For the past 24 years Shambhala has built a reputation for being much more than just a music festival. The BC-based electronic music gathering, located at the Salmo River Ranch, is a soul-enriching experience surrounded by nature that encourages free-spiritedness and self-discovery guided by an all-accepting energy known to festival-goers as “Shambhalove.”
Running July 21 to 25, each day is filled with attendee-driven events and activities, shops, art exhibits and a heap of hidden passages to journey into as you wander the grounds, spiritually deepening the relationship with your sense of self. Shambhala encourages attendees not to let their experience be completely dictated by artist set times and instead allow yourself to flow freely through the festival. Take the chance to discover new acts, explore new areas, and meet new friends.
We have prepared a survival guide to help guide you into Shambhala’s magical psychedelic utopia.
Though the weather is hot during the day, it can get very cold at night so it’s best to pack for both extremes. Beachy outfits are perfect for daytime-wear. You’ll want to pack shorts, tees, tanks, bikinis and sandals. Don’t forget to bring towels to dry yourself off after a dip in the river or a nice cold shower. It’s essential to pack sweaters, warm pants and jackets alongside your onesies, rave-fits and wild costumes to combat cold nights and potential rainfall. The rain is no stranger to Shambhala, as attendees of 2019’s infamous “Mudbhala” will recall.
Shambhala has various camping options: Sunshine, Starlight, Metta, ShambhaLodging, Shamba-Abled and Camp Synergy.
Sunshine is located furthest away from the festival, but allows you to camp near your vehicle. Starlight campgrounds are a lot closer to the action, but only allows for RV and other camperized vehicles to park. Metta grounds are located in further wooded areas of the festival with no options for parking. ShambhaLodging is a premium package that can be booked ahead of time. Not only does ShambhaLodging offer up to 5 full-service camping options to choose from, it gives you the added comfort of knowing a camping will be reserved specifically for you. No need to race to the fest to find the best camping spot. Shamba-Abled camping is a convenient option for festival-goers with disabilities. It’s located close to the party and has the added benefit of medical devices and power-access for those who need them. Camp Synergy is a place where sober-attendees can be surrounded by a like-minded and supportive group. This substance-free area offers recovery support and daily meetings for anyone interested. Aside from that, it’s a place where sober ravers can party together without the need of drugs or alcohol.
Shambhala is a great place to meet new people. Say hello to your neighbors and don’t be surprised if friendly strangers come by your camp to say hello to you. The area around Shambhala is prone to forest fires so flammables are strictly prohibited. Any glass materials will also be confiscated by staff or volunteers. When not in festival mode, the Shambhala grounds are farmland and broken glass will be harmful to its animals.
A body-positive space, patrons are allowed to wear anything they want – including nothing at all! Feel free to strip down and roam the festival grounds or take a dip in the river if you feel comfortable doing so. That being said, be weary of your camera. Shambhala is a place full of memories, and you’ll undoubtedly want to capture moments via photo or video – but please be respectful of others around you and please do not share photos of anyone who hasn’t given you their consent, nude or otherwise.
Always remember, whether you are dancing at one of the stages or taking part in any of the various activities scattered throughout the farm, you must receive consent for anything involving other people. This includes any forms of touching or sharing items. Be friendly, but also be mindful of other people’s boundaries. You’ll never know what someone is experiencing when you meet them and you are expected to show compassion and uplift those around you.
At the end of the festival, it’s shunned upon to not clean your mess. Garbage and recycling areas will be designated on Monday morning where you can haul your trash.
The O.G. of Shambhala stages, the AMP is where the party begins. It’s the first stage to open for early arrivals on Thursday. A hub for many music genres, the Amp, located at the core of Shambhala’s downtown area, will have you partying in the day and melt your mind at night with its mind-bending visuals.
The funkiest place on the planet. Fractal Forest submerges you into a psychedelic space maze. Finding the stage can be a challenge depending on your headspace at the time and some attendees will opt to just dance pretty much anywhere. You’ll find the vibes so groovy, you may not need to physically see the artist. In Fractal Forest, random trees make great dance partners! Rumor has it that Fractal Forest is getting an upgrade this year, so keep your eyes peeled!
Free your senses in this spiritual land laden with the aroma of incense. Past years saw the Grove host deep, subsonic bass music. This year we’ll see many hip-hop artists join their deep dub counterparts. The Grove invites you to explore its natural, interactive atmosphere surrounded by cedar trees, art installations and theatrical performances.
This beachside chill-zone is meant to keep you calm and relaxed while listening to funky grooves and house music. It’s a great place to be if the intensity of the other stages is too much to handle, but you aren’t ready to stop dancing.
The Pagoda temple is a seven story structure that Shambhala lore says “channels the energy released by people’s fears, anxieties, insecurities and negative emotions, completely destroying them and leaving nothing but a feeling of love and connectedness among its people.” The stage can transform into almost anything with its innovative stage-visuals. The Pagoda is one of Shambhala’s main stages, showcasing many of the festival’s most well-known acts.
The festival’s bass-head jungle. You will hear the gnarliest dubstep, the bounciest drum and bass as well as sprinkles of hip hop and other genres here. There is a raw, tribalistic atmosphere at the Village, forcing your deepest inner animal out of its cage. This is no place for the weary, only the dankest will survive.
Aside from music, Shambhala is full of activities to keep you feeling stimulated, evolved or spiritually centered. On the festival grounds you can take part in guided yoga and meditation sessions, make a wish at the wishing tree and even get married at the Shambhala Chapel. There are many attendee-organized events and themed days which you can discover by joining Shambhala’s official Facebook group.
Shambhala is known for being a leader in all forms of harm reduction including sexual health, medical safety and more. All of Shambhala’s harm-reduction zones are judgment-free, as the festival simply wants to make sure you can have the best experience possible in a safe environment. ANKORS provides safe drug testing for free on-site. Options can offer you safe sex supplies.
Shambhala’s Medical Services runs for 24 hours. The team is trained to help you with any need including stitches, medicines and more. You can also safely store personal medications here.
The Sanctuary is a space located near the medical services tent that anyone can visit if they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed under any circumstances. There are beds you can rest in if you need to sleep off a bad trip and the Sanctuary’s volunteers can speak with you and offer any help you need.
By Christine Leonard
Mixing new wave harmonies with garage-dwelling post-punk, the Calgary-based pop rock supergroup bring their DIY daydreams to life.
By Tyson Lennox
Much more than just a Radiohead side-project, Thom Yorke and co. left Toronto grinning from ear to ear.