Joshua Tree Music Festival Guide + Review: All You Need to Know

When I went to Joshua Tree Music Festival a while back, I did not know a single artist in the lineup and didn’t really know what to expect. I saw that there would be a lot of cool workshops (Meditation, Kazoo (!), Didjeridu, Jam sessions, Acro Yoga, and way more) on the schedule at something called the “Positive Vibration station,” which seemed awesome just in it’s name by itself. I also saw that there was yoga basically going all day every day – a few marks of a true transformational festival! Those facts combined with what great vibes I already know Joshua Tree to have, had me pretty convinced that this festival would be way worth it. And it absolutely was – it was way more than I could have expected.

Joshua Tree Music Festival lake

Joshua Tree Music Festival Venue

The fest is held at a campground that is about 10 minutes north of the actual Joshua Tree National Park. Instead of turning right off the 62 into the park,you turn left. The camping takes up honestly most of the area, but the actual festival venue is situated in three main parts. There is a small lake with a path all around it in which a lot of different activities take place – there are different art pieces, shops, and places to hang out in the shade. The “Positive Vibration Station” (where all the cool workshops take place) was next to the lake, along with the yoga area, a slack lining area, and tons of art pieces and people doing live art around the area.

From here you could enter what they called ‘The Bowl,” where two of three stages were situated. In here were tons of really cool vendors and places to get healthy and yummy food and drinks. The schedule was set up so that only one stage was ever going at a time, so you could just switch around and really enjoy each and every band that was playing.

The final area past The Bowl was the last stage, The Boogaloo, which had its own lavishly decorated area complete with couches, a bar, and lots of room to dance and hang out. The venue is pretty small compared to a lot of festivals, but then again it is also a very small festival. I think the venue was totally perfect for what it was, and that there were plenty of activities to do all day and plenty of exploring to do at all times -so you couldn’t possibly be bored!

Joshua Tree Music Festival Guide + Review

Joshua Tree Music Festival Crowd

The crowd here was awesome!! So many free, interesting, and beautiful people come here. This crowd is much more burning man-esque and people really take this festival to express themselves to their heart’s desire. I exchanged more smiles and conversations with strangers here than most festivals I have been to. Everyone was just on the same happy positive energy here and the togetherness was very incredible.

The crowd here is also of legitimately ALL ages. This isn’t a festival you attend just to party, this is really a cool gathering of families, old hippies, and people of all ages alike. It is really beautiful if you see it for the amazing gathering of music-minded people that it is.

Joshua Tree Music Festival Guide + Review desert music festival california

Joshua Tree Music Festival Vibe

This festival has all amazing vibes. Everyone was vibing with each other and coming together incredibly at this beautiful desert gathering. It seemed that most attendees had the same positive, welcoming, and accepting energy and encouraged everyone to come out of their shell and be themselves.

If you aren’t really into spirituality and slightly ridiculously dressed (or not dressed) people of all ages, then it might not be for you…. but if you are open to exploring your spiritual side and maybe trying a meditation workshop or learning some bizarre instruments because why not… then you should go.

Joshua Tree Music Festival Guide + Review

Joshua Tree Music Festival Atmosphere/Decorations

It is so beautiful here! Even if it’s not in the middle of the Joshua Trees and rocks (although very close), there is still a gorgeous backdrop of rocky hills and mountainous desert stretching for miles and miles under a clear blue sky. They even project lasers onto the mountain behind when it gets dark, with all sorts of shapes and designs and sometimes the “JTMF” logo.

The festival is amply decorated with TONS of amazing art of all different types – some sculptures and other interactive installations (such as a sweet swing set and a dream catcher) and paintings pretty much everywhere – slash pretty much everything is painted in some way. There are tree branches and wood decorating lots of things, and tons of tribal/psychedelic patterns all over the place. It pretty much takes what you would imagine a desert festival to look like and intensifies it a bit. It’s great.

The two stages inside the bowl aren’t anything super special but they are functional. The lights are great and they have pretty intense fog machines that create a nice effect. They didn’t need to make it too over-the-top because the natural mountainous backdrop and gorgeous surroundings already do all the work!

Joshua Tree Music Festival Guide + Review the Bowl main stage

Joshua Tree Music Festival Lineup/Music/Artists

I will say that I did not know a single name on the lineup when I went. Not a single one. So it’s true that they don’t have extremely well-known names. But I will also say that they choose their talent VERY carefully and strategically. I was completely blown away by the range of ridiculously creative and talented performers there were at this festival.

I’m not sure if it is because I did not expect much, or because I am usually a fan of festivals with predominantly electronic music, (the October version of this festival is predominantly rock which I don’t usually tend towards) but the talent at this festival pretty much changed my opinion of rock/indie/acoustic music.

I planned on focusing more on the workshops and yoga but ended up completely entranced by music that I didn’t think I honestly would be very into. As I sit here writing this I am listening to an extraordinary band comprised of two saxophone players and a drummer (called Moon Hooch) who play a mix of classical and dance music with live instruments… something I would never have stumbled upon if I wasn’t completely shocked (in the best of ways) by seeing them perform live.

I heard more amazing voices and witnessed more spectacular live talent (guitar solos, insane drummers, even bongo drums and Didjeridu playing (I didn’t know what it was before this fest either)) than any EDM festival I have been to. I am so happy I went and got my mind opened much farther up to this type of thing. But as I say that I must clarify that this festival did have all different types of music – some that I could not even possibly try to squeeze into a specific genre but bridged many. They really do have amazing and innovative talent here.

The being said, they did have a couple instances of DJ’s and electronic music artists playing. In all instances they were amazing and made me feel a little more ‘at home’ with the type of music I currently have in my library – although that is changing now too!

Joshua Tree Music Festival perfect camp for music festival

Joshua Tree Music Festival Camping

I think most people at this festival camped at the campground that was situated literally right outside the venue entrance. Camping comes included in the price of your ticket.

There are sections for tent, RV, and car camping, and also a huge parking lot if you want to just come for the day. Camping areas are not designated for each group; its first-come first-serve. So, you can pretty much take up as much space at you want and create something like what we called our ‘camping metropolis’ complete with easy-up’s, tapestries, tables, floor mats, and fairy lights all next to our cars/RV. There aren’t really many rules when it comes to camping, as long as you pay to get a sticker for your RV or car to get into the area.

_DSC0328

Joshua Tree Music Festival Camping Amenities

There weren’t many amenities in the camping area per se, because everything (like food, shops, etc) was inside the festival venue. The camping area and festival area do not have seperate amenities; it is all combined.

There are a few rows of porta-potties in the campground, and just about 6 or 7 gas-powered showers that were free to use. And that’s about it! The camping area is so close to the festival that you don’t need any separate amenities.

There was a little general store right inside the entrance to the festival,  where most general camping necessities were available. There was a huge ice freezer and all sorts of food, drinks, and other supplies if you needed to keep your food cold or just grab a snack.

Joshua Tree Music Festival Guide + Review desert music festival california positive vibration station

Joshua Tree Music Festival Amenities – Other Stuff To Do

Positive Vibration Station (pictured above during a didjeridu session)

The magical place where all the workshops are held. from a “Cosmic Jam” Jam Session, to a really amazing “Chakra Balancing with Essential Oils and Yoga,” to different types of mediation with sound, to Acro Yoga, to instruction workshops with many instruments such as the guitar, hardpan, didjeridu, or even a kazoo – this was definitely the place to go to open your mind a bit.

YogaSlackers Slack Lining

A representative from Yoga Slackers was there teaching a few classes every morning, and there were multiple slack lines set up to play with all day every day. So fun!

Kidsville

There is a specific area just for the miniature festival attendees – with different art workshops all day and even a kids yoga class and fun things to play on!

Live Art

A few dozen artists (who are specially chosen) set up wherever they would like and do live art at the festival. On the last day, all the art is displayed in “The Bowl” and people can bid on the art to take it home themselves.

Astronomy Theater 

In the corner of the venue, there was a big sectioned-off astronomy area where they had a very powerful telescope people could look through, and projected this deep space astronomy image onto a huge screen. There were lots of chairs to hang out and maybe take a second away from the craziness to contemplate the universe ????

JTMF Shirts

They mad merchandise on sale, but also a whole different booth where you could take an article of clothing of your own and get one of a few really cool JTMF designs painted onto your garment for $10. Pretty cool!

Hooping area

Inside “The Bowl,” there is an area dedicated to hula hooping and learning/playing with other flow toys.

Roaming Sounds Recording Studio

There was even an opportunity to record your own song! At this “roaming studio,” you could set up an appointment to record your very own jam.

PLUS MORE! Visit the website to see even more amazing things that I didn’t even get a chance to check out (although I always make it my mission to visit every possible thing at a festival, I sometimes get a little sidetracked or am too overwhelmed to remember everything!!)

Joshua Tree Music Festival  Transportation/Hotels/Parking

The festival and camping area is about 4 miles north of Twentynine Palms, which is also close to the town of Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley. All of these places have lots of accommodation/hotel possibilities if you do not wish to camp, and it is just a short drive to the grounds where there is free parking.

JTMF Joshua Tree Music Festival Guide + Review desert music festival california

Joshua Tree Music Festival Food/Drink

There were great food options at Joshua Tree Music Festival. There weren’t too many, but with a small festival you don’t need much and with the maybe 7-ish places there were to eat, there was plenty of variety. All the food was inside the festival venue near the stages.

There was a “Harvest Kitchen” Truck with all kinds of trendy healthy options involving quinoa, avocado, sweet potatoes, an other goodies like that which was amazing. There was a fresh sushi place, an Indian food place, an acai bowl place, a smoothie place, a pizza place, and a cafe. So basically all the necessary food groups ???? Pricing was slightly high – think $9-13 for a meal – but I guess that is also expected.

As far as drinks go, Sierra Nevada sponsored the beer tent at this fest. Inside there was a big Sierra Nevada stand where you could get beers for about $5, and inside the Boogaloo stage bar you could get spirits and mixers as well for a few more bucks. The best part, however, is that it was pretty easy to just bring your own drinks into the festival (or anything for that matter) so you could just bring your own stuff in the campground and walk in with it. Up to you!

A lot of people brought grills and food supplies to camp with. Many campsites had coolers and their own grills and all sorts of dry food to snack on throughout the day to save money – we made eggs and avocado toast in the morning which I would highly recommend! Like I mentioned above, there is a general store where they sell ice bags if you need to keep your food and drinks cold.

Joshua Tree Music Festival Guide + Review

Joshua Tree Music Festival Price

Like most festivals, Joshua Tree Music festival worked on a multiple-tier price arrangement. I believe that the earliest price for all four days (Thursday 5pm-Monday – leave by the afternoon) was $160. That went up to $200 maximum if you bought it at the door. They had day tickets available, “locals” tickets that didn’t include camping, and also a discount for active military. Buying at the door, Friday and Saturday “day” tickets went all the way up to $90 with Sunday at $75 – So I really recommend going all 4 days (way more value for your money!) or buying early!

Joshua Tree Music Festival Security

The security here was pretty funny. I think they had locals/friends take shifts checking cars driving into the camping area and checking wristbands between the main entrances and the entrances to the stage areas. They were all super chilled, happy people – either sitting in a lawn chair sipping a drink, playing hackey sack, or joking around with each other. Relaxed is an understatement!

They had no security walking around the campgrounds or anything, and you were allowed to bring your own food and drinks into the festival area, along with blankets, chairs, etc. You weren’t supposed to bring alcohol into the stage areas, but a lot of the times they didn’t notice or didn’t mind as long as you brought it in a cup and not an obviously alcoholic container (i.e. beer can).

They said you weren’t supposed to bring glass into the camping or festival area, but many did. They didn’t really check our car, and the worst they would have done inside the festival was to tell you to finish your beer and throw it away in the glass-only recyclable container.

Joshua Tree Music Festival is a family-run/started festival and is run as such – the people running it are also there to have a great time and make sure you have the best time as well. They were all very nice people!

Joshua Tree Music Festival kimmie conner music festival travel blogger

Joshua Tree Music Festival  Fashion

The fashion here was that anything goes!! From attendees enjoying the festival in a simple shirt and shorts, to people clad in light-up hats, glasses, furry coats and bright pants… you could really do whatever you wanted at this amazing little freedom festival.

I would describe the clothing here as very eclectic and Burning Man-esque. Lots of fun patterns, beautiful jewelry, fur, tie dye, and glorious personal expression through fashion. I definitely had a lot of fun dressing up here and getting a little (or a lot) weirder than at more mainstream festivals, especially at night when it cooled down and I could break out my furry vest and matching shorts suit! (I have a button up that matches the shorts in the photo above… best garage sale purchase ever!) ????

joshue tree music festival

Joshua Tree Music Festival Weather

The California Desert can get extreme weather – but during the times this festival is run twice a year (May and October) the weather is arguably at its best. It still gets very hot during the day. Prepare for mid 80’s to 90’s during the day, so drink a lot of water, bring sunscreen, and make sure to visit the “Cool Down Station!”

 Being in the desert, this fest can also get decently chilly at night (California’s definition of chilly – so like mid 60’s). Bringing a light jacket for the night would be the best bet. But, as always, check the weather before going because it can definitely change!

Joshua Tree Music Festival Guide + Review

Joshua Tree Music Festival Time

Joshua Tree Music Festival ran from 5-midnight Thursday, all day until 2am Friday and Saturday, and until midnight on Sunday. This leaves plenty of time to explore everything and hear all the incredible artists! There were also plenty of after-hours shenanigans to get into (such as campsite hangouts and crowd-sourced jam sessions) so if you want to keep going there will always be a way!

Joshua Tree Music Festival Guide + Review painting artists

Joshua Tree Music Festival Money

The vendors at this festival took cash and card. Simple as that! Some vendors may have been cash-only but it depends on the person.

Joshua Tree Music Festival family goals

Final JTMF Tips

  • Make sure to visit some yoga classes and workshops! There was a huge array of amazing instructors doing a variety of different and experimental yoga classes.
  • Make sure to visit the Positive Vibration Station as well! There are so many cool workshops there – from meditation to interesting instruments to learning how to ‘move with the music’ to poetry sessions. Just check it out!!
  • If you don’t know an artist… watch them anyway. Try to see at least a little bit of as many artists you can, because I know I for one was totally blown away by the diverse amount of eclectic and completely awesome talent here.
  • Try to be as awesome as the super-family in the photo about this section. ????

Author: Anna Johnson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *