The 21st annual Shambhala Music Festival attracted another sold out crowd to the Salmo River Ranch in British Columbia, Canada — as ravers from all over the world camped, danced, and loved in the mountains. Shambhala has blossomed from a grassroots effort into a premier music festival and one of our personal favorite destinations.
Looking back on another amazing year, we’re left truly in awe of this place.
With six elaborate stages, spaces for yoga and workshops, countless art installations, and a rejuvenating river that runs through, this music festival offers something for everyone and at any given time. Add in one of the most incredible festival communities around and you’re left with an experience that many can only describe as “magical.”
It is these magical moments that separate Shambhala from the rest. The moment you hear a few simple howls that cascade into thousands as they move across the campgrounds. Or, the moment you feel the bass of The Village stage vibrate every atom of your being. The moment you lose yourself in the Pagoda stage’s entrancing visual production. And, the moment it’s time to leave and you wonder how to put any of this into words.
Maybe it’s easier to break it down by Shambhala’s six stages: AMP, Living Room, Fractal Forest, The Village, The Grove, and the Pagoda. All offer unique environments through carefully-curated lineups and top-notch production that compliment each vibe. Therefore, each stage shapes its own distinct moments to seize.
If you haven’t been to Shambhala before, allow us to show you around, stage-by-stage!
One of the first stages to open up on Thursday is the Amphitheater aka the AMP. This is usually the first place one would turn up for the weekend and you can always count on a stacked opening day. (i.e. Pigeon Hole, JVMPKICKS, Digital Ethos, and Born Dirty) The AMP at first glance appears to be the smallest of all the stages, but that moment when you’re standing on the sandy dance floor and it’s packed out from all angles during Skiitour, it feels massive.
As the weekend progresses and all stages are running, the AMP is a great host to more intimate shows, like Barcalay Crenshaw‘s Friday night performance. But, as artists like Space Jesus and Whipped Cream throw down into the early hours, that bass hungry mob has potential to grow exponentially with no warning.
Night after night, the AMP always gives you a reason to come back.
The second stage to get acquainted with on Thursday night is the Living Room. With the Salmo river as its backdrop and a series of lounge areas, the Living Room is a welcoming stage. The perfect hangout to beat the heat during the day and to gather yourself at night.
Supplemented with an eclectic but soothing lineup, the Living Room provides both relaxing and social moments. Whether you want to take in the music with your eyes closed, float in the river, or share a couch with new friends, it’s always a good time.
Moments like a Salmo river recharge during the hottest part of the day. Or, catching the lasers dancing across the tree line at night. Unexpectedly walking into a 29 Palms set in the final hours of the festival as the sun comes up. It’s these things that make the Living Room an essential part of the Shambhala experience.
When the festival fully opens on Friday, you can get your first look at the fun call-backs to early childhood in Fractal Forest. It’s easy to spot Pac Man, Finn and Jake dressed as Han and Chewbacca, and massive heads of Yoda and C3PO in broad daylight.
Once the night falls on Fractal Forest the stage becomes an entirely different beast. This is when all the lasers, lights, and UV paint come out to play. You may find your sense of direction spiraling — that’s completely normal. These vibrant moments will have to live in the back of your mind, though, because photography is discouraged here.
With an array of funky, wonky, and throwback dance music, this is the perfect nonstop party spot to get lost in for a few hours. It’s easy to surrender to the chaos of the Fractal Forest, especially when you’re getting down to the sounds of Dr. Fresch, Opiuo, Funk Hunters, Skratch Bastid, and Mix Master Mike.
Once you manage to traverse through Fractal Forest, you will start to hear rumbles from The Village stage. As you pass under the catwalks and platforms that surround it, The Village suddenly bursts into plain sight and absorbs you more and more with each step you take.
Carefully carved woodwork and beaming light panels form the architecture, while suspended orbs of lights hang from a half geo-dome. Vines drape across most things, indicating a symbiosis of nature. And, the stage and the sheer power of PK speakers give the impression that The Village is a force of nature in itself.
To stand in the center of The Village as the bass hits, pulses your body, and the ground below you at once is an indescribable feeling. Whether the music is coming direct from Stylust, Camo & Krooked, The Glitch Mob, or man behind the Village, Subvert — that’s the moment you realize The Village stage acts as the beating heart of Shambhala and its people.
For those that prefer less thunderous and more soothing bass, The Grove stage is just a short walk away. Entering the calm, meditative atmosphere is a blissful change of pace, as giant dreamcatchers hang from the trees and cool tones of light guide your eyes to the action
Every performance at The Grove seems to exist in a dreamlike state. The main structure provides an area for impressive aerialists and dancers to be showcased — and plenty of space for your imagination to run wild.
Moments like watching a ribbon dancer slowly unwind to the booming beats of Clams Casino make you pinch yourself. To gaze upon the illuminated cedar trees as acts like Charlesthefirst and Goopsteppa guide you through a seemingly lucid dream is an unparralled experience.
Last but certainly not least is the Pagoda stage, which towers over the main hub with lasers that can be seen for miles. Fully mapped projections light up the gorgeous, stark white woodwork and dozens of beams shoot from every tier of the Pagoda.
These aesthetics have a way of drawing people in. Those who step onto the Pagoda’s dance floor might even become hypnotized.
Again, it’s those moments. Like the crowd going absolutely bananas for Fisher‘s untamed tech house drops as the night creeps in. Like Rezz filling out every inch of habitable space whilst zombifying the crowd with her dark sounds and visuals. Moments like Desctructo‘s sunrise set that keeps ravers bouncing well into the morning.
Those are the moments that make the Pagoda one of Shambhala’s most precious treasures.
Each stage on the farm is absolutely crucial and without one, the festival would feel incomplete. Above all else, though, the lifeforce of Shambhala is it’s inhabitants. The exchanges of love, creativity, friendship and character cultivate the culture that defines it.
The endless stream of “Happy Shambs” throughout the weekend, embracing the holder of the “Gum for Hugs” totem for a third time, sharing a stump with a stranger in the Fractal Forest and becoming fast friends. These are the moments that have powered Shambhala for 21 years.
For those who could not attend or those who wish to relive some of the amazing moments from Shambhala 2018, the recap video is something to behold.
Tickets for Shambhala 2019 are on sale now.
Shambhala Music Festival Official Aftermovie