Where: Woodward Reservoir Regional Park in Oakdale, California
When: September 22nd to September 25th
Why go: Often referred to as a "purer, more curated" version of Burning Man, Symbiosis has the feeling of being thrown by and for the volunteers and crew of other larger festivals. A heavy emphasis on earth-consciousness abounds, with a completely organic food market, large scale recycling program and inclusion of nearby Native America tribes. The well-equipped campgrounds at Woodward Reservoir Regional Park make the festival far more comfortable than the "out in the elements" style of Burning Man. And with just 7,000 attendees, it is also much more intimate. "Symbiosis is a wonderfully relaxed, easy-to-experience festival with many artistic delights," says Chip Conley, founder of the online festival guide, Fest300.com. "You'll find an increased sense of idealism and common intentionality among the big-hearted crowd." Water plays a big role here. There are various art-boats floating on the reservoir, where attendees can take a dip and cool off after dancing in the California heat. There are no brands, corporate sponsorships or any other type of for-profit commerce at Symbiosis. Instead, there's an alternative-marketplace that exists through sharing, cooperation and collaboration where everyone is welcome.
Most of the musical acts are less well known (and a good deal quirkier) than other larger festivals, although some well-known artists have launched their careers here, including Chief Golden Light Eagle, LYNX, Emancipator, Rupa and the April Fishes, Sphongle and Starhawk.
Official website: symbiosisgathering.com