Cover photo by @_peterkaras_
Nestled in the forests of northern California lies a crown jewel by the name of Northern Nights Music Festival. Taking place in Medicono County from July 19-21st, NNMF is going on its 7th year and has become a destination for many West Coast music lovers. The festival takes place just 3.5 hours north of San Francisco and right off Hwy. 101. The lush forests provide a magical backdrop for the weekend’s festivities. Plus, who can say “no” to a music festival on a river? Having never been myself, my fellow PNW friends have all told me that this is not one to miss. I perused the photos from years past and was instantly reminded of a more intimate version of the infamous Electric Forest. Boasting six stages with incredible natural backdrops, yoga classes, a hammock lounge, specialty bars, silent disco, impressive art installations, and even the Eel River, Northern Nights may be the best-kept secret on the West Coast.
Phase I Lineup
Northern Nights has released their phase one lineup announcement, which is featured below. As a self-described purveyor of emerging artists, “NNMF has the best lineup that no one knows about. After our fans discover their new favorite artist on the river, they’ll find that same artist selling out their next show in the Bay Area” says co-founder Andrew Blap. I love a well-rounded festival lineup that includes several genres of music, from funk and hip-hop to house and bass and NNMF has definitely done a lovely job of diversifying its portfolio.
Big Wild has quickly become a household name on festivals all across the nation and maintains his unique effervescent signature sound that we’ve all come to adore. The infamous Desert Hearts record label will feature a host of artists who embody house/techno vibes. Other artists to note are Xiuhtezcatl (pronounced ‘shu-TEZ-catl’), a climate change activist and hip-hop artist who has worked with Jayden Smith recently. Noodles is a Filipino woman from San Fran whose alter ego/side project is Kehlani’s DJ. Dirtybird fans will rejoice to see Sacha Robotti under the Redwoods and bassheads (like yours truly) will love getting down to CharlestheFirst and Shades, which is a collaboration of Eprom and Alix Perez. Come shake your hips to some soulful funk music, courtesy of Con Brio and The Funk Hunters (catch me there!). Aussie electronic-dance group Crooked Colours of DISTRIKT camp from Burning Man, will be hosting a takeover, a true treat to experience if you’ve never been.
Stay tuned for additional lineup announcements.
NNMF takes place on the Eel River, which has become affectionately known as the “California Nile” and offers music under the canopy of Redwoods. Summer Meltdown Music Festival in Darrington, WA was my first festival experience on a river and has since absolutely ruined my festival standards (but it’s a good thing). Instead of sitting at camp, sweating and trying to rest before a long night of grooving, my friends and I sat on floaties in the cool water, sipping on beers and throwing a beach ball around. We felt so refreshed and rejuvenated afterwards! I can’t wait to get Ronaldo, my giant swan floaty, ready for The River Stage where we can chill and listen to music. What could be better?
Majestic Redwoods envelop The Grove Stage and will provide much needed shade from the late July sun. At night, lasers and lights dance across the trees and create their own unique light show. If you’ve ever been to Suwanee Hulaween, you’ll remember The Amphitheatre Stage and the gorgeous texture the lasers created on the Spanish moss that hangs from the live oak trees. I’m hoping for an equally rad effect!
This year, The Bunker stage is making a return, which is a natural amphitheater that overlooks the Eel River. This festival is going to be absolutely stunning both during the day and at night. I am told that there isn’t cell service, which I’m honestly looking forward to being unplugged. I’m The Documenter in my group, meaning I take on capturing the weekend with fun photos of my crew, venue and a few videos. I love having photos that remind me of each festival, but there’s a fine line between capturing a few memories and getting lost in documenting. This will be a wonderful time to disconnect from the outside world and connect to the music and those around you.
It has been said that “NN is not your cookie cutter music festival,” which is encouraging to hear given the sheer number of festivals that have popped up in the last few years. With the Northern California culture and emerging artist trend, NN is passionate about “designing an innovative journey for adventure-seeking souls.” Who doesn’t love an adventure? Another unique facet that separates this festival from others is the focus on preservation and promotion of small businesses, as well as “the Cannabis lifestyle across the festival grounds.” If you hail from a state where Cannabis isn’t yet legal, than this experience may be extra special for you. As always, party responsibly and make sure to hydrate! I’m eager to join the Northern Nights family this July 19-20th. Snag your tickets here and pack your river floaties!