As far as musical diversity is concerned, Absolut Enchanted Valley Carnival takes the cake.

Where else can you experience multi-genre music at a festival of this magnitude? Tell us, huh. It’s not easy to assemble a massive crowd and treat them to music they don’t expect to hear. EDM fans will throng to EDM shows; Bollywood fans will frequent Bollywood shows; it’s the law of music nature. But, since their very first edition, Enchanted Valley Carnival believed in exposing music lovers to sounds they aren’t familiar with, or haven’t explored completely. The idea was to cater to a mixed crowd while giving them the chance to explore new sounds in the process.

This year, Absolut Enchanted Valley Carnival introduced Bollywood to it’s already diverse line-up and names like Arijit Singh and Farhan Live made fans squeal with joy, maybe even faint a little (ok, maybe that was a little exaggerated but you get where we are coming from). Considering this was a genre unexplored , it was going to be interesting to watch them execute this move. This also meant that people making their way to the festival would be an assorted bunch. There was just so much to look forward to this year! So let’s take you through the two day extravaganza we witnessed, also known as Absolut Enchanted Valley Carnival 2016.

Good music + Camping = Bonanza!

A lot of festivals haven taken inspiration from Enchanted Valley Carnival and installed a camping area for festival goers. There is really nothing like walking to the festival ground at your convenience, instead of worrying about all the acts you are missing while stuck in traffic. This year, EVC was back in Aamby Valley and our tents were back in their lovely location, overlooking the lush valley below. There were 1800 tents in total! The regularly tents came in options of two, three and four occupancy. There was also the option to BYOT (Bring Your Own Tent) with no limit on it’s size. We were quite jealous of that lot because their tents were right by the festival ground. The luxury tents were a whole new story, with occupancy for four. They had an air-conditioner and room service! We have to admit the sun did play spoilt-sport during the peak hours of the day, although cool breeze ensured that you could lie lazily with half of you inside the tent and half of you outside. The nights were cold, and by cold we mean really cold. But the tents, provided by Letscampout, protected us well (can’t thank them enough!). The organisers also provided little kits to all campers that covered essential needs like soap, toothbrush and paste, even ear buds! Also this year, the porta potties were on their best behaviour. Little to no inconvenience was endured by the campers, with every cubicle stocked with tissue paper and running water. So, the next time you consider camping with EVC instead of shacking up in a hotel room, we recommend you give it a try.

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Three different sounds, three stellar stages, one festival.

Ah, the music. Hands down the best bit about the festival. The line-up had braced us for impact weeks ago, but clearly it did not prepare us enough. The three stages – Cosmos, AKVA and Terra, were dressed in their best and all ready to host EDM, Techno and Bollywood acts for the two days. Visually, they were electrifying. Every stage was set-up to look markedly different from the other two, because all three were hosting markedly different genres of music.

The Cosmos Stage: The main stage majorly catered to the music of the hour, EDM. And it made sense because the EDM genre has exploded on to the Indian music scene in a big way.

Day 1 saw artists like Mojojojo, Anish Sood (who had to perform at a later hour after being stuck in traffic), a surprise entry by The Unknown (Yugesh Madhwani kept the crowd on their feet time and time again over the night. Good job!), Blasterjaxx (the surprise last-minute addition to the line-up) and of course, Flo Rida! Each of them brought their A-game and we loved every second of their presence of stage. Flo Rida, the awaited act of the evening, showed the crowd why he should be lauded for his performance skills as much as he is known for his music. He even brought on a bevy of beauties from the crowd to perform with him on stage alongside the four dancers in his troupe who possessed more energy than the audience put together.

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Day 2 was as refreshing as Day 1 when it came to the set list. One & One, Hard Candies, Candice Redding (that woman can play for hours and still not exhaust her energy), The Force – Shaan/Joshi/Sartek (they successfully attempted the mannequin challenge and we got to be a part of something cool), Deniz Koyu (now known as KO:YU), and finally Alan Walker! Unfortunately he could start his set only at 10 pm, but his fans waited with bated breath for the young star to whip out his signature tracks and more.

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The AKVA Stage: Techno is slowly making it’s way to people’s playlist after being popularised in the live music scene in India. Music without lyrics is not something most Indians are comfortable with, but they have opened up to these infectious beats thanks to festivals like EVC that expose them to it. The AKVA stage was as big a hit as the other two stages.

Day 1 hosted artists like Ankur Sood, Arsh vs Folic State, Juliet Sikora (a new favourite with the crowd), Jeremy Olander (always bringing his A-game). Victor Ruiz could not make it due to personal issues, but the attendees were well-informed of the same. So Jeremy Olander continued to spin tune after tune for his crowd that refused to leave his company. What a performer!

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Day 2 started off with Maulik taking the console, followed by Diatonik, Owiver x Audio Glitch, Hot Since 82 and finally with Chris Liebing closing the night. Hot Since 82 made his dream debut at the event and we can definitely look forward to seeing more of him over the year. Chris Liebing could pull a big chunk of the crowd away from Arijit Singh, and that’s saying a lot. We hope to see more of him in the coming year too.

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The Terra Stage: Bollywood is here and it’s here to stay. The Terra Stage pulled in a massive crowd with it’s assorted line-up that featured blasts from the past and new blood. This stage pulled in an equal number, if not more, of audiences as the main stage. And imagine all of this taking place in it’s first year! We’re sure the Bollywood stage is here to stay for the coming editions.

Day 1 had Monophonik inaugurating the stage and was soon followed by Blank. Both set the mood for the evening that was going to see a lot of madness ensue. Rishi Rich x Juggy D x DASU made their way next and the crowd went wild. Everyone remembers their hit songs that played back to back on TV and radio during the late 2000s. DASU was a fresh addition and we didn’t really miss Jay Sean much. Arjun Kanungo is an internet sensation and he had the girls swooning with every move. But the two big names that night were Farhan Live and Badshah. Farhan and his troupe pulled all the moves that got the crowd panting for breath by the end of his set. Badshah’s set was unfortunately cut short, but he and his singers gave it their all, in true Badshah style.

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Day 2 was ‘Arijit’ day. We say this because the venue was twice as crowded and we knew where they were heading to. But that was for the end. The acts that led to Arijit Singh’s big performance were equally breathtaking. The Yellow Diary took the stage first and were a refreshing sound to begin the day with. They were followed by Shirley Setia, the perfect example of how talented the nation’s youth are these days. She has a massive fan following and it looked like they were all there to watch her perform live. Papon took the stage next and we really don’t need to explain the magic he brings to his performances. The crowd loves him. Ami Mishra took over next and he’s a voice we know and love. And then came the man of the hour, Arijit Singh and his 37 piece orchestra. Words fall short to describe his live sets, but he delivered his best, as always.

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The Absolut Enchanted Valley Carnival Experience.

EVC this year was so much more than just the music and camping experience. It was also about all those little things around that kept people engaged when they just wanted to kick-back and relax, or maybe spike up their adrenaline and feel the rush.

Activities around the venue: The most eye-catching activity was the Bungee Jumping zone by Woodlands, hands down. Watching people take the plunge was as thrilling as taking the plunge. Kudos to those who attempted it. Also, Hamley’s gave attendees the chance to zoom around on hover boards. Another exciting addition were the Quad Bikes that were arranged for thrill seekers to drive around and kick up a dust storm. Times Network were thoughtful enough to put up interesting bean bags at their stall so people who were tired of running from stage to stage could make a pit stop here and recharge they energy.

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Going Cashless: In the light of the recent demonetization, it made sense to think of alternatives that would benefit attendees so they could make purchases without relying on cash and without having to stand in long ATM lines or look for network to operate their PayTM on. Like last year, EVC introduced a cashless system where a chip was introduced on the festival band and could be recharged every now and then. All food and beverage purchases were done with this chip. It’s like they were prepared for demonitization an entire year before any of us!

The Culinarium: What festival can run without food for its people? Also, with people having to not worry about payments, all thanks to the chip, everyone could indulge as their heart desired. Cool and warm beverages kept people happy during the extreme climate changes. Continental, Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Fast Food and even Bhurji Pav were up for grabs and people could alternate between the lot. Alcohol was always well-stocked. All in all, people got exactly what they looked forward to.

After Parties: The funda was simple – at EVC, the party never stops. Right after people limped out of the venue with sore feet after hours of following the DJs instruction to jump, they charged up for the after-party that was held in Aamby Valley City. Who would want to miss the chance to watch names like DJ Chetas, Lost Stories, Kohra, Progressive Brothers, Jeremy Olander (everyone wants more of him), Gioli and more? The Aero Stage and Pyro Stage commanded a full house from the start to the end. Let’s just say the only difference was going from outdoors to indoors. The energy levels were not compromised on, by both attendees and performers. There was a Silent Party for campers who did not wish to venture far from the campsite and instead tune in to these headphones.

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If this edition proved to be even more impactful than it’s predecessors, then we can’t wait for the next one already. Keep shining Enchanted Valley Carnival!

(Image Credits: Enchanted Valley Carnival)