Having the right tent at a music festival can make or break your weekend. The right tent needs to be big enough for you, your crew, and all your gear. It also needs to stay cool during the day so you can actually get some sleep. I had the opportunity to test the 13-ft Lotus Belle Outback tent at festivals across North America this summer and I am finally ready to deliver my review.
The first thing you need to know about the Lotus Belle tent is that it is big. How big? Its a 13-foot circle, which translates to more than 20 square feet of ground space. This means you can put two queen-sized air mattresses in it and sleep four people with plenty of room to spare. If you want to go the “cuddle puddle” route (i.e., throw down a bunch of blankets and have everyone sleep next to each other) you can easily sleep eight people. The Lotus Belle is 9.8 feet tall at its peak and more than five feet tall at the sides. This means that everyone can stand up, which is a bonus when you’re constantly changing costumes during the festival. Despite its mammoth capacity, the collapsed tent can be easily packed into one large duffle bag that fits nicely in a car trunk.
When it comes to festivaling, you can’t even compare the Lotus Belle to other tents. I used nylon camping tents for the last three festival seasons because they were the only option I was aware of. The downside to nylon tents is that they’re boring-looking and become infernos when the morning sun hits them. This was a huge problem for me. When I festival, I like to stay up late into the night and try to sleep in the early morning. The nylon tents I used became too hot for sleeping a couple of hours after the sun rose, forcing me to wake up hours before I wanted to. By the last day of the festival I would be so tired that I’d have to go to bed early. That stupid tent cost me lots of fun times.
This year was different. The canvas-walled Lotus Belle features excellent ventilation, so its stays cool for most of the day and allows me to sleep as long as I want. This kept me fresh and able to enjoy the last night of the festival as much as I did the first.
The Lotus Belle even passed the toughest test that any tent can be given…. Burning Man. Burning Man is hard on tents. If they’re not completely sealed, all the playa dust blows inside and turns your sleeping space into a dustbowl. I’m happy to say that the Lotus Belle was the perfect Burning Man tent. It’s been rated for 60-plus mile per hour winds – and it did a great job keeping the dust out.
Just like any tent, the Lotus Belle is a bit of a head-scratcher when you put it up for the first time. Once I understood the design and how it all comes together, I could put it up in about 40 minutes (25 minutes with 2 people and 2 hammers). The design is based around sacred geometry, in that everything is in tens. There are 10 ground stakes, 10 tent poles, and two sets of 10 threaded stakes. Once it’s set up, you’re ready for an incredible weekend.
My favorite thing about the Lotus Belle tent is that it makes you look like festival royalty. You stand out from the thousands of other festivalgoers, so lots of people want to check it out. I never thought having a cool tent would be a good way to make new friends, but the Lotus Belle is just that awesome.
But standing out from the crowd with a Lotus Belle does require a bit of investment. The 13-ft. Lotus Belle costs $1,750. This is a lot of money compared to a standard tent, but it’s well worth it when you consider how much cooler it stays during the day. You’re not just buying a tent. You’re buying the ability to sleep 4+ extra hours per festival night, and the ability to host super fun tent parties. You can’t put a price on the added fun that this tent will being to your festival. If you and your festival crew split the cost of the tent, you’ll all have a solid, beautifully designed shelter to enjoy for years to come.