I spent much of this winter photographing weddings, festivals and for my next bookThe Four Elements of the Goddess in the Caribbean, Costa Rica (Envision), Colombia and Maui (Mystic Island). http://kyerwiltshire.com/blog/2014/3/four-elements-of-the-goddess-winter-2014 I am back based on the Central California coast and I am excited that the festival season has already begun.
I will be photographing more weddings ArtisticWeddingPhotos.com than festivals this year, but after 15 years photographing west coast festival culture I am delighted to share with you some of my favorite festivals!
There are about 100 west coast music festivals happening this summer. Here is a list of my top four, along with some honorable mentions below.
#1 Festival: Beloved http://www.belovedfestival.com/
I’m still wearing my wristband from Beloved 2013 AND 2012. Beloved is so named for the open and beautiful human connections created there. It is still my favorite music festival. Tickets sold out one month before the festival last year.
Grade A It’s a wonderful festival experience for about 2,000 people.
Music A- With one beautifully decorated stage, it has a fine selection of live world beat and late night electronic music.
Location A- In a beautiful and verdant location near the central Oregon coast during the driest and warmest time of year. Nights can be cool.
Organization A They are on top of their game in terms of organization: focus and good intention.
Pros: “Beloved” is beloved. It’s a model for how to create a smaller music festival.
Cons: It doesn’t have the diverse energy of Burning Man or LIB. It’s a long way from California (not such an issue for those coming from Portland and even Seattle).
When: mid August Where: Tidewater, OR near the coast
#2 Festival: Burning Man http://burningman.com/
The good, the bad, the ugly, the amazing, the mind blowing, the life changing and the everything in between.
Grade: A- Burning Man is arguably the most amazing party on the planet
Music: C- “wamp-wamp, wamp-wamp.” It’s ironic that such a creative festival lacks musical diversity.
Location: C+ Dust storms, high desert sun without shade. The dry lakebed desert has its own beauty.
Organization: The organizers of Burning Man provide a good infrastructure for Nevada’s 5th largest city for a week.
Pros: Dude, it’s Burning Man!!
Cons: The expensive ticket price is the just the tip of the iceberg for many; dust storms, heat, the collective chaos of 60,000 people, long lines entering and exciting. (I recommend leaving the Tuesday after Labor Day) Law enforcement has become absurd, an over the top cash cow for the US government ($600 for a smoking a joint).
When: August 25th to September 1st Where: Black Rock Desert, NV
#3A Festival: Lightening in a Bottle (LIB) http://lightninginabottle.org/
LIB is two festivals. The Temple of Consciousness is where people attend large yoga classes, listen to talks on philosophical and “self help” topics, and dance to live music around “temple” spaces. The rest of the festival is about young people banging their heads to the “sick” base of big acts like Bassnectar; live art and play also abound.
Grade B+ Cosmopolitan LA meets Hippielandia, and it’s a good combination.
Music B+ for electronic music it get’s an A, live music gets a B
Location B? : The timing and location for last year’s festival was not good. TBE (to be experienced) for this year.
Organization: A The Do LaB knows how to produce a festival for 15,000+ people.
Pros Great selection of art, lots of eye candy, yoga to chest thumping electronic music and everything in between. LIB is well organized.
Cons too much “wamp-wamp” for my generation. Last year law enforcement was absurd and the location in hot (July) southern California was not ideal. This year the location and timing should be better.
When: May 22-26 Where: new location near San Antonio Reservoir (central coast).
#3B Oregon Country Fair http://www.oregoncountryfair.org
I love summer music festivals in Oregon. After a long grey winter and spring, the flowers are still in bloom and folks are happy, friendly and present. OCF is 45 years young this year, many of the old timers still hang on; the fair still functions.
Grade B- (regular festivals), B+ (“in the festival” pass) Hippielandia in Oregon, family, community, Portland and Eugene Tribe.
Music B: bluegrass, folk, lost of talent and many of the best “shows” are after dark.
Location B : The timing and location for last year’s festival was not good.
Organization: B It functions. L like an old circus train, it still runs!
Pros It's the fair, lots of talent, and “a splendid time is guaranteed for all!” Tickets prices are the least expensive of any festival.
Cons 30,000 people walking dusty paths by day, 3,000 security volunteers keeping 20, 000 of those people out at night… LOL…
When: July 12- 14 Where: same place it’s been for the last 45 years
Envision Festival: February in Costa Rica
Our west coast vibe mixed with progressive Ticos in the hot tropics!
I recommend this international experience.
High Sierra Music Festival: July 3-6
The best line up of music of any west coast music festival!
Enchanted Forest: May 30th-June 2
I’ve never been but those I trust say that it’s a wonderful Festival
FaerieWorlds July 25-27
Faerie fun for the whole family!
Symbiosis Gathering: most likely late September
Dynamic like LIB, and they took Symbiosis to another level last year!