Hulaween returns to Suwannee this week

Festival-goers get down during previous Suwannee Hulaween.
The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Fla., comes alive each year for Hulaween. Image by Trougnouf [CC BY-SA 4.0].

By Cynthia Gomez

The seventh annual Suwanee Hulaween is just days away and the weather in Florida is finally cooling down for this music and arts festival among the trees. Taking place Thursday, October 24 through Sunday, October 27, this year’s Hulaween is bringing a diverse blend of music, arts, and learning to The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Fla.

With so many different kinds of musical acts on the lineup, there’s something for everyone. Some are longtime staples of Hulaween, while others are fairly new to festival lineups in general. Following are five must-see acts.

  1. Bassnectar – Bassnectar’s Lorin Ashton is sort of like Hulaween royalty, playing every year. Bassnectar delivers a bass-heavy electronic music performance that draws a cult following. Lost track of time? No music schedule on hand? Just keep watch for the Great Nectar Migration on Friday night.
  2. Jai Wolf – Grab your hammock, find some trees to swing from, and get ready for Jai Wolf’s chill electronica. DJ Sajeeb Saha delivers reflective lyrics and genre-crossing music that is sometimes dubstep, sometimes downtempo, and always dreamy. He is best known for songs like “Indian Summer,” and “Starlight.”
  3. Tchami – A staple of the music festival scene for many years, Tchami’s Martin Joseph Léonard Bresso is an artist for the house heads. His performances are usually church-themed, and he appears dressed as a priest. This future house DJ clearly gets the music-spirit connection and communion through sound and movement.
  4. Charles the First – Charles has been making the rounds of music festivals big and small lately, and for good reason. Blending hip-hop with experimental electronic sounds, Charles delivers psychedelic, mid-tempo dub that’s easy to get lost in. His music is inspired by nature, and Suwannee provides the perfect setting for it, with its majestic oak trees on the grassy banks of the Suwannee River. 
  5. The String Cheese Incident – Maybe you like jam bands and maybe you don’t. Regardless, The String Cheese Incident is a staple of Hulaween, like the cheese in ham and cheese, and they put on one heck of a show.  Their music is a wild mix of bluegrass, funk, jazz, progressive rock, and electronica with a dash of psychedelic influence. If Cheese conflicts with another act you want to see, worry not, because there’s a lot of Cheese on this year’s schedule.

While music may be the main attraction at Hulaween, there is also a feast for the eyes, with art installations and artists painting and performing live every day. Hula also offers a robust workshop schedule, with everything from “Capoeira Music and Movement” to “Transformational Breathwork Journey” to “Saving the Planet with Creative Outlets.” Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to do good, with the “Hula Helps the Hungry” food drive and a benefit for the Suwannee Spirit Kids Music Camp and Live Oak Music & Arts Foundation. Hulaween has become one of those festivals that is about much more than the music — it’s a space where community-building, activism, and spirituality come together with music and art to create an immersive and unforgettable experience.

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