We keep hearing Shambhala music festival is more of an experience than an event.
The BC festival is celebrating their 20th year and we’ll be heading there this weekend to see what all the hypes about. Below is a list of things to get excited about based off their long history in the game that isn’t just the music. The festival started with humble beginnings on a private property, now 20 years later Shambhala has become one of the most recognized festivals in the world. If you haven’t heard what the hype is about, allow us to explain as we break down what we’re expecting to experience over the weekend. Stay tuned for our post coverage article after the event where we will compare our expectations vs the reality. The festival typically starts selling tickets 11 months in advance, which means less than a month after the event concludes, tickets are up for grabs again.
The festival sold out completely on the first day of ticket sales this year and the past few as well. Not many festivals can sell 100% of their tickets 11 months in advanced without a line up, so there’s something special about this place THAT IS NOT JUST THE MUSIC. We wanted to explore that idea more and see why people go, which we will report more on after the weekend. One of my biggest problems with festivals is they solely rely on big name line ups and big stage production, but lack any sole or unique experiences. Shambhala feels like a more sincere approach since the festival got big through community and word of mouth. We are excited to be a part of a festival that has grown primarily through attendee’s! Shambhala is also a camping music festival, which allows you to never worry about leaving and truly gives you an engulfing experience. We are excited to tell you what we heard below and then how it all went after the weekend, so enjoy!
The Shambhala Community & Staff
(Photo courtesy of Adam Straughn)
Though Shambhala has only become popular in the media in the recent years, its long history has built up a loyal cult following and community. If you talk to people who have an experienced resume full of festivals attended, Shambhala is usually one of the top. Most Canadians have caught on to this special place, but because of Alberta and BC’s high population of Australians, plenty of people join from different regions of the world as well. The event is also close to the American border, so there are plenty of people from the states and Washington area’s. The community is built up from people far and wide, a lot of which are dedicated to come back year after year. The community and the festival encourage everyone to be a “Shambassadors” as well as spread the “Shambhalove”. They encourage people to look out for each other and Shambhala has a reputation for everyone being willing to help regardless if they are staff or not. The staff themselves are upwards of 2500 people. A lot of volunteers work just to be able to attend and enjoy the festival on their downtime. The event takes place on a private farm and everyone there is considered “farmily.”
The Curated Stages
(Photo courtesy of Blake Jorgensen)
Each of Shambhala’s 7 stages is unique and decorated like what seems to be a movie set. The most intriguing one looks like the village, which looks like a treehouse and is the home of heavier genres like bass, etc. The festival general seems to be bass focused most years, but we’re not complaining.
Each stage has a stage manager and each stage also books the its own acts. The stages and stage managers have a lot of control in that regard, something I have never really encountered before, but it’s great to see Shambhala give so much freedom to their team. The main stage would be the Pagoda, which recently was renovated. The biggest names on the bill seem to be playing at the Pagoda, which will be highlighted by its top of the line light and sound system.
(Photo by Blake Jorgensen)
Anyone from or living in BC knows about Shambhala, but not everyone has gone and it’s not from the lack of trying! The tickets sell out fast and are often sought out year round. The festival only holds around 15,000 – 16,000 attendee’s over the weekend, so they do sell out quick. If you compare that to a similar festival like Electric Forest, which used to have 40,000 over the weekend, it really gives you perspective on how small this special festival is. There is nothing worse than being shoulder to shoulder at a concert event but Shambhala allows for plenty of room to dance and explore! It’s not always about the more the merrier, too many events are oversold for more money and I’m just happy to see a balance.
(Photo courtesy of Adam Straughn)
Shambhala is a place of expression. They encourage people to dress up, bring glow sticks and create awesome totems. These freedoms are becoming scarce in the festival scene because usually a festival doesn’t want to deal with clean up and totems get in the way of photographers/videographers. It is true totems get in the way of photos and video. Those photos and videos are cut and used to promote festivals for next year sure, but more festivals should stop thinking about next year and focus on their current attendees having the best possible experience. Shambhala also lets people have their own events on the camp ground like gatherings, bbq’s and sometimes even a wedding! People at campsites give away ear plugs, water or have some interactive fun like games. It all goes back to the community and the freedom at Shambhala.
The Excision Residency & Other Local Support!
(Photo courtesy of Blake Jorgenson)
If you’re an Excision fan, its likely you’ll catch him at Shambhala almost every year along with his pals like Datsik, Destroid and other BC locals. Excision is playing a 10th anniversary set this year and his Shambhala mixes have become famous on the internet. They are posted every year. Excision has been attending the festival as a regular for 10 years and we hope the trend continues. Just another thing for bass fans to get excited about! The line up is filled with Canadian producers such as Haywyre, A-Trak, Moontricks, etc.
Enough talk already! We are convinced it’s a good time and we’re excited to go deep into the woods with the Shambs fam! Catch you on the other side!
Cover photo courtesy of Adam Straughn