Desert Hearts is a boutique festival bridging the gap between body, mind, and spirit.
In November 2012, Desert Hearts blessed the festival world with a 200-person event. The annual festival was founded by EDM DJs Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, David Leon AKA Porkchop, Marbs, and co-owner Kristoff McKay in California.
Here’s everything you need to know about Desert Hearts Festival.
Desert Hearts is a community-inspired festival spanning three days in a picturesque location. In essence, it’s a spiritual and boutique event celebrating the soulful connections that live music experiences foster.
The mystic festival is the brainchild of five dreamers and artists: Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, David Leon AKA Porkchop, Marbs, and Kristoff McKay. While the festival had a modest start, it soon became an indispensable part of the rave community.
Desert Hearts Records is a music label cooked up by the festival’s co-founders with an ethos of bringing art, music, and transcendental raves to the forefront. Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, David Leon, AKA Porkchop, and Marbs are signed to the label alongside rising stars like Tara Brooks.
With over 6,000 attendees and 30 artists bringing an enlightening energy of love and dance, Desert Hearts has stolen the hearts of flower-child ravers.
But don’t be fooled by the EDM festival’s ego-death. Industry titans like Damian Lazarus and Carl Craig performed at the California festival, establishing Desert Hearts’ status in the techno realm.
The magic unfolds in the Lake Perris Recreation Area, an artificial lake with breathtaking views. With the mountains enclosing the waters, you can show off your photography skills at the break of dawn.
Though the lake is bound to sweep you off your feet, don’t expect greenery to flood your surroundings.
Lake Perris is in the desert, but wild shrubs can be found among the rocks. If you want to do some fishing, you might want to think again.
While the lake is a coveted location for boating, camping and outdoor activities, its waters contain a high level of Mercury, so you’re advised against trying to be one with nature.
Festival-goers are urged to respect wildlife – including flora and fauna – and pay attention to potential poison ivy findings. Whether you’re into birdwatching or not, hundreds of birds emerge from the mountains during sunset.
In its past editions, Desert Hearts took place on Los Coyotes, an indigenous land and sovereign state in San Diego.
Desert Hearts is your mandala-hanging, crystal-wearing aunt who believes in bad juju and good karma – and we dig it. With a ‘one stage, one vibe’ motto, Desert Hearts manifests its concept with one central area and 72 consecutive hours of music.
At the Cali fest, you won’t be running from one stage to the other, hoping to catch your favorite DJ, since it is a centralized affair. Psychedelic stage setups with multi-colored and elaborate installations take the cake at Desert Hearts.
Trippy visuals, neon-lit sculptures and disco balls create a techno-fueled version of Alice In Wonderland, where everything is colorful and nothing has too much glitter.
Camping is included in all Desert Hearts tickets, but there’s a catch. Regular tent camping options are on a first-come, first-served basis, so don’t slack on snatching your festival tickets.
For those who prefer the finer things in life, beachfront glamping options are on the table at Desert Hearts.
If you’re not a fan of tents, an RV campsite is present, ready to roll and save your butt – but make sure to book your spot in advance because hotels aren’t available.
Desert Hearts is a feast for your senses as live painters bring color to the rocky setting and art installations add a dash of vibrance to Lake Perris.
Since the festival celebrates all that is love and light, face and body painting services are available for partiers who want to express themselves in more ways than one.
Flow classes, yoga workshops, and instructor-led dancing are a few activities you can partake in during the three-day festival. While the music is enough to keep you stuck to the one and only stage, speakers discuss art, spirituality, and movement during the day.
A raver mom through and through, Desert Hearts knows how intense festivals can be.
The Healing Sanctuary is a space for sound and crystal healing, reiki practitioners, energy work, and spoken poetry.
Overwhelmed is not a feeling you will get when at the California festival, as recharging your body, soul and mind through the knowledge of authorized healers is pretty much on the table.
What started as an idiosyncratic tradition of festival friends passing around wine and cheese on the dance floor became a staple of Desert Hearts.
In 2018, they made it official through the Cali festival. It celebrated the custom by organizing a ‘Wine & Cheese Party’ where partiers indulged in delectable snacks like crackers and drinks throughout the day.
Although the 2018 get-together was in a separate camp, the main stage still had its own version of the annual ritual.
Do you have that chaotic festival group buddy who always seems to forget essentials?
Don’t worry about lending them a toothbrush because Desert Hearts has a slew of merch booths selling festival needs. Local food stalls are spread around the festival grounds, so make sure to fuel and recharge your body.
Lactose-intolerant, gluten-free, and vegan babes are seen and heard at Desert Hearts, as the food options like pizzas, sandwiches, and finger-food, keep everyone’s diets in mind.
Desert Hearts takes self-expression seriously and aims to be a safe space where festival-goers can be their most authentic selves. With that in mind, the California festival’s strict consent policy encourages introspection before touching or approaching a fellow partier.
On their website, Desert Hearts aims to educate visitors by explaining consent.
“Only enthusiastic, verbal Yes means Yes. No means No. Silence means No. Mumbling means No. Uncomfortable body language means No. Any response that is not an enthusiastic YES means No.”
On festival grounds, posters and signs will constantly remind partiers of what consent does and doesn’t entail. If festival-goers feel unsafe, Desert Hearts’ staff members will help victims and escort violators off festival grounds.
Since California has witnessed a devastating wildfires, use of fire is forbidden on Lake Perris to avoid destroying wildlife.
Trash recycling is on the table too, as campers are encouraged to bring sorted waste to the festival’s Public Transfer Station to be disposed of for a small fee.
The transcendental techno and house festival gained local and international traction, which sparked the vagabond party series ‘City Hearts.’
Los Angeles, New York, Tulum, Mexico City, Miami, and Toronto are some cities that have witnessed the festival’s energy.
Renowned event venue Belasco Theater was home to City Hearts’ LA event in 2015, so Desert Hearts scores exceptional locations.