Some Feelings & Photos From Shambhala Festival
After 20 years the family-run festival just knows how to do it right.
All words and photos by @ariana_visuals.
Nestled in the Kootenay mountains approximately nine hours from Vancouver, Shambhala Music Festival’s 20th Anniversary ticked all the boxes for a world-class festival experience. As one of British Columbia’s longest running music festivals, it has remained family owned and run for its 20 year duration, free from corporate sponsorship.
This long-ingrained family festival culture was evident from the warm welcome I received at the entry to the hand-painted signs stating common sense (but often neglected) sentiments such as “Take Care of One Another” and “Consent is Sexy”. Enthusiastic greetings of “Happy Shambs!” were heard echoing over the trees as strangers became friends. Everywhere you looked, it was obvious that Shambhala cares about the well-being of their guests, and this caring attitude has certainly influenced how attendees treat and interact with one another. Despite the constant threat of rampant wildfires burning nearby and an early evacuation warning, the organisers did everything in their power to ensure everyone’s experience remained optimal and above all, safe.
Perhaps most interesting of all for an event of 15,000 people, Shambhala is alcohol free - you cannot buy a beer over a bar (fresh coconuts and Yerba Mate energy drinks anyone?). Lack of alcohol equates to a distinct lack of fighting douchebags, hangovers and urine covering the toilet seats which I definitely wasn’t complaining about. Harm minimisation also extended to having a Sanctuary Space available for those who may not have a medical emergency, but just might want somewhere quiet and not overwhelming to chill out for awhile. There was also professional drug testing available on site with detailed reports displayed daily, advising attendees on what to avoid. While drugs (apart from cannabis) are not legal in BC, and Shambhala doesn't endorse the use of illicit substances, it was refreshing and eye-opening to see an organisation taking a proactive approach to what is a relevant and urgent issue within global electronic music festival culture.
The calibre of booked acts, stage performers and scale of production again solidified why Shambhala remains at the top of many attendee and artist bucket lists. Nothing can beat being baptised in thundering bass from the PK sound stacks in the Fractal Forest to the chunky beats of Stickybuds, Marten Horger and The Stanton Warriors whilst standing in the pouring rain and staring at the carnival happening all around you with a big stupid grin on your face. Other highlights included the monster impromptu b2b featuring Fixate, Sam Binga, Shield, Greazus and Taal Mala, Calyx & Teebee’s tearing down the Village stage with frenetic drum and bass, Ivy Lab’s wonky half-time genius, the cinematic sounds of Phaelah and French producer CloZee at The Grove stage.
I don’t really think anything I write can do this festival justice, so I will let the photos do the talking!