Every year the summer music festival calendar gets more and more crowded, allowing festival-goers to be increasingly selective when charting out their summer plans. There’s often plenty of overlap between festivals when it comes to lineups, forcing event organizers to focus on creating unique experiences and environments to differentiate themselves from each other. It’s hard to think of a Northwest festival that’s done a better job of that than What The Festival.
It’s all in the name. What The Festival isn’t just a music festival. Sure, it boasts an impressive lineup of some of the world’s finest electronic acts—but it’s also an interactive art exhibit as well as a giant pool party (see photos by Drew Bandy from 2015) with independent film screenings (among other things). The festival grounds feature hookah lounges, group yoga lessons, art installations, a relaxation spa, and other attractions. WTF’s organizers left the words “music festival” out of the name for a reason. There’ll be enough happening out at Wolf Run Ranch (in Dufur, Ore.) on June 17 to 19 to leave guests wondering, “What is this?”
That’s really the key to the whole festival. WTF’s undefinable nature allows attendees to approach it from multiple angles and enjoy it for different reasons—as opposed to the relatively structured (and corporate) feel of competing festivals. It holds a charmingly malleable feel that turns guests into active participants as opposed to passive spectators. Fittingly, it’s been dubbed a “summer camp for adults.” The fact that there’s a giant wading dance area that plays host to daily pool parties DJ’d by the world’s best electronic artists also probably has something to do with that.