Lightning in a Bottle Festival

By: Lizzie Wiley

Many of you have heard of the most popular and largest festivals such as EDC, Coachella, Electric Forest, Snowglobe, etc. but I want to shed some light on a lesser known festival called Lightning in a Bottle, or, as many refer to it, LIB. LIB is a four-day camping festival that takes place over Memorial Day weekend beginning Thursday afternoon until Sunday night at Buena Vista Lake in Kern County, California. There is also an option to purchase a five-day pass that gives you access to the campgrounds on Wednesday to snag a good camping spot and enjoy extra shows that night. From morning yoga sessions at the Beacon stage to talent shows at the Grand Artique to dancing your heart out at the Woogie, there are a variety of activities occurring starting in the early morning and ending late at night (or early morning again whichever way you look at it). There is something for everyone to enjoy whether you are a big EDM person or you are there to immerse yourself in various art and cultural activities including workshops that range in topic from aliens to essential oils. This festival creates a safe and loving environment for many different types of people to learn more about themselves, their friends, and the world they live in which, in my opinion, is the main reason why LIB is so special. 

lightning in a bottle art

My personal favorite part about LIB is exploring the large festival grounds, playing on the various structures throughout, making up games with my friends as we do so, walking through the interactive art tents, dancing with people dressed up as fairies and dragons, and stumbling upon my next new favorite artist. We may even stop by a workshop on salsa dancing or head to a class to learn how to cook a delicious meal. We can also be found lounging in a floatie with a drink in hand, cooling off in the lake. This is how my rave squad and I typically spend the daytime at the festival. 

LIB festival magic

Once it gets to be late afternoon/evening, we head over to the Woogie for some House music from some of our favorite artists including Walker & Royce, Shiba San, and VNSSA. To this day, my all-time favorite set was when we enjoyed Walker & Royce in the Woogie at LIB 2018. All my favorite people together at my favorite stage, throwing around watermelons and pineapple, which we later sacrificed to the Woogie Gods as a token of our appreciation, tons of bass, good music, and good vibes. Be careful though because everyone who enters the Woogie tends to get lost in the Woogie. 

LIB girls

After it gets dark, the crew and I engulf ourselves in our fur jackets and head out to the main stages, Lightning and Thunder, as well as the other smaller stages, to enjoy the headliners. Some of my favorites in the past have included Bassnectar, Zhu, Griz, and The Glitch Mob. We will likely also hang out at the Favela where you can hear some funky, disco tunes. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we usually stay up until around 4 am listening to music which one time included a super-secret Zhu Blacklizt set. Somewhere in there we always get some of the best food there is to offer: POUTINE! We may even bring our (floatie) instruments to add some of our own flavor to the music. Eventually, once our feet can’t move anymore, we retire to the campsite to get a few hours of sleep before waking up and doing it all over again.

festival girls air guitar

Lightning in a Bottle is the epitome of what PLUR stands for. It’s like being transported to another world that you get to live in and set up shelter at for what feels like a lifetime. The memories, adventures, and relationships created or strengthened are some that are hard to express in words. I found my love for festivals at my first LIB in 2017 and became invited into a large rave squad of amazing people. We will be going to this festival for as many years as our ear drums will allow us to. A couple other cool aspects are the festival’s commitment to sustainability and that there are virtually no pick-pocketers!

LIB festival swing

Unfortunately, like every other festival so far in 2020, LIB was cancelled due to Covid-19. What’s more difficult for this festival, however, is that a small, family owned company, The Do Lab, runs it. Therefore, they were hit hard financially when the festival had to be cancelled. They had to lay off many employees and after working tirelessly to raise extra funds and applying for government loans were they able to offer a 50% refund for tickets.

To keep spirits high, they did put on a livestream, Digital LIB, over Memorial Day weekend to commemorate the festival. In true LIB fashion, the livestream included music, workshops, talks, yoga, and classes. They even still had a talent show! In addition, they created something really cool that I haven’t seen in other livestream festivals: an immersive virtual Lightning in a Bottle world! No virtual reality headset required. We got to watch some of our favorite artists perform at virtual LIB stages, it actually felt like we were at the real thing (AKA no plamps). It was an amazing way to enjoy my holiday weekend despite the state of the world.

I hope you enjoyed reading about a new festival and maybe next year (or whenever it is safe to return to festivals) I will see you there! If this story touched your heart in anyway, maybe you will consider donating to the Do Lab’s GoFundMe ( I’ll catch ya on the flip side of this pandemic ravers! Stay safe!

festival girl banana



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