About This Festival
Peace, Tech House, and Fire Spinning
Set in the hinterlands of Alberta, under an enormous sky amid white spruce and poplar trees, with hardly a town in sight, Astral Harvest is way off the beaten path. And that's the charm for some 2,000 fans who journey here: a remote, unplugged backdrop for the festival's feel-good hybrid of EDM rave and trippy workshops.
Fans arrive in long, flowy skirts and peace sign t-shirts. Some dressed as aliens, while others don faux fur trapper hats and superhero costumes. Many carry glowing hula-hoops that light up the night (though it should be noted that "night" occurs for a few hours only when you're this far north). Well-known DJs spin their magic each evening, from tech house to drum-and-bass, nu-disco, glitch hop and psychedelic swamp hop. A handful of folkie guitar strummers also blend into the lineup.
Performance art is another big facet of the program. Fire spinners twirl flames, bellydancers shimmy their hips, and hoop ninjas get badass with rings on the stages in between music makers. It's all part of Astral's mission to celebrate "music, art, knowledge, community and the human experience." The fest is more laid-back than most of its kind; alcohol is not sold onsite.
Yoga and Other Daytime Activities
So DJs and groovy performance art...there's your nighttime schedule. But what to do by day? Well, if you ever wanted to hang upside down dangling from a silk scarf, Astral Harvest provides the chance. Aerial arts classes are a big to-do. So are the following activities, which jam-pack the fest's daytime agenda:
- Yoga classes: Tantric, laughter, kundalini...name the yoga style, and Astral likely has a class contorting in it.
- Movement workshops: Instructors teach Astral-ites how to juggle, hip-hop dance, hula-hoop and more.
- Art workshops: Learn to carve wood, draw mandalas, design clothing, write a journal or paint abstract images.
- 'Harvard' conferences: Sit in on a lecture about midwifery for the soul, or a shamanic exploration of death. Too esoteric? Try one on how to make money doing what you love, or how to turn plastic into fuel.
Fest-goers take these activities just as seriously as the EDM shows, so you'll have plenty of company while in class. What's more, it's a welcoming, Canadian-polite crowd that partakes, so you won't feel awkward if your cobra pose or intuitive painting lacks skill.
The Grounds and Set-Up
The grounds are relatively compact, so it's an easy walk from the parking area and campground to where the action is. Four stages dominate the scene: Interstellevator (the main venue, where popular international and Canadian DJs play), Wakah Chan (the second-largest stage, where the edgiest acts perform and the party rocks into the wee hours), Angelica's Basket (a small, chill indoor space) and the Market Stage (surrounded by food and craft vendors). The marketplace by the latter is Astral's social hub. Meals for sale range from pad thai to burgers, falafel, poutine and buckwheat waffles, while crafts on offer include yak-wool shawls, crystal balls, wizard capes and digitally printed leggings.
The campgrounds lay a short distance beyond. They're equipped with free water and wood for the fire pits, as well as hot, coin-operated showers. Alas, Astral's grounds offer limited cell service, so that Instagram of your cool mandala and rad hula-hooping will have to wait until later.
Astral welcomes children. The fest has a family-friendly camping area, a playground, and extensive children's programming that includes crafts, circus games, puppet shows, kids' yoga and more. The fest is free for children age 12 and under.