In 1937, a paved two-lane road was completed on the coast of California, which was declared California’s first scenic highway. A small town which didn’t have electricity until the 1950’s, Big Sur, rests on a 90 mile stretch between Carmel and San Simeon with arguably the best views in all of the state. The Luvlab crew chose the backside of this historic area and couldn’t have picked a better location to hold their gathering! With the freshest of air and a scenery out of this world, Big Surreal ‘Honoring‘ takes place June 16th through the 20th and will be nothing short of magical!

The family at Luvlab holds strong values in community, sustainability and creativity. They don’t consider their Big Surreal events “parties,” but an intimate (500-people-intimate) gathering of like-minded individuals to connect, collaborate and inspire one another. Along with the gorgeous location, guests will enjoy camping, incredible food and drinks, interactive art installations, yoga and other informative workshops. Big Surreal is making sure you will have plenty of amazing music to get lost on the dance floor as well. With over 40 musical guest which includes a diverse lineup featuring the likes of: Random Rab, Dirtybirds own ArdalanSaqi, Dustin Thomas, Mike Love and a live set by Lonely Boy, there will be plenty of good vibes to go around. This is the first year the guys from Noise Revolt will be including their creative space, RevoLounge. Big Surreal is a pit stop on the RevoLounge tour and will be having music on Thursday and Monday, in between those days they’ll be hosting workshops, talks, as well as a place for artists to get creative. There seems to be a recurring theme from Luvlab productions, unity and creativeness. Luvlab Productions is a non-profit association, and this event aims to benefit local institutions. This year, their selected community charities include the Big Sur Educational Council, an accredited CA 501(c)(3), and the Esselen Indian tribe.

For the full line-up and useful information, check out the Facebook Event Page


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I had a chance to ask Mike Handy from Luvlab a few questions to provide a bit more information about the event, location, and vision of this year’s event.

-What is the inspiration behind Big Surreal?

The inspiration behind Big Surreal stems from our experiences attending and working a variety of different gatherings around the country really. Burning Man, Desert Hearts, Symbiosis, Envision, and other transformational gatherings have inspired our Luvlab tribe to create a festival that integrates all of our favorite aspects of these gatherings in to one boutique music and arts gathering. Being based out of one of the most beautiful areas of California, Big Sur, our original idea was to create an intimate gathering where like-minded individuals can come and escape to an isolated area deep in nature to freely experience the music and creativity of international, well-known musicians; As well as local up-and-coming musicians, all sharing ONE stage and ONE vibe. We are a family of friends aspiring to provide a space for open-minded individuals to come and express freely, make new connections, and experience a collision of a variety of creative mediums: art, dance, theater & live music, staged in some of the most breathtakingly beautiful outdoor locations that our Central Coast of California has to offer.  We believe that, by creating a space in nature to sing, dance, paint, build, and participate in ritual & performance, we can create an atmosphere that allows our audience to shed the past, forget the future and fall into the moment feet first. We are mixing music, art, and nature to brew a love potion for the world to ingest!

Tell us a little about the location this year.

This year our new home is located, geographically, on the backside of the Big Sur coast. The new location is incredible in terms of its easy accessibility, dramatic views, and history. The land is made up of rolling hills, and Oak tree gullies and opens up to views of the Ventana Wilderness. Every year, we have a one-word theme that sets the tone for the gathering. This year our theme is “HONORING”. About ten months ago, our good friend, and co-creator of Big Surreal passed away in a car accident. His name was Two Feathers and he was a descendant of the Esselen Native American tribe. One way we are honoring our brother, is by hosting Big Surreal at this site, which is sacred Esselen tribal land in the Cachagua valley.

Aside from the location, what’s new for Big Surreal 2016?

This year, Big Surreal happens to fall on the 2016 Summer Solstice. To celebrate this full moon solstice weekend, we are opening our doors to the public for a total of 5 days; From Thursday June 16th through Monday Jun 20th. We also have the space this year to expand our festival layout to include multiple different lounges and chill spaces, as well as multiple different healing sanctuaries and workshop spaces.

-Exciting lineup! What was the vision behind inviting this year’s musical guests?

Our vision for this year’s music lineup was to bring as many different music genres and styles as we could find to our one stage. As most people out there, we appreciate and enjoy so many different types of music. We want to create a musical journey that caters to more than just one general genre of music. By creating our lineup based on this idea, we are creating an atmosphere that, in the past, has facilitated collaborations between artists that may never have the opportunity or chance to play together on one stage. It is so fun and inspiring through out the weekend to watch these artists collaborate with each other during their individual sets from time to time. It is rare, we think, to find an intimate and small gathering like Big Surreal with such a big lineup. We are creating an experience that becomes a personal experience between the artist and the audience. During the day time, the Surreal Stage is mostly filled with live bands, but as the sun falls and day fades into night, the music follows this change by integrating live/electronic acts. Then the music artists move into our DJ booth on the dance floor, which opens the stage up for Performing artists (Aerialists, Fire performers, and various different types of performing art). Creating an experience through the night that caters to everyone.

-What do you hope people take away from a festival like this?

We hope people will come away from a festival like this feeling refreshed and inspired to go back into their lives and share the love and energy of Big Surreal with their communities and networks. It is an honor for us to be allowed the opportunity to inspire people to collaborate and to be innovative, and express their creativity and to go out and pursue their passions and dreams. Love is the key to this movement.



Derek Coulter
Contributing Editor