A Preview for Shambhala 2015
British Columbia, CA
Written by Matt Mayer
What started as a 500 person party on a sunny weekend back in 1998 has blossomed into one of the most renowned electronic music festivals in the world. This August marks the 18th Shambhala Music Festival and online tickets are sold out. In the spirit of Shambhala, word of mouth continues to fuel the growth of this one of a kind gathering. The crazy part is that this happens without a single corporate sponsor. Shambhala is 100% independently owned and produced.
Shambhala takes place in the majestic Salmo River Valley of Southern British Columbia, Canada. With a stage on a glacially fed river (not to mention ample space to swim) and a panoramic mountain range backdrop, this venue is one of the most beautiful places to festival. There are plenty of great reasons to take an excursion to Canada, but Shambhala is your best bet if you enjoy dancing, connecting with people from across the world, sampling locally produced food, and excellent music. Tickets can still be manifested!
“Since those early, heady days, Shambhala grew with enthusiasm by word of mouth, quickly becoming a staple event for the West Coast underground electronic music scene. Today it attracts world renowned DJs and artists and some of the most eclectic, energetic fans in the universe. Shambhala is built on Shambhalove which shines bright to this day.” – Shambhala Staff
Shambhala holds a very special place in my heart as it was the first camping festival I ever attended. Summer 2013, I was sitting in a dingy apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. By chance, a buddy from college, Chris, played a Dave Tipper set that he had actually loaded onto my iPod for me years before. He then, with a dash of jest, suggested that I should head to Shambhala before summer was out. In the years before listening to that mix on my own I didn’t even know Shambhala was a festival.
In between jobs and fresh out of a long relationship, I look back at the trip I made in 2013 as the gift to myself I’m most grateful for. Flying from New York with just a pack on my shoulders I really had to plan. I didn’t know anybody going. I really just wanted to party and see what a camping festival was all about. Never did I expect that trip to be a catalyst for a shift in my view of the world.
Whether it’s attending Shambhala solo or with a group of 15 friends from home (a group of friends I have grown to love and wouldn’t know today if I didn’t go in ’13) you are in for an experience. I’m actually convinced it gets better every year you go- something hard to find in festivals! I go back for the Shambhalove, the amazing music, and the possibility of leaving the farm with insights I might not have necessarily arrived with at the gate.
Each of the six stages have their own operating manager, so, the lineups produced summer after summer have a curated, hand pick feeling. Shambhala sets of legend probably depend on who you ask due to the festival’s historical nature of diverse lineups. Bassnectar has thrown epic sets over the years. Local staples like Stickybuds, Slynk, The Funk Hunters, Mat the Alien and Longwalkshortdock are regulars I hope to see on the lineup every year. Justin Martin, off DirtyBird, is known to love playing at Shambhala and has put on amazing sets both years I’ve attended.
I can’t wait for my Shambhala journey to come full circle when I make it to one of Tipper’s (2) sets. His sunset slot on Sunday at The Living Room Stage is currently circled on my list. Other sets I really want to catch are Bleep Bloop, Perkulator, Datsik, Justin Martin, The Funk Hunters, Yan Zombie, Organic Mechanic, Destructo and A Skills. Schedule conflicts are inevitable and only fate will determine whether I end up at Jesse Rose vs. The Mystery headliner, and Mija. Sunday night features the most exciting lineup per usual. There is a 4 hour stretch where there is a high probability I won’t leave Fractal Forrest because I’ll be too deep in bass house booty shakes – Jack Beats, Jauz and AC Slater all in a row.
Shambhala has attendee organized events that evolve from year to year. I’m not going to reveal them all, as part of the fun is finding out about these parties on your own, but make sure to pack your onesie! Leah Jade Snow, a festival guest, started an epic tradition at Shambhala known as Day Onesie. On the first afternoon/evening of Shambhala you are guaranteed to see an abnormally high amount of revelers (thousands) frolicking around the farm in some kind of onesie. And if you see a bunch of wolves prowling around please do come say hello. That’s us as an extension of this berry love right here! Other events you might find yourself in the middle of could be the Unicorn vs. Zombie Stampede or maybe a tea party with Alison & the Mad Hatter himself.
Yoga and workshops take place at the recently transformed Grove Stage. There are a wide variety of offerings varying from tantric yoga & “the Church of Reggae Yoga” to self work workshops like “Personal Transformation in Music Production” or the “Self Love Workshop.” Workshops are always a great way to tap into some of the deeper things, beyond partying, happening at festivals. We hope to cross paths with you at one!
Shambhala has a strong green initiative and offers some other guest services that you don’t typically see at other festivals. Shambhala employs a harm reduction & sexual education service called ANKORS and Options respectively. Guests here can check the toxicity of illicit substances in an effort to party safely. Option’s staff will help you out if you forgot your condoms and also provide accurate and non-judgemental sex education. There is also a women’s safe space open 24 hours a day. Another round the clock service by the festival is called “The Sanctuary.” Essentially a safe haven to lay down, get some peace and quiet and most importantly, offer non-judgmental help should you run into some kind of problem during your festival.
Getting to Shambhala isn’t extremely tricky, but it’s by no means easy. If you’re crossing the boarder, my border crossing tips are fairly straightforward. Don’t bring anything you wouldn’t normally travel with. Don’t over pack, but make sure to have your essentials nailed down as conditions can vary widely. Both years I have gone, I have experienced extreme heat during and the extreme highs in heat are sometimes mirrored by pretty cold nights. So, be sure to bring your layers and shade for camp (especially if you end up in the dust bowl). To defeat the heat, I carry a mister spray bottle and a bandana I dunk in water to keep my head cold.
As I’m wrapping up this little preview of the 18th annual Shambhala Music Festival I’m taken back with a berry powerful sense of joy knowing my imminent return to the farm is less than a month away. With new friends joining our caravan and surely new friends to be made, I can’t wait to retreat into the magical riverside farm nestled back in the Kootenays, BC.
Photos by Matt Mayer
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