Shambhala 2019: A Utopian Society of Dignity, Fearlessness, and Compassion

Featured Photo by Rebecca Hollman

Shambhala Music Festival returned to Salmo River Ranch for its 22nd anniversary this past August 9th-12th, with musical headliners including Bonobo, FKJ, Nero (DJ Set), Zhu, Troyboi, and MORE! Though the musical itinerary is the initial lure that a festival emits, the experiences on this adult playground in BC only began here.

Photo by Rebecca Hollman

Setting the Scene

As you drive up to the entrance of the farm, whether you come from near or far, feelings of excitement are bound to be bursting. Greeted by your first “Happy Shambs!”, you wait in line to enter the paradise that awaits. As you drive further and further down the seemingly-forever dirt road, you can’t help but notice that messages of reassurance and hope are so- eloquently placed in the trees that surround you.

Pictured:  “A Utopian Society of Fearlessness, Dignity, and Compassion”

Below are five of the other phrases observed on the way in, and a few ways that they were lived out during the 2019 run. To no surprise, these words set the scene perfectly for the otherworldly encounters and deep connections that were cultivated during my first adventure in British Columbia.

1. “Legends say that only the pure of heart enter Shambhala, dancing their lifeforce and connecting with the cosmic power and energy of this phenomenal world.”

Photo by Don Idio

Photo by Don Idio

As a first-timer heading out to Canada alone from the states, I have to say that I was welcomed in with open arms from the Shambhala family. Seriously, I think I experienced more random acts of kindness and goofiness on the dance floor than at any other festival in my life. You can truly tell that individuals pour their heart and soul into this festival, both the attendees as well as volunteers and staff that help put it together. The farm emanates love at every corner.

Photo by Don Idio

The perfect place to live out a balance of work and play, Shambhala’s itinerary offered a variety of daytime activities that kept us stretched, healthy, and in a peaceful state of mind. My personal favorites of 2019 included the “Booty Luv Fitness” workshop, the yoga classes held daily at The Yoga Garden, as well as the Light Whip Manipulation workshop. And the best part is, these are just a few of many!

PRO TIP: Workshops are also one of the best ways to meet new friends at a festival.

Photo by Don Idio

2. “It is here where love & wisdom reign supreme.”

“The Wishing Tree: ‘I wish for those unsure to find their path'”, Photo by Rebecca Hollman

“Bee Sweet”, by Rebecca Hollman

I can’t help but tear up when looking through recap photos of this particular event.  This place leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world outside of it, with open arms. With the combination of the ethereal beauty of the farm itself and the willingness of the attendees to grow with one another, the depth of experience at this particular event shines bright. The farm truly becomes home and friends become family over the course of just a few days.

“Bee You”, Photo by Don Idio

The allure, for me, lies in the high level of artistry involved in the decoration of the farm, where messages of the heart are scattered throughout the grounds and gardens of flowers. You end up exactly where you are meant to be, and see what you are meant to see. To give you an idea of what I mean, here are just a few of my favorites that I ran into:

  • “Adventure awaits, which will you choose?”
  • “You deserve total radness.”
  • “Be nice to everybody.” 
Photo by Don Idio

3. “The inhabitants are known to wear their finest styles and possess supernatural powers.”

Photo by Don Idio
Photo by Don Idio

Let’s talk FASHION! I met so many people that attend this festival as their only festival of the year, and you can tell. The outfits, the theme camps, the totems,- they all seem to be curated ever-so-eloquently. It is beautiful to witness such a mass expression of individualism and passion, and the dance floors are so much more lively here because of this. Even through the endless mud and rain all weekend, the Shambhala family gave it their all.

Photo by Rebecca Hollman

On a note of the supernatural powers, you experience so much kindness and mind-blowing talent on these grounds that it can begin to feel like some sort of sorcery. I assure you that this is real, and based on my experiences here, I think that Canadians might be some of the nicest humans on this planet. You have to experience it for yourself to truly understand.

Photo by Don Idio

4. “Their technological nature is highly advanced, their artistic expression visionary.”

“The Amp Stage”, Photo by Rebecca Hollman
Photo by Don Idio

THE PRODUCTION! You can tell that this festival has been around for a long time (22 years, to be precise). The stages are drool-worthy and the lasers melt both your heart and your face off. The way that each area is catered to the natural beauty of the land is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. Almost every stage also has viewing platforms, so the opportunities are endless! No need for a VIP ticket to access these, either.

“The Pagoda Stage”, Photo by Don Idio

I’ll never forget watching the Pagoda Stage come to life for the first time on Friday night. Two stages got the party started on Thursday, which left me in absolute awe already. I kept thinking, “it couldn’t get any better than this, could it?”. Little did I know, that was only the beginning. The days that followed were full of dancing to some of the best sets I’ve ever seen.  My personal 3 favorites from the weekend included Charlesthefirst, Beats Antique, and LSDream.

“The Village Stage”, Photo by Don Idio

5. “Art wakes us up.”

Photo by Don Idio
Photo by Don Idio

Sure, this festival is a huge party, -but its a party with a purpose! These types of events make a person realize how much of an impact one small act of kindness or goofiness can have on another’s journey. One good example of this is the man pictured above,  who rolls out a red carpet and tells stories on his throne. Sometimes, this carpet ends up in front of a random Porto-potty, for an unexpected royal exit by an unsuspecting user. Little joyous moments like these make for stories for years to come!

Photo by Rebecca Hollman

The art galleries, art installations, and playfulness of those who attend make this festival something that stands out compared to others. Combined with the use of live performers on the stages, the artistry is simply out of this world.  Music is what brought us all together at the root, and the byproduct of this collective is an excess of love and creativity. You see it everywhere in the crowds, in the campgrounds, and even on the drive-in. It feels like everything comes full circle.

Photo by Don Idio

“It’s the view that every human being has a fundamental nature of goodness and that together we make a more beautiful world. It’s here that we regain the opportunity to accomplish our dreams, clear our minds, and open our hearts.”

“Never give up.”

Photo by Don Idio

Until next time, Shambhala. See you in 2020! <3 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.