How Suwannee Hulaween is Quickly Becoming the Electric Forest of the South

How Suwannee Hulaween is Becoming the Electric Forest of the South
Hulaween returns to the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park on Friday, October 30. Photo – Suwannee Hulaween – Facebook.

Ask any die hard live music fanatic in the Southern United States and they will surely be able to attest to the lore of Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (SoSMP).

Situated on the banks of the Suwannee River in Northern Florida, the legendary outdoor music venue has hosted live events for more than four decades. Though the hallowed ground has earned its reputation on annual jam-centric gatherings like the Wanee, Aura, Purple Hatter’s Ball, and Magnolia Festivals – it is the jam and electronic hybrid inclined Suwannee Hulaween that is perpetuating the lore of Suwannee outside of Southeastern United States.

An overwhelming sense of family and eternal belonging permeates throughout the surrounding woodlands, echoing through the trees of the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. From the Spanish Moss to the white sands contrasting against the midnight-black banks of the river, the natural beauty prevalent throughout the 600-acre venue possesses a palpable energy, guaranteed to recharge your soul upon entering the grounds.

Hulaween
Photo by Chris Monaghan.

From an experiential standpoint, Suwannee Hulaween holds an uncanny resemblance to one of the most popular electronic music events in the United States – Electric Forest. Held annually in Rothbury, Michigan, Electric Forest has become one of the most sought after tickets on the music festival circuit and its Southeastern counterpoint is following suit.

Hulaween is quickly becoming the Electric Forest of the South.

When reflecting on past music festival experiences, it is difficult not to include Hulaween toward the top of the list and fest heads far and wide seem to agree, as is evident by tier one and two presale tickets quickly selling out; but what is it about Hulaween that caused its exponential growth while similar events have failed following their inaugural campaign?

The answer can be found within the mixture of variables that transform attendees throughout the course of the weekend: the eclectic lineup, the commitment to culture, the natural beauty, and the overwhelming sense of belonging.

The Lineup

Suwannee Hulaween
Big Gigantic’s Jeremy Salken performs during Hulaween 2014. Photo by Chris Monaghan.

Where else can you find multiple nights of The String Cheese Incident each and every year? Very few places, if any, is the correct answer. Both Electric forest and Suwannee Hulaween bridge the gap between electronic and organic music through their deep commitment to both bands and electronic artists alike.

Where others have failed, how is it that Hulaween succeeds in marrying more traditional acts with electronic music? Says Hulaween Co-Founder Michael Berg:

We specifically program things to give people the option between an electronic and more instrument-driven act. Also, acts like ODESZA and Pretty Lights, who are more of the electronic headliners this year, are still very musical and less “EDM” than some more clubby options. Acts like GRiZ and The Floozies are equal parts funk and electronic as well.

Whether you’re catching Cheese along with Bassnectar, ODESZA, Flume, Marco Benevento, and more at E-Forest or Cheese alongside Pretty Lights, Primus, ODESZA, The Floozies, and everyone else under the sun at Hulaween, the lineups bear a striking resemblance in terms of the music and atmosphere created at each yearly gathering.

Hulaween Lineup 2015
Suwannee Hulaween’s 2015 lineup boasts big names including Pretty Lights, STS9, Odesza, and GRiZ.

The Commitment to Culture

Hulaween Electric Forest
Totems fly amidst the Spanish Moss at Suwanee’s amphitheater stage. Photo – Suwannee Hulaween – Facebook.

The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park plays host to some of the most community-centric events to be found in the music community. There’s something in the grounds, the trees, and the river that gives rise to that indescribable connectedness that we all know and love from our favorite festivals.

As each year progresses, it’s easy to see the intense commitment to the culture surrounding Suwannee Hulaween and Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. Whether that’s regarding the music, art installations, workshops, or other ancillary components of the event, the Suwannee culture only continues to grow with each passing year.

The Natural Beauty

How Suwannee Hulaween is Becoming the Electric Forest of the South
The Suwannee forest comes alive at night. Photo – Suwannee Hulaween/Josh Timmermans.

Both Hulaween and Electric Forest are held on some of the more breathtaking grounds that you’ll find for any music gathering. Ranging from the forested concert grounds to the Suwannee River and Electric Forest’s on-site lake, the vibe feels similar when canvassing either festival’s site.

With an undeniable natural beauty and plenty of shade to kick back under and recount the sets from the night before, prepare to immerse yourself in the forested wonderland that is the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park.

The Sense of Belonging

Why Hulaween is Quickly Becoming Electric Forest
Find your festie-family at Suwannee Hulaween. Photo – Suwannee Hulaween – Facebook.

Both festivals exhibit an inclusive culture and sense of belonging that few other events can match. Returning to the culture that’s exemplified at each event, you’re never lost at Electric Forest or Hulaween; You’re just waiting to run into your new friends.

For some, SoSMP is an oasis; for others it’s home.

You’ll never be excluded for letting your true colors out, and each festival holds a deep commitment to making you feel completely at home during your time out in the woods.

Hulaween 2015 Preview
The jellyfish dome at Spirit Lake – Photo by Chris Monaghan.

Regardless of perception, anyone who traverses the gravel road past the ticket office and general store start to immediately realize the life changing experience in which they have become immersed. Suwannee Hulaween has blossomed into a must-attend event for anyone craving a music festival experience that will not soon be forgotten.

Entering its third year, Hulaween continues to flourish – a testament to the vision of event curators and park staff.

Speaking to the future of Hulaween,  Berg continues:

We want to do this every year and keep growing it as the premier Halloween event for our scene, year in and year out – period. We want this to be a thing and feel like we just got to the point this year where it’s on the map […] People are paying attention to what’s happening with us at the park and the event. We promise to give them what they deserve for taking the chance on checking out for the first time, or for those returning for the first or second time.

One thing remains certain – once you experience the annual Halloween celebration at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, it will become an annual endeavor.

There is an undeniable sense of spiritual freedom that few festivals are able to cultivate, but Hulaween is certainly one.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the official Hulaween website by clicking here.

Check out what goes in to the production behind Suwannee Hulaween.

Watch the Suwannee Hulaween 2014 recap video below.

Watch the Suwannee Hulaween 2013 recap video below.

14 Responses to "How Suwannee Hulaween is Quickly Becoming the Electric Forest of the South"
  1. Great article, ive been calling hulaween forest 2.0 since I found out about it right after forest. Seems to draw a much smaller crowd though, which should make the event much more enjoyable imo.

  2. Thanks Matt! The similarities between the two events are undeniable. The smaller crowd of Hulaween definitely makes it much more intimate and family oriented.

  3. Too bad this is most likely the last Hulaween. I was told they signed a 3yr deal and will not be holding it again after this year. It is one of, if not the, best festival I have ever been to. What SCI does to the park in terms of lights, art installations, and performances is simply amazing. I will be back for round 3 in a couple months!

  4. Hard to turn down a renewal if cash flow continues to increase. Let’s just enjoy the moment 🙂

  5. Electric forest is an EDM festival… Its outrageous to compare hulaween to an EDM festival. You do realize there’s actual bands that play there, right? Not just some spun out hipster hitting keys on his macbook pro ( I’m talking about you Lorin and Derek Vincent Smith).

    So no, hulaween is NOT the electric forest of the south, the promoters and fans of the venue disagree because hulaween is not drug culture festival like EF. You would be more politically correct is this article was written about tomorrow world or counterpoint.

    Keep your MDMA, shitty garage band dub step, research chemicals, and nasty busted up hoes wearing furry boots at home..

    Let’s just hope Derek of pretty lights hits rock bottom and checks himself into rehab so that the whole shitty PLF crowd stays home.

  6. You do realize Electric Forest and Hulaween both have the same exact roots, right? They were both the brain child of SCI.

    Also, how about The Motet, Macy Gray, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Lindsey Stirling, Yonder Mountain String Band, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Russ Liquid, and The Werks Just a FEW of the ‘actual bands’ that performed at Electric Forest this past year.

    Furthermore, if you knew any thing about the production process of Derek and Lorin you would realize how off base your comments are so I’m not even going to elaborate on your ignorance there (not to mention Lorin has been sober for a while, so not sure how you justify the ‘spun out hipster’ comment).

    For as much as this article covers, it doesn’t even begin to encompass the totality of similarities between the two events. Having been to both (among dozens of music festivals), I have never seen two events with such striking parallels.

    Amazing how someone can attempt to take something so positive and inject so much negativity into it.

    I hope you find peace and are able to rid yourself of that deep-seeded anger.

  7. Oh, did I strike a nerve? Did I insult the infallible and great Lorin of bassnectar? I am so sorry. Please, elaborate on the extensive process of opening garage band and screwing around until you have a dope ass bass drop that drops panties of his underage fan base. It must be even more difficult after Derek toots a few 30mg hydrocones. But hey man, all the greats love opiates, right?

    Dammit, I got off track there. But anyways, anyone who went to electric forest back in the day is very aware of the transformation its gone through. By transformation I mean kids like you became aware of it.

    So keep defending these button pushers, Perry, and I will continue to keep selling kids like you bunk drugs, and raiding your campsites of any valuables while you ride Lorins balls front stage.

  8. No nerves have been struck. Just wanted to share some objective facts.

    If you are truly interested in learning more about Lorin’s talent as a producer and overall musical prowess, there are some extensive resources which will shed some light. I’ve included one below:

    https://thatdrop.com/the-science-behind-bassnectar/

    But I digress…

    Your hypocrisy is truly baffling. First you spew the presumptuous, generalized proclamation telling “us” to “keep your MDMA” and “research chemicals” at home, then allude that you will be one of the people selling “bunk drugs” and “raiding campsites.”

    I have compassion for your apparent conflict and anger and hope that you are not really out there putting people at risk. If so, the universe has a funny way of coming back around.

    Nonetheless, thanks for the page views 🙂

  9. You realize you’re on THATDROP.COM right? I am a massive fan of both edm and jam but and I really don’t appreciate you making jam fans look like music elitist assholes. Open your eyes to different experiences and hopefully one day you won’t be such a negative hateful person.

    This was a fantastic article and I can not wait to return to Suwannee in two short months!

  10. David, Electric Forest has certainly become EDM-centric, but as someone who’s gone 5 of the past 6 years and doesn’t really give a hoot about EDM, it’s definitely NOT an EDM festival. Check the lineup year after year and you’ll see plenty of bands on the bill. Just FYI.

  11. Perry, just read your bio… O-H!!! Got excited when I read the “via Columbus, Ohio” and “THE Ohio State University”. I live on South Campus myself and am an annual Electric Forest attendee. We have a pretty amazing scene going on up here with all the bands and local festivals in and around Ohio. Anyway the only reason I’m missing Hulaween is because I’ll be in Denver for Lotus. 🙂 Go Bucks!

  12. Perfect response to an obvious troll. His hypocrisy is as concerning as it is baffling. I can only hope his hatred and malevolence is as obvious IRL as it is online so I can clearly avoid him at Hulaween and other Jam+Electro flavored events in the South.