Attending Shambhala Music Festival in Salmo, British Columbia for my first time this summer was a completely unforgettable festival experience. In the past I have attended festivals including Firefly, Electric Forest, and Bonnaroo twice. But, somehow, Shambhala seemed to overshadow them all.
As nineteen year olds, my friends and I represented the youngest age group to be allowed to enjoy Shambhala. However, from waiting eighteen hours, overnight, in lines to get to our camp spot on August 6th, to the moment we left the festival almost a week later, age did not seem to matter. At Shambhala, there is a collective, shared experience of people from person to person. Distinctions seemed to disappear; differences were nonexistent. The simple act of putting on your Shambhala Guest festival bracelet and stepping foot onto the grounds gave you automatic entry into a lifestyle that is uninterrupted by superficial cultural habits and divisions.
Shambhala was clean, easy going, and a community effort to create an everlasting, ultimate happy, exciting, and loving musical and social adventure. Around every corner there was an aura of positivity, reinforced by painted sayings around the festival walls encouraging sustainability, respect, friendship and much more. But what makes Shambhala stick out the most is the immense amount of responsibility understood by everyone.
At many festivals, there are many accounts of individuals being irresponsible, whether that is disruptiveness, rudeness, drunkenness etc. Right off the bat, Shambhala eliminates one of these issues by establishing a strict no alcohol policy. Although this may seem “undesirable” at first glance, this rule seemed to be the most effective overall. Talking with many of the friends we made and amongst ourselves, most, if not all, people attending the festival liked the benefits of the “dry festival” rule. Without alcohol, there is a severely smaller amount of misunderstanding and a much higher level of respect.
The Shambhala family is one that assumes major responsibility for the self and for others. With the help of the “no alcohol rule,” everyone is constantly reminded to respect the environment, those around them, and most importantly, themselves. After attending Shambhala for two days before the music started it had already decided that this festival was and would always be unlike any other. With the unbelievable acceptance and global understanding within Shambhala’s walls, it may arguably be one of the happiest gatherings on earth.
Written By: Andrea Inscoe