Come together for the Symbiosis Gathering.
When a festival manages to bring together thought leaders, world class artists and musical gurus to the sandy shores of the Woodland Reservoir in Oakland there is only one place you should be. The Symbiosis Gathering.
The three day camping festival known as The Symbiosis Gathering runs from October 17-20th when the weather is warm and balmy. Only 2 hours from San Francisco you will find yourself in a lush, green reservoir with surrounds of fresh water from every direction. The size of the space is perfect, by day one you’ll have your bearings and be able to traverse the festival landscape like a pro.
The camping grounds however are a little more haphazard, compartmentalised into constellations, finding your way around may require a touch more astrological/pioneering know how.
Feeling as though you’ve arrived in one brilliantly designed dream world is totally normal. Art boats fly by across the river as swimmers slip and slide down the slippery slope over the sun. Chances are you’ll see sea dragons, Dolorian from ‘Back to the Future’, or a Mississippi swamp castle. And that’s just lakeside. The entire festival is spotted with impressive art installations and sculptures.
Artist David Best, a Burning Man Artist Legend, created all encompassing, multi sensory spiritual environments with recycled tin cans, bottle caps and timber slats. A moment here in one of Best’s temples is transformative and serene.
That is exactly what symbiosis promises – moments that are both magical and moving – whether it’s the community, the music or the art that grabs your attention, chances are you’ll have a string of symbiosis pearlers to take away with you.
This year’s music acts packed a punch. Nicolas Jarr headlined with a dark and engaging performance and took a DJ set to new heights with an artsy performative spin mid way. Other stand out acts included the Swedish musical duo Carbon Based Lifeforms whose atmospheric down tempo ambient sounds whisked you away. Australian DJ ‘Bubbles’ brought bass and big sounds, Pantha Du Prince made the last night a never ending bonanza de bailar and an all time favourite, Polish Ambassador was on point. The swimbiosis stage, yes a half submerged stage in the river, resounded with tribal reggae remixes.
Aside from music and art and swimming, Symbiosis also curates a number of thought provoking and relevant workshops. There was a big focus on permaculture and sustainable environmental practices as well as ancient storytelling, tea ceremonies, active listening, hooping and fire spinning.
All in all, symbiosis is pretty much the perfect festival.
All images © Kate Panzetta 2015