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A Beginner’s Guide to Shambhala: Everything You Need to Know & More

Shambhala Beginner's Guide

Setting Up Camp

Shambhala’s camping situation can get a little hard to follow for anyone not familiar with how things work. Armed with a little information though, it can be a painless process. It’s one thing picking the right border crossing. It’s entirely another getting in to the actual festival. So first off, the basics:

Depending on the day you arrive, you’ll be in for some sort of wait inside your car as people get processed into the campgrounds. The biggest thing to know before we dig into the details: Shambhala is a dry festival, and no alcohol is permitted inside (your car will be searched at the entrance to ensure this is enforced). As for early entry (i.e. any day before Friday), it will cost you extra, with the following pricing tiers:

Tuesday: $150 per person, for anyone who just can’t wait to start their Shambhala weekend nice and early. Lines will be long, with waits upwards of 10-12 hours. There will be a limited amount of food vendors open, with no stages active. That said, you’ll also get first pick of your campsite once you’re inside.

Wednesday: $100 per person, provides you the next best choice of campsites, but also the second longest wait. Be prepared to wait in line for upwards of 5-10 hours depending on when you arrive. The Artisan Market and Food Court will be open beginning in the morning, giving you plenty of options for dinner once you’re in. As for the wait, the best thing you can do is try and have fun with it; meet your neighbors, say hello, and be social!

Thursday: $50 per person, getting a good campsite will depend on when during the day you arrive. Wait times will be shorter, but still somewhere in the 3-5 hour range (unless you’ve already purchased express entry with Shambhalodging). Both the Living Room and Amphitheater stages will be open beginning at 11am.

Friday: No additional cost, with the shortest wait times. That said, the festival’s opening ceremonies begin at 1pm, so arriving earlier on in the day would be your best bet for missing as little as possible.

Where to Camp

shambhala camping

Photo Credit: Charlotte Dobre Photograph

Once you get in, you’ll have a whole lot of options for camping. All passes are bought on-site at the gates on a first-come/first-serve basis. Free parking will put you in the lot on the far northeast end of the ranch, where you’ll then be directed to the first option.

DMNW Pro-Tip #3: If you’re looking to meet up with your friends in camping, use this handy grid map to tell them where you are. 

Free Camping: Metta

After you’ve parked in the free lot, you’ll have to walk your gear a ways south into Metta Camping (no vehicles permitted here, but costs you nothing). There’s a drop zone closer to the campsite where you can leave your things before parking. Depending on when you arrive, you can usually get a pretty decent setup inside the shade of the tree line. That said, if you arrive on Thursday or Friday, be prepared for a significant walk to your campsite from the festival grounds.

The Cheapest Paid Option: Sunshine

The other options for camping will be a little easier on you for a small fee: Sunshine and Sunshine Overflow cost you $40 for a decal ($80 for oversized vehicles) if you camp with your car (parking and making the trek to the tent-only section of Sunshine is free). This will put you on the north/northwest end outside of the trees. For Sunshine, be sure to pack a canopy for shade during the day.

Pay a Little More for Car Camping in the Shade: Starlight

For $80 ($160 oversized), you can park and camp inside of the tree line in Starlight, directly adjacent to the main festival grounds. Typically, Starlight will sell out as early as Wednesday evening. It’s free to camp with a tent inside of Starlight, but those spots are also typically the first to fill up. If you’re with a large group, be sure to designate a meeting spot; it can be easy for first-timers to lose their way in the campgrounds.

DMNW Pro-Tip #4: Pack a collapsible wagon to make hauling your gear on the long walk from parking to Metta Camping infinitely easier — there’s a good chance you’ll have to walk at least a mile to the first available campsite, if not longer. 

Pay a Lot More for the Best Camping Option: Shambhalodging

For guests who purchased a Shambhalodging pass, you get to proceed to the expedited entry line once you enter the road into the Farm, cutting your wait time down significantly. From there, you’ll be directed to the appropriate lot. When you’ve parked, you’ll then need to check in at the station directly at the entrance to this lot. Spots inside Lodging are allocated on a first-come/first-serve basis, so be sure you have friends save you room if they go up before you.

In terms of what to bring, include anything you’d normally have camping at a festival: Tents, sleeping bags, sunscreen, bug spray, assorted snacks (the food that vendors sell inside is delicious), garbage bags, pillows, camping chairs, toothbrush/paste, camping chairs, a bathing suit, flashlights, and warm clothes. You can see an extended packing list here in case you’re unsure about other essentials.

You’ll be issued a wristband for the entire weekend once you’re processed through camping, giving you full run of both the main festival grounds and surrounding areas/campsites throughout (don’t wander too far, remember, you are in the woods).

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Pop culture junkie, dinosaur enthusiast, and proud Managing Editor. While an avowed basshead, has been known to be ever-so-slightly trance-curious under the right circumstances.

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