MAGAZINE

The 12 International Festivals Creating the Epic Eclipse Gathering in Oregon

Photo by: Eric Allen Photo
by Laura Mason | @masonlazarus Fri August 11, 2017 | 11:00 AM

The first total solar eclipse visible from the United States since 1979 is next week. The festival community has been abuzz with the news ever since the Global Eclipse Gathering was first announced in August 2015.

The Global Eclipse Gathering is a once-in-a-festival-lifetime event that'll see 12 festivals from all around the world join forces to celebrate this important celestial phenomenon as one. Total solar eclipses occur when the dark silhouette of the Moon completely obscures the intensely bright light of the Sun, allowing the much fainter solar corona to be visible. Total solar eclipses are rare at any particular location because totality exists only along a narrow path on the Earth's surface traced by the Moon's shadow.

Different cultures view the significance of solar eclipses in myriad ways. According to National Geographic, Vikings saw a pair of sky wolves chasing the sun or the moon. When one of the wolves caught either of the shining orbs, an eclipse would result. In Vietnam, a frog or a toad eats the moon or the sun, while people of the Kwakiutl tribe on Canada's west coast believe that the mouth of heaven consumes the sun or the moon during an eclipse. The Batammaliba people, in Togo and Benin in Africa, have posited that the sun and the moon are fighting during an eclipse, and the people must "encourage the sun and the moon to stop fighting." This myth, which has held to this day, asserts that eclipses are a time of coming together and resolving old feuds and anger. No matter the origin of the lore, eclipses have historically been viewed as either a time of terror, or a part of the natural order that deserves respect, or as a time of reflection and reconciliation.

Needless to say, the vibes at this epic collaboration of festivals are going to be strong one way or another. Or maybe in every which way possible. To get acquainted with the festivals curating those vibes, read on.

Symbiosis Gathering

Symbiosis Gathering 2016 Galen Oakes   81 Of 96

Photo by: Galen Oakes

Place of Origin: Oakdale, California, USA

Eclipse Gathering host festival Symbiosis Gathering is a haven for radical exuberance, unfettered creativity, youthfulness and families, and just plain weirdness. There are no sponsorships, for-profit commerce, or brands in sight, which means attendees can take a rare break from capitalism. Instead, there's an alternative marketplace where sharing, cooperation, and collaboration are key and people of all stripes feel welcome.

Symbiosis features musical genres veering away from mainstream EDM, instead favoring more experimental, alternative acts for an even quirkier, entertaining time. However, in addition to the music, there are many workshops, art projects, lectures, yoga classes, and alternative performances and immersive experiences. This array of offerings and its scale of production has planted it firmly as a beloved send-off to the annual summer festival season for many on the West Coast.

Bass Coast

Bass Coast 2016 Patrick Latter 1

Place of Origin: Merritt, British Columbia, Canada

Since 2008, Bass Coast’s mission has been “to contribute to the West Coast arts community, by building a festival with international recognition.” Taking place along the banks of the Cold Water River in the Nicola Valley, the four-day camping event aims to stay small and local, and it doesn't have any corporate sponsorship. Cocooned by the Cascade Mountains, Bass Coast serves as both a refuge from contemporary society, as well as a new manifestation of it.

Of course, Bass Coast’s preferred electronica lean also helps to create an immersive experience in and of itself. The thudding, thundering bass lines boom in these natural environs, creating a wall of sound that’s extra insular within the technologically enhanced spaces.

Bass Coast is a positively sex-positive place that champions being yourself, no matter what your sexual orientation is. All festival goers are considered "Babes" in the friendly confines of this festival. Bass Coast's Paul Brooks told Fest300 that "Bass Coast is for everyone. We invite everyone to come on site and get in touch with their inner babe." In effect, this is not a dance party strictly for the fit and sexy. Come as you are and you'll feel like a babe.

Beloved Festival

Beloved 2015 Crowd

Photo by: Beloved Festival

Place of Origin: Tidewater, Oregon, USA

Intoxicating coastal air, intricate sculptures, awe-inspiring temples and structures and a small lake set the scene at Beloved Festival, a four-day camping event taking place in Tidewater Falls on Oregon’s central coast. Since its beginning in 2007, the philosophy that carries the gathering forward remains rooted in a deep respect for life and spirit. The "sacred music" at Beloved Festival is something to behold, and showcases a curated progression of sounds and vibes throughout each of the four days. Ancient sounds played on obscure cultural instruments move seamlessly into futuristic bass music by nightfall.

A quality that truly sets Beloved Festival apart from all others is its singular stage. Why have only one stage? “We wish to treat the main stage as a mandala,” says Beloved’s website, “[to concentrate and hold] the energy of the festival throughout its duration, rather than dispersing the attention in too many directions. This allows for the carefully chosen sequence of artists to tell a continuous story of the Inner Journey, to perform an Alchemy of the Heart.”

Envision Festival

Envision Festival 2016 Eric Allen 2   01

Photo by: Eric Allen Photo

Place of Origin: San José, Costa Rica

The idea behind Envision is to create a space where cultures can be shared – specifically those of North, South and Central America – in a communal, sustainable environment that seeks to elevate all of those who inhabit it. Envision began in 2011 and has settled at Rancho La Merced, the National Wildlife Refuge encompassing lush jungles and gorgeous beaches. It's a space where people want to unplug and feel good; the festival’s slogan is "Viva la experiencia" (live the experience). Envision isn’t just about music—there’s equal space devoted to activities such as yoga and sacred movement (drumming, kirtan, etc.), healing modalities, permacultures, community action days, art, and plant healing.

Hadra

Place of Origin: Vieure, France

According to the Oregon Eclipse Gathering website: "In Arabic, the term 'hadra' actually refers to a collective trance practiced during the ceremonies of religious brotherhoods in Morocco. The tempo of the hadra starts off slowly, majestically, then it gradually incorporates faster and faster, mesmerizing rhythmic movements before reaching its apotheosis in a kind of ecstatic release…”

Hadra is a non-profit French organization, based in the Alps, that celebrated its 15th anniversary in September 2016 with the occasion of the ninth edition of its international psytrance festival in Vieure, France. During the last 15 years, Hadra has developed different activities, including a record label with 30 live acts and DJ sets, with artists from all over the world, a training center focused on electronic music techniques, event production and a festival that has become the main psytrance event in France and one of the mainstays of psy-culture in Europe. Above all, the Hadra Trance Festival is a multi-disciplinary event that hosts over 120 concerts and dance performances, street art, scenographic creations, as well as a large number of digital installations and art exhibitions.

Noisily Festival

Noisily 2016   Pierre Ekman 7

Photo by: Pierre Ekman

Place of Origin: Leicester, United Kingdom

Set miles from the urban sprawl, deep in the rural heartland of the UK, Noisily lives up to its name as the loudest of all great British festivals. Here, drum-and-bass, techno, house, electro, glitch, breaks and progressive dance music form this raw, back-to-nature rave, where a diverse, potent mix of candy ravers, house gangsters, and progressive freaks rub shoulders in the spirit of one united love: noise. Loud, unabashed noise from the creme de la creme of the UK's underground electronic scene. And it won't be any different when it comes to the Eclipse Gathering.

Aside from all the music, Noisily also brings a veritable feast of performance art, installations, digital creations and much more. Lately, there's been even more of a tone-down on Noisily's rave vibe, and more of a shift towards an emphasis on wellness, sustainability and art, in order to add a more varied, immersive experience for attendees.

Festival Ometeotl

Place of Origin: Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico

Ometeotl is both a god and goddess in Aztec culture, which is reflected throughout this Mexican festival thanks to its gorgeous interweaving of indigenous cultures, from the Huichol people and more, with modern festival culture as one. Everyone is invited to vibe together as a community to the sounds of top-notch trance, trance, chill out, ambient, techno, and ethnic music by artists all around the world. Since 2009, Ometeotl has showcased not just music, but other forms of expression, such as visionary art, dancers, skilled performers, healers and shamans from not only indigenous Mexican culture but from all over the world.

In the words of the organizers: “Our events seek to unify different social circles, tribes and cultures, besides giving a message of harmony to all attendees, contributing to a better relationship with ourselves and with our fellow men, and with nature and everything around us in order to achieve a better human evolution. For this purpose, we want to co-create an artistic, ecological and cultural heritage movement, which contributes to the expansion of our collective consciousness. The Ometeotl Festival seeks unity among all attendees and manages to fuse the ancient traditions and customs, culture and contemporary art, thus forging an identity and shaping our vision.”

Origin Festival

Place of Origin: Cape Town, South Africa

Origin Festival is South Africa’s favorite psychedelic weekend of music, visionary art and community. This intimate festival is set in a breathtaking venue, full of natural beauty, mountain views, forest camping, and fresh river pools to swim in. Only the best in Psytrance, Techno, and Down-beat is supplied by top international and local acts and DJs. Aside from basking in the event's gorgeous environs, body-shaking tunes, and postitive vibes, attendees can shop at the craft and clothing market, browse through the art gallery and tea lounge, or fuel up at the food stalls and bars.

Rainbow Serpent Festival

Rainbow Serpent Festival 2016 Francesco Vicenzi   32

Place of Origin: Lexton, Victoria, Australia

The Rainbow Serpent Festival has come a long way since it started in 1998, from a small gathering in a secluded clearing to an internationally recognized festival. The festival has become an institution to many of its loyal followers, because it offers much more than the usual lineup of electronic music. It is a chance to truly escape the commercialism of the modern day world and reconnect with the earth in a way that humans have done for many thousands of years.

While not purely traditional in focus, the festival shares many of the spiritual aspects of the country's native roots through a combination of music, art, performance, spiritual education, relaxation and healing. The festival name itself – the Rainbow Serpent – is an extremely important creation figure in aboriginal beliefs and mythology, with the serpent having said to shape the landscape of the earth.

Re:Birth

Place of Origin: Chiba, Japan

From Oregon Eclipse Gathering's website: Born in 2013 with the goal of stimulating the Japanese Party Scene after the decline caused by the 2011 Japanese Earthquake, Re:birth Festival is focused on creating an environment where people from different backgrounds can come together and lose themselves in a world full of music and art, free of the stresses of daily life, and create new relationships that will positively impact their lives and the lives of those around them.

Asserting that great music exists within all musical styles, Re:birth showcases multiple genres of underground music spanning many genres including Techno/House, Psytrance, Bass Music, Live Bands and more. Its musical diversity as well as a focus on art, decor, visuals and lighting, combined with amazing vibes and the special Japanese party spirit makes Re:birth quite unlike any other festival in the world. Plus, it takes place in an abandoned quarry. This will be an incredible way for American festies to experience the festival culture of a far-flung country like Japan while in their own backyard.

Sonic Bloom

Sonic Bloom 2016 Eric Allen Photo 24

Photo by: Eric Allen Photo

Place of Origin: Rye, Colorado, USA

Sonic Bloom’s tagline is “the unified field,” a reference to its founders’ belief in the Unified Field Theory, which holds that every aspect of the universe is profoundly interconnected, and that separation between people and things is merely an illusion. From the festival’s website: “We have the ability to create a resonant field in which to unify all forms of human creative expression.”

More than just music, this is an event with all sorts of activities to keep people entertained and stimulated. In addition to the live sets featuring every possible variety of electronic music, there’s also an array of performance art to take in—everything from live painting to juggling, slack-lining to yoga classes. But if we’re being real, music is the real draw, and music is what moves the crowd here. Sonic Bloom’s lineup focuses on what its founders call “heart-centered music”—so, not just dubstep.

Universo Paralello

Universo Parallelo 2016 Rizza Bomfim   41

Photo by: Rizza Bomfim

Place of Origin: Ituberá, Brazil

If there's any festival in this mix that's a veteran of celebrating momentous occasions, it's Universo Paralello. Universo Paralello translates to “parallel universe” in Portuguese. It’s the best, most concise way to describe the feeling of this utopian Brazilian music and arts festival that takes a New Year’s Eve celebration and stretches it into a 10-day psychedelic, trance music affair. Any festival this full of nonstop music certainly knows how to throw a hell of a party.

In terms of live performances, DJs and artists come from all over the world to revel in what the fest itself calls its annual celebration of “music, history, union and psychedelics.” Much of Latin America is represented, with artists from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Mexico, with other DJs and acts traveling from Europe and as far away as South Africa and Australia, to play trance and its many forms for attendees.

As for the attendees, Universo Paralello’s self-dubbed “Planetary Citizens” help transform the festival into an alternative reality where dancing is sacred and community reigns supreme. In fact, there’s even a list of 10 Commandments that ranges from basic ground rules like throwing away trash and recycling when possible, and not starting fires on the property, to humanistic ideals like respecting diversity of other fest-goers and taking care of one’s body.

The Oregon Eclipse Gathering takes place in Big Summit Prairie in the Ochoco National Forest from August 17-23, 2017. Super early bird tickets to the Oregon Eclipse Gathering go on sale January 30. If you want to snag a special price on this unique festival experience, click here!