“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” -Plato
Psychedelic or not, music festivals can be a wonderfully spiritual experience. Where ideas, culture, and emotion are stripped down to their very core, and few things are considered taboo. (As long as it’s safe, of course.) While the source material for today’s music festivals stems from Rhode Island’s now infamous Jazz Festivals in the early 50s, today’s concerts would be almost unrecognizable to Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald.
In the late sixties, with public interest in psychedelics at its peak, John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, along with record producer Lou Adler, organized what is considered by many as the first psychedelic music festival. The Monterey Pop Fest featured Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and Janis Joplin, among others. The festival became a defining moment for psychedelic music, catapulting the careers of Joplin and Hendrix while showcasing experimental sounds and promoting a culture of peace, love, and music. It was a cornerstone event in the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district and would be the inspiration for Woodstock, which would happen two years later.
While many festivals have tried and failed, *cough*–Fyre Fest*, to recreate an experience that allows attendees to truly escape into another realm, we compiled a list of gatherings that will give you the quintessential psychedelic festival experience. Whether you’re a die-hard festival-goer or new to the scene, please note that many of the festivals featured below take place deep in nature, where supplies are needed. Adhering to the “Leave no trace” policy is encouraged; practice harm reduction whenever possible, and research each festival’s policies before planning your experience. Remember, if you bring it in, take it home.
Features: Music, art, workshops, and a strong focus on environmental sustainability.
What started as a community-led event in Colorado in 1972 has now grown into a global gathering emphasizing non-commercial, non-hierarchical values, freedom, and community. The annual gatherings are organized online, based on consensus decision-making, which fosters a sense of equality and community, setting it apart from similar festivals of its kind.
The music and art at the gatherings are spontaneous and diverse, with central features of drum circles, acoustic performances, and communal art creations. Sustainability is a core principle, and community kitchens operate on a donation basis without any “money” exchanged. The Rainbow Gathering is a beacon of community, inclusivity, and a return to the basics in an increasingly commercial and digitized world. It offers a breath of fresh air and a chance to reconnect with the earth and fellow humans meaningfully.
Lightning in a Bottle
Features: Music, art installations, spiritual workshops, and yoga.
Lightning in a Bottle transcends the typical festival experience, offering a myriad of creativity and wonder that operates non-stop for an (almost) exhaustive five full days. Situated just steps from the picturesque Buena Vista Lake in California’s high desert, LIB beckons attendees to traverse a realm where imagination reigns supreme. Every interaction is a canvas for spontaneous magic, a stage for the harmonious blend of art and music, and a forum for educational encounters that inspire change in the world.
In 2023, LIB celebrated its 20th anniversary by bringing the best electronic, hip-hop, pop, and Americana artists together over seven stages. With explosive performances pushing the boundaries of reality and what is possible, it’s no surprise that next year’s LIB Festival is already being talked about.
Autonomous Mutant Festival
Frequency: Annually, usually during the summer months.
Features: The festival operates DIY, with attendees encouraged to contribute to the festival’s infrastructure and artistic content.
The Autonomous Mutant Festival stands as one of the longest-running underground electronic music festivals in the US. The Gathering, which takes place deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, showcases a diverse lineup of electronic music genres, including psytrance, hard house, and techno.
The festival’s strict “Leave No Trace” policy promotes environmental stewardship and mutual respect among attendees while welcoming individuals from all walks of life. Art installations and spontaneous performances pepper the festival landscape, alongside informal workshops promoting knowledge exchange, community building, health, and wellness.
Autonomous Mutant Festival is decentralized, with no official organizers, security, or ticket sales. While the festival maintains a low-key online presence, details often circulate through word of mouth. First-timers to the event should note that the festival operates on a donation-based system, so bringing your supplies–especially a tent is a must.
Oregon Country Fair
Frequency: Annually, every July
Features: Visit for the day. Enjoy art, dancing, and performances at this family-friendly festival.
The Oregon Country Fair isn’t your typical psychedelic festival—you don’t purchase expensive tickets to listen to PsyTrance all night. (Although, there’s certainly a lot of dancing and plenty of excellent music performances.) Instead, stop by for the day or find a camping spot or AirBnB nearby if you’d like to stick around. The fair began in 1969 in Veneta, Oregon, as a fundraiser for a local alternative school. In the decades since, it’s transformed into a three-day event filled with costumes, art, and performances. Whether you’re a family with kids, an art enthusiast, or a wanderer seeking connection, the Oregon Country Fair promises a journey that resonates long after the final curtain falls.
Frequency: Annually, March
Features: A wide array of music genres, large-scale art installations, and a spiritual undertone, offering spaces for meditation, yoga, and other spiritual practices.
Besides headlining acts like Bonobo and CloZee, Envision Fest goes beyond the festival to emphasize the importance of a holistic experience. Offering a space for personal growth, learning, and connection with like-minded individuals. This week-long event invites you to envision a better world and to foster a deeper connection with yourself, others, and the natural world.
Set against Costa Rica’s lush jungle playgrounds, attendees spend the week cultivating a harmonious environment, integrating eco-friendly initiatives, and promoting respect for the local environment and community. It offers a range of accommodations, including camping options that allow attendees to stay close to nature. If you decide to make the trek in 2024, you can find us lounging in paradise, surrounded by monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and lapas (macaws).
Frequency: Biennial festival, usually taking place over New Year’s Eve.
Features: Several stages featuring cultural representations, including indigenous ceremonies and artistic performances, celebrating the rich cultural tapestry of Brazil.
Craving white sand beaches, rich cultural experiences, and some of the best musical acts in the world? Look no further than Universo, a celebration of music, art, and spirit. It is a space where attendees can immerse themselves in various transformative experiences, from dancing to electronic music to engaging in workshops for the mind and body.
Roughly translated to mean Parallel Universe festival, everything from the music and people to the art installations that mark the festival grounds exist in harmonic bliss for nine days of celebration on Brazil’s picturesque Bahia coast. Since its birth more than 20 years ago, the concept of Universo Paralello has never been more current and indispensable. Everyone is invited to dive into this parallel reality—where the ritual of unity and love combine with the best music, resulting in a rare and unforgettable experience.
Ozora Festival (Hungary)
Frequency: Annually, usually in July or August
Features: Psytrance music, art installations, and workshops on a variety of topics.
What began as a celebration of a solar eclipse in the summer of 1999 has become the largest global Gathering of the psy trance community. In the small village of Ozora, Hungary, the festival, known as 1 day in Goa, hosts renowned artists, entertainers, and art installations that foster communal involvement. It’s a gathering that celebrates psychedelic culture at its full spectrum, attracting people from all walks of life to celebrate music, art, and life.
Frequency: Biennial (every two years)
Features: Music, art installations, and an emphasis on sustainability and environmental responsibility.
At this global psychedelic festival, themes like radical love, social consciousness, and a dash of party life exist in perfect harmony. Since its inception in 1997, Boom Festival has continued to push the boundaries of festival culture. It offered Portugal its first glimpse into the sounds of Goa trance and psytrance in the 90’s. Boom Festival has continued diversifying over the years to include a wide range of music genres that attract nearly 50,000 attendees from more than 150 countries.
In addition to its vibrant music and art scene, the Boom Festival stands as a beacon of sustainability and community. It not only offers a platform for various artists and musicians but also fosters a space for intellectual growth through panel discussions and lectures. The festival has a strong commitment to environmental sustainability, implementing eco-friendly initiatives and encouraging attendees to continue to minimize their environmental footprint long after they’ve left the festival grounds.
As Boom enters its quarter century of existence, the event looks to deepen its vision and reinvent itself to be in service of a truly life-changing experience. If we’re being honest, we already started packing our bags when we heard it was in Portugal.
Features: Psychtrance raves, art, performances, camping
If pulsating beats and an immersive trance experience is what you’re craving, Cape Town’s Organik festivals are here to satiate your appetite. Situated amidst the breathtaking landscapes just outside of South Africa’s capital city, Organik offers more than just music; it’s a transformative journey for the senses. Whether you’re swaying to the hypnotic rhythms at Gaian Dream or losing yourself in the ethereal beats of Love Project, Organik promises an experience that transcends the ordinary festival itinerary.
For those who crave an even more intense rave experience, Cape Town has more to offer. The Future Frequency Festival, with its cutting-edge electronic music and avant-garde rave performances, might just be the adrenaline rush you’re looking for.