Shambhala Music Festival is just around the corner – get ready with this guide so you can fully immerse yourself in the experience!
The time has finally come to return to the farm and party in the summer heat, with Shambhala Music Festival returning for its 2023 edition at the Salmo River Ranch in British Columbia on July 21-24. With its exquisitely beautiful venue and deep-rooted culture, the festival has become a must-attend for electronic music lovers near and far. Not only is the music lineup always stacked with acts from all around the world, the grounds themselves hold a sort of magic between the trees and the river – one can only when they experience it for themselves.
A key element of the farm that keeps most attendees coming back is its prominence as one of the original transformational festivals in the scene. And with options to arrive as early as Tuesday and leave the following week, giving more than enough time to soak in the festivities. So whether it’s your first Shambhala or you’re a veteran of the festival, there are always new things to see, do, and learn every year on the farm.
Shambhala provides a plethora of music and a life-changing experience, and alternative community that only happens to exist during the weekend. Their mantra on communal importance, harm reduction, and providing safe spaces in the music community makes it one of the top experiences of a lifetime for any music enthusiast. That being said, its massive grounds can make it quite overwhelming for a first-time goer to navigate, so we’ve got you covered on how to explore the mini-world of Shambhala.
With six music stages to tear up during the weekend, each one holds a different vibe to experience.
This year, the music lineup is their biggest yet, with headlining acts like Sub Focus, Excision, Alix Perez, GRiZ, and John Summit taking on the vibe checks of the weekend. Not to mention the undercard is plentiful of diverse acts like The Librarian, Seth Troxler, Vibe Chemistry, Lazy Syrup Orchestra, Chase Manhattan, and all other sorts of musical guests to spice up and bring many types of tunes to the stages. Whether you’re looking for a drum and bass journey or sticking to the deep techno groove, Shambhala has got you covered.
The main area of music happenings can be found at the large shade structure AMP Stage, the home for massive acts all through day and night, right in the main area of the grounds. You can find performances from Skream, the 1985 Music takeover, MYTHM, and the yearly Skiitour opening Thursday night set bumping at this stage. For those looking for a groove-heavy vibe to decompress and recharge the soul, the Living Room beach stage takes pride in its funk-themed lineup and amazing light shows riverside – holding home for acts like Maya Jane Coles, Freq Nasty, and Moontricks.
One of the most famous stages of Shambhala is Fractal Forest, a hidden gem in the woods with a 360-stage setup and a laser show like no other. Here, you can let go of insecurities and truly experience the music in its raw form, as no photography is allowed! Catch the memorable sets of GRiZ, Father Funk, and Shiba San here. The Grove is another forest specialty with a treehouse-vibe setup, providing a Funktion-one system of sounds from Mura Masa, Of The Trees, and crazy aerial performances to watch.
The Pagoda stage is one of the most visually mind-blowing stages on the grounds, with an ability to transform into different shapes and images to the music, with a seven-story structure looking upon the crowd. This stage holds a spiritual semblance for festival goers as a place to face fears and leave with the ‘shambhalove’ vibe. There, attendees can catch sets from John Summit, Liquid Stranger, Zeds Dead, Justin Martin, and more.
Lastly, the bass haven Village Stage has a jaw-dropping geode-themed stage structure with some secret alien tropes scattered about. You can experience ground-shaking sets from the likes of Gigantic NGHTMRE, ill.Gates, RL Grime, TVBOO, and more at this megalodon of a stage.
Within the forest of Salmo Ranch, there’s a plethora of art installations, interactive pieces, and galleries to explore.
Most Shambhala veterans encourage first-timers to explore going into the grounds with a blind eye and experience everything firsthand. Around all the stages and walkways, there are immersive art installations to explore and get lost in. Head over to the BASSCamp Gallery dome to discover a whole lineup of certified artists’ work displayed for your enjoyment all hours of the weekend. Or, take a gander at any of the installations surrounding the stages – including a giant mushroom patch, life-size murals, a ‘lamp tree,’ and even a giant hanging geo sphere that lights up at night!
There are also tons of activities to do during the weekend to make some memories outside of the music. With a stacked lineup of workshops like learning how to beatbox, an ‘erotic jazz cabaret,’ dance flow workshops, and yoga all week long, you’re bound to learn something new to bring back home.
But, the crown jewel of Shambhala is their attendee events, held by the goers themselves. Join in on dressing up as an animal onesie or a sailor scout with a bunch of other attendees at several meetups, join the Virgin Train tour that is led by Shambhala veterans for first timers, find a trading post and clothing swap in the campgrounds, or write a wish to hang on the wishing tree. All of these events and more are available for more info on the unofficial Shambhala Family Facebook page.
The communal vibe of Shambhala is what really sets the tone of magic for the weekend.
To really explore and understand the essence of the farm, one must be knowledgeable of the mission of Shambhala. Holding on to its prominence as a transformational festival, a sense of community is held strong throughout the grounds. The no alcohol rule makes the essence of the grounds a more chill experience, focusing on more meaningful experiences not just centered around partying.
That being said, there’s also a high presence of harm reduction and drug safety around the grounds, with the Shambhala Cares tent that will test any substance for you at no cost, no questions asked. This environment promotes a judgment-free zone, emphasizing safe partying and looking out for one another.
Shambhala prides itself on being a safe space for all walks of life. There’s a Pride parade held over the weekend and LGBTQIA+ meetups with flags from all identities! Shambhala also recognizes its ground being held on sacred native grounds belonging to the Syilx, Sinixt, and Ktunaxa Nations and holds values to respecting the land the festival is held on.
If you are one who wishes to experience Shambhala in a sober mindset, Camp Synergy/Camp Clean Beats is one of Shambhala’s most beloved camps that provide s safe space for sober partying for support of a drug and alcohol-free weekend, focused solely on the great music experience Shambhala provides. To learn more, check out their Facebook group to get in touch!
For those who feel overwhelmed over the weekend and need a place to recharge, there’s the Sanctuary within the festival that provides a calm area for those who need a break from the music to relax, talk, and find resources. The Safe Space is also open to marginalized identities to have healthy talks about communication and consent, and to provide a safe haven during the weekend.
There are only two weeks left before the festivities begin, so make sure to come prepared!
Whether camping in a tent under the trees or glamping in the Shambalodging, read up on the official Shambhala camping list to ensure you don’t leave anything behind on your journey to the farm. To stay extra prepared, check out our summer camping checklist for all your festival essentials!
There are so many individual ways to navigate Shambhala, but we hope this guide helps give a basic breakdown of just a tad of the hundreds of ways to explore the festival and its amenities. Tickets are sold out, but their waitlist is still open for any of those willing to join in and potentially snag one. Check back for more Shambhala-related updates, and head over to our Twitter to let us know what set you’re excited to catch, and we’ll see you on the farm!