With Shambhala Music Festival just over a week away, the excitement coming from its devotees is almost palpable- and rightfully so. Since the very beginning, Shambhala has been dubbed an absolute “must” amongst the most avid of festival advocates. Each year, returning attendees and first-timers alike come back riddled with stories of a life-changing event. Attracting a melting pot of people from all over the globe, Shambhala has continually drawn in renowned collection of electronic artists to create an unforgettable experience.
After years of hearing rants and raves about the beauty that is Shambhala, I jumped at the opportunity to join in on this transformational festival. In mental preparation for what is about to come, I spoke in depth with some of the people who had previously been to figure out just why Shambhala is named one of the most irresistible festivals in the world. Check out the top five answers I received below:
Since 1998, Shambhala has remained a privately owned event. Quickly spreading through word of mouth, it has organically developed into a staple festival with over 10,000 attendees, crew, volunteers and artists, all whilst maintaining a deliciously intimate vibe. Fueled by a family with pure love toward local art and music, Shambhala sits on Salmo River Ranch, a 500 acre year-round farm in British Colombia. The lack of any corporate sponsorship provides an incomparable level of artistic freedom for the creators. In a time where festivals are one of the biggest money-makers in entertainment, attending a festival without any corporate logos or brands is a rare delicacy.
Private ownership of the festival allows the family liberty to do as they please when it comes to production and aesthetics of the six stages throughout the farm. Unlike most large events where there is one central booking agent, each stage has their very own director. The directors construct their own creative direction; aesthetics, production and talent of every stage are completely unique, creating a different vibe everywhere you divulge into the music. And with over 300 musical artists performing this year, there will be an endless supply of electronic beats fitting each stage’s theme.
Located in the southern interior of British Columbia, the ranch neatly sits upon the Salmo River. During the day attendees escape the hot weather by swimming, floating and napping upon the river. It adds a refreshingly new aspect to your experience that you’ll most likely miss at other festivals. There is no need to stay huddled under your EZ UP away from the sun when sweet relief is right in your back yard. With daily rinses, this will surely be the “cleanest” I’ve ever been at a festival.
The sense of community and family are bound to find you amongst the people of Shambhala. Gathering to appreciate local art, food and people unites everyone together. Everyone who works and attends Shambhala emanate a level of respect and sincerity. Upon entering the festival you will be immediately welcomed with open arms and enthusiasm into the community. I have yet to speak with one person who didn’t have their personal account of these feelings that have been fittingly named “shambhalove.” If you are attending alone, do not fear, for you will quickly be engulfed into the shambhafamily.
Shambhala has the most mature mindset towards maintaining safety that I have ever seen. There is no denying that there are drugs at festivals. And merely stating those illegal substances are not to be had, and turning a blind eye when it occurs, does little to help provide a safe and reassuring event. Rather than centralizing their attention on the impossible task of removing all mind-altering substances, the crew and staff focus on strategies that ensure safe and responsible use. Sanctuaries around the festival grounds provide an escape from unwanted stress, exhaustion, isolation or whatever else you feel; an AA & NA camp is provided for attendees in recovery; a Women’s Safe Space is available for any females receiving unwanted attention (something that is can be inescapable for us ladies at festivals these days); sexual health services administer safe sex supplies and education. Lastly, Shambhala is a dry festival. Meaning, there is no alcohol tolerance throughout the event. Only smiles and good vibes here!