For free-thinkers who prefer the mindful festival experience to the frivolous, Shambhala and Burning Man offer two diverse choices to pick from! The Sherp is here to help you decode which festival is worth your trip!

Burning Man, the festival of large arid spaces and eclectic creative expression is a space for uninhibited display of personal belief. From idiosyncratic burlesque outfits to nudity, every dress is sacrosanct. A freedom of life as is not awarded elsewhere is the essential belief of Burning Man, allowing festivals attendees to adapt to its wayward, mind-above-body spirit.

Neil Girling 2(Image source: Neil Girling |

The Shambhala Festival, on the other hand is a small, intimate gathering of free thinkers who assemble for the benefit of some good music, and earthy lifestyle. It’s alright to find people delving into nature and celebrating greenery at the festival location, the scenic Salmo River Ranch.

OlivierGosselin_Sham2014_19_web(Image credit: Olivier Gosselin |

If you find yourself taken in by the vibe of both the festivals but haven’t been able to figure out which festival is more in your zone, then we’re here to help you out!

Large desert spaces or water-facing greenzones?

One of the facets that add to the radically unique nature of Burning Man is its location. The festival takes place in the vast expanse of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Burning Man participants convert a certain area of the location into a self-sustaining temporary city called the Black Rock City. The entire space that Burning Man is held on is extremely large, making it almost impossible to go through its entire breadth in even the 7 days that it’s held. The weather is quite dry, replicating a desert weather. But the entire space is utilised and  demarcated into theme camps and villages. If exploring large festival grounds sounds interesting to you, Burning Man’s location is right up your alley.

Michael DiMonaco(Image source: Michael DiMonaco |

Shambhala is held at the Salmo River Ranch, which can be found in the west Kootenay mountains in British Columbia. It’s a space largely dominated by greenery with a river running through, ideal for swimming and rafting. Shambhala is extremely fulfilling for a nature lover, with ample amounts of sunlight and trees to take in. Camping in Shambhala can be great fun for stargazing campers, thereby making the festival perfect for anyone loving a little green!

2014 Shambhala Music Festival(Image source: Jeff Cruz |

Music lovers, what’s your pick? 

Shambhala Music Festival began as a pursuit to bring together like-minded music lovers united by their interest in underground electronic music. Over the years, with increase in its popularity, it has included many a qualitative local and international electronic acts. This year’s lineup too includes names like Bonobo, Amtrac, Kygo, Big Gigantic, Pretty Lights and Skrillex. If music, especially electronic music is what commands your interest at a music festival, Shambhala is where you must find yourself. The acts are curated brilliantly, not to mention, you’ll walk away being friends with many fans like yourself.


Duffy_Day_1-1327(Image source: Duffy Day |

Burning Man, while not essentially a music festival, is one that incorporates modern, contemporary music into its culture. The festival doesn’t essentially have a lineup, but many musicians from around the world decide to land up during its 7-day event, and play at a particular time with their console. So if you’re more into a festival for the overall experience than the music, then prepare to find yourself pleasantly surprised by sudden music announcements.

Alden Rodgers 2(Image source: Alden Rodgers |


For the love of art!

Art lovers will be spoilt for choice between Shambhala Festival and Burning Man, both with a keenness to promote individual artists in a huge manner.

Art installations at Burning Man is bound to leave keen enthusiasts speechless. The festival encourages people to volunteer to set up their art on the Burning Man grounds, with the one condition that they are to take it out themselves on the last day and leave no trace behind. Alternatively, you can also seek help from the Burning Man community in creating your art specimen, in terms of funding, or even resources. Burning Man presents one of the best platforms for upcoming artists, especially those specialising in radical, abstract art, as every kind of a voice finds representation. So if you’re an artist, or a zealot interested to find out new forms of art, Burning Man will not disappoint.

Stewart Harvey(Image source: Stewart Harvey |

Dan Adams 3(Image source: Dan Adams |

Shambhala Festival, on the other hand, plays host to intimate artists willing to share their art and set it up. But the grandness of Burning Man can be found missing here. You can choose the festival, depending on your style!

Festival community

Shambhala Music Festival and Burning Man, both, receive people who believe in complete self-expression. There is no moral code for judgement, or strict guidelines. The only rules followed are of sustainable organisation, and leaving no trance behind. Both festival adhere to cleanliness and the environment by making all their festival artifacts from objects that do not harm the environment.

Burning Man works on the principle of gifting unconditionally, since it’s a no-profit system. While there are several stalls in and around the festival, the items are not sold but given, usually in exchange for another object. This way, the festival creates its own self-sustaining spirit. People can volunteer to work with Burning Man, and be part of its community.

Shambhala Music Festival, while not entirely non-profit, has people volunteering to set up the entire festival. It believes in mindful living, and healthy indulgence, in a bid to create a special bond with nature.

LouisBockner_Shamb2014_web_-45(Image source: Louis Bockner |

The People 

Burning Man attendees are bold, carefree and unapologetic. If you find yourself easily scarred by actions out of the ordinary, Burning Man might not be the place for you. But if you wish to head for a bit for an exploratory experience, and can take in every sight without judgement, you will come out of Burning Man feeling immensely educated. People dress up in various dressing styles, and engage in several activities sprawled across its large grounds, that range from art, healthy living to intimacy. But you will also find people, mindful of the Burning Man spirit, to be extremely kind and generous. And you’re expected to be the same, yourself. So if radical, off-the-curb expression is what you wish to know more of, Burning Man will welcome you with open arms!

Benjamin Chambers(Image source: Benjamin Chambers |

Michael DiMonaco 2(Image source:  Michael DiMonaco |

People at Shambhala, while not so much of radical expressionists, also engage in an extremely flourishing lifestyle. There is great amount of oneness captured with the nature, and for a first-timer, the festival can seem a lot less threatening than a grander outing. Expect people to dress up at Shambhala too, although most choose to done the hippy-esque garb (not the pretentious kinds).

Photos of the 2014 Shambhala Music Festival by Jeff Cruz(Image source: Jeff Cruz|

MichaelBenz_Shamb2014_14_Web(Image source: Michael Benz |