Jam-packed into one colorful, beautifully loud weekend, Lotus World Music Festival envelops downtown Bloomington. For anyone who has attended Lotus, you know the incredible experience it is. If you haven’t, you are in for a surprise. The buzz. The music. The people. It’s one of my absolute favorite weekends of the year.
Since 1994, Lotus asks artists from all over the world and attracts 12,000 people to Bloomington for four days filled with music, art, and cultural exchange and understanding. (Read more about the history of Lotus World Music Festival here.) Whether it’s the festival nights, free Lotus in the Park, Arts Village, or World Spirit concert, Lotus has something for anyone and everyone to enjoy.
You’ll also notice the small army of people in matching shirts. Around 500 volunteers donate their time to make the festival happen every year. I’ve received a couple of volunteer shirts from Lotus myself. It’s really like becoming part of a family. A very large, diverse family. I connect with people all year long by wearing (or seeing) those shirts. If you’re interested in volunteering for the music festival or other opportunities, learn more here.
As with many of my adventures, Gather’s own Master Master Allyson joined me for all the festivities. Allyson volunteered for Lotus Festival before becoming a graduate assistant in 2014. I volunteered with Lotus my first semester at IU back in 2007. We’ve both been collecting volunteer shirts and Lotus experiences ever since.
The goal at Lotus, for me, is to see as many bands as possible. We grabbed a schedule from the information tent and headed to the Buskirk-Chumley to see Fendika (Ethiopian music and dance). Fun, invigorating, high energy start for our 2016 Lotus! We grabbed dinner at the Big Cheeze in the Food Truck Village and watched the aerial dancers. For the rest of the night we got back to our American roots with Anna & Elizabeth, jammed out to Balkan tamburiza with SÖNDÖRGŐ, listened to the beautifully heartbreaking melodies of Josienne Clark & Ben Walker from the UK (Josienne is actually quite humorous for writing songs about heartbreak.), danced to Yemenite folk and EDM with A-Wa, clapped our hands and stomped our feet with the Irish Altan, were moved by beautiful Finnish-American harmony of Aallotar, enjoyed the theatrical Fémina, and ended the night with high-energy Swedish swing and hip-hop artist Movits!. The talent of the artists astounds me every year. Another great one for the books!
Fortunately I managed the Ivy Tech Tent Saturday night. So while I dutifully volunteered, I danced to contemporary Cuban son with Adonis Puentes and high-energy Afro-fusion Mokoomba. I had a great night volunteering with a great team!
The spirit of Lotus World Music Festival is unmatched. It’s a testimony to the connection we all share through art and music and the incredible experience of the exchange of cultural heritage. Attend. Volunteer. Go to Lotus.