Name: Shambhala Music Festival
Location: Salmo, British Columbia
Dates: August 7 – 10
Lineup: The Shambhala lineup was probably my favorite electronic music festival lineup ever. Each stage had its own vibe, and the music really fit it all weekend. Shambhala runs all night, so having the right acts play at the right time is very important. Shambhala nailed it.
Stages/Sound: Shambhala has a major advantage over other festivals in that its organizers own the land the festival is held on. This allows them to build permanent stages, as opposed to setting them up and taking them down each year, which is what happens at other festivals. This is a huge advantage, because Shambhala’s stages are the best in the industry. You always have a perfect view, whether you’re at the front of the crowd or in the back. The sound is also the best in the industry: all stages are PK Sound, and the Grove Stage features the legendary Funktion One speakers. Shambhala is truly a music lovers’ dream.
Greening: Shambhala has been in operation for 17 years and has grown a loyal and clean family. These attendees do a great job of cleaning up after themselves. Overall, this is one of the cleanest festivals I’ve been to.
Crowd: The crowd at Shambhala is the friendliest group of festivalgoers you’ll ever come across. They did the best job of cleaning up their camps post-festival I’ve ever seen. Shambhala is a magical kind of place that has its own kind of love called “ShambhaLove.” The crowd really believes in it; so do I. I witnessed three marriage proposals over the course of the weekend!
(Picture by www.BettyAndKora.com)
Security: The security at Shambhala is a mixed bag. The good part is that once you are in, you are in, and there are no lines you have to go through inside the festival itself. The bad – more like awful – part is that the vehicle search on the way in to the festival is intense. Shambhala is an alcohol-free event, so they really tear your car apart. This causes lines that can last literally 24 hours if you come at the peak. Shambhala needs to find a way to fix this. Letting people in earlier in the week would be a good way to help the lines move faster.
Food: The Shambhala food vendors are world-class. I ate burgers made from cows raised on the Shambhala farm, gyros, tacos … I even tried poutine, a French-Canadian staple that consists of French fries slathered with gravy and melted cheese curds. There were vegan options, too.
Art: Shambhala does an excellent job of showcasing artists in different areas of the property. There is an entire dome devoted to showcasing some of the communities most talented artists. Shambhala itself is basically a giant art installation. Every fence is painted by some awesome painter, which makes the whole venue beautiful.
Camping: The camping at Shambhala seems to work well. Much of the camping takes place back in the trees, which is epic. The other camping areas allow you to either car camp or set up your tent conveniently close to the parking lot.
Organization: You’d think that a 17-year-old festival would get the basics right, but Shambhala can’t seem to figure them out. The bathrooms have filters that suck the gross smell out, and LED lights so people can see. The problem is, there aren’t enough bathrooms. At peak times, you may have to line up for 30 minutes. This is unacceptable. The water situation is just as bad. There’s always a line. The other folly is the fact that they ran out of lineups by Saturday. This really sucked, because with a festival that has six stages and runs all night the schedule is too big to take a picture on your phone. Thankfully these are easy fixes, but the same problems happened last year. Someone needs to step up and take ownership of these problems.
Overall: The Shambhala venue, the crowd, the music, and the food are some of the best you’ll experience in your festival travels. This should be a perfect five-star (or even six star) festival, but since the event organizers didn’t get the basics right I’m giving them a 4.5-star review. It’s just that good and I know I’ll be back every year for sure. See you next year.