Shambhala’s 20 Anniversary was the first Canadian music festival to sell out in 24 hours… and there’s a reason for it. Shambhala’s allure begins at its roots. The traditional Tibetan definition of Shambhala describes it as a legendary kingdom in the Himalayas, “this was a place of peace and prosperity, governed by wise and compassionate rulers. The citizens were equally kind and learned, so that, in general, the kingdom was a model society,” Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
Akin to its mystic origins, Shambhala is nestled within the Kootenay Mountains and indeed honors many of the legendary qualities. The path to Shambhala is difficult, which makes the reward all the better. For many the arduous journey takes 1 day of driving, a long flight or involves frustrating border crossings. Yet once the inhalations of dust begin, the feeling of ‘at last’ emerges. You are home.
Home is everything out of your imagination and more. It offers six unique music stages, a bio dome with educational lectures, yoga classes, healthy (albeit expensive) food options, live art, a thriving market and a river that will cleanse you of your sins with its exhilarating temperature. Welcome.
One must note the humble attitude of the organizers. This festival is sponsor free and limits its’ advertising to something that in our day and age is a breath of antiquity …word of mouth. Unlike massive, corporate run festivals, this festival didn’t try and become amazing but grew to be by organic measures. In conjunction with a no-alcohol policy, the atmosphere blossoms into one of acceptance and kindness. The smiles are endless and the helping hands plenty. If you lose something of importance, you can guarantee someone will find a way to return it to you.
The mornings are for rest, with only two hours of quiet from the famous PK Sound Systems and limited shade before the Sun’s rays beam down. The music starts up again at 11am at the Living Room stage strategically located at the river, which hosts DJs with a chill vibe. The Salmo River is where it’s at during the day. Good luck finding a relaxing spot…it can get a little crowded with energetic revelers, however if you meander off the path there are lovely pools to bathe in and secluded banks to bask on. As the golden rays of sunset descend on the community, a walk through the woods to camp is necessary to fuel up and prepare for the evening’s revelry. Through the maze you’ll find a plethora of art installations, love letters, crafting tables, live painters, hammocks, tree houses and games to explore. The wonder never ends.
At campsite, your neighbors will greet you by sharing tales of their days’ adventures, offering you altered state enhancers, kombucha and trail mix. There’s no fence to communicate over here. As you indulge in the goodies of your choice, the energy of the people picks up, crackling like electrons before a storm. The excitement progresses and it’s time.
You and a friend, who you will most likely lose by the end of the night, hurry out into the pulsing world of lasers and music. Each stage will entice you with wonderful shows.
You might be thinking, this is a slightly different than the Tibetan description. And it is. We must prove year after year that we can showcase ourselves as a model society.
Let the celebration begin.