Every festival has its own distinct color, tone, and flavor – that’s what makes each and every one an unforgettably special experience. From the radically inclusive vibes at Lightning in a Bottle to the breathtakingly beautiful Sherwood Forest at Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan, every festival adds its own unique spin to bring something extra and create something greater than music and lights.
Music festivals create more than just concerts, they create communities.
An event or festival can host the biggest names on the most technologically advanced stages, but the experience truly depends on the crowd and culture that’s formed to take things to the next level.
Rothbury 2008 or 2009 is the perfect example. Sure, the lineup was huge and the production was flawless, but there was something else out in the woods those years in Rothbury. Every soul that we’ve had the pleasure of talking to can’t explain it in definite terms, but there was something special floating around the grounds in Michigan; attendees could feel it.
Following that train of thought, here are 10 festivals that take the time to cultivate something deeper than just music on their hallowed grounds – spawning a distinct culture that engulfs the senses while attending. While we can’t include every festival on this list (it would take days to read and even longer to write), here are 10 standouts that definitely deserve some love:
Imagine Festival is the stunning synthesis of music, art, light, and color that takes place in the heart of the city of Atlanta, Georgia. Bringing together a wide scattering of the world’s top electronic music artists along with mind-bending cirque-style performances, festival organizers IRIS Presents know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to setting the stage for unforgettable experiences.
Having been voted Atlanta’s number one promoter for the past 3 years in addition to a range of other awards and accolades, IRIS Presents’ “core philosophy to spread light, love, and positivity through unique and interactive entertainment experiences” is an integral part in each of their events and it shows.
Shambhala Music Festival
The first thing that can be said about Shambhala Music Festival is that it’s the stuff of pure myth and legend. The stories coming back from the Salmo River Ranch in British Columbia, Canada after Shambhala each and every seem to good to be true, but they are.
Born from a grassroots vision, Shambhala is rare in the fact that it doesn’t accept any corporate sponsorship. This allows organizers to provide a truly unadulterated reflection of the dance music community and culture in all of its beautiful glory.
There’s even a word that’s been created to describe the vibe at Shambhala Music Festival – “Shambhalove” – need we say more?
Lightning in a Bottle
Lightning in a Bottle has been a leader in the transformational festival movement since its inception. With a focused attention on community, education, environmentalism, wellness, and more in addition to the already stellar musical experience – Lightning in a Bottle sets the gold standard for the possibilities of what music festivals can aspire to.
Ranging from green performance audits (they’ve been evaluated as Greenest Festival in America), solar power harnessing stage productions, and an incredible array of workshops, discussions, educational activities, and more – Lightning in a Bottle is an integral driving force behind America’s transformational festival culture.
After the inaugural Woogie Weekend in July 2015 the festival immediately proved itself to be following in the footsteps of it’s older cousin, Lightning in a Bottle. It makes sense, though, as both festivals are organized and curated by industry veterens The Do LaB.
Following LIB’s ideologies – Woogie Weekend brings together community, music, art, culture, environmentalism, and more to its grounds to create something deeper for attendees.
Movement Electronic Music Festival
Movement Electronic Music Festival keeps the dance music vibe and culture in line with its O.G. roots during this historical festival. Taking place in the heart of Detroit, Michigan – the Techno City – Movement brings together an insane group of artists and musicians to the city’s Hart Plaza every year.
Movement’s culture is unmatched as the festival pays respects to industry legends and newcomers alike in a historically fundamental city to the U.S. electronic music movement. By keeping the past rocking while also looking wholeheartedly to the future, Movement proves that electronic music can be for everyone – and they’re here to show you why in spades.
The BPM Festival
The BPM Festival is a legendary dance music mecca for attendees and artists alike. Taking place on the Mayan Riviera in Playa del Carmen, Mexico – The BPM Festival consists of 10 days of dance music madness with a pure focus on the music. With over 375 artists and 60,000 attendees from 60 countries in attendance at 2015’s event alone – The BPM Festival is a global melting pot of dance music and its corresponding world culture.
Suwannee Hulaween is a shining beacon of light for letting go and flying your freak flag high. Held at the incredibly beautiful Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida – there’s something indescribable about the grounds that keeps the overall feeling resonating at a deeper level. The Suwannee River, the blanketed Spanish moss, the lakeside camping, and more – everything coalesces to bring a level of camaraderie among attendees that’s almost palpable.
Your festie family will only continue to grow as jam and electronic music culture melds as acts like The String Cheese Incident, Primus, Pretty Lights, STS9, and ODESZA carve incendiary sets through the night air at Suwannee.
CRSSD Festival is a community-based movement in every sense of the words. Taking place in San Diego, California – CRSSD Festival brings the San Diego promotion, design, culinary, and music communities together to create a waterfront oasis in the sun-soaked city.
International artists pair with local craft beer, gourmet food, and more to create a laid-back vibe with a heavy focus on the local community. With over 15,000 in attendance for CRSSD’s inaugural festival, they’re already throwing their second in October 2015. Keep your eye out for future CRSSD events.
What The Festival
What The Festival brings an inclusive summer camp vibe to the music festival scene with it’s epic event. With an intense focus on attendee experiences, What The Festival goes all out to ensure that you feel perfectly at home in the Oregon hills. Ranging from the Illuminated Forest to the silent disco and splash pool, What The Festival creates an all-inclusive vibe that’s immediately felt among attendees.
The brainchild of Insomniac and Madison House Inc., Electric Forest quickly became a top-tier event in the North American music festival scene. Creating an intensely felt family vibe throughout their events Insomniac and Madison House teamed up to create something legendary. When will you join the forest family?
Do you have any festivals that you’d like to add to the list? Make sure to leave a comment below and let us know!
Click here for more music festival info, news, photos, and reviews.