Festivals doing their bit for the world

Gemma Munday is the Stories & Brand  Coordinator at Restless Development, she campaigns  on gender based violence in her spare time and attends  the odd festival.  

Festival season is almost over. Which means it’s nearly time to start thinking about which to go to next year. From  hip hop to house, grassy fields to sunny beaches, the choice of festivals can seem endless.

How about festivals that combine having an amazing time with doing some good for the world? If you love music but also want to do your bit, here is a list of festivals to help you do just that.

Shambala Festival (Northamptonshire, UK)

When: August 21-24


From the minute Shambala opens its borders over the Bank Holiday weekend people come and they dance, and they don’t stop dancing until the Monday morning. The crowd at Shambala will dance to everything; from music by the likes of electronic duo AlunaGeorge, to random music played  in tiny tents like the Police Rave Unit. The enthusiasm is infectious. Fancy dress is optional but a large majority take this very seriously. Everything from a drag theme on Friday, to sea creatures  on Saturday, and maximum glitter is uniform. It’s about giving everything to your final weekend of the summer, before jobs, study or the cold weather comes.

On top of the fun Shambala is set to be 100% powered by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and waste biodiesel, and it is the first festival in the UK to send zero waste to landfill. It also supports projects like Frank Water, a water charity which provides people with  unlimited refills of filtered water when they purchase a FreeFill bottle or wristband.  In addition car travelers are encouraged to make a donation to the Travel Carbon Fund – in order to offset a portion of their carbon emissions. Take a look at their awesome infographic for details.


Lake of Stars (Lake Malawi)

When: Sept 30 -Oct 2


Set in a truly magical location, on the vast sea-like Lake Malawi, the banks of which the festival takes place. Lake of stars was founded by a club promoter Will Jameson who spent his gap year working in Malawi. When he returned he started a club night called Chibuku Shake Shake, which brought Malawian music to a mainstream clubbing audience. Soon he realised people would be interested in travelling back to Malawi to hear the music in its true glory, and Lake of Stars was born. It’s not just music though – you can hear poetry, watch short films and attend workshops, promoting a diverse range of cultures. The first event took place in 2004, now it’s estimated to generate 1 million a year for the Malawian economy.

Outreach trips are also offered to any festival-goer interested in seeing village life in Malawi. The festival promotes healthy, friendly tourism, but not gawping at the villagers. Money from every ticket sale also goes towards flood relief efforts.

Pickathon (Oregon, USA)

When: August 5 – 7


This small festival just outside Portland is dreamy. Expect folk from the likes of Andrew Bird and bands like Beach House. With stages nestled in the cozy forest, a hay bale amphitheater and hammocks in abundance, few festivals feel as enchanting  and embracing as this one.

Pickathon is the only festival in America to completely eliminate single-use cups, dishware and utensils. Since 2010 festival organizers have committed themselves to eliminating all plastic drink containers, making Pickathon the first music festival in the country to go plastic free. Instead festival goers bring their own dishes or purchase funky  cups, plates and bowls that they can take home.

Along with using 100% solar energy, Pickathon is fantastic at creating completely sustainable good vibes and keeping performances intimate and memorable.


Glastonbury (Somerset, UK)

When: June 21-25


Apart from the fact that Glastonbury is hailed as the world’s best music festival – you name it they will have played here – every year three major global charities Oxfam, Greenpeace and WaterAid come together to help promote the common goal for a cleaner, greener, fairer festival, and with your help, the world.

Greenpeace have had a mini gym near the main stage, where people power created the energy for the sound system and screens there. Oxfam shone a spotlight on the refugee crisis, asking everyone from musicians to festival-goers to  Stand As One with refugees worldwide through a petition. With WaterAid people could even get dressed up as a tap, superhero toilet or, um, a giant poo, and share a picture postcard from the festival to tell all everyone that #ToiletsSaveLives.

I’m not sure either…

Glastonbury doesn’t just focus on global, it uses  local suppliers and service providers. Since 2007 they have spent more than £6 million with local companies based within 25 miles of the site. Over 100 other major and local charities also have a presence at the festival. They have strict green policy which includes compost loos, Fairtrade  food, no plastic bags and a ‘no peeing on the land’ rule!

We Love Green Festival (Paris, France)

When: May 30-31


There’s something about ambling through the streets in Paris, past stunning terraces and verandas, which seems to soothe the soul.  The perfect place and time, then, for a music festival. Bask in the blazing sunshine, as you listen to a range of acts from Brooklyn’s Joey Bada$$, to jazz-influenced electronics from Floating Point.  

Except We Love Green isn’t any old music festival, it’s about as green – by which they mean  eco-friendly – as it gets. Remarkably litter free, the food is humanely sourced and the cutlery biodegradable – oh, and they give you sawdust, instead of toilet paper.

With the festival’s mission to raise awareness of sustainability, it’s run by renewable energy sources, solar and wind power – the main stage is powered by solar energy. It is committed to “zero impact” and provides free drinkable water fountains, selects local service providers and uses disposable and reclaimed furniture and signage. Waste and recycling is managed and sorted on site, with food waste distributed to farms around the festival.

Rocking the Daisies (Cape Town, South Africa)

When: October 1-4

rocking the daisys

Picture a range of international acts, a sprinkling of comedians, world class DJs and the stunning South African capital Cape Town, and you have Rocking the Daisies. Set in beautiful remote area renowned for its spring flowers, it seems only fitting that an integral part of the festival is its green and eco-friendly goals.

It goes by the motto “Play Hard, Tread Lightly”, and carries out a comprehensive environmental audit and impact assessment each year. The audit covers and monitors areas such as water, transport, waste and energy. The events aims to be as carbon neutral as possible by reducing and offsetting any carbon directly from running the festival.

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Festivals doing their bit for the world

by wearerestless Reading time: 5 min