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[fes-tuh-vuh l] /ˈfɛs tə vəl/
a day or time of religious or other celebration, marked by feasting, ceremonies, or other observances:
the festival of Christmas; a Roman festival.
a periodic commemoration, anniversary, or celebration:
an annual strawberry festival.
a period or program of festive activities, cultural events, or entertainment:
a music festival.
gaiety; revelry; merrymaking.
a festival atmosphere of unrestrained joy.
1300-50; Middle English < Medieval Latin fēstivālis (diēs) holy (day). See festive, -al1
Related forms
prefestival, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for festival
  • The celebration in question was a scientific meeting, rather than a festival.
  • But possibly your new colleagues will throw a festival for you upon your arrival.
  • Though accompanied by days of abandoned revelry, the colorful festival is fraught with bitter rivalries.
  • Filmmakers who make tiny movies now have a festival.
  • Every year there is a festival held in her memory in her home town.
  • The festival will feature food, music, and other performances from around the world.
  • It is in principle impossible for a blind student to enjoy a silent film festival.
  • Every weekend brings a festival somewhere in the world.
  • The organizers have also seen fit to include a pair of new features at next year's festival.
  • Red, white and blue abounds at the festival this year.
British Dictionary definitions for festival


a day or period set aside for celebration or feasting, esp one of religious significance
any occasion for celebration, esp one which commemorates an anniversary or other significant event
an organized series of special events and performances, usually in one place: a festival of drama
(archaic) a time of revelry; merrymaking
(modifier) relating to or characteristic of a festival
Word Origin
C14: from Church Latin fēstivālis of a feast, from Latin festīvusfestive
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for festival

1580s, from earlier adjective (14c.), from Old French festival "suitable for a feast, solemn, magnificent, joyful, happy," and directly from Medieval Latin festivalis "of a church holiday" (see festivity).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for festival


day or period of time set aside to commemorate, ritually celebrate or reenact, or anticipate events or seasons-agricultural, religious, or sociocultural-that give meaning and cohesiveness to an individual and to the religious, political, or socioeconomic community. Because such days or periods generally originated in religious celebrations or ritual commemorations that usually included sacred community meals, they are called feasts or festivals.

Learn more about feast with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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