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The Bright Lights of Northern Nights

The famed California music festival celebrates its 10th year. with music and cannabis offerings...
By Matthew Solan
Photography - Courtesy Of Northern Nights
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The Bright Lights of Northern Nights blog image

The Northern Nights Music Festival—that rare offering of electronic music, cannabis, art, wellness, and glamping—will celebrate its 10th anniversary July 14 to 16 at Cook’s Valley Campground in Piercy, a two-hour drive north of the Bay Area.

An estimated 5,000-plus festival goers are expected to gather in the bend of the Eel River in Humboldt County in the heart of Northern California’s Emerald Triangle.

In business, location is everything, and that’s true for the festival business. “The Cook’s Valley Campground has hosted Northern Nights every year, and people look forward to getting away from everything for a few days,” say co-founders Matty Roberts and Andrew Borgelt.


Northern Nights have long been a pioneer in marrying cannabis with electronic music. In 2019 when recreational cannabis was legalized in California, Northern Nights became the first overnight camping music festival to sell cannabis on-site. “When cannabis became legal, we knew we had to incorporate it into the festival,” say Roberts and Borgelt.

Last year they upped their commitment a notch by posting dispensaries at multiple stages so people could enjoy the tunes while enjoying their weed. “This year, we plan to expand Northern Nights’ reputation as an integrated cannabis experience and offer cannabis sales throughout the event,” say Roberts and Borgelt.

To celebrate its milestone birthday, Northern Nights will also be the first festival to develop its own in-house cannabis strain, in collaboration with Humboldt Seed Company. Seeds will be available on-site for personal and commercial sales.

The festival’s popular Tree Lounge returns with a new central location, featuring cannabis sales and live music. It will be the only place people can consume the specialized strain.

Other cannabis vendors and businesses who will be on-site include Weedmaps, Embarc Events, Cvalt, and One Log House. There will also be festival-wide cannabis experiences curated by Royal Blunts, Arcata Fire, Boonville Farm, and others. Local cannabis farms will also be on hand to highlight their services, share their stories, and support other local farmers and small businesses looking to pursue cannabis.


But the festival organizers point out that it’s always music first and cannabis second. This year’s lineup will showcase a blend of top electronic musicians and up-and-coming local talent. Scheduled to perform are Belgian drum-and-bass veteran Netsky, Tokimonsta, Big Gigantic, G Jones, and Dr. Fresch.

Other performers include Coco & Breezy, Daily Bread, Elephant Heart, Leigh Jones, MiMOSA, High Step Society, Megan Hamilton, Forester, and TruthLive. California-grown talent includes Santa Cruz-based KR3TURE and San Diego’s Casmalia.

“With a touch of funk and soul, there’s something to scratch everyone’s musical itch,” say Roberts and Borgelt. “Every year, we send patrons a questionnaire to see what music they are excited about and who they want to see.”

Don’t be surprised if some festival acts soon appear in sold-out arenas. “We’ve had many bands play here, and within a few years, they have moved up to the national stage,” say Roberts and Borgelt.

This year, seven stages will be in action, including the River Stage, which allows guests to float in the Eel River while watching performances; the Grove Stage, curtained in redwoods; and the Bunker Stage, for those in a party mood. Fans can also get a good view of performers while hanging out in the Tree Lounge.


The festival is not all music and weed. Organizers have also announced the Movement & Wellness phase-one lineup in collaboration with Movement Makers, which includes breathwork practices, sound healing experiences, primal movement, exploratory dance, community education circles, live music, arts integration, yoga classes, and a cacao ceremony.

For people wanting to make an entire weekend of it, Anywhere Outpost Glamping tents are available. The luxury setup includes furnished bedroom tents, lounge tents, air-conditioned restrooms with flushing toilets, exclusive hot outdoor showers, and a complimentary beverage bar. Northern Nights is an 18-and-older event.

Cover, Colorado, Summer 2023