British Library Treasures in full: Renaissance festival books
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Print Principal collections of festival books

With over 2,000 volumes spanning more than three centuries, the British Library has the world’s largest collection of Renaissance and Early Modern festival books. It is from these that the books on this website have been chosen.

There are many other important collections of festival books, some contained in national libraries, others in smaller collections. Descriptions of a range of resources for the study of festival books, some of which can be accessed electronically, can be found here.

This website gives access to fully-digitised copies of 265 festival books. We describe how the project was developed, acknowledge the principal contributors and explain how the books are catalogued.

The website provides many different points of access to festival books. You can:

  • look in detail at a single book
  • compare different descriptions of a single event
  • search for one aspect of festival entertainments across a range of books

Tell me more:

Swiss standard-bearer Swiss standard-bearer. Dedicated to Cardinal Scipione Borghese. Description of Switzerland by Johannes, Bishop of Veglen: Italy, 1607.
BL Add. MS 18285, f.56. Larger image

1. The British Library collection of festival books
2. Collections of festival books elsewhere
3. About this project
4. How the books are catalogued
5. Acknowledgements