For it’s 5th birthday, Suwannee’s Hulaween celebrated with a sold out show capping tickets at 20,000, welcoming eager attendees for a weekend of spooktastic shows. With over 800 acres of enchanting forests, The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida proves itself once again as a pristine autumn festival location. Even when temperatures dropped below average, campsite bonfires only made the experience that much more authentic.
Pitted during a period of political upheaval in a world seemingly tipped on it’s head, the theme for this year’s Hulaween was appropriately named ‘Night of the Loving Dead’ where organizers told attendees that “the only requirement is that you inject whatever you wear with a ghoulish portion of LOVE. In 2017, love is the answer, love wins.”
Since it’s inception in 2013, Hulaween has grown into one of the premier festivals of the southeast where a lack of varied lineups have ceased to exist until 2016 when Okeechobee Music Festival debuted in South Florida. Although still heavy with electronic and jam band artists since it’s inception, Hulaween breaks the barriers of catering to a specific genre by instead offering music for enthusiasts of all kinds.
One of the best acoustically sounding areas in the park is the amphitheater – a bowl shaped stage draped with Spanish Moss hanging from surrounding oak trees creating a cobwebbed feel. This year the amphitheater was packed to the brim with fans for indie artists like Portugal. The Man, jazz-electronic artist FKJ, and hip hop cult classic Run the Jewels.
The main stage, decked out with the now iconic giant HULA block letters, saw artists like festival hosts the String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, and Griz bringing attendees to their feet, grooving long into the night.
However, defining the Suwannee experience to it’s core is the interactive playground and stage that is Spirit Lake. This psychedelic space is almost reminiscent to a tiny forested Burning Man. With its celestial art installations wrapping around Spirit Lake, jetting between giant oaks and Florida shrubbery, the area becomes a real life dream for festival goer’s. Adding to the Halloween spirit, costume clad performance artists are seen in every corner of Spirit Lake beckoning attendees to come play.
Once again, Hulaween produced a masterpiece of an event where all walks of life can join together for a brief moment of time in a visionary, forest paradise. If you don’t have Hulaween 2018 on your list, do yourself a favor and make the trek down for a weekend you won’t forget.
Want more Suwannee? Check my coverage of Purple Hatter’s Ball!