We Are Farmily: How Shambhala Cultivated a Festival Where Love and Community Reign
Privately owned and operated since day one—with no corporate sponsorship—Canada's beloved Shambhala Music Festival is stronger than ever.
Tucked deep in the West Kootenay region of Southern British Columbia and hosted annually on the pristine, 500-acre Salmo River Ranch, Shambhala now has its 24th edition in the rearview. And for many, this event is so much more than a festival—it's a reunion of both blood and chosen family.
That's why most affectionately refer to Shambhala as a "farmily" reunion. Whether this was your 20th visit to the farm or your very first time, all are welcome here.
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Boasting six painstakingly curated stages and hosting attendees from across North America and beyond—as well as world-renowned tastemakers like Chase & Status, GRiZ, Excision, Justin Martin, Rusko and Wilkinson—the production level was top-notch. There's truly nothing like Shambhala.
What gives this festival an edge is the fact that there is no teardown. Year after year, the Shambhala team is able to build upon the farm's existing properties, therefore making improvements as time goes on. And with the very first edition clocking back to 1998, there's been ample time to figure out how to best utilize the space.
While fans could arrive as early as Tuesday, the official party kicked off Thursday afternoon. With only two stages open, The Amp and The Living Room, the first day is meant to ease you in. Mat The Alien, Hoola, Cannabliss, Fleetmac Wood and Longwalkshortdock provided standout performances.
As per tradition for the past decade, SkiiTour had a packed audience for their daytime set at The Amp on Thursday. Outfitted with bubble blasters, snow cone machines and stunning dancers courtesy of Cosmic Co-Motion, their sublime performance set the tone for the weekend ahead.
Friday was a scorcher, so many took to the river to stay cool. Luckily, the riverbed adjacent to the property is the perfect place to chill for the day, and it's even soundtracked by the audio from The Living Room, including music from Def3 and The Librarian.
The Fractal had a five-hour Westwood Recordings takeover on Friday night, featuring performances from K+Lab, Stickybuds, The Funk Hunters, Smalltown DJs and Rumpus. Another notable performance came courtesy of Burchill, who made his Fractal Forest debut this year. For a 4am slot, the forest was packed.
A selection of live sets from Shambhala 2023 are available for streaming on SoundCloud, including SOUP, Wes Please, Case of the Mondays, RUMPUS and Burchill, among others.
Another interesting thing to note about Shambhala is there's no re-entry, meaning once you arrive you are there to stay. While this can be a little daunting at first, it's actually quite special to fully surrender to the camping experience. After all, it's not like you're in it alone—every person is roughing it with you and cultivating a palpable sense of community.
By the weekend, everyone on the farm has settled in for the long haul.
On Saturday, attendees were getting groovy at The Grove to Mark Woodyard, followed by a delectable daytime set by Lazy Syrup Orchestra. Hailing from Costa Rica, Bushman delivered his jungle-infused beats while the crowd got playful with an impromptu flashmob dance.
After years of performing behind the scenes—quite literally—Be Hazzy made his debut at Pagoda this year, while the budding Kelowna-based tastemaker KÖL made his return.
As the sun began to drop below the mountains, Mood Swing & Chevy Bass took to the Fractal, delivering a lively performance followed by Danio Management's Slynk, The Gaff, JFB, Father Funk, Fort Knox Five and Qdup. And after having to cancel a few years prior, GRiZ took to the stage and amazed us all.
Meanwhile, over at the Pagoda, John Summit uncaged a plethora of heavy edits of classic tracks and showcased lots of original music, such as his global dance hit "Where You Are."
In true festival fashion, Sunday was Sunday Funday.
Hosted by Smalltown DJs from 2-7pm, the Fractal Funk Jam was bumping a selection tracks from hosts Pete and Mike, as well as Charlie Hustle, Shakey, Nick Bike, Duncan Smith of The Funk Hunters, Skratch Bastid, The Gaff, QDup, Fort Knox Five, A.Skillz, Wave Dalton and Slynk. In fact, each artist plays three tracks at a time and they rotate on and off the decks.
In the evenings, it can be tricky to determine the move as there's always conflicting set times. From The Sponges and Neon Steve, to JPOD, to Wreckno and Of The Trees, there was always something for everyone to enjoy. You can't go wrong, so it's important to go with the flow.
Tchami did not disappoint, then we relived moments of yesteryear at RL Grime's Village performance, which was chock-full of nostalgia and fresh cuts. He was a highlight of the weekend, followed by a Dr. Fresch rager and Frameworks to cap off the experience.
Shambhala Music Festival is returning for its celebratory 25th edition from July 26-29, 2024. Prospective attendees should keep an eye out as tickets go on sale this fall.