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You Speak, We Listen!

A big shout out to everyone who participated in The Big Debate 2018. This feedback is read, crunched and shared with the whole team – It’s how we decide what to keep, what to change, what needs work and what’s perfect the way it is, so THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to help us create next year!

Here’s what we learnt..

A whole bunch of you just can’t get enough!

There’s no higher compliment than seeing so many of you coming back year on year (on year, on year, on year). This year, more than a quarter of you had been to Shambala five times or more!

Why you choose to come to Shambala

We asked you to vote on your top reason for coming to Shambala, ‘The ethos of the event’ nabbed the top spot, with a whopping 38% of the vote, followed by ‘community’ with an impressive 30%.

In third place was ‘Absence of corporate influence’, followed by activities, music and Shambala’s family-friendly nature.

We feel like all of these factors have a huge part to play in what makes Shambala special and we’ll endeavour to nurture all of them.

Festival capacity

Over 78% of you felt like our capacity was ‘just right’ this year. 18% of you felt it was a little overcrowded.

If some venues felt a bit busier this year, we’d imagine that had something to do with the night-time temperatures being dramatically lower than usual – meaning less of you were having outdoor adventures in the early hours, and more of you were dancing yourselves warm, in our late night venues.

Every year, there’s a vocal minority that say they ‘can really tell we’ve upped the numbers’. We haven’t. We love Shambala’s intimate size as much as you do and, eighteen years in, if we’d wanted to turn Shambala into a behemoth, we would have done it by now!

Music line up

“Shambala isn’t about big names, it’s about stumbling into something magical”

We don’t really do huge headliners at Shambala. Our bookers put a huge amount of time and effort into making sure our line up is unique, stands out from the hundreds of other events on offer, and most importantly, perfectly soundtracks the weekend. We don’t bill our acts on how ‘famous’ they are, but rather how well they flow, building the atmosphere up as we segue from day to night – and its wonderful to hear this is both noticed and appreciated – and we loved how many of you see Shambala as a place to discover your new favourite bands.

Massive props to My Baby, who were voted the best live act of the festival, after a stonking Friday night closing slot on the Shambala stage.


In 2017’s Big Debate, the old hands amongst you requested some secret venues, to keep things fresh. We gave you a top secret late night Jazz club, a cypher-punk club in an abandoned mine shaft, and the beautiful hanging oasis that was the Buzzard stage in the new Craft Garden. Those of you that found them absolutely loved them. Those of you that didn’t, perhaps they’ll pop up again, sometime…

A big shout out to the Enchanted Woods for being voted your favourite area for the sixth year in a row! Will anyone ever steal their crown?


Once again, Dance Workshops were voted your favourite activity – massive well done to our dance team. There is no greater sight than a crowd of hundreds, shaking off their hangovers by shaking their tail feathers.

There was a huge outpouring of love for the Carnival as well this year. It was undeniably our biggest to date, with thousands of you parading in your best Avant Garden finery. The effort put in to our costumes astounds us every year, but this year was unlike anything we’ve seen before. Flowerpot men, hedge people, caterpillars and dandelion queens, we bow to your creative abilities.

The Site & Services

81% of you rated our toilets ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ – though quite a few of you requested we put the compost inside the cubicles in future, to stop people forgetting (or being too shy) to scoop it up on the way in. Yep, can do.

The Red Sea Travel agency went down a bloody storm with menstruators – but you’d like to see it open 24/7 – understandable, and we’ll see what we can do.

Our campsites, stewards, security and water points were all rated as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ by over 85% of you.


This year we set aside heaps of tickets at each tier for coach-travel-only packages to get our travel emissions down – bearing in mind over 90% of our festival emissions now come from travel. This was a huge success overall, with the amount of cars significantly reduced, and a HUGE amount more of you joining us by coach (we’re still crunching the numbers but will include the figures in our end of year sustainability round up, for any fellow green travel nerds).

However, the increased numbers using the coaches brought to light some ways in which we can improve the coach travel experience including organisation and communication at pick up points, and better management of the queuing system upon arrival, to ensure coach passengers don’t end up in the re-entry queue. We’re all over this for 2019 already with a plan that will see coach goers (and everyone else) literally flying through the gates including the re-entry lanes!

Tent thefts

After a handful reported tent thefts this year, we made the decision to text you all onsite, to alert you to be  careful with your stuff. We know that this ‘bursts the bubble’ to an extent, but we felt it was important to give you all a heads up, and make it harder for these few bad eggs to get away with it. We have ample security staff onsite, but no amount can completely stop thefts at festivals. We are the best security – a thousands strong festival community of eyes and ears everywhere, prepared to say, “oi – what are you doing”, and reporting anything suspicious to stewards. Look out for a new campaign in 2019 to strengthen our response to these wrong ‘uns, through Operation CCTV – ‘Close Community Television’.

The App

Our radical home-grown (and free!) listings app was back for it’s second year – and we were really pleased to hear that 80% of you downloaded it! The vast majority of you rated is as ‘Good’ or ‘Very good’ – and lots of you came up with some really useful usability suggestions and tweaks for improving it for next year, which is incredibly useful for the Apps team, so thanks for that.

Food for thought

“The food is great. Typically well priced and although I do eat meat in real life, I like the fact that the festival has a much smaller footprint by going veggie so keep it going.”

We’re now 3 years in to being meat and fish free, and for the third year in a row, you voted overwhelmingly to keep Shambala this way, which is hugely gratifying.

It was also fantastic to see how many of you listed ‘the food’ as one of the top 3 things you rate about Shambala – well done to our amazing Food Traders – and in particular, Bhangra Bus, who were voted your favourite trader of 2018!

We’ve clocked the requests from families for more ‘unintimidating’ kid-friendly food basics and also pledge to work on our provision for those that suffer with allergies, ensuring there is enough on offer for them, and that they can and can not tuck into, is made very clear.


98% of families felt their needs were well catered for, and that there was more than enough to keep them entertained – which is music to our ears!

Overall, 2018 was a vintage year, though the weather threw its toys out of the pram occasionally. Our crew and artists put on an incredible show, brand new venues and hidden corners meant there was plenty for even our most old-hand Shambalan’s to discover. Most importantly of all, you lot were on top form – being your kind, curious and playful selves. Whether it’s through random acts of kindness, epic costumes, or just your open attitudes and willingness to get properly silly, you lot make Shambala what it is. Keep on coming back and don’t go changing.

Big, big love

The Shambala Team x