Shambala Festival draws ever closer
With festival season already well underway, and August rapidly approaching from the fits and starts of sunshine which we reluctantly call the British summer, Shambala draws ever closer. Often referred to as the festivalgoers’ festival, Shambala offers a truly special kind of experience. Rather than compiling a list of the latest trendsetters in the increasingly nebulous niche music scenes, attracting the big household names or cosying up to the high profile corporate sponsors, this is an event which approaches the British festival in its own unique and inimitable way, never losing sight of the position of the festival as a vision for a different world.
Shambala is one of those rare kinds of event that even those possessing the most highly tuned descriptive literary talent would have trouble capturing. Family friendly, and yet wild and naughty, it travels a rarely trodden path between music festival and utopia. The event does take its name from a mystical kingdom hidden amidst the depths of the Tibetan Himalayas after all! The site is always meticulously constructed to make each stage and space more magical than the last, and to bring explores young and old to something new around every corner.
With enchanted woods, healing meadows, oasis-like springs and even a Tardis, wanders will never fail to be entertained. But one of the most bountiful sources of carinvalesque atmosphere to be found comes from the crowds themselves. With fancy dress practically a guiding principle of the festival every way you turn there is a further source of wonder as you are confronted with costumes that have received endless amounts of loving care and attention. And to top it off, the semi-legendary Shambala parade on the final day of the festival will put the creative talents and beautiful attitudes of all attendants on display and offer an open invitation for all to get involved.
Shambala manages to not lose sight of the origin of the festival as an alternative vision of society, as a place where we can cast aside the baggage we carry with us in our day-to-day lives, and engage with one another on a level that would be deplored as crazy amidst the cold metropolises and town in which so many of us now live. This festival manages to break down the barrier between performer and audience to the extent that some of the most miraculous displays of creativity and expression come not from those who are paid to be on stage, but from the crowd itself.
But of course there are still great and diverse acts to be seen. Femi Kuti, son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, will bring the lively blend of jazz, funk and traditional Nigerian rhythms to the stage, whilst Drum and Bass legend Andy C will bring his wobbly bass lines to the dance arena alongside acid house veteran A Guy Called Gerald. But in fitting with the rest of the festival, some of the most exciting acts will be those lesser-known, innovative performers gracing the stages of arenas such as Chai Wallahs.
The unique and beautiful atmosphere that Shambala provides will enchant Shambaholics and first timers alike. Alas, tickets have sold out in record time this year, meaning it is set to be a Shambala of epic proportions, but if there is any magical means by which you might be able to wrangle a ticket, you will not regret it. You can find out more here.
Words by Toby Austin Locke. For photo credits click the pictures.