Shambala Festival: 26th-30th August 2010

It's a festival, but not as you know it. Amy Hughes previews the best way to lose yourself this August Bank Holiday weekend

Written by Amy Hughes


Shambala 2010: Hop to it

Cowboys galloping down the hall on ‘neeeiigh’ing broomstick steeds; Thundercats high-kicking in shrunken primary colour pyjama sets and felt-tip pen facepaints; Ewok hunters on a mission through Endor, branch spears brandished and costume jewellery jangling… Every time my brother and I emerged from our childhood dressing up box, we did so as reborn beings – sometimes scaled, othertimes boasting barnets naively shorn by blunt Crayola scissors, and always adding to our mother’s list of rushed patch-up jobs. Remove teaspoon antennas from balaclava; scrub ink-stained cheeks; clip son’s whole head.

Gabby Young and Other Animals. Image: Joseph Lee

For hours we rampaged in our otherworldly guises, worries of school tests superseded by raw terror of the giant ape hot on our heels (our dad’s friend Ted also enjoyed dressing up. His repertoire included a gorilla suit) or the snapping alligator circling expectantly beneath the plank some called the kitchen table.

Shambala 2010

And one day the lid of the dressing up box was lowered, unceremoniously, for what turned out to be the final time. Ewoks, indians, aliens, mermaids and imaginative hybrids of all of the above played out their death-defying scenes in the dark innards of boxes – not just ours, but Halkirk’s and Halifax’s, Ramsgate’s and Rhyl’s – as cracks crept through their parched facepaint palettes and the first fine layers of dust settled on their lids.

Shambala 2010

But whispers of a weekend are heard on the wind; a weekend for which hands rub dust from the tops of forgotten chests that yawn wide to reveal feathers and sparkles and wooden swords of old; a weekend that brings badass bass and acoustic amazements together with knife-throwing, tea dances and wondering wordsmiths. It’s peopled by the curious, the creative and the downright cuckoo; its tents bear the names of The Lost Picture Show, The Compass of Lunacy and Twist & Spout; it’s powered by wind, water and waste cooking oil – and it’s called Shambala.

Alejandro Toledo and the Magic Tombolinos


Shambala 2010

In a secret location somewhere in Northamptonshire, the Shambala festival bubble will emerge on Thursday 26th August – filled with spectacular and outlandish music, games, adventures and theatre – and will pop for another year on Monday 30th. Location details are known to ticketholders alone – and to be one, you’ll need to sign your August Bank Holiday weekend (and perhaps a little drop of sanity) away via the Shambala website. And, of course, hope that you can still wriggle into that old matching pyjama set…

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One Response to “Shambala Festival: 26th-30th August 2010”

  1. jayoh says:

    best festival in the uk if not ever. the real nirvana

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