Nestled about 60 miles north of Denver in the town of Loveland, Colorado is the Sunrise Ranch and Spiritual Retreat Center. Here they focus on spearheading and cultivating a sense of sustainability, spirituality, wellness and the arts through a variety of services, programs and events that they offer. But perhaps the largest and most captivating of all these is the Arise Music Festival that takes place every year, now in its 7th installment. Featuring a lineup of the best in electronic, jam, acoustic, folk and more Arise has found its home in the beautiful land just beyond the Greed Ridge Glade Reservoir.
Having never attended myself (the closest experience for me being the Sonic Bloom Festival held earlier in the Summer) I wasn't quite sure what to expect. As such, I dove in with an open mind and open expectations, and boy was I blown away. The festival was lovingly crafted from the bottom up and offered a multifaceted and cohesive experience from day 1. There were so many highlights that it can be difficult to know where to begin, but one must try.
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Upon initial arrival, I was first blown away by the location. I was fortunate enough to live less than an hour away and the drive was so simple and manageable as I drove through the beautiful Colorado countryside. Open land greeted me for as far as the eye could see with a few twists and turns along the way, one of the more beautiful being the final twist just before the Greed Ridge Glade Reservoir called Sulzer Gulch. Composed of a large rock inlet overlooking a bridge and a small body of water stretching out into the distant Green Ridge Glade. Driving further still, the road wrapped around the large reservoir leading me to a final bend to where I could see all of the glittering tents just beyond the water.
Upon arrival the check-in process was smooth and efficient – a line of media, artist and VIP check-ins to expedite the arrival with first come first serve parking and camping set up. The entrance was perfectly close to the camping allowing for short easy walks to and from. Even better still was the VIP village entrance accessed easily from the parking. Here, free water and coffee were offered as well as multiple lounging areas. In addition, it was a VIP bar that had an incredible quality and quantity of drinks – my favorite being the Annapurna Mead – it was delicious and quite different than other alcoholic drinks that I have had in quite some time.
The main stage was nothing short of stupendous – large and in charge, it has plenty of sounds (and my favorite: bass) for the whole weekend elevating a wide variety of acts such as Beats Antique, Rising Appalachia, Sunsquabi and multiple Tipper sets. The lawn leading up the stage was plentiful – offering lots of room to move and plenty of room to dance. In the far back of the lawn was over 2 dozen different paintings and artists showcasing their large-scale works. One particular highlight was a piece titled “One Love” that was rigged up with an interactive machine that allows the user to manipulate a video mapped series of lights and patterns. I haven't seen anything quite like that.
Walking further past the main stage brought you to a vendor village featuring the likes of Headspace, Umba Love, and the delightfully named “Heady Bauer.” Here you could find clothing, accessories, pins, light-up gear, artworks and more. The selection was plentiful and the vendors were well crafted and unique.
Embedded within the Vendor village were two tented stages: the Salt Stage which showcased some of my favorite sets of the weekend from Marvel Years, Defunk and Maddy O'Neal. It was intimate and full of energy allowing for dancing and hijinx well into the night. A similar stage but featuring a giant light-up whale suspended from the ceiling (amazing) was the Starwater stage, which was home to an awesome Lucid Vision Vs. Mikey Thunder silent disco set, Homemade Spaceship, Aqueous, and the Copper Children. While it did get packed at times, I found myself at Starwater frequently throughout the weekend, especially for the earlier sets which offered incredible vibes and space to enjoy them.
Passing this stage brings you to the ornately designed Arise GA gate and further still, the Terrapin stage. This was home to some wonderful music as well such as Voodoo Dead, The Main Squeeze and Memba. Another highlight was on Saturday early afternoon when Krushendo took the stage along with a vocalist, guest star guitarist from the group Zurc, as well as the inclusion of saxophone. It was high energy and just what I needed to keep me moving and grooving.
Further still were a few more pieces that tied together with the festival grounds. A giving tree of sorts called a “Nature Mandala” offered attendees to take part in the giving energy of the festival, offering up a token of their own. It was a beautiful addition to the already great Arise vibes. Making a return from Sonic Bloom was a giant light-up art piece found in the back corner of the festival. Even cooler still, it was rigged for pyro which was truly awesome to see from afar – fire and flames spouting from the top.
With all of these elements in place, it could be hard to imagine there would be anything else to make it better – but that's when I stumbled into the absolutely Heartwarming Children's Village. Here I was surrounded by beautiful children and their families where they had balls, toys, and a variety of other objects to play with together. On top of this, there was a small stage where children's books were being read with a backing band singing along. It was a truly standout element that nearly brought a tear to my eye with how truly wholesome it was.
All in all, Arise music festival has so, so much to offer. The venue is astonishing, the lineup has so much to offer to so many people and the vendors and food and beverages are so well crafted. Take this and add all of the other workshops and experiences available, you will find Arise is a Colorado hidden gem, a festival for those that want a getaway from the already crowded festival and nightlife scene, and want something that will help them feel free and recharge their batteries as a reminder of what it means to be human.