About This Festival
A Family Affair
Rick and Sue Bundschuh moved their family to the rugged Kootenay region to set up a cattle ranch and lumber milling operation in the mid-90s. It was their kids who created the first Shambhala Festival in 1998 with two stages and 500 people attending. Now there are six stages and more than 10,000 attendees but there’s still no corporate sponsorship. The family says, “Our attendees are our sponsors.” It helps to own the land where you’re throwing a festival and it shows in the investment in infrastructure and the care with which this festival is curated. With more than 2,000 volunteers assisting (known as “Shambassadors”), this truly is an extended family affair and an EDM festival in which you’re likely to find zero attitude. Plus, there’s no booze on-site which keeps the vibe mellow. When not hosting the festival, the ranch is a working farm with cows, horses, pigs, chickens, and miniature donkeys.
Shambhala is More than Music
Some EDM festivals are relentless. It’s all about the bass and the music. Shambhala Music Festival offers a much more expansive collection of choices, not just on their six stages, but with respect to the whole experience. There are art installations and painted murals, yoga platforms and meditation nooks, craft workshops, and ethical and fair trade vendors. There’s even an organic garden in the middle of the grounds. This is an EDM festival for those who want to get back to nature. The music choices are beyond just electronic, as you’re likely to find hip-hop acts and beatbox artists.
The Shambhala Music Festival has many shows within a show. The most popular stage is probably Fractal Forest, a name which has even been trademarked by Shambhala. DJs play in the heart of the forest out of burnt-out, old growth cedar tree stumps while surrounded on all sides by fire-breathers, hula-dancers, fairies, furries, and various creatures of the night. Pyramids and flowers abound in the enchanted woodland, as well as lots of mushrooms (don’t eat them). The Pagoda is another popular place as it’s the main stage and is part-temple, part-spaceship, all-fun. The the Grove stage and the Village stage – which is where Excision and Datsik play every year because they consider it to have made their careers – are also worth exploring.
Each of the six stages is managed by a different group of people which means there’s some internal competition for which group books the best acts, creates the most positive energy, and the audience receives the benefit of this exercise in music programming competition. This is a feel-good festival for laid back Canadians and people who love the unlikely mix of EDM in the woods.