The History and Future of Lucidity Festival

Over the last six years, Santa Barbara has been a well-spring of cultural curiosities. First for Lightning in a Bottle at Live Oak Campgrounds, then for Lucidity Festival too, in the same location. With more than five years under its belt at the time, LIB was already a California staple in the festival scene when Lucidity was born. Over the years, both have served to catalyze culture and the arts in the area, and beyond. In the community, the exceptional humans who poured their soul into the production of both LIB and Lucidity found that the experience enriched their lives and the lives of others who found their way to the events. As they’ve matured, besides being lightning rods for cosmic energy, both festivals have long held an affinity for similar genres of music. They both offer inspirational workshops and alternative teachings in addition to health-conscious dietary options with an ethos dedicated to environmental stewardship.

Is it serendipitous that two events that are so similar would appear at the same place in the same era or were they together part of something bigger? To tell the tale, we caught up with Lucidity Co-founder Jonah Haas and even with his own festival just a couple short weeks away he sat down, cleared his throat, and took time with us to share the story. In this short interview, he explained the little-known but fascinating history of Lucidity, along with where Lucidity goes from here in the last saga of the six-chapter story.

LIB and Lucidity: A Brief History Lesson from Jonah Haas, Co-Founder of Lucidity Festival

We’ve both been inspired by the larger culture in similar ways. Burning Man is certainly a through thread. I feel like having roots in the Santa Barbara arts community is a large part of our similarities, as well. During the years that LIB was holding down Live Oak Campground from 2006 to 2008, the Santa Barbara arts community was experiencing new growth, fresh perspectives, and the embrace of youth. Crews like Clan Destino and Pyrospin were making way for Fishbon and Enclave, and an array of Burning Man art groups. In many ways, Santa Barbara was enriched by the cultural vortex that LIB created, and when LIB left, there was a vacuum. For those of us who started Lucidity, that space was filled by a Burning Man Art Installation project called Walkabout Woods in 2011. As part of our momentum to bring this installation to Burning Man, we brought it to Lightning in a Bottle at Irvine Lake. During this time, there was a core group of us who were inspired by the prospect of creating a festival in Santa Barbara. So we were literally immersed in Lightning in a Bottle and Burning Man while we were incubating the Lucidity concept. We produced the first Lucidity in 2012 after two of our co-founders sat with the Flemming Brothers to receive some guidance along with their blessing, and through the rest of our journey, we’ve always looked up to Lightning in a Bottle as a Big Sister festival of sorts. Our core group has attended regularly and watched LIB navigate the challenges of growth. We’ve participated in our own humble ways as well. Personally, I enjoyed attending LIB last year as a Volunteer Ranger, helping to keep people safe during nighttime hours.


Festival: Lightning in a Bottle | Photo by Aaron Gautschi

What do you think LIB and Lucidity both do well?

I feel both events do a great job in the realm of multi-sensory content curation. These festivals aren’t just journeys for our ears and eyes, but we are stimulated by taste, touch, and smell also. Our hearts are invited to open, our minds allowed to expand, and in that space new possibilities emerge.  I feel LIB and Lucidity both do a great job of capturing the essence of infinite potential and weaving that visceral feeling into many levels of the experience.


Festival: Lucidity | Photo Credit: David Pricco

How has the Arts scene been influenced in Santa Barbara by LIB and Lucidity?

I think festivals like ours provide an amazing platform for showcasing art in all of its multiple expressions: music, painting, performance, installation, interactive, spontaneous, collaborative. Festivals are our cultural meeting grounds, where the exchange of ideas, inspirations, styles, and ways of being intermingle and flow. We’ve seen countless projects use their experience at Lucidity as a launch pad to purpose-driven, spirit-inspired enterprises, both artistic and entrepreneurial, and in many cases both at the same time. These projects naturally find their ways back into the fabric of local life.


Festival: Lightning in a Bottle | Photo by Daniel Jung

Is it true? Is this Lucidity really the last one?

While this is indeed the final chapter of the six-year story that Lucidity’s been telling, that doesn’t necessarily mean this is the LAST Lucidity Festival! Indeed we’ve been coming together in creative meetings considering what it would look like to write chapters 7-12. We’ve been considering what it would look like to find a new venue that could facilitate just a little bit of growth. Lucidity would love to expand ever so slightly, from its current population of 4500 to about 7,000. We are committed to maintaining the community intimacy that people love about Lucidity, and we believe we can do that with a slightly larger event, especially given the way our villages break the event down into 7 distinct zones and communities. We aren’t looking to grow Lucidity Festival beyond that, although we have also been discussing other events, revolving around other concepts. While the future is uncertain, what’s clear is that our work in the world is only just beginning.


Festival: Lucidity | Photo Credit: David Pricco

What challenges does Lucidity face as it evolves and how can people get involved?

The biggest challenge that Lucidity faces is financial sustainability. We have one event that does well in the Spring, but it’s never done well enough to cover our operating costs for the remainder of the year. This sends many of our core producers freelancing for a 6 month off season. Our wish is to be able to keep working throughout the year, creating magnificent and meaningful experiences for people, while covering our base costs of doing business. We’re strategizing the best ways to do this. Between our Lucid University spin-off project, dreams of a fall event, and the potential to grow Lucidity Festival slightly, we believe we can accomplish this. We are certainly taking note of the ways that Do Lab has navigated these challenges and are grateful to have a big sister to look up to!

Featured Image Credit: David Pricco | Festival Credit: Lucidity Festival