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As one of the smaller, more intimate music festivals in Chicago, Mamby on the Beach is one of the city's best kept secrets. In only it’s second year it has solidified it’s place on the festival circuit and is making a strong push for being one of our favorite events of 2016. But why? What makes this festival stand out?

The setting of Mamby on the Beach is like nothing else in the United States. Patrons walk into a sea of art, graffiti, lanterns, wooden sculptures, and through a silent disco yoga session, all of this opening up to Oakwood beach, where there's a stage to your left and your right. You could listen to house under the tent and suddenly turn around, walk a few feet in one direction, and hear indie coming from the main stage. But the best part of the festival is lying on the beach, with your feet in the water, listening to music as the Chicago skyline gleams in the distance. It's just all around positive vibes and there's nothing like it.

This year we were graced by top sets from Tale of Us, Atmosphere, Thomas Jack, Shiba San, and much more, but the music is only half of it. Here are the top 10 reasons why Mamby on the Beach is a hidden gem in Chicago.

10. Guest Appearance by Chance the Rapper

I was standing on the beach, heading to the end of LIDO’s set with my festival family, when all of sudden we hear Chance the Rapper. We didn’t want any chance (pun intended) of missing him so we literally started running to the stage. It seemed like everyone else had the same idea as a herd of people rushed in! He blessed us with a few tracks and made an exit. It was a sweet moment between one of Chicago's local treasures and the massive crowd.

Photo By Stephan Wimmer

Photo By Stephan Wimmer

9. Manny the Frenchie hung out with us

Who doesn’t love a little dog running around the beach. Manny the Frenchie showed up to awe everyone with his big personality. Festival-goers could get pictures with him, hold him, and even walk him around the festival. Not only did everyone who met him love it, but it definitely seemd like he did too as was evident with the cutest smile on his face throughout the day.

8. Workshops relaxed our bodies

Mamby on the Beach offered a variety of health and wellness workshops that anyone could attend at anytime throughout the festival. Marisa Moon provided the workshops about nutrition, sleep, and every day living. Some of the most popular workshops, as you might imagine, were focused on silent yoga. Solarbeatz gave yoga sessions each day, which allowed those who participated to put on headphones and be instantly relaxed by stretching out the day of dancing in the sand.

7. The Artwork was inspiring

As soon as you walk into the festival, you pass through a massive wooden tunnel. This walk through transitions your thoughts from the real world to the festival mindset. You are then greeted by artwork, from graffiti to lanterns and Buddha sculptures, which opened up on to the beach.

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6. Performers were beautiful

When the sun went down over the water, fire dancers came out to the beach to perform. This seems like an ordinary event for a festival, but it was just a little bit more magical at Mamby on the Beach. I sat down in the sand and watched as the dancers twirled with poi and hula-hoops set ablaze with fire. The water glistened with the reflection of the flames and they danced to the music of the last acts of the day. It was a picturesque moment  that could only take place at a festival on the beach, which in Chicago will only be at Mamby.

5. Games pumped us up

Mamby on the beach had a ton of beach games set up for festival goers, which was a nice aspect aside from the madness that was going on all around us. The most popular game, surprisingly, was volleyball, but we were on the beach after all. The court was set right next to the beach stage making it the prime location for people to hang out with their friends while listening to their favorite artists.

Photo by Stephan WImmer

Photo by Stephan WImmer

4. Food fueled our fire

Mamby on the Beach was on point with their food. If you are at a festival for hours and hours, you are bound to get hungry. We all need fuel to survive, right? Thankfully, Mamby on the Beach picked the perfect food vendors for a festival on the beach. The best was getting to try different foods from food trucks featuring restaurants from around the city. Iconic Cheesie’s with their incredible grilled cheese was there along with La Lobsta Roll and many others.

3. Smaller Crowd = More dancing room

Unusual to the trend in music festivals these days, Mamby had a relatively small crowd. While the attendance of the festival went up drastically from the last year, the high attendance was barely felt as there was plenty of room to frolic. Many people would call this a disadvantage (some people like to know theres a massive crowd of people wherever they are), however, for this festival it was perfect. Having a smaller crowd allowed for deeper connections, intimate sets, and easier movement on the beach. The beach would lose its luster if it had thousands and thousands of feet covering it.

2. Music made us stronger

In the city known as the home of house, you would expect a lot of synthesized basslines and hi-hats, but not the case. By having four different stages Mamby on the Beach was able to show a variety of different music, from Deep House, to chillwave, and Hip-Hop. You could surround yourself in music from all over the spectrum. One of the most popular sets was Lupe Fiasco's. As a Chicago local, he moved the crowd and got everyone going with his high energy.

1. We were on a beach

Mamby on the beach is the ONLY festival in Chicago that is located right on the beach. What more could you want from that? Water, warm sand, and being with your friends listening to great music, plus the Chicago Skyline in the background. It had the feel of the city, but with beach vibes, which is not very common. A unique atmosphere allows for a festival to truly stand out, and Mamby made sure of that.

Tell us what you loved about Mamby on the Beach in the comments below!

[above photo by Stephan Wimmer]

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