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Founder Glen Boyd used to help run Burning Man theme camp Zanzibar, and one day he decided to go bigger. Thusly, What The Festival was born! Boyd has surrounded himself with an amazing team and over the last six years they’ve built one of the most interactive, conscious, fun festivals around!

The focus of the festival has been much more than the lineup. Burner vibes, amazing art,  and impressive chill zones are among the many other draws. WTF has done a great job offering diverse entertainment while still keeping their footprint and number of attendees from increasing so large that things become unfamiliar. I especially appreciate the presence of a strong community. Portland is known for its friendliness, and WTF embodies and magnifies our propensity for playfulness. I’ll bargain that you’ll find a few friends there you didn’t know were coming, and you’re sure to make a few new friends along the way as well.

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What The Festival definitely knows how to party, but it promotes responsibility and awareness as well. The festival has teamed up with Portland based advocacy group Guardians of the Vibe for the second year in a row to promote communication and consent on and off the dance floor! Check them out in the printed festival guides and at guardiansofthevibe.com. In addition to raising awareness about consent, the festival has added more social justice and environmental talks to their day time Easy Speak lineup.

The Splash Stage features a thigh-high pool that makes up much of the dance floor! You’ll find creative outfits and skimpy beachwear laced throughout squirt guns and outstanding pool toys. Need a refreshment? Multiple food and beverage vendors sit directly beside the pools. One local favorite, So Cold PDX, serves flavored shaved ice that’ll keep you cool. They also host an annual snowball fight Sunday afternoon that you should be sure not to miss!

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The sun can be seen setting over the upper meadow and will deliver epic views of Mt. Hood. Once the main upper stages are done the party continues at the multiple other stages as well as under “Mirror, Mirror on the Ball,” a huge disco ball. Portland based Heartbeat Silent Sound Systems runs a silent disco every night there. While you may not hear them from afar another world is just a headset away.

Journey down the rabbit hole into the Illuminated Forest, an adult wonderland full of interactive art attuned to magical experiences. More textured and surreal than much of the festival grounds, here is where the forest fairies come out to play. It also provides a safe reprieve from any social overstimulation, a way to get lost and also find yourself.

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Over the years WTF has done a great job bringing talented up and coming artists. I’ve discovered some of my favorite artists on random Dragon and Equinox Stage ventures. The festival also supports those with a diverse musical palate. For instance, this year features one of my most influential bands ever, Australian Cut/Copy.

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What The Festival’s relaxed reentry policy and friendly security will leave you migrating in and out of the grounds at will. The festival offers entertainment throughout the entire night into the morning so you can jam out whenever you feel the itch. For example, I spent an amazing sunrise at the Shinto a Go Go Tea Lounge last year with Claude Vonstroke playing a secret set with Portland’s DJ PRSN. What a way to cap off a night! However you choose to spend your time at What The Festival, it’s bound to be memorable 🙂

Written by Zach Fairman

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