The festivals holdings of the Warburg Institute Library span the period 1450-1800, focusing mainly on Italian festivities, with smaller sections on other countries.  Click here for the complete digital holdings.

The section on festivals comes after the sections on theatre and music. The festival books collection is part of a wider collection of sources on Chivalry, Banqueting, Hunting, Falconry, Tournaments, Fencing, Wrestling and Dancing. The sources on festivals cover the Italian towns and regions of Venice, Padua, Verona, Treviso, Bergamo, Milan, Turin, Parma, Modena, Bologna, Ferrara, Florence, Pistoia, Pisa, Siena, Perugia, Liguria, Urbino, Rome, Naples and Sicily. These are followed by the larger topographical divisions of France, Germany, Low-Countries, and England. The material already digitised covers a wide range of secular and sacred festivities: births, marriages, funerals, carnivals and other seasonal entertainments.

The collection was initially assembled by Aby Warburg and reflects his research on Florentine festivities, especially the Intermezzi of 1589. Although Warburg’s study on the Intermezzi was published in 1895 he continued collecting material on festivals throughout his life. The set of pamphlets and engraving describing the 1608 wedding of Cosimo de' Medici and Maria Magdalena of Austria were in fact acquired in 1929, shortly before his untimely death. 
Click here for list of digitised Florentine festival books

Warburg's interest in festivals is another facet of his life-long fascination with the persistence of classical antiquity. While other sections of the Library enable researchers to trace the survival of the pagan gods in fields as varied as art, astrology or fortune telling books, the festivals section provides records of numerous early modern triumphal chariots, processions and plays in which participants paraded as the gods of the Greek and Roman pantheons.

After the Library moved to the United Kingdom in 1933 further acquisitions were prompted by the research of various scholars and doctoral students associated with the Institute, with a particular focus on French and Netherlandish festivals. The digital collections also include a series of pamphlets printed on the occasion of Henri III entries in Italy.


The Society for European Festivals Research
From the University of Warwick

Re-creating Early Modern festivals
From the University of Edinburgh

Food History News
A must for food historians. Includes extensive collection of links.


Renaissance Festival Books 
from the British Library

Early Modern Festival Books 
from the Warburg Institute Library