About This Festival
Into the Wild
Not to be confused with Canada's Shambhala, the UK's Shambala's slogan is "Adventures in utopia." With a mission statement like that, it doesn’t take a psychic to predict what kind of experience you’re in for. Your first sight of the lines going into the Northamptonshire-based festival confirms all suspicions, as a kaleidoscope of color bursts onto your retinas, penetrating your optic nerve and sending your brain into a regressive space – you know, that place where your fun neurons live.
Yep, Shambala is a four-day trip into the wild, where around 7,000 people take advantage of a space where self-expression and uninhibited joviality are encouraged to the fullest. The organizers aim to epitomize all that is positive about festival culture by promoting unity, creativity, inclusivity and accessibility to all ages, races and genders. Because of this, there’s a strong hippie element, lots of theatrics, acrobatics and performance, as well as art installations and bold production everywhere you look. The festival site itself is located in the beautiful British countryside, surrounded by woodland, with a small lake and lots of greenery for a back-to-nature vibe.
Green Site, Green Minds
Shambala’s team prides itself on an eco-conscious ethos, in keeping with the event’s focus on awareness and sustainability. Not only does the festival promote recycling amongst attendees, it gives out trash bags on entry for a deposit, which is refunded at the end if the bags are returned full. Shambala has reduced its onsite carbon footprint by 81% and now claims to be 100% renewably powered – an amazing feat. On top of this, they recycle over a ton of food waste each year, and have an overall recycling rate of 75%. All festival-goers are asked to bring their own reusable water bottles as part of Shambala’s "Bring a bottle" campaign, which aims to eradicate all sales of bottled drinks. In 2016 it became meat and fish free, bolstering its environmentally sound campaign even further.
Families are more than welcome here, and plenty of kids can be seen charging around in brightly colored Wellington boots, with faces covered in amazing paint designs. The festival site isn't overwhelmingly big so you can trot around with the little ones without too much effort. However, a daycare zone is on hand to provide entertainment to youngsters, should parents wish to meander around the various stages without them. For some chill time alone there are hot tubs, a sauna and a Moroccan lounge. You can even grab yourself a romantic meal at one of the many restaurants serving up delicious, organic treats.
The Art of It All
Have a look around the Nomadic Art Space built by Durham-based startup Cooper Studios, which specializes in fine art and design. Sit and admire the handiwork of a range of artists and performers at the numerous areas around the site; beatboxing, puppet shows and ventriloquists, storytelling, and the incredible Umbrella Project were some of the acts on offer in 2015.
Shambala also runs permaculture workshops, music and singing classes, hosts healers and therapists, and gives poets and creatives the chance to perform on a variety of stages. It also boasts world-class cabaret acts and stand-up comedians.
On the fancy dress tip, there is also a huge parade over the weekend, with prizes for the best outfits. As you can imagine, this brings out the very best in people’s imaginations and you’ll encounter some of the most bizarre, hilarious and inventive costumes you’re ever likely to see in one sitting.
What About the Tunes?
Music-wise, catch an array of bands and musicians from all genres, from folk to drum-and-bass, and everything in between. Shambala becomes one big party at night, with everyone dressed up according to various themes and the psychedelic side of the event really coming to the fore.
The 200+ performers include a ridiculously eclectic yet accessible bunch of performers, from rappers like Akala, to Afrikan Boy, Eska, Electric Swing Circus, Jungle Brothers, Nubian Twist, Om Unit, Roni Size, and Shlomo to name but a few in a sea of many.