Hulaween s 10th Year Anniversary Extravaganza

Photo Credit: IG / @taragracerfoto 

Located in North Central Florida, Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park comprises over 800 acres of camping areas, recreational facilities such as the disc golf course and playground, a cafeteria, ice cream parlor, and country store. A twenty-minute walk down River Road leads one straight to the Suwannee River, which maintains an average temperature of seventy degrees Fahrenheit. All of these elements combined under the Spanish moss create the perfect venue to host multiple festivals annually, and that’s exactly what SOSMP does. There is one festival, in particular, that the park has been home to since 2013 – Hulaween, hosted by The String Cheese Incident (an American Jam band formed in 1993). It is a 4-day multi-genre music festival that usually occurs the last weekend of October. The festival features a different theme annually, and for the ten-year anniversary, Full Moon Family Reunion was a great choice. The lineup includes John Summit, Goose, Mt. Joy, and the return of Pretty Lights. I’m here now, three months later, to share my experience with you, the reader, and maybe convince you to attend one year soon!

 Photo Credit: IG/ @jstrausser.visuals 

My boyfriend and I, unable to leave work until after 5 p.m., packed our camping gear and luggage and headed out on the road on Tuesday night with our Early Entry passes and wristbands in hand (not to mention our car camping pass as well), ready for our third year at our favorite festival. It’s a four-hour journey for us, and we made it to the park entrance around eleven at night.

Anytime we attend a festival at SOSMP, whether it’s Hulaween or Tipper and Friends, the Park requires everyone entering the premises to sign a park safety waiver for legal reasons. It’s a quick stop at the box office, which is located directly past the front entrance gate. I sign, get my early entry wristband, and we begin our drive into the campgrounds. It is eerily dark, but being our third time made it much easier to navigate, and we planned to camp in the same exact spot we have been for the past two years with our friends who were already waiting for us.

Did you notice how I didn’t mention any festival workers/volunteers guiding us to a spot? No rows and rows of cars in a big field? At Hulaween, they like to do things differently and elevate the camping experience by letting you pick your own spot. It’s first come, first serve, and oh boy, when I tell you people pay to show up on Sunday, four days before the festival even starts, to rope off spots for their friends, it gets worse every year, and this year was tough for anybody that showed up Thursday night and after. But rest assured, there is always plenty of room for the 20,000 festival-goers and volunteers/performers, and everyone is able to settle down and make their spot their home for the weekend. We set up camp next to our friends behind the playground, over in the area that is referred to as “family camping,” relaxed, and anticipated what was to come.

Fast forward to Thursday morning, the entire campground has come to life, our section is at max capacity, and we are only able to salvage a small spot for a friend arriving later that afternoon. The first music act is Vicky B at 1:45 P.M, but I decided to save my third time back to the venue for the night when it transforms into a mystical woodland, filled with art installations such as the mural maze that seems to expand every year, giant-sized sculptures, and nightly projections over Spirit Lake that sits in the middle of the venue. In the venue, there are various stages consisting of the amphitheater, the meadows, campground stage, and many more. People are dressed to the theme and in group costumes. Food trucks are abundant and strategically placed throughout, and the water stations were given new signage to make them easier to find. We make our way to the venue, breeze past security, and immerse ourselves in the Hulaween magic. Colorful strobe lights dance across the grounds, flow artists embrace their talents on the performers’ stage, there is music coming from every corner. People sit in awe around the lakeshore watching light projections appear and disintegrate. The amphitheater is packed to the brim for John Summit, and the field where the main stages sit looks like a sea of love and friendship. We take on the Spirit Lake stage just in time for Boogie T and are rocked by his set. The crowd is electric, and you can just feel the energy thriving.

Photo Credit: ig / @jstrausser.visuals 

Later in the night, we enjoy the art and music the venue has to offer and make our way to the campground in search of renegade sets. Hulaween is notorious for renegades, some in the venue (Skrillex b2b Chris Lake b2b Bonobo in 2021), and many in the campgrounds. We head over to the RVs, past one of the bat houses that is home to several thousand bats (the nice ones, I promise), trying to follow any bass we hear. It’s not a successful renegade night, but nonetheless, still a good time with friends, and we make a couple of new ones along the way. We head back to our camp, unwind, and prepare ourselves for a good night’s sleep while discussing whose sets we plan to catch tomorrow.

 Photo Credit: IG / @aaronbradleyphoto

The one thing that will always have me coming back to Hulaween, besides the venue, campground, and renegades, is the community. It’s not just a fan base or a following; we’re a family. All 20,000 of us every year. And being able to celebrate it with everyone this time under the full moon was amazing. Four days aren’t enough, and I’m so grateful I get to experience it with my loved ones. I plan on going every year for the rest of my life. I can’t wait to be back, and I hope to see many new faces there this year.

– Miranda Bailey Albritton 


Previous Post
All Aboard EDSEA
Next Post