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.
It’s difficult to predict how long wait times will be because we don’t know exactly how many people are going to show up before the gates open. It could be as little as a few minutes (more likely from Friday onwards) or several hours. If you arrive early to the ranch, be prepared for long wait times between 6 and 12 hours.
Regardless of when you arrive, come prepared for the heat of the day. Make sure you have things like sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, appropriate clothing, lots of water (4L per person), at least one substantial meal, and snacks. For extra comfort, consider keeping a couple icepacks and a spray bottle (to mist yourself and others) in your cooler. Above all be patient, you’re only moments away from Home.
* Wait times are variable and unpredictable. When coming to the ranch, be prepared to pay the Early Entry fee in effect at the time you arrive at the bottom of the farm road. For safety and traffic control reasons, guests are not permitted to wait on-site for fees to roll over. 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. See Early Entry for more info.
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 or 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.
* 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.
Queen City Shuttle & Charters
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
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. The Shambhala Music Festival Farmily Facebook Group is a great place to connect and reach out to past attendees for tips!
Some general tips for packing:
- Camping Gear – Tent, chairs, sleeping bag, tarp, shade structure etc.
- Bandanna – For dust.
- Water containers – For camp, and while you are out dancing. Free water is available with your own vessel.
- Jacket – It gets real 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 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 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 flame 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 tupperware 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 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 on signs, totems, flags or attire, will not be tolerated at Shambhala Music Festival.
Shambhala 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 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 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.
Rave Mom’s Packing List
Hi Shambhalovlies, I’m Britz aka “Rave Mom”. I’ve been attending Shambhala and many other festivals throughout North America since 2003. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about camping comfortably at festivals. This list was originally created in 2007 to help members of our Forum pack for Shambhala.
I’ve updated it and broken it down into sections for your packing ease! Print it and personalize it any way you want.
See you on the dancefloor, and happy packing.
- Rave Mom
* = optional/if applicable
TO GET IN:
☐ Your Ticket!
☐ 2 pieces Gov’t issued ID (at least one piece photo ID)
☐ All your tent poles and fly (seriously – double check before packing)
☐ Tent pegs and mallet
☐ Extra tarp and poles (or other shade structure)
☐ Sleeping Bags / Bedding
☐ Air Mattress / Foam Mat
Note: some items in this section are intended for planned coordination with your campmates.
☐ Camp Chairs
☐ Lantern (preferably battery or solar powered)
☐ Tape (electrical, duct, whatever – you’ll probably need it for something)
☐ First Aid Kit (at the very least, bandages + sterile wipes)
☐ Large water containers (4L jugs, 5 gal water cooler style jugs with pump, etc)
☐ A wagon or dollie (to transport gear from the parking lots and water refills back to camp)*
☐ Garbage bags, recycling bags and gloves (Respect the River, Respect the Land)
☐ Camp stove (Some restrictions apply, see Fuel Section of the What to Pack section)*
☐ Portable camp table*
☐ Dishes, cutlery, pots, pans*
☐ Can opener*
☐ Wash/rinse bins and biodegradable dish soap (for camp dishes)*
☐ Solar Shower*
☐ Sewing kit (for mending costumes)*
☐ Safety Pins (always handy)*
☐ Permanent Markers*
☐ Personal touches for your camp (flags, banners, signs, solar lights, etc)*
☐ Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
☐ Earplugs (very important! protect your hearing!)*
☐ Body lotion
☐ Shampoo and Conditioner (DO NOT use these products in the river! Respect the River, Respect the Land)
☐ Face wash/cleanser (DO NOT use in the river)
☐ Soap (DO NOT use in the river)
☐ Hand sanitizer
☐ Insect repellent
☐ Baby wipes
☐ Toilet paper
☐ Lip balm
☐ Smokers: Small container for cigarette butts (keep those butts off the ground)
☐ Vision impaired: Extra contacts, solution and contact case (and/or glasses)*
☐ Condoms (if you forget, you can pick some up free at ANKORS+Options for Sexual Heath. Play safe.)*
☐ Any medications you normally take*
☐ Multi-vitamins, melatonin, Emergen-C, etc*
☐ Ladies: tampons/pads (even if you don’t need ’em, one of your girls might)*
Prepare for all types of weather. Seriously. Our mountain climate is unique, making for hot days and very cool, sometimes damp nights. Plan your wardrobe for extremes.
☐ Bandana (or filtered cycling mask for those who are extra sensitive to dust)
☐ Socks (more than you think you need)
☐ 2-3 pairs of footwear, at least 1 waterproof (more than just sandals)
☐ Warm coat (the temperature can drop to the 10s C/50s F at night)
☐ Warm clothes
☐ Bathing suit (or your birthday suit, your call)
☐ Festival belt/fannypack/backpack (handy when you don’t have pockets)*
☐ Flashlight (w/ new batteries)
☐ Extra batteries
☐ Reusable coffee mug*
☐ Reusable water bottle*
☐ Backpack w/ water bladder, like a CamelPak (highly recommended for any festival)*
☐ Snacks for between meals
☐ Groceries (if you’re planning to cook some of your meals)
☐ Alarm clock*
☐ Umbrella or parasol*
☐ Toys or props (hoops, poi, flags, etc – no fire toys/fuel)
☐ Body/face paints/bio-glitter or other makeup*
☐ Musical instruments*
☐ LED Glowsticks or El-Wire (ditch the disposables)*
☐ Bicycle (or other pedal-powered, non-motorized transportation)*
☐ Notebook or sketchbook*
☐ Spray bottle (for misting yourself + campmates on hot days)*
Arrival and Entry
We cannot predict wait times to get into the festival. If you arrive for Early Entry, be prepared for long wait times as Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are our highest volume entry days.
Come prepared: we recommend having sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, 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 icepacks and a spray bottle to mist yourself and others in your cooler. Above all be patient.
All tickets provide General Admission on Friday, August 10th, 2018 at 8AM. Guests are welcome to arrive on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, but will be required to pay Early Entry fees. Visit Upgrades for more info.
Camping and Parking
We encourage our guests to utilize Free Parking and use the Shuttle to transport their gear to their desired camp zone.
Parking decal upgrades are only available on-site and are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. Parking restrictions apply to some camp zones.
Visit Camping and Parking for more info.
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 email@example.com.
How do I join the camp?
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.
Are you travelling to come to Shambhala? Don’t have any space in your vehicle for camping gear? Want to skip the holding lots during entry? Just want the peace of mind of having a reserved space in the trees?
ShambhaLodging is our premium camping service, offering reserved campsites in the shady, wooded ShambhaLodging zone. We offer five different full-service camping packages that add extra comfort and assistance in providing a smooth experience for you.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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!