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A First Timers Guide to Shambhala Music Festival

Posted on January 27 2020

A First Timers Guide to Shambhala Music Festival

Shambhala- my home, my happy place, a beautiful musical wonderland located in Salmo River Ranch, Canada. I’m sure many of you have heard of, if not attended this beautiful festival. I’ve heard of it commonly referred to as a “Canadian Eforest” or a “less mainstream Forest” and for this reason it’s been on my bucket list for years until this past summer. I know there’s a lot of first timer festival guides and packing lists online, and many of you have attended festivals before, so I’m going to keep this Shambs specific, a festival as unique as this deserves it’s own guidelines.

One of the most noteworthy, and initially confusing aspects of Shambs are the different camping options. There are three: Starlight, Sunshine and Metta. The first two are car camping and the third is tent camping located out in the woods away from the cars and entrance. My first piece of advice, because its something I hadn’t ever needed for a festival before, is to bring a wagon. A lot of the Metta camp spots are quite the mob away from your car-a journey I had not expected to endure upon arrival. Although dragging all your things across a dry ranch in 90+ degree weather is so worth it, because Metta camping is absolutely beautiful. You get to camp near all the stages and art installations in the middle of the forest. People had trippy tapestries and tarps hanging off of trees. At Metta I felt more one with the forest, more like I was part of a little forest commune, rather than just traditional car camping.

( Photo credits: Dan Peterson @musicfestivalcentral_ )

My second piece of advice is to really walk around and orient yourself the first day. This will help your sense of direction throughout the festival, and also show you the places you’ll want to come back and explore. One of my biggest regrets of Shambs is that it’s filled with so many unique little areas and art stops, that I felt like I had only explored a small portion of it by the time I had to leave. Make sure you don't make this mistake. Do all of the exploring you possibly can, even if it means missing some good artists, you’ll see them again.

(photo credit: Koury Vindaloo)

While on the topic of exploring, another thing to explore, as weird as this sounds, are the bathrooms. Read the funny stuff written in the Porta Potty’s, you wont regret it. Switch up which stall you use. Some of my favorite moments of Shambs were sitting on the toilet laughing to myself over some pretty hilarious quotes.

Another piece of advice, probably my biggest regret of Shambs, is to put yourself out there. I went in a big group of friends and had a lot of fun, but felt like I didn't take advantage of the entire festival full of weird, crazy, cool, like-minded people that I could’ve met. I experienced the best people watching of my life here, but didn't meet as many of those people as I had hoped because I was so busy with my own friends who I can hangout with anytime at home too.

( Photo credits: Dan Peterson @musicfestivalcentral_ )

As for what to wear, dress as out there, as weird and true to yourself as you possibly can. There are so many interesting people there that you’ll regret not embracing your one chance to be as unique as you can. Bring your Kritter Klips and tail, your talking Furby and as many googley eyes as you can glue to your body.

- By Leah Bell

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