Over the years, we’ve heard countless extravagant tales about Shambhala. It seems that everyone and their dog has a story about the magic they encountered their first year attending. We usually receive a mixed bag of reviews about major festivals far and wide. However, after coming across nothing but positive feedback among artists, attendees and industry professionals alike, I had to check out just why Shambhala is considered widely to be one of the most unique music festivals in existence.
Based out of Salmo, BC, on the most surface level Shambhala offers some major departures from the mainstream festival circuit. The festival features river-side amenities at the base and a massive, tree-lined valley that is the Salmo River Ranch. With this amazing setting Shambhala has managed to strip festival-going back to its roots – replacing the booze-soaked glitz, glamour and extended hotel stays of contenders like EDC, Coachella & Ultra with welcoming, community-based camping and unobstructed access to the awe-inspiring nature of the Pacific Northwest.
Currently going into its 23rd year in operation, within the first day of the fest it was clear why Shambhala received DJ Mags tile of Best North-American Music Festival in 2019. Toting the perfect marriage between bass, bewitchment and beauty, Shambhala delivers a wealth of incredible performances, open-minded experiences, intentional amenities and engaging workshops I would’ve never expected to find at a major music festival.
Centered around an enormous five+ stage setup, hosting a lineup packed full TSIS faves, including Jauz, Silk City, ZHU, Earthgang, Deathpact, Anit Up, FKJ, Zeds Dead & more, it felt near impossible not to have a good time. But far beyond getting to hear some of 2019’s biggest bangers echo off the trees of this massive venue, as the rain began to fall on the first night, it was clear to me why Shambhala was such a sought after festival.
As I attempted to traverse the mucky, indistinct pathways throughout the fest, bumping and falling into countless bodies on a similar mission seeking dryness, I felt a sense of overwhelming connectedness to the random individuals in my immediate vicinity. It was as if experiencing the same predicament with a sea of like-minded festival goers helped lift the veil that separates big-name EDM and festival culture from those who consume it.
From Diplo’s white SUV nearly getting stuck in the mud halfway through the venue, to lightning setting fire to a hilltop tree right in the middle of Deathpact’s live debut, Shambhala felt as though I’d stepped into a festival in an alternate reality. One where attendees, artists, coordinators and stage managers all thoroughly enjoyed and even thrived on the near lawlessness chaos that came with being stranded in a thunderstorm in the middle of nowhere BC.
And while, similar to any major festival, I encountered my fair share of sweaty, wide-eyed psychedelic enthusiasts, as Shambhala is a dry festival, the grounds were noticeably devoid of the belligerent camping behavior I would expect from the countless rave-squads in attendance. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for grabbing a few drinks and partying side-stage, but even with a lack of liquid courage, I found that no matter where I went, I was greeted with smiling faces, sick moves, courtesy and spacial awareness.
Run by a crew of insanely talented individuals with the focus of making music festivals as enthralling, unique and safe as possible, it’s no wonder that Shambhala is an absolute smash hit of an event. Having been lucky enough to have experienced a great deal of music festivals over the years, I’ll definitely be adding my name to the long list of staunch Shambhala supporters.
Make sure to check out a bit of the action from this years Shambhala below and keep an eye out for tickets for next year’s fest set to go on sale Monday, September 16th at 12 PM PST here. Enjoy!