Shambala is an independent music festival with an audience of about 10,000. Set in a picturesque country park, the environment has always been central to its ethos. Over the last few years, Shambala has been brought creativity and innovation to its environmental initiatives, including sustainable sourcing and a pioneering sustainable energy approach, bringing audience, traders and artists with them along the journey.

Between 2009 and 2013 Shambala reduced its diesel use (red and biodiesel) per audience day (number of tickets x festival duration in days) by 45%, from 0.66 litres to 0.36 litres. Over the same time, carbon emissions from energy use (diesel and gas) decreased by 87.5%, from 60.9 to 7.6 tonnes. In 2013 the festival was 94% renewably powered, mainly through Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) biodiesel. Their power provider is contractually responsible for collecting accurate power requirements from all end users and Shambala expects to see evidence from them of generators running on optimum capacity. All traders are asked to reduce energy use and are charged on a sliding price scale for power feeds, the more power they use. Loads for generators are carefully planned so some generators can be switched off at night during the show and 100% LED festoon lighting is used throughout the site.

Over the last five years Shambala’s team have developed robust energy use monitoring. In 2013 it worked with its power provider biofuel specialist  Midas UK  to monitor all generators onsite and will be able to access the resulting data via an online tool. This project is being part of a partnership between Midas and DeMontfort University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy.

Chris Johnson, one of Shambala’s Directors, has become a powerful advocate of energy efficiency and sustainable energy within the music sector. In 2011 he was a key player in launching the Green Festival Alliance, now known as Powerful Thinking, with partners including Julie’s Bicycle, A Greener Festival, Festival Republic, Bestival, Firefly Solar and the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF). Powerful Thinking is now the UK’s leading initiative on sustainable power for the outdoor events industry, and in 2012 published The Power Behind Festivals, a practical guide to sustainable power at outdoor event

“Festivals have a key role in inspiring behavioural change in society. Our challenge is finding the most effective ways to communicate sustainable messages to festival goers, by virtue of the way we manage events, how we communicate this, and the content of the events.” Chris Johnson Director Shambala, Chair Powerful Thinking

 The Power Behind Festivals (Pdf)



Shambala works very closely with its power contractors to manage its on-site power infrastructure and demand as efficiently as possible. The power supplier is contractually responsible for liaising with all energy users on site (e.g. traders, production offices, etc.) to obtain accurate power needs rather than estimates prior to the festival to aid in the planning of generator sizing and placement. The power infrastructure is laid out in such a way to enable the switching off of some generators overnight. Between 2009 and 2012 Shambala was able to reduce its total diesel use by 52%.


Shambala is around 93% powered by waste vegetable oil biodiesel. Predominantly driven by the switch away from red diesel, the festival was able to cut its carbon footprint per audience day (per person per day at the festival) by over 75%.

External Communication

Shambala engages its audiences with energy sustainability through interactive energy awareness projects such as the Electric Hotel and Electric Pedals phone charging on site and hosts a hugely detailed sustainability section on their website, including infographics breaking down their impact information and per-person carbon footprint:

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