Alternative Music Festivals: Experience Yourself Differently with Summer Music & Community Living at Glastonbury, Burning Man & Secret Garden
Step outside the Box with Mind-Bending Festivals
Festivals give you a chance to step outside your ordinary life and experience yourself in a different dimension. For a few days you get to chill out, let go of everyday responsibilities and immerse yourself in a world of music, art and mind-bending fun. You can try out different versions of yourself and break through the limits that keep you stuck in a box. Summer music, alternative music, international music and community living festivals can be experiences that change your life forever. Even without the drugs, although there’s no denying drugs are often a big part of the picture. Ever wondered what the different festivals out there have to offer? Read on…
Pop, Electro & Full Creative Expression
Whatever kind of music you’re into – folks, electronic, or indie – you’re sure to find a music festival that rings your bells. The mother of all summer music festivals has to be Glastonbury in Somerset, England. For 3 days every summer a small rural town becomes home to over 150,000 music fans, alternative living folk and off-the-wall characters. Although the festival has become increasingly commercial over the years, featuring top pop acts and with numerous corporate sponsors, this hasn’t killed Glastonbury’s unique character. To get a sense of the atmosphere of Glastonbury, listen to what two punters say when describing some of the best things about this music festival: ‘Imagining for a few days what it would be like if everyone was always that happy, helpful and kind’; ‘Covering myself in body paint, wearing tie-dye and fairy wings and still seeming totally normal’.
On the other side of the world, Burning Man Festival gathers its tribe at a week-long event in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, U.S. each August. Burning Man is an experiment in temporary community and is fully participatory, rather than a spectator music festival. An entire city is created, with self-created ‘theme camps’ and even ‘villages’ across many different areas. The self-reliance aspect is not for the faint-hearted: Burning Man participants face 40 MPH winds, oppressive heat and dust and electrical storms. The festival climaxes with the legendary fire ceremony. The freedom to be yourself at Burning Man is unlike that at any other festival: Burning Man Festival is a doorway into moving out of your comfort zone in a dramatic way. And it’s not just for hippies. Burning Man draws people from many different subcultures and ways of life.
In Australia, check out Rainbow Serpent Festival, which celebrates alternative lifestyles, arts and electronic music – mainly Psychedelic Trance and Minimal Techno – through an ethos of unity. International ‘Psytrance’ festivals have a strong emphasis on tribal connection, colourful dress and transcendent music experiences – with, often, a lot of hallucinogens into the mix. If you’re a music fan who’s after more of a straightforward partying music vibe, and you like time on the beach, the Festival Internacional de Benicassim, or FIB, in Spain, is among the best international music festivals. Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, in the Colorado Desert, California, is one of the largest, most famous music festivals in the U.S. Music acts, hosted continuously across several stages, include rock, indie, hip hop and electronic dance music. The ‘art’ element includes sculptures and installations.
Tickets are snapped up for the bigger festivals, so you’ll need to be on it to get in. And if you miss out, or if big festivals aren’t your thing, there are hundreds of smaller festivals. Secret Garden Party at the idyllic Abbots Ripton estate in Cambridgeshire, England, is more than a summer music festival. Inspired by Burning Man Festival, it’s a firework-sparked fantasy world where the surreal is everyday. Festival-goers have free reign to do all kinds of far-fetched things, exploring a different theme each year – such as ‘Beyond the Yellow Brick Road’. If letting your hair down through dress-up, role-play, seductive cabaret, art installations and boutique camping appeals, then the Secret Garden Party could be the festival for you.
Connect, Play & Transform
Festivals are all about play, connection, and transformative, intense experiences in music, art and/or community. They bring exciting opportunities for variety and sampling different slices of life to see what feels good and what you might want to bring into your life back home. Because at a festival you can really be anyone you want to be, and can connect with people on a much deeper level than is usually possible in everyday life, you can use festivals to help you break out of your own social blocks and heal issues to do with friendships and less-than-ideal social experiences. If you go to Burning Man, be prepared to fully embrace the ethos of community, self-expression, art and self-reliance – and to come back with renewed courage, self-confidence and enthusiasm for life. ‘The Bloom’, a documentary web series, explores Transformational Festivals and their life-changing effects on an increasing number of people.
Meaning-Seekers, Backpackers and Peace Supporters: A Brief History of Festivals
Festivals have a colorful and long history. Music festivals have been around since the Middle Ages in one form or another. But it was the legendary hippie Woodstock Music & Art Fair (or ‘Woodstock’) in 1969 which changed pop culture history forever. Burning Man started in 1986 as a small event in San Francisco to honor the Summer Solstice with the burning of an improvised wooden figure. It then migrated to Black Rock and has become much more than a festival. Burning Man is now a year-round international culture of meaning-seeking people who love to express themselves and experience their own power. Coachella Festival’s debut in 1999 coincided with the disastrous, violence-tainted Woodstock ’99 which had ruined music festivals for many. Electronic music festivals began in Goa, India in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s, and then spread all over the world as Psychedelic trance festivals such as Glade and Full Moon developed. These attracted international backpackers and huge cultural and musical diversity. Psytrance festival inspired Earthdance, the world’s largest synchronized music and dance festival for peace. Today Wilderness in England is hugely popular and leads a vanguard of new festivals.
Why is it Ripe and Ready?
Festivals are more than a way to drop out from everyday life – they’re a wild, wacky and exciting way to experiment and express new sides of your multi-faceted personality.
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