I’ve heard the Lightning in a Bottle (LIB) festival referred to as “Burning Man Lite,” ― a statement I had to evaluate for myself, as I’m a huge fan of Burning Man and think I would enjoy spin-offs of the epic event. There are definitely similarities between the parties. However, when spending Memorial Day weekend at Lightning in a Bottle, I found the festival is indeed its own animal.
One of the most notable differences is that Burning Man is a gifting only festival, without anything officially being sold. At LIB, vendors sell you food, craft goods, and alcohol. But the most noticeable difference is that, unlike at Burning Man, nothing at LIB is burned ― a fact that points to the environmental sustainability the event promotes. So what is it like to be there? Check out our Lightning in a Bottle festival guide and get a sense of this unique event for yourself!
LIB allows for RV’s — with and without hook ups — close to the festival grounds, and tent camping right along the lake. RV passes should be purchased if you aren’t tent camping. The passes offer a designated spot in the RV area at the festival, but they’re not just for RVs. They also grant access to vehicles that pull a travel camper. You can also camp out in your own bus.
The setting of the festival grounds is transformational, with three-dimensional art installations, daily yoga classes, meditation workshops, games, musical performances, speakers, and live painting demonstrations. The multiple stages, designed to resemble flowers, trees, and other natural edifices, add depth to an eclectic selection of electronic music.
If a Lightning in a Bottle festival guide should have a theme besides celebrating in unique, festive ways, it is positive personal growth. In fact, some go to LIB for this very reason.
Similar to Burning Man, costumes are encouraged at LIB, as are swimsuits for cooling off. Days at the festival can get quite warm, but the nights can be surprisingly cool. So, remember to pack clothes that would be suitable for nights that are chilly but not wintery cold ― a fact that many Lightning in a Bottle Festival guides don’t mention.
Lightning in a Bottle provides free filtered water for reusable containers. The festival is mostly run on biodiesel and solar power and performs its own annual green-energy audit to ensure continued improvement.
Once you purchase your four-day wristband, you are granted access to all the activities and stages, from Thursday morning (when gates open) to Sunday evening. The campgrounds close on Monday morning. If you buy the Early Arrival pass you’ll, gain access to the festival on Wednesday, held at the centrally located Highgrounds Camp. Once there, you’ll be close to almost everything at the festival, while still enjoying a respite from the hustle and bustle.
What started in the year 2000 as a private birthday party outside of Santa Barbara has bounced around areas of California, until finding a dedicated home in Bradley. Since then, the festival has grown into the second largest transformational festival in the world, with an annual attendance of close to 20,000. People watching ― especially with all of the costumes and swimwear ― is another fun activity not mentioned in most Lightning in a Bottle Festival guides.
HOLY FUN! The musical line up during the day, with DJ’s such as Marques Wyatt, and into the night, when Bob Moses played, kept me jamming all day, every day!
Other musical treats included Bassnectar, Richie Hawtin, Kaytranada, Bonobo, Jhené Aiko, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Machinedrum, The Range, Paper Diamond, TroyBoi, Bomba Estéreo, Elephant Revival, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, The California Honeydrops, ORGŌNE, Zach Deputy, and Fakear, among many talented others.
Days were spent playing in the lake, getting decked out in daytime costume wear, and dancing. One day, I spent the morning doing yoga and meditating, went to to speakers in the afternoon, and came back early to ease into the night. The options of delicious food from vendors was virtually endless.
In short, LIB got our stamp of approval! So, use our Lightning in a Bottle festival guide, shop our curated packing list to get the apparel and accessories you need, and travel in style to this amazing festival.
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