

Time-lapse can be used in conjunction with other audio-visual tools as a means of further enhancing the narrative of a particular event or context. Hyperlapse – time-lapse with added motion paths and angle changes – is a technique incredibly well-suited to time-lapse, and to help emphasise the dynamic activities at Burning Man.

Another technique which compliments time-lapse photography well is the tilt-shift. Like the Burning Man festival, the annual California-based music and arts festival Coachella is considered incomparable. Sam O’Hare utilised the tilt-shift with time-lapse in order to portray a unique perspective of the iconic event.

Time-lapse on its own is arguably enough to attract attention and fix our fascination. But sometimes the choice of music accompanying time-lapse can make or break a sequence.

Although this time-lapse video from Knate Myers is quite short, the background music communicates a moment of enrapture as several thousand lanterns are released into the night sky as part of the Albuquerque Lantern Festival in 2017.


As this handful of examples demonstrates, time-lapse photography provides a refreshing and dynamic alternative to more traditional visual representations of festivals from around the world.

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