It seemed like people were doing one of three things this summer…

  1. Having babies
  2. Getting married
  3. Traveling to music festivals.

For those of us who have wanderlust in our souls and music in our hearts the first two may not be too appealing just yet, if at all. The ever present drug culture that can’t be denied when it comes to music festivals can be a potential issue for a lot of people though. Many of these festivals even have “Harm Reduction” or drug testing centers at the festival because they are aware that those in attendance are going to use drugs regardless and want to keep those in attendance as safe as possible.

To each their own but what about those who enjoy the clarity of living a sober life? What about those who do not care to partake in that portion of the culture? Whether it is because of the lifestyle choice or because they are recovering addicts who now found joy in sober living are there places to retreat to for clean sober fun and camping? For a culture that also prides itself in freedom of self-expression and creativity, there had to be.

After some research, those excited about music and travel will be pleasantly surprised to hear there is a wide variety of wonderful sober communities within several festivals, traveling programs for people who want to enjoy the amazing lineups of music that these festivals have every year, and the loving accepting communities theses festivals seem to attract. There is also the added support group at your disposal if at all tempted to partake in the drugs that find themselves at the festival as well.

Camp Clean Beats

This camp is for a large music festival in British Columbia, Canada called Shambhala. This festival is fairly large and extremely appealing. They are called Camp Clean Beats. A great name and even better organization. They not only have a Facebook group that people can join prior to the festival so that you can ensure a space but they hold recovery based meetings three times a day.

Live To Be Sober Family Camping Grounds

Shambhala isn’t the only festival who has groups that have noticed the need for a sober space for their attendees. Backwoods Camping and Music Festival in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma has started a group as well. They have a local sponsor that helps fund the program each year providing a safe space that is clear of temptation and surrounded by like-minded festival goers, and in the end new friends.

For many drinking or doing drugs has always been a part of the experience of attending music festivals and concerts so having a group of people around that are also committed to a sober experience is reassuring and extremely helpful for those that need it.

Anonymous Village and More!

One of the most talked about festivals for years has not one but THREE sober camps. The one and only Burning Man has once again gone above and beyond.

Burning man has gotten a lot press in the last few years. Lately we hear about the “fashion,” the celebrities and the money involved instead of the things that have made Burning Man the shining light that attracted droves of people in the first place. The appeal for many is the ideal, or idea of going into the desert, roughing it and in the process losing the ego that comes with the need to look & dress a certain way, the freedom to be as you are both outward and inward without judgement. It seems as though everyone is there to with a common goal of self-exploration and growth.

That growth looks very different for many people so finding groups of people that support and are on the same sober journey is important. Anonymous Village is one of the three sober camps. You can apply to camp with them and there are no dues or fees, although they do ask for donations. The camp holds several 12-step meetings both day and night and has a strict no drugs or alcohol policy for a safe haven from both drugs and alcohol when you need it at Burning Man.

The second camp is called Run Free Camp. This camp is not only great for those who desire a drug and alcohol space during their time at the festival but it holds several workshops. I has everything from AA, NA, OA, and SLAA meetings to guided meditation, private clairvoyant readings and energy healing workshops creating a space of not only sobriety but exploration.

The last sober camp is called Camp Stella. It is a theme camp that also has a strict no drugs or alcohol policy. There may be dues or fees to camp here. Camp Stella holds 5 AA meetings throughout the week where anyone is allowed to attend. If you are looking for more of an experience and more opportunities for meetings one of the other two camps might be a better fit.

Camp Traction

The individual camps that help establish a sober environment at individual festivals seem to be only the beginning of this movement. Camp Traction is a group that travels to several festivals a year with the initiative to “offer support, strength and hope to those who seek what they share.” They offer meetings twice a day in a nonjudgmental environment. This year they supported those who chose a sober experience at 9 different festivals including Electric Forest and High Sierra.


What started as a safe and sober space for attendees of a concert, turned into the budding of a growing movement. Patrick Whelan attended a concert as someone newly sober where they had an inviting space and support for sober music fans. This sparked the idea to do this on a larger scale with music festivals. He helped create Soberoo, a sober camp at Bonnaroo in 2002 which eventually grew in size leading to the festival asking how they could help.

His group participated in 15 festivals last year, changing the name to fit the theme of each festival. The group hosts three meetings a day but are not associated with any 12-step program. They are simply there to provide a place of good clean fun and sobriety for anyone trying to stay sober during each festival.

Feeling like an outsider at certain events because drugs are a common occurrence is obviously not something people are alone in. Having a space of sobriety where it is possible to meet others who are also uninterested in being involved in that portion of the festivities is powerful, even more so for those that struggle with addiction.

With the addition of group meetings for those that need support and feedback in support of relapse prevention, these additions and overall acknowledgment of the need for them have and will change the festival experience forever. Many of these festivals have now truly become a place of complete acceptance and understanding.

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Rose Rennar


Seattle, WA

Rose has worked for local media outlets in a wide range of areas, from sustainability and health and wellness to beauty and motherhood in both online and in print media. When she isn’t busy traveling, freelancing, writing or editing you can find her in her garden, being a goof with her many pets and family or at a desk somewhere toiling away at her own fiction writing. You can follow her recent adventures as well as updates on new articles on her Twitter.

All posts by Rose Rennar

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