How Shambhala Built a Strong Sense of Community

Shambhala 2018 The Village Caspian Kai
Photo Credit: Caspian Kai

Over the past 22 years, Shambhala Music Festival has evolved from a grassroots vision to grow and develop its own sense of community and tradition.

It was back in 1998 that Shambhala Music Festival first began and 500 attendees came together to party and embrace local art and music. The festival grew by word of mouth and by 2010 was hosting 15,000 guests. Today the festival attracts world-renowned music producers and artists without leveraging any type of corporate sponsorship. It is a community that is driven by connection, creativity, and love.

Related: Haven’t been to Shambhala before? Be sure to check out our review from last year!

We are about a week away from all gathering at the Salmo River Ranch or more lovingly known as The Farm in British Columbia. This year, the three-day festival will be held from August 9 – 12 will host more than fifteen thousand attendees, six stages of music, and a variety of art and experiences that will soon have you calling the farm, home.

Since its inception, Shambhala has continued to change lives through its pillars of community, individual and integrated stage design, and unparalleled support for its family. Read on for some insight on how this independent festival grew a community that keeps us all coming back for more each year.

The Eight Pillars

  • Safety & Harm Reduction
  • Shambhalove & Community
  • Consent
  • Music, Art, and Creativity
  • Acceptance and Freedom Expression
  • Respect the Environment
  • Tradition and Transformation
  • Have Fun

The eight pillars of Shambhala are the foundation of the festival’s core values. Safety truly does come first and attendees are encouraged to look out for their fellow neighbors. Additionally, Shambhala has a variety of Shambacares services that contribute to creating a safe environment. Shambalove can be defined as caring for others through positive contribution, participation and selflessness. You can express this love for yourself and others through practicing compassion for this community.

Shambhala wants everyone to feel free to express themselves and share as much or as little as they choose. Consent is an important part of recognizing our own and other’s boundaries. It should be given enthusiastically and clearly if your actions could alter the experience of another. Let your creativity flow, open yourself up to inspiration and allow yourself to inspire others. The music, art, and creativity at Shambhala should be something you actively engage.

Shambhala Music Festival 2018 Human Train
Photo Credit: Joey Rootman Photography

Release your judgment before you arrive. The Farm is home to a variety of people from a wide range of walks of life. Every encounter should be  approached with an open heart of acceptance and freedom of expression. Come as you are and allow your own uniqueness and beauty to shine brightly.  This should be an escape from reality where anything could happen.

As you will soon read below, each stage is heavily integrated with its natural surroundings. This emphasizes the direct connection we have with the farm. We should respect the environment and adopt the “leave no trace” mindset.

Shambhala has maintained it’s transformational experience by adhering to it’s originating traditions. They ask your support in recognizing your brothers and sisters on the farm while actively participating and expressing selfless acts. We should embrace these old traditions while opening our arms for new perspectives and growth.

Finally, the last but not least pillar is to remember that this is a celebration. Have fun, choose your own adventure, take a deep breath, and let the magic of Shambhala guide you on your incredible journey!

Shambhala 2018
Photo Credit: Adam Straughn

The Stages

Shambhala has six stages that are each independently run by their respective Stage Directors. Each Stage Director is charged with booking the talent for their stage as well as the vibe of its design. Although there is a tone of competition on the surface, the Stage Directors operate on a principle of unity and family.

Related: Wondering what artists will be playing on each stage? Check out the stage lineups here!

The Living Room stage runs along the Salmo River enabling guests to cool off in the water while still enjoying a variety of music genres. During the day it is full of dubbed-out funky soul while as the night approaches the sound becomes deeper and heavier, while still providing tasteful house vibes. Each morning you can re-find your center through Yoga at The Living Room.

Here is your invitation to immerse yourself in a fully interactive environment known as The Grove. This stage is surrounded by towering cedar trees, lush pathways, and forest lounge areas. Embracing the natural beauty while combining a full spectrum of Funktion-one sound as well as state of the art lighting to entice all your senses. The Grove’s opening ceremony is something that will move your spirit and warm your heart, don’t miss it!

The Pagoda stage is a temple of myth, lore, and legend. Its design includes PK bass bins, lasers, and expert video mapping technology. This legendary stage can transform into almost anything you could imagine. The genres that can be found on this stage greatly vary but include many heavy hitters from the bass, house, and dance music arenas.

Shambhala 2017
Photo Credit: Banana Cam Photo

Located near the downtown center of Shambhala is The Amp Stage. On one side you have lush gardens while vendors are located on the other. No matter what time of day this stage is full of activity. There are large shaded areas for the hotter parts of the day while at night the stage will feature a PK Sound system and mind-altering performances.

The Fractal Forest started out as a stage built on top of a burnt-out, old-growth tree stump. Over time it has become a portal to another dimension. Surrounded by trees with beautiful lights and lasers as well as hanging art pieces. If you’re looking to get down and funky be sure to catch The Fractal Forest Funk Jam, one of the festival’s best parties!

All roads might lead you to The Village. Intricately decorated paths weave and intertwine all around this stage. Adorning the stage’s backdrop is an eighty-foot tall geodesic structure that includes a chandelier style roof.

Shambhala Music Festival 2018 Girl With Umbrella
Photo Credit: Banana Cam Photo

Support for Attendee Organized Events

Meetups are not a new concept at festivals. It just takes the right people to organize and advertise a meetup to gather fans of a similar nature. Shambhala takes this concept a step farther by helping create a schedule of these events.

Any attendee can host an event and notify Shambhala organizers to get added to the calendar. Some events like Day Onesies (everyone wears onesies on Thursday) have become an annual tradition on the farm. Other events like the Giant Group Hug or The Fractal Forest Naruto Run have started more recently, but you never know which events will become a tradition.

Shambhala has created its community through a tradition of openness, love, and connection. If you’re planning on going this year be sure to let us know in the comments below!

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Carlos was first introduced to the world of EDM in 2014 when he attended EDC Las Vegas. The event changed his entire perspective on music and community. Now you can find him traveling to festivals such as Mysteryland USA, Summerset Music Festival, Tomorrow World, Spring Awakening, and many others. By day he works as a full time application developer.

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