Festival season is in full swing and everyone seems to be bouncing around the globe to events far and wide. Some may find that it’s tough to keep from feeling pulled in several directions. Despite not being able to be in multiple places at once, revelers can take solace in the fact that there really is something for everyone, from a Southern California house music mecca at Woogie Weekend, to the soiree blending sacred, saucy, silly, sacred elements at Enchanted Forest and whole lot more this coming up around the corner. In other words, the festival map is filled with options this Summer. Sometimes it’s hard to pick between epic and legendary, or how can you pick when the choices are overwhelming mixed with adventures that capture your interest. Here are seven events that need to make it onto your festival radar. Each one offers a unique draw, vibrant community and an adventure that is sure to enlighten, enthrall and excite those who attend.
The first Shambhala Festival took place in 1998 in the Kootenay region in British Columbia with two stages and 500 people attending. Now there are six stages and more than 20,000 attendees but there’s still no corporate sponsorship. The founders say, “Our attendees are our sponsors.” It helps to own the land where you’re throwing a festival and it shows in the investment in infrastructure and the care with which this festival is curated. With more than 2,000 “shambassadors” there is truly an extended family vibe which you’re likely to find zero attitude. Plus, there’s no booze on-site which keeps the vibe mellower than most events. It’s all about the bass and the music. Shambhala Music Festival offers a much more expansive collection of choices, not just on their 6 stages, but with respect to the whole experience. There are ample art installations painted murals, yoga platforms and meditation nooks, craft workshops, and ethical and fair trade vendors. There’s even an organic garden in the middle of the grounds. This is a festival for those who want to get back to nature. The music choices are beyond just electronic, as you’re likely to find hip-hop acts and beatboxing aficionados. Each of the six stages is managed by a different group of people which means there’s some internal competition for which group books the best acts, creates the thickest vibes. This is a feel-good festival for laid back Canadians and people who love the unlikely mix of electronic dance music and wilderness livin’.
A transformational festival in central Portugal featuring a variety of music performances, art exhibits and holistic workshops. In the festival’s own words, “Boom is not only a festival, it is a state of mind. Inspired by their of Oneness, Peace, Creativity, Sustainability, Transcendence, Alternative Culture, Active Participation, Evolution and Love, it is a space where people from all over the world can converge to experience an alternative reality.” Boom Festival started in 1997 and since 1998 it has taken place every other year as a weeklong psychedelic trance music festival. Festival-goers come from around the world to enjoy the progressive arts and music that lean towards genres in trance, chill out, and other gentler electronic styles, although festival organizers are always on the lookout for alternate artistic genres. Art and performance play a large role, with circus, street theatre, jugglers, fire shows, film screenings, and amazing talents from all over the world also converging on the festival. The main focus of the Boom Festival is to integrate a sustainability ethos with arts and culture to provide a transformational experience for everyone who visits. It is a festival dedicated to all free spirits, encouraging a change in the way people communicate by eliminating the need for words. Boom adheres to the principle of thinking outside the box, reflecting novel ways of expression by unifying the alternative and psychedelic culture of the world, away from the social and cultural influences of day-to-day life. There are four dance stages: Dance Temple, Alchemy Circle, Sacred Fire and the Chill Out Gardens. The Dance Temple showcases the powerful sound of the best organic trance and electronic psytrance.
Bass Coast has a secret meaning. The name makes sense for an electronic music festival that takes place in the Pacific Northwest, but it’s also an acronym. With the initials “BC,” Bass Coast pays homage to the Canadian province in which the fest takes place. And “Coast” itself also stands for for Community, Organization, Art, Science, and Technology—the principles on which this music festival was founded. More specifically, since 2008, Bass Coast’s mission is “to contribute to the West Coast arts community, by building a festival with international recognition.” Taking place along the banks of the Cold Water River in the Nicola Valley, the four-day camping event aims to stay small and local. Only 3,000 tickets are sold each year and the fest doesn’t have any corporate sponsorship. Local feedback matters, too; when fest-goers requested a move deeper into the woods, organizers abided. And so, cocooned by the Cascade Mountains, Bass Coast serves as both a refuge from contemporary society, as well as a new manifestation of it. Co-founders Andrea Graham (who also performs electronic music under the moniker The Librarian) and Liz Thomson, met in Whistler, BC and began creating art projects together shortly thereafter. Not unlike the construction of the effigy of “The Man” at Burning Man, Bass Coast places a strong emphasis on installation art (if not necessarily the eventual burning of it). Each of Bass Coast’s four stages doubles as a high-tech art installation with projection mapping, multimedia, and world-class sound design by Canada’s PK Sound. Of course, Bass Coast’s preferred electronica lean also helps to create an immersive experience in and of itself. The thudding, thundering bass lines boom in these natural environs, creating a wall of sound that’s extra insular within the technologically enhanced spaces. Bass Coast is a positively sex-positive place that champions being yourself, no matter what your sexual orientation is. All festival goers are considered “Babes” in the friendly confines of this festival.
Founded in 2005 with its first event taking place in Santa Cruz, California, the gathering has changed locations several times in its decade-long history, though it took a two-year hiatus from 2010 to 2011 with a year off in 2014 as well. Through this process, it’s embraced its migratory nature, having moved from its origin in the Santa Cruz mountains to Angels Camp, then to Yosemite National Park, after that to Pyramid Lake and finally to its current location at Woodward Reservoir. The festival has also been held during different months of the year, giving it even more variety. While each installation is connected in spirit and ethos, each year always has its own distinct identity. The latest installation of Symbiosis (its 10 year reunion) was held at the same location as its 2013 event. It featured more than 200 acts on four main stages, with musical genres veering away from mainstream EDM, instead favoring more experimental acts. And the Woodward Reservoir itself presents a popular activity—take a fresh dip in the lake between sets and activities to take in nature’s beauty. While there are a few complaints about less-than-efficient organization, veteran attendees most frequently rave about the stages at Symbiosis Gathering, which, in addition to serving as the performances’ backdrop, are art installations in and of themselves. With music going into the night, there’s nothing better than dancing until the sun comes up amid stunning manmade and natural scenery. This is a truly a place to let your spirit run free.
For 15 years Stilldream has been a source of awakening for the festival community. In addition to asking those who attend to dig deep into their own dreams for a spark of creative inspiration they’re also pulling out all the stops each year with all star lineups, art on display throughout the venue and a number of workshops to enjoy for anyone seeking a learning experience to expand your mind and open your heart. Stilldream seeks to improve the festival experience with incredible music, a hearty and jovial community, nature throughout, and the inclusion of cultural elements. They also set out to kindle attendees spirituality with conscious themes in workshops, panel discussions and healthy foods. At the core of the Stilldream concept is the notion that calm and vision can bring about greater clarity and resolve. Moreover, when you “stilldream” it requires seeing beyond our detached selves for a better understanding of how we work together. On it’s own, that concept allows attendees to depart with a sense of purpose and connectedness that is as important as it is rare.
The Dirtybird Campout is a newbie fest, launched in 2015, Dirtybird’s founder, Claude VonStroke, masterminds the event, which is a no-holds-barred return to summer camps vibes. Potato sack races? S’mores around a campfire? Archery contests? Rowboat racing? The label stokes a fun-loving, underground vibe, and its diehard fans fit a similar mold. Like many of the best fests, the Campout is intimate (a few thousand people) and the artists mingle freely with the attendees. Each day, fest-goers choose from a full slate of games and activities, such as kickball tournaments, nature walks or sack races. The DJs often lead the charge, so you might end up playing tug-of-war with VonStroke or throwing water balloons at J.Phlip. In fact, the artists are the camp’s “counselors,” who lead teams of campers wearing scout-like uniforms and shouting instructions through megaphones. Winners earn merit badges and prizes. Other throwback amusements include rowboat relays (in costume) on the pond, tie-dyeing classes, dodgeball games, scavenger hunts and archery lessons. Body painting workshops and boozy stand-up comedy shows likely weren’t part of your childhood camp experience, but they are here. Yoga classes in various styles and another big to-do, as is the hilarious camp talent show, which always packs a few surprises.
If the Dirtybird Campout wasn’t enough hard-hitting house music for you then perhaps a boat ride with Counselor Claude will do the trick. The Dirtybird crew is already making waves with their Campout event but the highly anticipated Boat Cruise Summer Series is one experience that promises to be a festival unlike any other on this list. While information is still coming out about this event one thing we can share is that East coasters will be pleased to know Claude’s Boat Cruise will be an exciting option for those unable to travel to socal for a taste of those campout vibes in October.
Featured Image by JORG Photo