Firstly, they allowed a way to honour the gods which would benefit the whole city in the long run. The major festivals held would often provide a good opportunity for the people to relax and this was especially important for the poorer classes as they would not have weekends at this time or time off work and so festivals allowed poorer people and labourers to take some time out of work and enjoy themselves. Festivals would also often involve large scale sacrifices which would give many people an opportunity to feast and eat meat which would be an uncommon event for some, especially the poorer classes. Enjoyment and entertainment were an important part of the festivals. These often included sporting events and drama and these were very popular with most people of the city. The festivals’ inclusive nature was helpful in maintaining a strong community spirit amongst the people of Athens.
These festivals could fit into four basic categories; agricultural festivals, festivals in honour of the dead, festivals celebrating stages in a person’s life and state festivals. One festival which was of great importance to the Athenians was the Dionysia. There were two versions of the Dionysia. The City Dionysia and the Rural Dionysia.
The City Dionysia was a state festival held in the equivalent to around March to April and was the second most important festival after the Panathenaia. There was a competition of dramatic and lyric poetry which would be performed in the theatre of Dionysus, the god of fertility and wine and was