Orange lights shooting out from a wooden stage structure with a packed crowd

MP3 TAKES: Shambhala 2023

Welcoming MP3 TAKES, our in-depth review series, where we explore the rich tapestry of music festivals and live performances worldwide. Today, we journey to Shambhala 2023, a unique event tucked away in the Canadian wilderness.

Let’s dive into our MP3 MAG TAKES from this unforgettable event:

Traveling and Checking-in at Shambhala 2023

Getting to and checking into Shambhala can indeed be a challenging venture. With options varying from long drives into Canada to flights landing in various Pacific Northwest airports, the journey is a part of the Shambhala experience. The notorious check-in process sees festival-goers wait anywhere from 4 to 16 hours. This challenging entry, conducted via a single road accessible to the general public, has seemingly become a part of Shambhala’s infamous tradition.

Photo of people floating on a river
Shambhala 2023 by DIVISUALS

Despite the queues, once inside, attendees are directed to open-field parking spots. From there, they haul their camping gear up the hill to the various woodland camping areas, an effort that some lovingly refer to as a rite of passage. Nevertheless, as Shambhala continues to grow, streamlining the check-in process might be worth considering to enhance the overall experience.

Stellar Production of Shambhala 2023

Shambhala’s production is second to none amongst independent festivals. The festival’s stages, sound, and lighting are extraordinary. Every stage, from the circus tent-like Amp stage – renowned for its experimental bass genres – to the Pagoda and Village stages, is a marvel of creativity and technology. Each has become an icon in its own right.

This year, Skream gave an unforgettable OG dubstep set at the Amp stage, playing from 4am till past 8am on Monday morning. Pagoda, a towering structure adorned with intricate laser projections, hosted massive crowds for acts like Zeds Dead, Testpilot, and John Summit. Meanwhile, the Village stage – a colossal wooden rave structure evoking visions of Lord of the Rings – hosted iconic performances by Excision and RL Grime. Each unique space, including Fractal Forest, The Living Room, and The Grove, brought out the best of acts like GRiZ, Hamdi, and more.

Electronic Music Curation

Shambhala excels when it comes to the curation of top-tier electronic music. Serving as a destination for DJs across all levels and verticals, the lineup spans a broad spectrum of legendary acts and rising stars. Each stage’s manager and talent buyer, seasoned with years of experience, crafts a captivating lineup that keeps audiences entranced throughout the weekend.

A No-Alcohol, Drug-Safe Festival

Shambhala’s unique no-alcohol policy has crafted a singularly laid-back festival vibe. With the absence of alcohol-derived belligerence, a friendly, safe environment unfolds, making Shambhala a one-of-a-kind festival experience. In addition, the festival has a proactive approach towards drugs, providing an on-site testing center to ensure safety and educate attendees on what they’re consuming before doing so. This emphasis on care and participation contributes to a feeling of security, fostering a party environment where attendees can freely and safely enjoy the music and community.

someone holding a 'Love' totem in a crowd with stage in the background
Shambhala 2023 By Kiet Le

Our Favorite Sets of Shambhala 2023

Shambhala 2023 was a spectacle of electronic music, with electrifying sets that left lasting impressions on festival-goers. Standouts included Of The Trees, who showcased his growth as an artist with a stunning Sunday night set at the Pagoda stage, playing his latest singles, “Muscaria / Everglades March (VIP).”

Of The Trees: Entering the Audio-Visual World of Memory Palace

Wreckno surprised and delighted with a twist on his usual performance rap/bass music, offering more melodic takes, while Zeds Dead wrapped up a busy summer with a crowd-pleasing performance. Newcomer Hamdi made a strong debut with a high-energy dubstep set at the Grove stage, and Seattle-native Kumarion made his mark with a riveting performance at the Amp stage. And of course, Wilkinson delighted fans with one of the most memorable sets at the Village stage. The diversity and high-caliber performances at Shambhala 2023 cemented its position as a must-attend event in the electronic music calendar.

Orange lights shooting out from a wooden stage structure with a packed crowd
Shambhala 2023 by DIVISUALS

Despite the logistical challenges, the overall Shambhala experience is mesmerizing. With its remarkable production, expertly curated lineup, and unique festival environment, it’s easy to see why attendees return year after year. As the festival continues to grow and evolve, we eagerly anticipate what future editions will offer. 10/10 – we can’t wait to journey back to Shambhala.


Franz Hilberath is a writer, publicist, artist manager, and editor/founder of MP3 MAG. Franz's passion for telling creative's stories began as a journalist with local and national newspapers (Creative Loafing, USA Today), magazines (Marquee, Man of the Hour), and blogs (, CULTR). His byline spans live event coverage, music reviews and interviews with innovators such as ODESZA, Marc Rebillet, RUFUS DU SOL, Lee “Scratch” Perry, GRiZ, & SOFI TUKKER. Today, as an independent publicist (Franz.mp3), Franz has represented true creatives and esteemed labels such as Zeds Dead (Deadbeats), Gravitas Recordings, Mersiv (MorFlo Records), Night Tales (Ultra Records), Of The Trees (Memory Palace), Justin Jay (Fantastic Voyage), Meduso, KHIVA, RaeCola, THRASHA and more.