Earlier this month, you might have read about the 6 reasons we were obsessed with Imagine Fest, before we even walked through the gates. Well, we went… we saw… we had a blast, and we can tell you with 110% certainty that it completely exceeded our expectations, blew our minds, and convinced us that we’ll definitely be making the trip to Atlanta again next year (even though it was a 13 hour drive… it was SO worth it!) It’s hard to describe exactly what made Imagine Fest so magical, but we’ll do our best. From the amazing music to the good vibes throughout the crowd – the stellar performance artists to the art installations throughout the grounds – and even the workshops and well-equipped camp grounds, the entire experience was incredible. And even though our group of 3 has been to a combined 30+ festivals, including big names like Ultra and EDC, we all ranked this one in our top 3 and can’t wait to go again next year. Here’s what made it so amazing…
1. Seeing Our Favorite Artists
Of course, we have to start with the obvious. Seeing our favorite artists perform live, and with fabulous sound and production quality, is a total win. Some of our top acts included headliners Gramatik, Zed’s Dead, and Dillon Francis… plus Polish Ambassador, Lotus, and Showtek. Truly incredible performances all around.
2. Falling in Love with New Artists
I spent a ton of time at the Disco stage, as well as the Incendia stage, and had an absolutely incredible time getting down to artists I had never even heard of before. T-E-E-D, Thomas Jack, Nexus, and SNBRN, were just a few of my newly found favorites. (I have to admit, I might be listening to Thomas Jack’s Burning Man live set as I type right now…) One of the others in our group spent an entire day at the Drum n Bass stage, and couldn’t get enough of it. If you usually go to festivals just to score seeing your favorites, I don’t blame you. Headliners are (usually) big for good reason. But we loved checking out the amazing talent at other stages too. Personally, I love to check out artists that will be at a festival on Soundcloud in advance to see if I might like it, and ask around in the crowd to see who other people are seeing, to get an idea of some new names I know I want to catch. In this case, it was totally worth it!
3. Incredible Facilities
We have read complaints elsewhere that there weren’t enough water refill stations or shaded areas, but we didn’t have this experience at all. We found plenty of access to water, bathrooms, showers, and shade throughout the festival and campgrounds. The water stations weren’t well-marked, but we found several, mainly around the bathrooms and shaded areas, and were always able to access them easily. In fact, compared to the other festivals we’ve all been to, we were amazed that the venue for the festival and campgrounds were so well equipped to handle a crowd. I have never been to a camping festival with running water, bathrooms, and showers in the campgrounds. Usually, it is portable / pop-up showers, porto-potties, and potable water trucks for water refills. But, these facilities were completely well equipped for the event, and having both running water and lots of shaded areas was amazing in the Atlanta heat. Of course, you’re going to get lines and waiting for facilities at any festival – but I’ve been to several festivals where there are no facilities at all, and you’re just peeing in portopotties and showing with a water bottle all weekend. So, this was absolutely amazing to us, and truly, we didn’t have the even close to the same experience as those complaining.
4. Light Shows in the Splash Pool
Light shows are probably one of my favorite festival things. Splash pools are definitely one of the best additions to a super hot festival. But combining the two? That is just orgasmic.
5. Southern Accents that Made me Swoon
This one is plain and simple. Almost anything sounds sexier in a southern accent… even if they’re just asking for a sip of your Camelback.
6. Fire Dancers & Spinners
Usually, you see fire artists up on stage performing for the crowd. But at Imagine… they were right on the ground with you. Several stages had caged-in areas where fire performers amazed the crowd just inches away from our faces. Literally, one fire artist threw what was essentially a fire ball on a rubber band at people in the crowd, pulling it back at just the right second to get your face hot (and give you a thrill) without getting too close. We were so mesmerized during DJ Hanzel’s set that we swear we might have missed half of it, just by paying more attention to the fire performances than the pounding music (though they complimented each other wonderfully).
7. Making Out on Top of the Ferris Wheel
Although this is totally cliche, it’s got a good reputation for a reason… taking in the sights of the entire festival from above, all while listening to the beats of your favorite artists, was basically designed for smooching. Get in line right before sunset for a spectacular view, and try to stay on til it’s dark to get a full view of the light shows and lasers beneath you.
8. Racing Your BAE on a Water Slide
Significantly less cliche than the above, racing your bae or BFF down a water slide, whether it’s during the heat of the day or for thrills at night, was one more thing that puts Imagine above the rest. It’s equal parts nostalgic and exciting, all mixed in with a bit of friendly competition. Plus, you’ll love the view of your bae glistening after getting wet. Don’t bother to bring a towel.
9. Gouda Boys
So, you might have missed this… but we sure didn’t. This little food stand from heaven was by far our favorite place to get grub throughout the festival grounds… and truth be told, this isn’t the first time we’ve experienced the magic of Gouda. At another festival earlier this summer, our crew was graced by God through the delights of Gouda Boy and their cheesy, meaty goodness… and joked the whole ride down to Imagine that we’d go NUTS if they had Gouda. Lo and behold, Gouda was there, and we got to taste many more meals made straight from heaven.
10. Mind Expanding Workshops
From yoga, poi, and hooping classes, to shamanic meditation ceremonies and educational talks on a variety of topics… we loved having the opportunity to learn and expand our minds during the day, well before the festival grounds opened and the music started. My favorite workshop was Psychedelics & Consciousness at the Nectar of the Goddess Temple, which was discussion-based and explored how different types of psychedelic substances can change the way we perceive our world, and comparing that to meditation and history of psychedelic use in ancient cultures and religions. It was completely fascinating, and wonderful to connect with fellow festival-goers in a different way.
11. Keeping the Party Going at the Silent Disco
Sometimes after the music ends, even though it’s been bumping all through the day and night, you want to keep the party going well past the lights go off at 3 am. Behold, the Silent Disco – a place where you can go to keep on partying well into day, and dance until the sun rises. The DJ seems to silently spin through the night, but once you put those headphones on, you’re tuned in to a private party world that only you and the partiers around you share. It’s definitely a unique experience, and especially amazing when you’re not quite ready to call it a night and head back to camp.
12. Self Expression
Whether that means dressing up as a rainbow dinosaur, wearing armfuls of kandi to trade, or simply rocking your favorite label’s t-shirt… festivals allow us to be whoever we want, without judgement. It’s truly a unique world of open-minded people down to have a good time and enjoy the experience together. And really, what could be better than that?