The spirit in Live Oak never seems to diminish, as this year’s Suwanee Hulaween set the vibes high once again. Hulaween hosted their 10-year anniversary on the magical Spirit Lake, selling out the campgrounds with their diverse line-up and notorious reputation. The festival fills the Live Oak forest with music from day to night, with five main stages and installations tucked in the trees. We celebrated under the warm Florida sun and howled at the full moon among beaming lasers and roaring sounds. From jam bands to riddim, all types of music filled the heart and soul throughout the four-day celebration. With glowing displays and firework shows, Hulaween presented an unforgettable 2023 experience for attendees of all ages.
An immersive experience
Hulaween’s immersive and captivating art installations only get better every year. The festival displayed ten new installations while holding space for the familiar. The infamous 15000 ft mural maze never disappoints wanderers, featuring murals by various artists like Chaya Av.
The new Cosmic Portal by Tyler Schrader kept Hulaween vets on their toes, offering a new interactive experience for all. The original art was scattered on pyramid-like structures with each side painted by notable artists like Simie Alexander and John Gay.
Towering wood structures and sculptures sparked curiosity and exploration. We found comfort through a series of life-size birdhouses and crept through the depths of a giant ant body. Frick Frack Black Jack kept attendees entertained, while human-sized “Chatterpillars” created an interactive space for chatty friends. Tying everything together was Hulaween’s classic projection mapping, captivating lighting, and stages like Corey Glenn’s fire-breathing Incendia.
Hulaween’s sonic breakdown
Thursday kicked the weekend off just right, with music starting shortly after the gates opened. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead took over the evening with instrumentals, while Boogie T kept the crowd headbanging to heavy dubstep and riddim. We moved through Friday with performances by the electro-instrumentalists, Lettuce, and Jason Leech, and danced into the night with an old-school rave-culture-inspired EPROM set.
It’s no surprise the anxiety and anticipation for two nights of Pretty Lights carried through the weekend. To hold us over, Marvel Years got the vibes going on a bright Saturday afternoon, followed by hours of String Cheese and the Manic Focus live band. Lab Group packed the Incendia stage, helping us cruise through sunset with deep bass and hip-hop.
Renegades topped off each night, guiding us into days filled with vendors and workshops. After stocking up on merch and nourishing our bodies with Island Noodles, we started our Sunday with VEIL‘s dark vibes and NotLö‘s dnb tempos. The last day always seems to fly by, as we soak up all the magic Spirit Lake has to offer.
Two nights under all the Pretty Lights
We were graced with String Cheese’s Saturday night firework show, paving the Meadows stage for two nights of Pretty Lights. Fans were drawn into the live band’s journey through tracks like “Sound in Silence” and a lengthy “Prophet” flip. We all connected as we sang “Finally Moving” with one another, many ending the night with tears of joy.
Sunday’s dreamy sunset was paired with “Rainbows and Waterfalls” and light-hearted tones. We dove into the emotive “Understand Me Now,” and traveled through space with “Time.” The legendary “Hot Like Sauce” got the night hyphy before we said our Hulaween farewell with the groovy”Shakedown Street” remix.
It’s bittersweet to say our goodbyes to Hulaween’s magic and wonder this year. But there’s no doubt they’ll provide just as much amazement in the years to come. Not only does the festival curate heavy-hitting line-ups and unmatched stage design, they continuously establish a judgment-free and safe space for everyone. Let us not forget, the attendees and creative costumes that truly make this experience one of a kind. We can’t wait to see what the Hulaween team has in store for 2024.
Until next year Hula-Wieners!
Cover image by Courtney Scout
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