The Art of Learning at Lightning in a Bottle

Featured Photo: Sage Thomas Photography

Remember that first festival that reassured you that you had no idea what the hell you were doing, yet motivated you to devote the time to figure it all out?

That was me at my first Lightning in a Bottle– with three of my now best friends- sharing a four-person tent between the four of us (how?) and using a jimmy-rigged blue tarp as our only shade source. It was hot, and the tarp, in fact, gave us zero reprieve from the incessant LIB sunshine. I didn’t bring any sort of jacket for those chilly Bradley nights, but you can bet we didn’t forget our bags of Sunset Blush to warm us up.

Fast forward to the now, gearing up for my fourth Lightning in a Bottle. I still get pre-LIB butterflies, still possess a childlike-curiosity, and still tote around my bags of wine. Only this time around, I also have a coat, an EZ-up, and a grasp on what I’m doing.

Photo: Conner Lee Coughenour Photography


Lightning in a Bottle has proven that festing requires work, perseverance, and a desire to learn. The LIB experience is designed to teach, and that will mean something different for everyone. However, there is always something to be learned.

• Learning could mean going to an acroyoga class that may seem totally out of your league.

• Learning could require you to figure out how to set up your tent alone.

• Learning could be finally not waiting until it’s too late to buy a Car Camping Pass.

• Learning could encompass leaving your musical comfort zone to discover new tastes. (Dear Woogie, I’m sorry it took me so long)

• Learning could mean bringing that first-aid kit, because someone at camp will inevitably get a cut/splinter/blister/etc.

• Learning could be a moment of silence on the Meditation Lookout where you finally decipher the principle of doing nothing.

• Learning could involve figuring out how crucial it is to bring enough water for the weekend, by realizing how terrible it is to not have it.

• Learning could be observing how to make kombucha, and how a scoby is created (you may want to sit that one out)

• Learning could look like no longer spending $80 on groceries at the supermarket pre-festival because you always end up just making turkey sandwiches.

• Learning could look like setting a budget so you don’t blow a whole paycheck on clothing and food from vendors.

• Learning could be figuring out your limits and knowing when you should call it a night (or morning)

• Learning could require you to invest some decent money into some comfortable boots.

• Learning could entail forgoing the alcohol just one day to make connections with people that you will actually remember.

• Learning could require navigating your way back to camp without having cell phone service.

• Learning could mean remembering to bring earplugs- and ACTUALLY wearing them. (I ended up in Urgent Care after LIB last year with a perforated eardrum. Not fun. I blame Bassnectar.)

And, even though sharing those close quarters with my friends in 2015 was a catalyst for our friendships growing into the deeply-rooted relationships that exist today, I learned to always bring my own tent to Lightning in a Bottle.


What will Lightning in a Bottle teach you this year?

Buy your tickets now and find out this Memorial Day Weekend.

Photo: Conner Lee Coughenour Photography

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