We’re going to Shambhala Music Festival, a four-day electronic music festival in interior British Columbia, and honestly, we don’t really know what to expect. (Photo by Charlotte Dobre.)

When you live in a van, attending a summer music festival is kind of a right of passage. Van people make great festival goers. For one, we’re used to being dirty. And for two, we’re always down to make new friends who appreciate good music, and a good time. Seriously, we thrive on that community vibe.

So, this summer, we’re taking our van dwelling selves to Shambhala. But, uh, what in the mother heck is a Shambhala, and how do we prepare to be inside it?

“The way I tend to think of Shambhala is a city of unified celebration,” says Britz Robins, a Shambhala veteran and PR manager for the multi-day fest. “It’s like a live-action, choose your own adventure set in a pristine river valley with mind-blowing music, visuals, and community.”

Community, music, and art with a beautiful BC backdrop of mountains and lush forest? Uh, yeah, you’ve got our attention.

This year marks Robins’ 14th Shambhala (next year will be the fest’s big 2-0), so she’s watched things grow from a low-key party in the woods to a 10,000-person-strong event with world class DJs and mind-blowing visual art installations.

“When electronic music was suddenly in the spotlight a few years back, Shambhala’s reputation exploded to mythic proportions,” says Robins. “Here was this long-established electronic music festival set in this pristine river valley in the mountains—no corporate sponsorship—and people just couldn’t believe such a thing existed.”

“It’s like a live-action, choose your own adventure set in a pristine river valley with mind-blowing music, visuals, and community.”

Sounds pretty magical, right? Yeah, we think so, too.

And while we’ve still got 3,500 kilometres to drive in the next ten days before the festival madness on Salmo River Ranch starts on August 5th, we want to arrive prepared. Ain’t nothing worse than showing up to a party without the right dancing shoes.

We asked Robins what three things we absolutely must bring with us. Here’s what we’re packing (in addition to our Shambhala outfits, which are still TBD):

1. Good footwear.

No one wants sore feet while they’re dancing. “Foot stuff” is one of the top reasons for visits to our medical building, so make sure you have footwear that is comfortable and protective. Personally, I have a really great pair of leather zip-up ankle boots that I festival in.

2. A hydration pack.

The festival grounds are pretty big. You’re doing a lot of walking and dancing; it’s hot. You need water, and why bother with a bottle when you can have one litre in your backpack? Fewer water refills equals more dancing! Plus, hydration packs are a great place to store all the other stuff you need for a day of festival adventuring or a night of dancing.

3. No expectations.

It’s fine to plan to see a few key sets, but don’t get too carried away. Almost guaranteed, you won’t see half of the artists you want to, and that’s okay because you’ll be having the best time ever doing something else! Allow for whims and spontaneity to be part of your experience. You won’t regret it. Welcome to Shambhala, choose your own adventure.