Shambala festival may no longer be the hidden gem in the festival calendar but it still shines as a standout example of blending entertainment seamlessly over a bank holiday weekend. Shambala started as one hundred and fifty people gathered in a field, surrounding a farmer’s trailer decked with tarps for a stage, but has since ballooned into what is widely regarded as the best small festival in the UK. Known for its family friendly attitude, secret location and all round positive vibe, Shambala is the perfect place to conclude your summer.
Having attended Shambala for the last eleven years a certain bias may be eluded too, I was only ten years old when I first experienced the festival. My uncle for my birthday that year had bought my very first ticket, with him and his family in tow we trekked off to Shambala’s secret location (at thetime a nice sunny field by Devon). I can’t actually remember very much from my first year, except from an air raid shelter converted into a cinema and my first experience of UV paint combined with raving in a forest.
Shambala then became a staple hold of my summer, culminating in august of 2006 when said uncle returned my commitment to the cause, with a one man pop-up tent of my own. Myself and two friends ventured together across the country following the map to a secret campsite (this time inan equally as sunny field in Northamptonshire) in which the festival was held. Within minutes of arriving we instantly garnered two new friends, who embodied the very essence of Shambala. Peten’ Jake were masters of inflatable’s, creating unique pieces of art at the festival that year; in turn for me lending them my worn out Umbro football for thirty minutes they created us a ‘noof’.
The ‘noof’ was a design they had been working on, half sofa/half trampoline all made from a tractor tire and canvas cover. A unique piece of kit no doubt, the ‘noof’ travelled with us everywhere from Cold War themed cabaret tents to secret forest discos powered by pulsating electronica. Eventually the Monday came where we had to return ‘the noof’ to its rightful owners and vowed to see Jake n’ Pete the next year for a return to shambolic good times.
Shambala gets its name from a Tibetan word for a utopian society that appears and then disappears after a certain time, a view point taken very seriously by the creators of the spectacle.
This summer Shambala has for the first time announced a line-up prior to the festival which is laden with exciting musical talent coupled with thought provoking spoken word. Billy Bragg will be occupying the main stage for the first time, bringing with him his timeless brandof romantic political musical poetry. Renowned for his heartfelt lyrics and roguish charisma, Bragg ignites the folk line up with real star power & is surely not to be missed.
The musical bill also includes UK Hip-Hop aficionado Roots Manuva, complimented with his live bandwill bring a lively ensemble of dub beats and suburban stories. The Twinkle Brothers, celebrating their 50th anniversary as a band will be bringing with them the very best in calypso and soft reggae produced by the likes of Leslie Kong, Duke Reid & Lee Scratch Perry himself.
If you fancy a break from the music, at its heart Shambala is not only a music festival but a festivalof culture & arts which consistently culminates into a feast for the eyes. Exploration of the grounds can lead to all kinds of unadulterated fun, with hidden bars, tree top hammocks, spectacular art installations, and best in contemporary live street art; festival goers can scoff their inner child with satisfaction.
Seek solitude from the cold by heading to the ‘The Lost Picture Show’, the crème de la crème of
cinemas celebrating the golden age of movies over the festival weekend after a successful 2011 at Shambala. Along with the salt n’ sweet popcorn, ‘The Lost picture Show’ also serves a variety ofcocktails, cakes and the traditional teas & coffee.
Shambala is a festival goers festival, in comparison to those which have become overtly commercialised in the last decade, Shambala still holds a hippy charm adored by its followers.
Tickets to the festival at £119 and can be found at all good tickets retailers, and online atwww.shambalafestival.com.