The music festival landscape has changed drastically this year as a result of COVID-19, resulting in many festivals moving into the live stream space. The team behind Glastonbury’s Shangri-La festival has done something different: They have teamed up with partners including Orca Sound Project and Beatport to create the world’s largest independent music and arts festival in virtual reality, Lost Horizon.
“The colossal negative impact that this pandemic has caused on the creative and music industries has also meant we can’t take the annual moment to celebrate our community through art, culture and music. However, it has also opened up doors to huge new creative projects that may have seemed far fetched just a year ago,” says Jolyon Klean, founder of Orca Sound Project. “This isn’t just a normal streaming experience—this is a look into the future and a celebration of how we have adapted to globally difficult times.”
Lost Horizon, taking place July 3-4, will be fully interactive and feature four stages (Gas Tower, Freedom, Nomad and SHITV), creating an experience similar to in-person events. Attendees will be able to explore the free festival via PC, VR or mobile app, or they can also stream it on Beatport or Twitch. The lineup boasts some of the biggest names in techno—such as Seth Troxler, Peggy Gou, Jamie Jones and Eats Everything—as well as underground acts and visual artists, such as Ai Wei Wei and Obey Giant. The multi-layered experience will allow attendees to interact with one another, enjoy art and performances, discover secret headliners and hidden venues, get down on the dance floors and more.
“I am excited as it will make it a lot more engaging to the public because of its immersive concept,” says ANNA, who will perform for Lost Horizon. “A lot of the streams at the moment are just us with a white background, and in the end I feel the public just puts the music on in the background and gets on with their day. When you go to an event, it is about the entire experience: the lights, the crowd and the stage. With Lost Horizon, you will still be able to feel this experience but from your house.”
Carl Cox, who will also perform for Lost Horizon, has had experience DJing in virtual reality before. “It’s another world. Once you’re inside the VR, there’s nothing like it,” he adds. “Me being an avatar and still being able to DJ from a virtual perspective is amazing. And to know there are other people in there who are like-minded [and] to be able to be connected with them…this has limitless boundaries.”
Lost Horizon, which will be raising money for The Big Issue and Amnesty International, has been designed to look and feel like Glastonbury’s Shangri-La festival while also featuring new areas and artworks since there are no creative limitations inside the virtual reality world, Klean says. Cox adds that this concept of limitless creative opportunities also applies to what DJs can play inside of a virtual reality festival as opposed to a typical event.
“I think what’s really amazing as a DJ now in this new kind of world of ours is I’m actually able to play whatever I want,” he says. “I don’t have any boundaries of music I can play, and I kind of like the idea that as a DJ I can basically be freer in my music. Push the boundaries. Go as far as you want. Because it’s an experience for me as it is for everyone else, [and] to know that now where we are it’s a reset for all of us to do basically whatever we like to do.”
In addition, Klean adds that attendees will be able to access the high points on top of the virtual towers to get the “optimum viewing perspective” of Lost Horizon. Since there are no boundaries in virtual reality, Lost Horizon provides a truly unique festival experience that will allow attendees to access amazing views of a festival that aren’t possible for in-person events.
“The beauty of the Lost Horizon festival is that despite not being able to be physically present at our favorite festivals and gatherings this year, we can still continue to create new memories and stories just like we would if being at your favorite festivals,” Klean says. “This is an opportunity to be part of the future and we are inviting you to be the first to share these moments with all our artists, your friends and other festival goers you will meet in the Lost Horizon.”