About This Festival
Remember that older kid who introduced you to Dungeons and Dragons and listened to Pink Floyd in his black-lit room? He grew up and created Electric Forest, a four-day woodland, dance fantasy-inspired festival held every June in the idyllic wilds of Rothbury, Michigan. America’s premiere multi-genre dance party for those in the know, Electric Forest pays homage to Alice in Wonderland and other hallucinatory tales, and owes its otherworldly vibe to its mystical location and intergalactic lineup. While you don’t have to be on drugs to have a good time, the surreal sights and sounds are enough to give you a contact high.
Frolic in the Forest
Rooted in the jam band and electronic music scene, this four-year-old fest packs the dance floors with happy feet. Similar to the UK-based All Tomorrow’s Parties, Electric Forest takes place at a fairly posh resort, the Double JJ, whose sprawling grounds offer an expansive experience. With a nearby lake—perfect for a quick dip—a water park and a golf course designed by Arthur Hills, your time in Rothbury could double as a legitimate summer vacation. Electric Forest raises the bar for destination music festivals in the 21st century.
Electric Forest is about the music as much as it is about the setting. The organizers curate a mind-melting array of world-famous DJs, electronic acts, and jam bands. Artists tend to thrive in the live setting, which features incredible orchestrated light shows, stage sets with mechanical blooming flowers and other surreal embellishments. Most sets are long, sweaty dance-a-thons that leave the audience clamoring for more. When it’s time to vacate, the grounds of the Double JJ never truly die down. This is owed in part to the “pulse” of the event, the Sherwood Forest.
Part art installation, part light show and part pure, unadulterated nature, the Sherwood Forest is a wooded chill zone in the day, bedecked with hammocks and art, and a living pulse of light by night. This is the enchanted forest realized. A walk amongst the trees reveals all manner of undiscovered magic, including surprise performances, interactive art displays and extravagant illuminated woodland parties. If you delight in adventure and discovery or serendipity, your excitement meter will be off the charts at Electric Forest.
Party Like a Rockstar
While tickets are priced fairly, Electric Forest offers another level for those who want to throw down the cash. The Good Life is where hippie culture takes a backseat, offering a pricey but plush VIP package in three configurations and price brackets. The Village offers air-conditioned restrooms, private food vendors and an early Wednesday arrival for those opting to camp. The Back 40 ups the ante with added amenities such as heated pools and a daily brunch. For those with money burning a hole in their wallets, The Frontier offers private rooms at the resort with your own kitchen, Wi-Fi and daily cleaning services.
The overall experience of Electric Forest is so immersive and well-curated that it wins top marks for ambience across the board. There’s a lot to be said for focus, and that’s where the Forest also wins; instead of being everything to everyone, the festival concentrates on creating an electronic enchanted forest and executes it well. The experience is memorable and without comparison in the US, with the closest equal being British Columbia’s Shambhala, benefiting as much from creativity and imagination as from a killer lineup. In this case, seeing is believing, and if you get lost in this forest, you might not want to be found.