Having only ever been to Glastonbury, I decided to take the leap and try something different. ‘You shouldn’t start with Glastonbury as your first festival, as everything else will pale in comparison.’ But I’d heard good things about this Shambala Festival though, so I thought I’d give it a go.
Set in a secret location in Northamptonshire, the first thing I noticed about the Shambala Festival was its size. There is only about 7,000 people that attend the festival and it’s spread over just a few large fields.
Despite its size, there was still 12 lives stages, plus its smaller size wasn’t a downfall. In fact it was lovely to be able to nip back to the tent to get extra alcohol and it not take about an hour to get there and back (throwback to Glasto!).
Shambala refer to itself as being a ‘special place where you play, revitalise, make lots of new friends and return to the world fuelled-up on the beauty of being alive.’ And I couldn’t agree more!
You can’t help but feel like you’re a million miles away from home life (even if it is just a couple of hours down the road). Everywhere you go there is something unique and quirky to explore. For example, I would never have realised that at 9pm on a Saturday in a field in Northamptonshire, I would end up reenacting my own conception from ejaculation (we dressed as a sperm), to developing in the womb to being born. Yes, Shambala really is that crazy. See the photo below if you don’t believe me.
The music at the festival is just as crazy. I loved it. Jam packed full of incredible jazz and swing acts I’d never danced so much in my life. If you’re a fan of this music, I can’t recommend this festival enough. It’s is also an instagrammers dream, as you can see.
Another fantastic element of this festival was the people. I’ve never seen so many cool outfits in my entire life and it was entertainment in itself just wandering and admiring people’s costume efforts. There was definitely the unspoken principle of ‘the weirder the better’ here. There is something so liberating to see people express themselves so freely in the way they dress. I also loved rocking the flares. The 70s is definately the era I’d go back to if I could.
I also attempted some life drawing at the festival, which was accompanied by a talk on the respiratory system. I gave up half way through though as my drawing ability stopped aged nine. My attempt was getting embarrassing in comparison to my friend, an A-level artist and drawing pro.
We spent quite a bit of time sat in these little pods. They were near the family area though so we found ourselves having numerous conversations with some hyperactive children at random times which was a unique experience in itself.
There was a real sense of community and despite being a small festival there was a wide variety of performers, workshops, craft events, talks and theatrical acts! Shambala Festival was also both meat and fish free which I think is fantastic, alongside this festival goers are encouraged to fill their recycling and rubbish bins and get £10 back from their tickets. Having seen first hand the mess left over after not just festivals, but live events and concerts, it was incredibly refreshing to be packing up the tent not being surrounded by rubbish!
I only have one regret with Shambala Festival and that is that I didn’t bring enough layers. Despite being in August, the weather was unseasonably cold and it rained non stop for a whole day. Therefore I ended up spending the majority of the festival in the same hoodie and jacket. Not ideal. But aside from that, I couldn’t recommend the experience enough!