We all dream of an enchanted realm where the mundane becomes magical, the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and strangers become family. During the fantastical 4-day weekend spent at Suwannee Hulaween 2022, we found all of the above and more as we wound through their magical, mystical grounds. From splendidly spooky stages and production to artistic, immersive adventures and installations throughout the grounds, Hulaween was one of, if not the coolest, music festivals of 2022.
Explore a Playground of Interactive Art
The winding path along the gorgeous Spirit of Suwannee Lake, at the center of the venue between the stages and campgrounds, was simply majestic. The path guides you on an immersive visual adventure, decorated with earthy art installations perfect for photo-ops, spacious seating spots to cozy up with your partner to enjoy the views, and a holographic light show over the lake that changed nightly, dappling the trees and water with psychedelic graphics and spooky Halloween imagery that would make the Addams Family proud.
A hidden stage inspired by a gothic church showcased unique acts, and decorated birdhouses were available to explore, with more winding paths opening into Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired dinner tables, turned upside down. If that sounds a little too tame, never fear: you could also take a ride on a steampunk-inspired see-saw that shot fire – and there were plenty of pyrotechnics to be found at the Fire Stage!
Choose Your Own Adventure in the Campgrounds
Hulaween’s playful, community-driven vibes were immaculate. Festival-goers mingled, wandering through the lit-up campgrounds to find games and gleeful adventures, and searching for renegade stages deep into the night, as special guests and local favorite artists set up at camp to play til sunrise. Gory ghouls and groovy gals could be found vibing with fairies and undead newlyweds alike. Haunted mazes wound their way through campgrounds, opening up to cozy couches, low-key house music, popular movies, and even a magic bus filled with comfy bean bags, to rest tired feet and relax in a community-made sanctuary set apart from the stages. From hidden fairy doors that revealed tasty treats and spooky gifts, to generous festival attendees setting up “take a present, leave a present” tables, the community’s caring and creative feel lit up camp day to night.
Festival Friends Turned Family
According to one attendee, “The energy at Suwannee Hulaween is just like a family reunion” – and that at-home feeling radiates through the grounds, as both new festival-goers and old-timers explore the enthusiastically welcoming atmosphere. You’ll find that strangers turn to new friends, and new friends turn to family, as you explore the sets and scenes with wonder, amazement, and a few joyful tears. Fellow festival-goers even set up unexpected games of spin-the-wheel in the middle of walking paths for fellow attendees, allowing both seasoned Hulaweenies and Suwannee newbs to enjoy the community-made magic at this 4-day trip into a dreamy playscape. At Hulaween, genuine, playful spontaneity merged effortlessly with a sense of connection with your newfound, music-loving chosen family.
At its heart, Hulaween is all about finding joy in the whimsical, magical, and playful – and 2022’s lineup was perfectly curated to combine the spooky with the serene, with acts ranging from acoustic sets to heavy-metal jam-punk; to indie pop to psychedelic jam; ambient disco to heavy dubstep. Whether you wanted to ride the rail or chill out, you could find a stage to fit your vibe.
At the amphitheater stage, the trees provided the perfect place to relax, dotted with hundreds of hammocks – and space to set up your own – so you could spend time lounging in the shade during the day and mellowing out to your fave jams at night, no matter how much the bass shook the ground. Meanwhile, the Spirit Lake stage had lots of house music bumping late into the night, and set amidst all the interactive art installations, was the perfect place to have your visual senses tingled with an audio-visual melting pot of entertainment.
String Cheese Reigns Supreme
String Cheese Incident had an incredible 6 sets throughout the weekend on the main stage – and you’d find hundreds of stan Cheese fans setting up between the two alternating main stages with blowup sofas, tapestries, and blankets to catch every set. As the sun set, bats flew over the stage, psychedelic lights ignited, and pyrotechnics went ablaze as Cheese entertained the crowd with their favorite jams each night.
Against an enchanting backdrop of light-up totems and bubble blowers, String Cheese’s Rocky Horror Disco Show was one of the highlights of the weekend. Grooved into Cheese’s signature jam sound, they played a blend of disco, classic rock, and instantly recognizable movie tunes to bring epic must-see evening entertainment to Hulaween’s sweetly spooky festivities. Adding live instruments and singers, extended jam sessions and psychedelic solos, Cheese wowed us all. And if that doesn’t sound exciting enough, there were also the massive balloon animals, multicolored lights, raining confetti, perfectly timed fireworks, and actual fire to accompany the show.
Femme House Takeover
LP Giobbi’s Femme House Takeover brought an epic curation of femme and non-binary house artists, with an amazing mission to bring “more equitable opportunity for women and gender-expansive individuals in music”. This powerful non-profit supports producers, DJs, artists, and other aspiring creators in the industry with professional, technical, and artistic development opportunities – inclusivity-free workshops on “everything from music production to DJing, [to] studio techniques” to break down barriers and create systemic change in a largely male-dominated industry. Their powerful message and purpose, mixed with their not-to-be-missed tunes, was a powerful testament to the waves made by women in music, and a call to open up more opportunities and resources for future femme generations to come.
Peruse Handmade Custom Creations
If your idea of a good time always involves a bit of shopping, you guessed it: Hulaween delivered yet again! Vendors set up shop throughout the grounds to share their trippy art, fresh fits, and herbal allies, with holistic tonics, tinctures, and remedies to cure your ails if you overindulged just a bit. (No shade; we’ve all been there.) You could browse with your bae, your besties, or go solo to browse the array of handmade jewelry, fragrant incense, and memorable gear to bring home as a souvenir. You could also simply get lost in the art, designed to captivate your mind with huge-scale art murals that shifted and evolved as black lights made the art visually melt into all new creations.
Play Your Cards Right
Roll the dice or spin the wheel for a chance to trade your bubblegum for toys, or your bubble blower for playful vintage wares. The knick-knack casino at Frick Frack Black Jack was not to be missed! This spirited carnival-inspired big top tent features casino games that you play with no cash – allowing you to put all your gear on red level up your your ground scores and leftover trinkets. And the fun didn’t stop inside the carnival-inspired big top. Outside the tent, you and your besties could play Skee Ball, Foos Ball, or enjoy the unique music and shows at their tented side-stage. Go on the search for hidden treasures and gems, and bring them to this entertainment extravaganza to play.
See You at Suwannee Hulaween
No matter where you wanted at Hula, there was magic to be found, mystery to be uncovered, and playfulness afoot – as you indulged in sights, sounds, and sensations of the grounds. Suwanee Hulaween was full of magic and wonder around every corner, no matter your particular tastes and fancies. What better way to celebrate the thinning of the veil than taking in the all-encompassing, immersive journey through the Spirit of Suwannee grounds at Hulaween? You’ll definitely find us in the forest next year, immersing our senses and sense of adventure at Suwanee Hulaween.