With a name like the Rainbow Gathering, one would assume that it is just another hippie festival, encompassing all the general characteristics of festival life, but it is in fact much different than many of the other festivals discussed.
The Rainbow Gathering was first held in 1972, and is held annually in the United States from July 1st through the 7th every year on National Forest land. This festival is put on by the Rainbow Family of Living Light, put simply the Rainbow Family. What makes this festival different is that the Rainbow Family, as stated by its members:
Is the largest non-organization of non-members in the world.
What this means is that there is no official leaders, no formal structures, no official spokespersons, and no membership. The only requirement to be apart of the Rainbow family is a belly button, but even this isn’t a real requirement. Principles that are characteristic of all rainbow members and rainbow gathering attendees include; love for the earth, peace, diversity, respect for others, volunteerism, etc.
Another factor that makes this festival different from others is the idea of non-commercialism. Rainbow Gatherings do not require the purchase of a ticket for entry, and the use of money to buy or sell anything is taboo, therefore a bartering system is generally used. In fact, snickers bars have emerged as a semi-standardized unit of exchange at some gatherings.
Every summer tens of thousands of people go to a different U.S. National Forest, where a temporary city is created in the wilderness. These cities come complete with kitchens, plumbing, medical care, and childcare, all thanks to the endless supply of volunteers and donations. The only comparable event is burning man, yet the Rainbow Gathering lacks the extremism of burning man, and even burning man requires ticket entry.
It is safe to say that the Rainbow Gathering stands alone when it comes to festivals. It is one of the few completely non-commercial festivals that remain, it is also one of the few that is put on by a non-organization and generally relies on word of mouth and the good of people. The Rainbow Gathering has stayed completely true to it origins, and I respect this. Although I have never been to a Rainbow Gathering, I still consider myself part of the rainbow family, belly button and all.