While it is clear that music is the life force behind EDM, no one can argue that dance music would not be where it is now without the driving force of its festival scene. From Woodstock in the early 1970s, to the early days of EDC in Los Angeles in the 2000s, to the massive underground festivals of Europe today, music festivals have been deeply ingrained into the world’s dance culture.

In a new weekly series, EDM.com is shining the spotlight on lesser-known festivals around the world that are on par with marquee festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival, Ultra, and Tomorrowland. These festivals are highlighted for the atmosphere, the people, and most importantly, the music and the talent that they bring. From Austria’s signature Snowbombing festival, to ZoukOut in Singapore, to Shambhala in Canada, this series will be your one-stop guide to some of the best hidden gems in the festival scene around the world.

This week’s pick is transformational Boom Festival held in Portugal.

Boom Festival is a biennial transformational festival held in east-central Portugal at Idanha-a-Nova during the full moon of August. The festival prides itself on its transformational values, much like gatherings like Burning Man, Lightning in a Bottle, and Northern Nights. Boom’s main values center around integrating a sustainability ethos with music, arts, and culture. By design, the festival does not take on any corporate sponsors and does not provide any corporate entertainment, keeping the entire festival rooted in its core beliefs. The goal of Boom is to create a transformational festival for all people, regardless of ethnic background, nationality, and age.

Boom Festival began in 1997 as a psy-trance music festival with two stages - a main stage for psychedelic trance music, and a lounge area for mellow, ambient music. Now coming into its 11th year of existence (remember, the festival is held once every two years!), Boom has expanded to five distinct stages for all types of electronic music, a number of unique chill-out zones, visual art sculptures, and performers.

What sets Boom Festival apart from other festivals like it is the harmonious marriage between landscape and soundscape that the Portugal festival has found. Each of the five stages at Boom Festival carry a theme - the Dance Temple, which is for trance and psy-trance, is Boom’s most powerful catalyst to finding transformation through dance, while the Alchemy Circle, a stage of house music, sprung from the belief that psychedelic music could be found anywhere, setting the stage up as a radar of unique soundscapes that revolve around one core value.

While Boom Festival does not book typical headliners and artists that would be seen on big festival lineups, that doesn’t mean the music is overlooked. Boom Festival attracts some of the biggest underground and up-and-coming artists each and every year, creating a festival experience that is nearly unmatched in the world. In 2014, Boom welcomed over 100 artists to the week-long festival, including names like Ace Venture, Carbon Based Lifeforms, and Birds of Paradise.

While there are five stages to venture to and explore, the Chill-Out Gardens and Liminal Village at Boom are worth noting. Like all the stages at the festival, even the Chill-Out Gardens have themes, as the focus is on creating soundscapes using unorthodox approaches to melodies, harmonies, and rhythm in an experimental merging between electronic and acoustic. The Chill-Out Gardens at the 2014 edition of Boom featured luxurious natural landscapes overlooking a blue lake and a number of beautiful art installations.

The Liminal Village is home to a number of lectures, yoga classes, film screenings, group meditation, and discussions. If the Dance Temple at Boom is a place to find mystical awareness from music, the Liminal Village is the place to find answers to introspective questions. The music and the activities come together at Boom to create a truly transformational experience for the festival-goers.

Boom Festival will return for its 11th edition from August 11th to 18th, 2016 in celebration of the full moon. Tickets aren’t available for the biennial transformational festival quite yet, but keep a look out and check back as we’ll keep you updated on the latest festival news.

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