Welcome home – you are exactly where you belong


I have been trying to find the words to pen this for two weeks now, and to be honest I am afraid I won’t be able to do it justice here either.

Electric Forest is an 8-day, two-weekend-long multi-genre festival focused on the experience of what a festival is supposed to be. I was lucky enough to snag tickets to the first weekend, which was June 22-25.

I experienced my first overnight camping festival in the US. I also experienced my first poetry brothel and first spaceship ride. I witnessed a woman marry a cheeseburger, I partied at a silent disco where I witnessed the power of music, and I got a free (temporary) tattoo and massage. There were also free haircuts. I also expereienced being moved by music at 3 a.m. with 30,000 other people.

I have been telling everyone I get a chance to talk to that they should check out the festival. The biggest feedback I get is, “I don’t like EDM.” Yes, Electric Forest is marketed as an EDM festival but there is so much more. If you never catch an EDM set on a main stage, I promise you will not have a single bored moment for the four days there.

There were all kinds of workshops taking place in the forest that included yoga, belly dancing, flower meditations, growing mushrooms, following your dreams, overcoming anxiety, and a butterfly release. Workshops included panels on sustainability and talks by artists headlining the main stages.

There was a stage dedicated to highlighting music by women from around the world for a day and even a special section of GA Camping dedicated to being a safe space for women.

There were also opportunities for festivalgoers to share their special skills with others as part of the brainery program.

The festival sponsored art installations that ranged from a 30-foot-tall elephant to a dragon made out of CDs, rainbow archways, and small gardens created by forest goers to add to the endless array of things to see.

The festival took place on a ranch in Rothbury, Michigan and there was a 60,000 sq. ft. water park on site for people to explore. There was a special program dedicated to helping the festival become more eco-friendly and volunteer positions for set up and tear down with free admission to the festival.

There were three main stages but eleven in total. And they were all packed for four days so you can imagine the variety and diversity in the music offered.

The forest hosted a food drive, and called for submissions to a coloring zine sold to raise money for music programs to continue to be a part of the curriculum at public schools in Michigan. The Electric Forest’s website shares that the Music In Schools Program has supported local music education since 2012 and also offers hands-on experiences to music students including performance opportunities at the festival, and on-site mentor opportunities.

If you are looking for some new artists that you most likely haven’t heard of yet, I would highly recommend checking out Rezz, Above and Beyond, Crywolf, Illenium, Oliver Heldens, DJ Mancub, and Jody Litvack.

Was the experience expensive? Yes, oh goodness, yes. Was it worth it? Yes. This is the first music festival I have attended worth every dollar spent. It was truly an immersive experience that felt like a getaway.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I went to the forest to lose my mind and find my soul. The four days I was there changed me for the better. I made connections with new people and I will carry those always. I got closer to the people who know me best and I will cherish my time at the forest with them.

I can’t wait to see what future shows have in store and hopefully I’ll meet you there.

Rameesha Qazi
UW Alumna