10 factors that make Lightning in a Bottle a one-of-a-kind experience
Lightning in a Bottle is a sustainable music festival with a set of core values focused on self-discovery, exploration, connection, and of course, music. Presented by the Do LaB, best known for its part-art-installation part-stage at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Lightning in a Bottle is closing in on its 20th year of programming that not only culminates in the festival, but also in the spread of love, knowledge, and culture across California.
Fostering a pure sense of community and introspection, Lightning in a Bottle and it attendees, lovingly known among festival organizers and goers as “Citizens,” have cultivated an environment all its own that cannot be recreated. Dancing Astronaut was live on location for the festival’s 2022 installement and below, shares 10 unique aspects that make Lighting in a Bottle lightening, in a bottle. All of these factors outlined below contribute to Lightning in a Bottle’s identity and enduring legacy as a standout, one-of-a-kind experience.
Lightning in a Bottle is built on an ethos of sustainability, harm reduction, cultural respect, and once-in-a-life-time experiences. Their motto, “Pack In, Pack Out,” dutifully appears on signs posted around the campsite, encouraging Citizens to be aware of and responsible for their trash. After the final set of each evening, the artists and the crowd work together to pick up waste on their way out of the festival, disposing it in one of the many waste collection deposits placed on the grounds. These collection areas allot for three different types of waste: landfill, recycling, and compost. Attendees are expected to not only leave no footprint, but to also appropriately sort waste; campers who leave litter behind are charged a fee for waste that is not sorted into these three categories.
In addition to waste mindfulness, each stage is lined with energy-saving LED lights. The festival uses biodiesel fuel to run light towers, generators, camping shuttles, and crew vehicles while hybrid solar and wind generators are used for alternative power. Water stations are abundant around the campgrounds and the venue, and attendees are encouraged bring their own water containers, as plastic water bottles are not sold on-site.
With a population of around 25,000, the Lightning in a Bottle community somehow remains one of the most interconnected groups of music lovers in the industry. Providing a space for everyone, ranging from artists, musicians, teachers, young families, volunteers, and concert-goers, the California festival is a hub of like-minded individuals whose main goals are to have fun and inspire change. The five-day event creates a social expectation that all those who enter the space be kind, caring, and respectful of others and the Earth, making it a holistic and uplifting experience that cultivates connection for all who attend.
With three main stages and four additional pop-up stages, the festival’s design is broad and expansive. The Lightning stage—the festival’s largest—sits on a large plot of grass with massive art installations (giant metal totems designed to mimic swaying dragonflies and immersive light fixtures for attendees to walk or lay beneath) placed on the outskirts. Past the Lightning stage are countless immersive exhibits and installations that create a magical and comfortable environment for all.
“We’re providing so many comfortable places for people to sit and relax and so many shade structures and so many art pieces and sculptures. We can’t really help ourselves. The bottom line is never really our concern, so we can’t help going above and beyond,” said Jesse Flemming, co-creator of the Do LaB and Lightning in a Bottle.
Learning and Culture
One of the Lightning in a Bottle’s most unique elements comes in their cultural workshops, hosted throughout the festival’s five days. With more than 100 discussions featured venerated speakers, thought leaders, experts in subject areas like indigenous cultures, psychedelic medicine, climate change, love and relationships, healthy eating, and more, the event offers hands-on opportunities to learn new skills from trades to medicine-making and beyond.
View Learning and Culture programming below.
From techno and house to pop and hip-hop, folk and Americana to bass music, Lightning in a Bottle caters to Citizens with varied tastes with a lineup that embraces just about any genre under the SoCal sun. Outfitted with seven stages’ worth of otherworldly soundscapes and three days jam-packed with music, the festival engages headliners like Glass Animals, Kaytranda, CloZee and breakout artists like Megan Hamilton, Rome In Silver, Moontricks, and more. The roster also includes surprise sets, such as sumthin sumthin back-to-back The Glitch Mob, as well as a DJ set from SG Lewis, to name just a few of the 2022 tricks up Lightning in a Bottle’s sleev. But by far the most endearing aspect of all the musicality at the event is the elation radiating from each artist who came to perform at the electric and uniting affair.
Curated expertly and, as always, with a clear intention to improve the planet, Lightning in a Bottle is mindful of nutrition and health when selecting its food vendors. Organic and almost fully vegetarian cuisine options were available; in fact, most culinary options were meatless. The few vendors that carried meat sourced it locally, from animals that had been ethically treated and fed. Each vendor was instructed to use compostable waste, food containers, and packaging. Some of the event’s most widely visited vendors included The DoLab’s Dough Lab Pizza, Jungle Fried Rice, and Happy Buddha Bowls. In tandem with food vendors, Lightning in a Bottle offers the Learning Kitchen, where attendees can dig their heels into food-oriented workshops that cover cooking techniques hailing from ancient rituals to modern-day traditions.
Having made the move to Bakersfield, Lightning in a Bottle offers an all-encompassing environment for a festival experience. Set on a massive plot of land located on Kern County’s Buena Vista Lake that supports a variety of activities, grassy fields, and trees, the event allows for romping around the estate, rinsing off at a lakeside campsite, and taking a dip in the water during a pop-up Desert Hearts set.
Yoga and Movement
A cornerstone of the festival is the care of one’s self, the planet, and each other—and this dovetails with looking after one’s body. Lightning in a Bottle provides Citizens the chance to get in touch with their body through yoga and movement. Each day, there are multiple yoga classes that attendees can take part in. Taught by venerated instructors of various styles and skill levels, the classes ensure that all festival-goers have an opportunity to find fulfillment by engaging their mind, body, and soul.
Diverse in its spectacles and exhibits, Lightning in a Bottle is brought to life in part by artists who curate pieces of art in real time across mediums, like graffiti, oil on canvas, and interactive pieces, among others. All are on full display throughout the festival and culminate in an art walk on the final day, where attendees can peruse a sea of imaginative artwork.
At the Marketplace, Citizens will find local and artisanal goods crafted by local and international curators specializing in a range of wares including jewelry, clothing, skincare, couture and street wear, official festival merchandise and more, all made of natural materials.
Featured image: Lightning in a Bottle/Instagram