Why I Loved AURA Music & Arts Festival (Plus Photos)

Live painters during Break Science Live Band at AURA Music and Arts Festival
Live painters creating during Break Science Live Band's set on Sunday night

Incredible music, inspiring art, and an immersive feel

It was a weekend of jam — the kind of jams that make you wonder just how music could be this good and what god blessed you with the ability to hear it. The kind of jams that give you a crooked smile because you feel like you've just learned the greatest secrets of the universe. The kind of jams that make you grateful for talented musicians with the heart to bare it all in such an evocative way.

This was the essence of AURA Music and Arts Festival: creative expression given the freedom to soar, supported by the winds of a fiercely receptive (and captive) audience of music (and art) lovers.

And there was no shortage of either. A short walk around the festival grounds revealed musicians playing to enthusiastic crowds in the charming venues offered by Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (the Amphitheater Stage, the Porch Stage, and the Music Hall) as well as in the Vibe Tent, which was also home to yoga and healing arts workshops and the late-night silent disco.

I was most engaged by sets from TAUK, The Motet, Consider the Source, Jimkata, Dopapod, and Papadosio. TAUK brought me back to life midnight Saturday in the Music Hall and Dopapod covered No Doubt’s “Just a Girl”. A Michael Jackson tribute set by The Main Squeeze was the dance party we all needed Sunday afternoon and Break Science Live Band’s debut performance closed out the festival with some funky breaks.

Both moe. and The Disco Biscuits wowed crowds with excellent performances and incredible light shows that glittered in the trees surrounding the amphitheater and made waves of color in the sky.

Live painters could be seen working during sets at the same stage, while their finished (and some in-progress) works could also be seen in the art gallery. Spray painters wrapped trees in cellophane and left amusing and inspiring messages. Craft vendors selling tie dyes, screen prints, wire jewelry, handmade clothing, and more set up shop in front of the Porch Stage, followed by food vendors who fed me grilled cheese and veggie noodles (Solar Cafe), and gourmet mac and cheese (Goatacado).

I encountered so many familiar faces over those three days (see some of their photos below), one of the things that made AURA great for me and made me feel like part of a family. This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten that feeling from this festival; it was the same story back in 2013 when I came for the first time. It’s the reason why this festival is so loved and continues to grow each year. Even the musicians love the vibe at AURA and can be spotted in the crowds admiring the talent on stage.

I certainly plan to return in future years. If you haven’t yet made it to this fest, I highly recommend doing so, because coming to AURA is like coming home.

What was your experience at AURA? Did you have a favorite band that I didn't mention? Did you see some awesome art you'd like to share? Comment below!

Thandiwe Ogbonna is a freelance writer based in Orlando, Florida. She writes for The Untz, and has written for DubEra.com, NoDepression.com, and Home Grown Music Network. Tweet to her, @ThandiWay, and tell her about your next great event.

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