27 Years of Boom Festival: How Psychedelic is Becoming Sustainable

Dance Temple at Boomtown
Dance Temple. Photo courtesy of Murilo Bezescky

Boom Festival is a global psychedelic gathering of music, art & environmentalism. Read more about their holistic sustainability paradigm after nearly three decades of Boom.

Psychedelic vision at Boom Festival

Psychedelic trance culture is the essence of Boom Festival. Born from a few friends bringing Goa parties to Portugal in the 90’s, the psychedelic vision goes beyond music with the objective of being a transformational event.

Boom’s founders emphasize that being psychedelic is more than mind altering substances. Themes of expanding consciousness, freedom of thought, and understanding “that all beings are interconnected elements of the universe” are all core to Boom.

Some seriously psychedelic stuff.

Boom Festival 2022. By Murilo Bezescky
Boom Festival 2022. By Murilo Bezescky

Evolution of Boom Festival

Every two years in July, Boomers head towards central Portugal to Boomland, along the shores of the picturesque Idanha-a-Nova Lake. This global psychedelic gathering has changed greatly from the rudimentary 1997 event deep in a Portuguese forest.

Watch the Boom Festival 20 Years documentary to appreciate the full transformation.

The festival now includes dedicated areas for meditation, therapies, arts, and holds over 300 workshops and lectures throughout the event. With this evolution, the music stays true to the founding vision with 21 stages and hundreds of shows.

Zooming out, Boom’s impact cannot be understated. Some regard it as one of the most influential festivals in the world alongside the likes of Fusion and Burning Man.

Holistic Sustainability Paradigm

Emulating themes of unity and radical love, the festival’s stance on environmentalism fits right in. Articulated in the 12 dimensions of the Boom Festival Sustainability Paradigm, being holistically sustainable is a core attribute.

Boom Festival Sustainability Paradigm
Boom Festival Sustainability Paradigm

This paradigm is summarized by their eco mission, “to protect and regenerate our precious Earth.”

Having purchased the land in 2016, Boomland has expanded the scope of their environmental and educational programs throughout the year. These include the wellness-focused Being Gathering, Boomland School, and partnerships with various non-profits.

Award winning 2023

Daytime at Boom. Photo credit of Murilo Bezescky
Daytime at Boom. Photo credit of Murilo Bezescky

Every year, the organization AGF (A Greener Future) awards the most sustainable festivals according to various impact categories. Boom Festival was unavoidable in the 2023 awards list, being nominated for three, and winning the AGF Water and Sanitation Award.

Due to high levels of drought in Portugal, the conservation of water is essential. Boomland has addressed this through numerous initiatives from their #SaveTheDrop campaign to only using dry compost toilets. Most significantly, Boomland built a wastewater treatment plant which can store an impressive 7 million liters of water. This award was clearly well-deserved.

Head over to the water section of Boom Festival to learn more.

Boom Festival 2023 Eco Report

Post event, two letters were released splitting the 2023 Eco Report, Eco Letter to the Boomers I and II. These letters cover aspects ranging from water and food, to community engagement and materials. Within the materials section is the well-designed Material Flow Analysis, one of the most impressive parts of the report.

In this analysis, you can visualize the inputs and outputs across five impact categories of energy, drinks, infrastructure, materials, and food:

Material Flow Analysis. Source: Eco Letter to the Boomers II
Material Flow Analysis. Source: Eco Letter to the Boomers II

My only critique of the 2023 Boom Festival would be the use of the diesel generator.

On the energy section of the website, Boomland’s electricity is sourced from 78 on-site solar panels along with being connected to the public grid. However, with the remote location, energy sources like diesel generators may be the only feasible option to supplement energy demands during the event.

Portugal is one of the top countries in Europe for solar energy potential. Further investment in solar generation could be profitable for the organization, along with being an avenue to move away from these polluting generators.

Regardless, Boom is easily one of the most sustainable festivals out there.

What about the next Boom?

 Aerial view. Image courtesy of Murilo Bezescky
 Aerial view. Image courtesy of Murilo Bezescky

Resuming the original bi-annual nature of the event, the next Boom Festival will be held 17-24 July next year at the same Idanha-a-Nova Lake in Portugal. Make sure to include Boom in your 2025 festival docket and keep an eye out for ticket updates later this year. See you in Portugal?

Let us know.

Want more festival news?

Read similar pieces in the festival section of Underground Sound.

Written by Louis Rouffaud

Louis Rouffaud is a sustainability professional with a Master in Sustainability and Energy Management from Bocconi University, writing content on sustainability in the music industry. He is also a hip-hop and R&B enthusiast.

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