Music festivals are much bigger than just the music.
For those of you who have yet to attend a music festival, all of this may seem blown out of proportion. However, for those of you who are well-versed with the current festival scene, you will understand first handedly that music festivals encompass more than just the music. I can personally say that attending festivals has changed my life for the better because of every individual aspect each festival embraces and influences upon you as an attendee. At the end of every festival, I walk out with so much more than I did walking in. While I could go on all day about how much music festivals mean to me, these seven values of a festival are what truly make each experience as magical and meaningful as they have been over the past several years.
1) Musical Discovery
Hands down my favorite aspect of attending a festival is all the new music I hear throughout the event. Festival season is prime time when it comes to producers releasing new material. Especially with festivals earlier in the season, such as Ultra Music Festival, DJ/producers utilize that time to give the audience a taste of the future. Artists such as Hardwell admit to experimenting at festivals like UMF to see how the crowd reacts to their new music. Artists commonly release their newest albums during festival season as well, festivals serve as an opportune time to travel the globe and go on tour.
On the other hand, festivals also serve as a gateway to the unknown. I have discovered countless DJ/producers at events without previously knowing of them and have left the stage pleasantly surprised. This type of reaction is always the goal when exploring the festival grounds, as you never know what you might discover. More recently, event companies have implemented programs such as Insomniac’s Discovery Project, where amateur DJs submit a full set as well as original mixes for a chance to win a spot on the line up. Festivals allow you to experience the DJ/producer’s energy live, the kind of atmosphere the song creates, and the bass and volume is at a maximum.
2) Feeling of Unity
An important value behind the raver’s mantra “PLUR,” unity is definitely an important aspect of any music festival. As an attendee of any massive event, you are one of thousands. Being surrounded by that many people can easily change one’s outlook on their environment and how they affect each other. That feeling of unity is a supernatural happening that is hard to experience elsewhere. When thousands of people come together to experience the exact same thing, it makes you realize how we are all connected in some way, shape, or form. That feeling of connectedness can deliver a sense of realness and solidarity.
When the DJ radiates music to the audience, we are being told a story and creating history together. The feeling of unity is simply the first step towards being on the same level as both the DJ and the audience around you. The music takes over the crowd and everyone dances and sings in unison, ultimately establishing equality amongst everyone. This feeling alone is one of the biggest reasons why I love festivals as much as I do; we are massive and the unity that overtakes each festival is truly something to experience.
Through countless experiences of generous acts from others, meeting new people, and making new friendships, I can honestly say that the festival community is unlike any other. It might sound odd, but realistically, the festival scene embodies the same feel of a tight-knit community. There is a strong sense of connection within the festival and making these connections with new people is a remarkable feeling. The communal vibe is strong, especially when attendees of all cultures proudly wave their flags throughout the crowds. Attendees commonly bear their flags as a way to show their presence in the festival culture with countries spanning from Spain to Netherlands.
At a music festival, you are not alone; everyone is responding to life on the same level that you are. If you lost your group or need help with essentially anything, the chances of a random group adopting you as their own and helping you as if they already knew you are extensively high. Personally speaking, I have seen others who looked like they needed help, and my personal choice to help them absolutely made a difference; it’s not uncommon in the rave community to help others when needed. If you attend festivals frequently, then you have most likely experienced this communal feel for yourself and understand just how sacred the electric family bond really is.
4) Enjoying the Moment
If attending music festivals has taught me one thing, it’s that life is all about enjoying the moment and being present. People everywhere are moving at the speed of light, working from 9-5, and not appreciating the here and now. Everyone remembers that first moment they ever had at a festival where they really get lost in the music; that feeling of belonging and positivity truly brings out the need to enjoy the moment. It’s easy to get caught up in all that we have going on and so we forget what it’s like to cherish the little things in life.
Living in the moment is honestly hard to do. It’s something everyone says we should all do, but how many actually live in the now? Attending festivals has taught me to not take life as serious as I do and to enjoy the ride. I have countless memories of specific moments at festivals, whether the DJ drops my favorite song or I meet someone new, I am one with the music and everyone around me, and that moment alone is something to truly appreciate. Most festivals embody the concept of enjoying the moment. Specifically major festivals such as TomorrowWorld and TomorrowLand that are strongly built on the foundation that “Yesterday is history, Today is a gift, Tomorrow is a mystery."
5) Freedom of Expression
I believe it’s important for any individual to honestly express himself or herself without fear of judgment bearing on their right to do so. Music festivals are a place of absolute acceptance. Never have I felt more accepted in any environment than a festival. As a festival attendee, one of my first goals of the event is to drop any judgment at the door when I walk in. Immediately, I feel loved by everyone surrounding me and try my best to give off those vibes to others as well. Our freedom of expression is vital to our growth as human beings, and festivals allow us 100% to be who we really are in a no judgment zone.
Originality is a form of infinite expression and can be easily lost along the way. A festival atmosphere enables your sense of originality to the fullest extent. Without self-expression, we are all the same. Attending festivals has taught me that we should express ourselves in the most genuine form possible; absolutely no one should hesitate to be as authentic to his or her own self. There are an innumerable number of festival experiences that have proven this to me time and time again, as well as the concept of embracing others' originality. It’s important to support the DJ on stage and give them the opportunity to express themselves to the audience.
6) Traveling the World
The most effective way to grow as an individual is to experience different people and places. Staying in one place your whole life damages one’s ability to develop in any way possible. It is vital to go out and happen to things versus sitting back and letting things happen to you. Festivals are a great place to grow and learn more about oneself due to the raw expression of the whole environment; various places around the world offer different insight and can teach people different lessons and values.
With the recent boom of festivals and their dramatic overtake of today’s major events, they have allowing cultures worldwide to experience a music festival. It has also become a fad for festivalgoers to reach out to festivals in other countries; TomorrowLand is by far the most international festival, attracting thousands of people from a plethora of countries around the world. This festival in particular is viewed as the main unifying festival of all cultures, where people of all types and backgrounds can come together. Major festivals exist worldwide, including Stereosonic in Australia, Amsterdam Dance Event, Glastonbury in the UK, and many more. Being able to experience music in the best way possible and travel the world at the same time makes attending festivals all the more enjoyable.
7) An Escape From Reality
Most festivals stress that they are place to be free and escape the outside world. Honestly speaking, who doesn’t need a break every once and a while? Festivals serve as a much-needed release of emotion and give attendees the exact getaway they need. Whenever I’m at a music festival, even so much as stepping inside the grounds makes me feel like I’ve entered some sort of wonderland. With event companies exceeding beyond expectation year after year, it continuously develops new themes and experiences that delve into a whole new world.
Thanks to the prominent promotional company Insomniac, festivals including Electric Forest, Escape: All Hallows’ Eve, and Electric Daisy Carnival literally submerge you into a world of their own. From performers dressed to the nines and unbelievable art installments, one’s festival experience is enhanced tenfold. There’s something about stepping away from the real world that is priceless; attending festivals primarily bring me happiness because they exist in a world where we are all free and untroubled. At a festival, my biggest issue is merely deciding which set to see amidst scheduling conflicts.