Shambhala Music Festival in British Columbia is a fest we have yet to attend, but after hearing about it, we hope we can next year. What caught our eyes about this year’s festival was how organizers wanted to keep you mentally, physically and emotionally safe. Let’s explain how they did this.

First, Shambhala was on a crusade for harm reduction. With some deaths reported at music festivals across North America this year, organizers wanted to keep guests safe by offering free drug testing. You could get your party favors tested at a testing tent. This way you would know just what is going into your body. There’s been a rise in PMMA, or paramethoxymethamphetamine being sold as MDMA. It’s a dangerous drug that can cause you to overheat. Organizers wanted to make sure that festival-goers didn’t consume this.

Shambhala also caters to the sober crowd. YES, you can go to music festivals sober. There is a sober camp for people struggling with addiction that holds three AA-style meetings a day. There is also a safe haven area for women and a sexual health division for guests.

If you find yourself on a bad “trip”, there is the Psychedelic first aid tent. In here you can relax on mattresses and get away from the loud music and lights. It’s staffed by a team of volunteers who have experience in the mental health field.

Shambhala also has a massive medical facility on site. The team treats about 200-300 patients a day, mostly for minor scrapes and blisters. But it’s nice to know that a team of doctors, nurses and paramedics are on site ready and willing to help. The festival is in a beautiful location surrounded by beautiful people. It’s an experience that a lot of people speak so highly of, and we can see why.

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The festival doesn’t encourage drug use. It just wants guests to be safe and smart. Shambhala has more than 100 security guards and a plain-clothes investigation team to crack down on drug sales and target drug dealers.

We seriously applaud these efforts, and those of any other festival out there that takes these sorts of precautions. I remember raving in the late 90’s in San Francisco. DanceSafe would usually have a booth at most raves and offered free drug testing. I think that this should be offered at festivals today. If you do plan on partying, be sure to buy your own testing kit. They’re available online and will identify what/ exactly is in a substance. Do this for your own safety and for a piece of mind.

Kudos to Shambhala Festival, and keep up the amazing work. We can’t wait to check out your playground one day.

-Jared

Photos: 

Charlotte Dobre Photography

Jeff Cruz