Written by Stephanie Rosa & Austin Eames
All photos by Sage Thomas
Lighting is one of nature’s most awe-inspiring occurrences, a bright and instantaneous burst that illuminates a dark sky. In the ever-growing world of music festivals, Lightning in a Bottle proves to be a bright flash of color, music, and dance. With the eclectic lineup, vivid stages, and incredible fashion, The Do LaB proudly sold over 20,000 tickets to this year’s festival. Between the food, vendors, stages, and countless activities, its no wonder why this captivating festival hosts return visitors year after year. For me personally, this festival was one I had been wanting to attend and this year I finally had the opportunity to do so. After attending several festivals worldwide, LiB quickly made it to my top 3 music festivals of all time (so I may get a little corny here).
Lightning In A Bottle Quick Facts:
Crowd type: Trendy/Loving/Young/Family/Colorful
Music genre: Deep House, Soul, Big Room, Trap
How To Get There
Lightning in a Bottle is located almost directly in between San Francisco and Los Angeles, making it relatively easy to choose an airport. Most out of state attendees fly into LAX. Though in a rather remote area of the mountains, the site is quite easy to locate using a standard navigation system. A car is necessary to get to the festival, unless you choose to utilize LiB’s shuttle system (available from San Diego, LAX or San Francisco for under $100 roundtrip).
Another option is to take a train to San Luis Obispo and have an Uber driver to take you the rest of the way. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch an Uber returning from the festival grounds.
Where To Stay
One of the best parts about LiB is the camping. Details on several glamping/boutique camping options can be found here. If you choose to bring your own tent, you have the choice to camp alongside your car, or park and carry your belongings with you to your campsite in a different area of the festival. One major reason I find camping here so great is because there are relatively few limitations on how much space one camp site can take up. Due to the extreme heat in the mornings, a SHIFTPOD is highly recommended for a festival like this. More information on SHIFTPODS can be found here.
Campers can purchase a car camping pass, allowing access to what is essentially becoming a sand dune, though making trips back and forth to car/campsite is not too bad without a car camping pass. (Insider tip: Parking in the regular car lot allows attendees to make it out before most of the line.) Another plus about camping at LiB versus other festivals, as mentioned above, is the lack of restrictions on space.
Most of the camping areas are far away enough from the sound, allowing for the possibility of mid-day naps and a relatively quiet night’s sleep. However, some camp sites play their own music until early hours of the morning, so ear plugs are still advised.
Local food vendors offered dining options for almost any palette: vegan, vegetarian, paleo, pizza lovers, Greek devotees, Mexican cravers, fresh juice fiends and more. All vendors seemed to be environmentally and health conscious, fitting the theme of the festival, and locations around all three major stages made it easy to grab a snack or a meal at any time.
I was particularly impressed by Imla’kesh Organics, who were sampling their delicious array of exotic berry and nut superfoods. Our favorite of their dishes was the loaded beat quinoa bowl with avocados and cashew cheese, and the availability of healthy eats like these throughout our LiB adventure sustained our energy throughout the long weekend.
As for water, there were hardly any plastic bottles for sale by vendors. Instead, several water spigots were available throughout the grounds, encouraging festival goers to rely on their own refillable bottles (another step toward being environmentally conscious).
Bars were available at the major stages for patrons 21+. Drinks ranged from $7-$10 and hosted beers and crafted cocktails on tap.
Various vendors would also walk the crowd or post a station for items such as $1 watermelon slices and fresh juices.
One of the highlights of Lightning In A Bottle (although there were many) were the stage set ups. Intricately designed, these stages breathed gorgeous colorful fabrics that also provided shade in the hot Bradley sun. At night, the festival looked like a bright, colorful playground lit like an electric carnival; lasers and lights could be found on stages and festival goers alike.
Aside from artistic stages, this festival held talks, yoga workshops and more, all of which could be enjoyed without the interruption or distraction of loud music. Anyone looking for a zen space had access to one.
One of the most famous stages is by far the Woogie. Set up with brightly colored inverted cylinders, the Woogie is a landmark to all who know about the Do LaB & Lightning in a Bottle. Exquisitely designed and complete with small sprinklers to keep fans hydrated, you can’t possibly miss it, and we suggest spending as much time as possible basking in its elegance.
Artists You May Not Have Heard of But Can’t Miss
There were so many great musical acts, it’s almost too much to process! But process I did. The following is a list of non-headlining artists who stuck out to me:
Sacha Robotti – Sacha is tearing up the deep house scene, and treated us to some some fantastic tunes at the Woogie on Friday.
Marian Hill – Sexy and saxophon-y, Marian Hill has a modern day electronic twist on seductively jazzy music.
Autograf – Mixing tropical house with some great dance beats, Autograf is a must-see live act, recreating their sound on xylophones and synthesizers.
Space Jesus – Hailing from the electronic bass land of the future is Space Jesus, ready to rock your socks with some seriously heavy sound.
Alina Baraz – Mystical, calm, and beautiful are just a few ways to describe Alina Baraz and her live band as their music ushered in the sunset on Sunday evening…a treat to both eyes and ears!
Things To Do
In addition to the three main stages (Lightning, Thunder & Woogie), there are several smaller stages to feed your music appetite. Among the most popular of the smaller stages are the Pagoda Bar (where Bassnectar played a surprise set at 2am on Sunday), The Grand Artique (where you can find some cool bluegrass), Favela Bar (a treat to your techno and minimal ears) and Lucent Temple, especially at night (where its fans will practice acroyoga and dance).
Aside from fun to be had at the stages, the following activities are available at LiB:
- Listen to wisdom talks and Q&A sessions from various influential leaders and speakers
- Head to the Learning Kitchen to understand what true health and nourishment is, and how it affects the body
- Practice meditation with other festival attendees
- Receive a massage in the healing sanctuary
- Paint your body as a wild animal
- Get your stretch on with acro-yoga or other yoga classes
- Dine on some fine foods at the Last Supper Club
- Enjoy a burlesque show at Amori’s Casino & Burlesque
- Play bingo, mega skee ball, renegade bowling, or head to a barber shop
- Join a late night cuddle party and make a new friend
- Shop for new outfits, shoes, flow toys, and more
Why Go VIP
All festies are created equal at Lightning in A Bottle. There’s no VIP here; the closest you’ll get is the boutique camping options mentioned in Where To Stay.
What Makes The Festival Different?
This festival is certainly a one of a kind. Combining a healthy balance of music, great food, healing through yoga, meditation, and massage, it now stands as one of my favorite festivals in the entire world (and I don’t say that lightly). There was something new in every corner at LiB, and though it could all be seen, there simply wasn’t enough time for it to all be done… the true testament of a great festival! The crowd was friendly and vibrant, accepting and warm, and the music was fit for all music-loving ears. A few specific things separate this festival and make it unique:
- Taking Transformation To A New Level – Gorgeous sunsets, meditation practices, workshops on healthy eating, living & freeing the mind can consume your entire weekend. If the music isn’t what you’re feeling, that’s no problem at LiB. This festival can please anyone with an appetite to learn, explore themselves, and enjoy some relaxation.
- Vibrant & Loving Festival Goers – Because the entire festival radiates a high vibration from the crowd, most festival goers are adorned in bright colors, glittery hand fans, spray bottles (with willingness to share the joys of a quick misty cool-down), fringe, and artistic tattoos; and all are ready to strike up a conversation or bust a move with you. The love at this festival exemplifies the positivity that can come from peace and love within oneself and the community…as you can probably tell, I get mushy just thinking about it.
- The Stages – Truly pieces of architectural creativity, the stages produced by the Do LaB make the landscape at LiB seem like a colorful Morrocan desert dream. To see it is truly to experience it; no photo can do these interactive and playful stages justice (but we’ll try).
- If you’re looking to drink over the weekend, you’re welcome to not only bring your own alcohol in the campground, but also into the festival in an appropriate (and environmentally conscious!) container. There is no security check point to walk in/out of the main areas, so you can bring your own snacks from your campsite too.
- Be sure to bring a Camelbak or other refillable water container as water bottles are not readily available for sale. But, there are tons of free water stations.
- Avoid rush hour shower times (~8am-11am). At $8, showers are totally worth it. They are nice and private, and come with the use of organic hair products and mirrors. Otherwise, baby wipes are always a great plan B.
- It gets HOT during the day and COLD at night, so plan your outfits accordingly and bring a jacket. This is something to consider when camping as well; be sure to have some shade during the day if your tent doesn’t reflect heat, and bring enough blankets for night time.
- Dress fun! Everyone was showing off great collections of snazzy gear, and its a way better experience when you participate.
Lightning In A Bottle is an eclectic festival promoting diversity in several different realms. With the common theme of being health conscious and environmentally friendly, it remains nearly trash-free all weekend long and allows you to keep whatever health kick you may be on with its wide variety of food options. It is a celebration of outward expression and love, and should absolutely make your must-attend list next year. Until next time, LiB!