Shambhala Music Festival is held on the Salmo River Ranch, a beautiful refuge of forest and farm hidden away in the Salmo River Valley in the West Kootenay region of Southern British Columbia, Canada.
Fun Fact: During the festival, Shambhala Music Festival becomes the largest city in the West Kootenay Region.
Our location is remote, with no major cities nearby. For curious travelers interested in exploring the area, funky arts town, Nelson, BC, is about 30 minutes by car and is a recommended stop.
* IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have a DUI in the USA, it’s unlikely that Canada Border Services will allow you into Canada. If you have any questions about crossing the border, you can visit CBSA’s website.
Here are a few tips for smooth cross-border travel:
- You need a valid Passport to enter Canada.
- Travel insurance is always recommended when visiting another country.
- Check with your phone carrier for information about travel packages and fees before departure.
- If you have a DUI in the USA, it’s unlikely that Canada Border Services will allow you into Canada.
- If you have any questions about crossing the border, you can visit CBSA’s website
Nearest Border Crossings
- Nelway – 11.7 miles to festival site. Open 8am-midnight daily. Nelway experiences heavy traffic around Shambhala and can be backed up by up to 3-4 hours. Depending on your point of origin, we recommend considering other crossings in Alberta or Coastal BC.
- Waneta – 34.1 miles to festival site. Open 9am – 5pm daily.
- Paterson – 49 miles to festival site. OPEN 24 HOURS Due to the unpredictable nature of travel, we recommend using the Paterson border crossing, eliminating the need to arrive at the border by a certain time.
Queen City Shuttle & Charters
Queen City Shuttle & Charters offers a special shuttle service to Shambhala Music Festival from:
- Vancouver, BC
- Kelowna, BC
- Calgary, AB
- Spokane, WA
Find more information on their homepage here.
*Please note: Kootenay Shuttles & Charters is an independent company and is not affiliated with Shambhala Music Festival. Please direct all shuttle inquiries to email@example.com or visit their website.
The nearest Greyhound stop is at the gas station in Salmo, BC, 6km away from the festival site.
Find more information on their homepage here
Preparing for the Drive
Photo: Dave Ladner
Shambhala Music Festival is accessible by a dirt road off Highway 3, 6 km east of Salmo, BC. Your vehicle should be in good working, the road can be rough. RCMP roadblocks on the way into Salmo are common during the festival, and your car may be taken off the road if it does not meet safety standards.
We recommend you fill your gas tank before you enter the festival grounds and clean or replace your air filter before heading home, these roads are dusty!
The closest airports are:
- Trail, BC – Flights available through Pacific Coastal Airlines – 43 km, approx 50 minutes drive to festival site – Regional Airport (flights from Vancouver South Terminal Only)
- Castlegar, BC – 44 km, approx 50 minutes drive to festival site – Regional Airport – Flights available through Air Canada
- Cranbrook, BC – 197 km, approx 2.5 hr drive to festival site – Int’l Airport (plus time change)
- Spokane, WA, USA – 169 mi, approx 3.5 hr drive to festival site – Int’l Airport (plus Border Crossing time, recommended route via Paterson shown, 24 hr crossing)
With all options, additional ground travel arrangements must be made from the airport. Consider festival shuttles, rideshares or car rental.
What to Pack
The best way to find out what to pack, is to talk to people who have been before. You can reach out on any of our social media channels. The Shambhala Music Festival Farmily Facebook Group is a great place to connect and reach out to past attendees for tips!
Or download Rave Mom's Packing List
Some general tips for packing:
- Camping Gear – Tent, chairs, sleeping bag, tarp, shade structure etc.
- Bandana – For dust.
- Water containers – For camp, and while you are out dancing. Free water is available with your own vessel.
- Jacket – It gets very cold here at night.
- Backpack – Cut down on trips to camp by bringing items with you.
- Food – Our vendors have all sorts of delicious food to offer once you get into the festival, however you might need food while waiting to get into the festival. There is very limited food available prior to the front gates.
- Biodegradable shampoos and sunscreens.
- Flashlight – Outside of the Downtown Area there is limited lighting.
- Comfortable footwear – The ground is uneven and rugged. You may be covering long distances by foot, so be sure to have a good pair of walking shoes with you.
Shambhala Music Festival is an alcohol-free event. Glass, cans – doesn’t matter. All alcohol is banned. Any found in searches will be confiscated and dumped. Our 19+ age limit is unrelated to the legal drinking age. Compared to many festivals of similar size that allow alcohol, Shambhala Music Festival has a significantly lower incident rate. Not only does the no alcohol policy make the festival safer – it creates a better vibe.
No campfires or open flames of any kind. The Salmo River Ranch is extremely dry during August and provincial fire bans are in effect. Do not bring candles, fireworks, fire poi / hoops / other fire toys, fuel (white gas), tiki torches, barbecues, hibatchi style camp stoves, propane powered heaters or propane campfires are all banned.
We encourage you to use LED and solar light options to light up your camp at night.
Smokers, please ensure bring a pocket ashtray or other small container to dispose of butts. Do not toss your butts on the ground, it could easily start a fire.
All types of liquid fuel in open-nozzle containers are banned, including white gas, kerosene, gasoline in jerry cans, and any other forms of combustible liquid fuel. Refillable propane tanks are permitted.
Propane or butane cookstoves and containers are permitted. Do not leave camp stoves unattended. Gas-powered fire pits, barbecues, and anything else with an open flame are banned and will be confiscated.
Use of generators, including those built into RVs, is prohibited at Shambhala Music Festival. Generators create both noise and air pollution, and are not suited for our tightly-packed campgrounds.
There is no public access to electricity for personal care (ie: hair dryers) at the Salmo River Ranch. You can charge your phone at the General Store.
If you need electricity to charge your electric wheelchair, or have another medical device that requires power, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can arrange access for you. View info on ShambAbled Camping below in the Camping and Parking section.
Glass is banned to protect our guests, as well as our beloved cows, horses, ponies, donkeys and dogs who roam the Salmo River Ranch before and after the festivities. Banned glass items include large mirrors, drink containers, decorative glassware, etc.
Small jars of food (jam, condiments, pickles) are ok, but must be kept inside your camp, though we do recommend transferring these items into small, reusable containers.
No handheld laser pointers are permitted. Laser pointers can very seriously damage someone’s vision, they do not belong on the dancefloor at eye level.
Matters involving illegal substances will be turned over to the RCMP.
Only authorized Shambhala Music Festival Drivers can operate motorized vehicles during the festival. The motorized vehicle ban includes minibikes, golf carts, ATVs, dirtbikes, and any other motorized items. We encourage pedal-powered transportation. Bring your bike.
Drones, quadcopters, and other magical flying machines are also banned, and will be confiscated by Security if found.
Festivals are not a suitable environment for pets. Leave your pet at home in the care of someone who loves them or make other boarding arrangements. Kennels in the West Kootenay area book up very quickly for the summer months, so be sure to make arrangements for your pet well in advance if you want them to stay in our area. Guest who arrive with a pet (including dogs, cats, birds, rats, etc) will not be given access to the festival, no exceptions.
Legally recognized service animals are permitted, but must be pre-registered with us and must be approved by the landowners prior to arrival. Additionally, all service animals attending the festival must be certified in BC, even if they do not reside here. More information is available here
Emotional support animals, therapy animals, and comfort animals are NOT permitted.
Weapons of any kind are not permitted at Shambhala Music Festival. This includes machetes, knives (including swiss army knives / leatherman tools with blades), swords, guns, axes, baseball bats, etc. Anything that could potentially harm another guest can be considered a weapon. Cooking knives must be under 6 inches.
Hate speech of any kind and images or symbols that represent hate speech, including signs, totems, flags or attire, will not be tolerated at Shambhala Music Festival.
Shambhala Music Festival welcomes all aspects of diversity to our community including ability, sexual orientation, gender, sex, age, race, colour, ancestry, aboriginal status, ethnic origin, place of origin, citizenship, marital and family status, immigrant status, political affiliation, religious affiliation, creed, level of literacy, and language.
As a festival, we value and encourage diversity and creative self-expression, however, we must note that signage, attire and other expressions of sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia or otherwise hateful messaging will not be tolerated. Messaging that is deemed to fall into these categories will be immediately removed, and depending on the severity, may be grounds for removal from the festival.
If guests notice any signs, totems, etc that display concerning messaging as mentioned above, please notify Shambhala Music Festival staff so we can take action.
Granted that it is not alcohol, drugs or paraphernalia, we will do our best to return confiscated items after the show. However, there is 100% no guarantee that you will get your items back. Shambhala Music Festival does not take responsibility for lost or damaged items. We have hundreds and hundreds of banned items checked into our front gate. With our staff dropping to almost nothing by the end of the show, these items become hard to manage and may go missing. The best way to guarantee these items don’t go missing or get damaged, is to not bring them in the first place.
Synthetic feathers and boas are an environmental hazard and classify as MOOP (Matter Out of Place). These items tend to fall apart very easily and the synthetic feathers are very difficult to clean up. Any garbage that can’t be picked up by us is usually eaten by the cows, which can be harmful to their health. Please leave your synthetic feathers and boas at home.
Arrival and Entry
Wait times to get into the festival are variable and difficult to predict. It could be as little as a few minutes (more likely from Friday onwards) or several hours. If you arrive for Early Entry, be prepared for long wait times (between 6 and 12 hours) as Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are our highest volume entry days.
Come prepared for the heat of the day. We recommend having sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, appropriate clothing for day and night temperatures, lots of water (4L per person), at least one substantial meal, and snacks. For extra comfort, consider keeping a couple ice packs and a spray bottle (to mist yourself and others) in your cooler. Above all be patient, you’re only moments away from Home.
All General Admission tickets include entry from Friday 8am (PST).
Want to secure a great camp spot close to the stages and beat the rush? Guests are welcome to arrive early on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, but must purchase an Early Entry Pass. Early Entry begins Tuesday August 6th, 2019 at 8am (PST). When coming to the ranch, be prepared to pay the Early Entry Admission Fee in effect at the time you arrive at the bottom of the farm road.
Early Admission is collected in cash as you enter into the festival, and cannot be purchased in advance.
Guests are now welcome to arrive on the farm on Tuesday to avoid the mad rush of thousands of people running through the gates all at once. You can now enjoy arriving even earlier to beat the rush, get set-up and once settled, chill out by the pristine Salmo River as you await the six stages come to life.
*2019 Early Entry Prices TBA*
DO NOT ARRIVE BEFORE 8am Tuesday morning.
For safety and traffic control reasons, guests are not permitted to wait on-site for fees to roll over, nor is parking on the highway permitted.
We will be taking license plate numbers of people parked on the highway. If you wish to wait for fees to switch, you will be required to leave the ranch to do so.
Rates change over at 8:00AM.
In effect from gate opening until 7:59 AM (PST) on Wednesday August 7th, 2019
Get set up and settled in - best camping selection
No stages open
Longest wait times due to volume of arrivals
Limited amount of Artisan Market and Food Court vendors open
In effect from gate opening until 7:59 AM (PST) on Thursday August 8th, 2019
Get set up and settled in - best camping selection
No stages open
Artisan Market and Food Court open
Longest wait times due to volume of arrivals
In effect from gate opening until 7:59 AM (PST) on Friday August 9th, 2019
Overflow camping available
2 of 6 stages open - AMP & Living Room. Artisan Market and Food Court open
Shorter wait times, but please still prepare for a 2-5 hour wait
In effect from gate opening at 8AM (PST)
* Early Entry pricing offsets the costs of additional staffing and service levels for the extra festival days (including the recent extension of Monday through Tuesday morning post-show to allow guests a good night’s sleep on Monday).
Arriving before our team can process you is problematic for a number of reasons:
It places a strain on the surrounding towns and their residents.
It burdens our teams who cannot accommodate you earlier than expected.
Please note that any guests arriving BEFORE 8am Tuesday morning will be moved into a holding lot and will be processed AFTER those who arrive at the designated time.
Guests must not park on or block the highway. This impedes on the safety of our guests on the highway and non-festival traffic coming through the area.
Upon arrival you will be greeted by Decal Fairies selling Parking and Camping Passes that are only available on-site, on a first-come, first-serve basis (cash only). All GA tickets include parking in our Free Parking Lot. We encourage guests to leave their vehicle in Free Parking and use the free shuttle to transport their gear to their desired camp zone. You will then proceed through the main ticket gate and be directed towards the appropriate zone. Free Shuttles will be provided but many of our guests prefer to simply bring a cart or means of transferring their gear to their campsite.
*Parking Passes are valid for the duration of the festival.
Vehicle Camping Pass
See Camping for Vehicle Camping Pass Prices
Vehicles will proceed to the camping zones (some parking restrictions may apply to each camp zones).
Free Parking Pass
Parking in our Free Parking Lot is absolutely free.
Vehicles with Free Parking Decals will have access to Free Shuttles. We would prefer to have you unload your gear within the campgrounds then send the driver to park the car and take the shuttle back. A reminder to enter with everyone else on the driveway not using the bridge.
Need help determining which category your vehicle falls in? Check out our guide below:
A regular vehicle is any regular standard sized car, truck or van.
An oversize vehicle is defined as any vehicle that has a larger footprint than a full-size truck. Please note that most Winnebagos, larger camper-vans, and trailers are considered oversized.
- RVs: RVs or Motorhomes are recommended to purchase a Shambhalodging Central Park pass in order to enjoy a close site to Downtown, power hookups, and daily freshwater fill and sani-dump.
Tow Vehicles and Trailers: Any vehicle towing a trailer classifies as oversize. If arriving with a trailer, please plan your exit strategy ahead so you are not boxed in.
In Starlight, if you plan on leaving the festival grounds Sunday August 13 or Monday August 14 you will not be permitted to leave your tow vehicle with your trailer, so please ensure your trailer is easy to access without disturbing your neighbours’ camps. It is your responsibility to ensure you can access your trailer safely. We ask that you unhitch your trailer and move your vehicle to the Free Parking area in order to free up space.
However, if you won’t be leaving until Tuesday August 14, 2018 or are camped near a road, we ask that you unhitch your trailer and move your vehicle to the Free Parking Lot in order to free up space. Be mindful of your exit path and surrounding patrons and tents.
Vehicles that have been modified to have a permanent bed are considered a Camperized Vehicle. This includes Camper RVs, CamperVans, Modified Vans.
All GA tickets include tent camping and parking in our Free Parking Lot. Free Shuttles will be provided from the Free Parking Lot to Metta and back. However, please be mindful of wait times. We recommend bringing a cart as a means of transferring your gear to your campsite.
We encourage guests to leave their vehicles in the Free Parking Lot. The festival is held on a working farm; the less cars on the cows’ grazing fields, the better.
Two camp zones allow for vehicle camping: Sunshine and Starlight. If you’d like to camp with your vehicle, RV, or trailer, you’ll need to buy either a Sunshine or Starlight car camping decal on-site upon arrival with cash only (ATM is available if needed but please plan ahead to ensure a quicker check-in). *Only camperized vehicles that guests are sleeping in will be permitted in Starlight*
*Please note: Vehicle camping decals are only available on-site and are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is no guarantee that you will be able to purchase a parking pass for your desired camp zone as space is limited. Decals must be applied to the vehicle by an authorized Shambhala Music Festival representative at the time of purchase. No advance sales of vehicle decals are permitted.
Free Tent Camping
Car Camping Fees:
- Regular Vehicle: 2019 Prices TBA
- Oversized Vehicle: 2019 Prices TBA
Starlight Camp is on a first come, first serve basis.
- Free Tent Camping
- Vehicle Camping Upgrade Prices:
- Regular Vehicle: 2019 Prices TBA
- Oversized Vehicle: 2019 Prices TBA
*Only camperized RVs, camper, camper vans or modified vehicles with a bed installed permanently that guests are sleeping in will be allowed to purchase a Starlight decal. Please see “Vehicle Classification” for more information.
*Tow vehicles and trailers require a separate decal. But you do have the option to unhitch your trailer, park your vehicle and pay for only one decal.
Free Tent Camping
No vehicles, RVs or trailers are permitted in Metta Camp
Are you travelling from a distance and interested in a reserved camping site? Don’t have any space in your vehicle for camping gear? Want to skip the holding lots during entry or just want the peace of mind?
ShambhaLodging is our premium camping service, offering reserved campsites in the shady, wooded ShambhaLodging zone. Arrive with the certainty that you have a spot reserved and not needing to rush for your spot. When requested and if possible, we will try our best to get your camped close to other friends who have also chosen Shambhalodging. We offer five different full-service camping packages that add extra comfort and assistance in providing a smooth experience for you. Avoid the hassle. Book lodging.
Explore on-site accommodation options here.
Shambha-Abled camping for persons with disabilities is available and located near Downtown Shambhala for close and convenient access. Power access is available for charging motorized wheelchairs or operating other medical devices. For further information, or inquiries into our Shambha-Abled campground, contact email@example.com
Please note that our deadline for accepting registrations for our Shambha-abled Campground is July 1, 2018. We are unable to accommodate additional guest registrations in Shambha-abled after this time.
Camp Clean Beats
Camp Clean Beats is a dedicated clean and sober camping zone in the Starlight lot. Guests who would like to have a clean and sober camping experience are welcome to pre-register to camp here. Availability is first come, first served. We ask the all camp participants fill out our Camp Clean Beats Registration Form. If you have any questions contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I join the camp?
Availability is first come, first served. We ask the all camp participants fill out our Camp Clean Beats Registration Form. If you have any questions contact email@example.com.
When you arrive on-site, follow the Camp Clean Beats signs to our zone. Anyone entering this camping zone MUST be clean and sober. Please don’t bring drugs or alcohol in as they are not allowed on the premises.
To ensure that all of our guests get home safely and in a timely manner, Shambhala Music Festival asks that you are prepared.
Here are some tips for a safe drive home:
- Plan a Designated Driver, especially if you have to leave on the Monday. As designated driver you commit to getting at least 8 hours of sleep before departure. Prepare for police roadblocks on your way out.
- Schedule a departure time – this makes it much easier to follow through with Step 1!
- Designate a co-pilot who’ll stay awake with the driver. As co-pilot it’s your job to engage your driver and watch for signs of sleepiness behind the wheel.
- Consider local hotel/motel/camping options if you have a long drive home ahead of you. If you plan on staying in Nelson, Salmo, or Castlegar be sure to book ahead. Places are usually booked out in advance to the festival.
We love you all, and encourage you to take these steps when leaving our festival, or any festival.
The Savoy Hotel
We welcome all guests of Shambhala Music Festival to experience The Savoy Hotel in beautiful Nelson, BC before and after the festival. The Savoy is an extension of Shambhala’s commitment to quality and attention to detail; a year-round mountain town resort with influences from your favourite festival. Where Mountain Meets Modern.
Start your day with a delicious, locally-sourced breakfast at Farm Fresh Café. Explore Nelson’s shopping and beaches, then as the afternoon wanes, enjoy a cold, refreshing beer from the in-house Savoy Brewery at the Falls Music Lounge before enjoying a magnificent, locally-sourced dinner. As night falls, keep the Shambhala vibes alive and make your way downstairs to Bloom Nightclub— stay tuned for lead-up and après Shambhala event updates, as we’ve got some top-quality events in the works!
Plan Your Journey FAQs
Guests that arrive before the designated time will be moved into a holding lot and will be processed AFTER all of those who arrive on time. Arriving before our team can process you is problematic for a number of reasons, it places a strain on the surrounding towns and their residents, as well as burdening our team who cannot accommodate you earlier than expected. Parking on the highway is also strictly prohibited, and we ask our guests to respect the local residents and plan their journey into the festival to comply with entry times. DO not park on the highway. License plates will be recorded and people parked on the highway before that time will be held until after people who arrive on time have been processed.
All General Admission tickets include parking in the Free Parking Lot. A limited amount of Vehicle Camping and Parking Upgrades are available for purchase on-site only, first-come, first-served.
2019 Parking Upgrade prices TBA
*Please note: Decals can only be purchased for a vehicle you are sleeping in. Cars being used for storage or a secure lock-up are not permitted in Starlight, but are permitted in Sunshine.
YES. Everybody is allowed to set up a tent in the Sunshine and Starlight zones. A Vehicle Camping decal is only required if they wish to camp with their vehicle, RV, or trailer.
On Wednesday at 8am crew may purchase Sunshine and Starlight decals. Please note that vehicles that have not been modified to be slept in will not be permitted a Starlight decal (only for RVs, campers, and camper vans).
Although Sunshine decals are generally available all weekend, Starlight decals usually sell out quite quickly.
Yes, you can bring an RV.
All General Admission RVs & Trailers require a vehicle camping decal for one of our 2 vehicle Camp Zones – Sunshine or Starlight. Vehicle Camping Decals and Parking Decals are not pre-sold and must be purchased upon arrival. RVs and Trailers cannot be parked in Free Parking.
Spacious 15x50 reserved RV camping with all the amenities can be purchased in advance with the Central Park Lodging Package.
Hookups are available only with a Central Park Lodging package.
An oversize vehicle is defined as any vehicle that holds 8+ passengers or has a larger footprint than a full-size truck. Please note that most Winnebagos, larger camper-vans, and trailers are considered oversized.