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.
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.
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.
The Commitment to Culture
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
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
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.
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.