Forbidden Kingdom: Yay or Nay?

If you're a die hard headbanger, then you have heard about the new and upcoming music festival 'Forbidden Kingdom', that has graced it's presence for a second year in a row at Sunset Cove Amphitheater, Boca Raton, Florida this past February. If you're now wondering how a place like this (boujie on a whole other level) managed a festival full of bass heads and three stages producing some seriously heavy wubs, then you're in the right place.

Rachael Karaffa

Forbidden Kingdom 2020

When is comes to a great music festival, there are some things that can truly make or break the whole event. If the coordinators don’t plan for the appropriate amount of people, things will go down hill fast and the likeliness of the event returning to that venue along people returning the following year, is much less likely.

This is Forbidden Kingdom’s (FK) second year running at the Sunset Cove Amphitheater in Boca Raton, Florida and I have remained skeptical of this event both years for a few reasons. Before I go into all of that, I would like to help you understand my background and why you should take what I (some strange girl behind your screen) have to say into consideration.

I have been apart of the EDM community for the past 10 years and have attended over 20+ music festivals/events since the day I was considered a legal adult seven years ago. I have gone to the big ones and I have gone to the really really small ones. I have seen the top of the line to the bottom of the barrel when it comes to music/sound quality, visual presentation, location convenience, staffing (SO IMPORTANT), festival setup, and precautionary guidelines for when things go wrong. With that being said, all of those experiences have made me a better raver in so many different ways and I couldn’t be more thankful because now I know the do’s and the do not’s.

So lets dive in…

The Venue

One major plus to this event is the venue. It is absolutely stunning. The main stage at the Sunset Cove Amphitheater over looks a massive lake which gives for an amazing sunset experience. If you want to take a break from all the headbanging, it offers a great place to sit down and enjoy the views or take some really nice photos.

Though the main stage is not huge in scale when compared to some major music festivals, it does offer stadium viewing in the sense that there is a subtle incline to the ground the further you are from the front of the stage, allowing people to see even if they are far back. This is an amazing addition to a stage if you’re short like me.

I don’t think I have to say it, but I will…SIZE MATTERS. You can not have a festival with multiple stages if it is not big enough. Nobody wants to be at a head banger stage, getting ready for the next big drop, when all of a sudden you hear the next stage over playing a set you’re not attending. This is a big ‘no no’ when it comes to a good quality festival and luckily FK had this under wraps, even with 3 stages, they managed to keep everything spread out enough to create an experience at each stage, undisturbed by the next.

If there is one thing I dread about music festivals…it’s the end (DUH) but mostly because parking is never as simple as it should be and finding your car in the dark after a long night is a mission that can be a real buzz kill if it’s not set up right. FK though, did it right! There is ample amounts of parking, allowing everyone a lot space. There is also a designated Ride Share/Uber pick up area which allows the traffic in and out of the festival to run smoothly, allowing everyone to get home within the hour. If you’re a regular festival goer, you know this is a BIG deal. Nothing worse than waiting hours to get home and paying hundreds of dollars for an uber all while sitting in your own grime that you accumulated throughout the night.

Though the venue was spot on with a lot if important things when it comes to a good quality festival, it struggled in the sense of creativity. The decorations where minimal to none. No lights or colors of any type were set up. It was pretty bare for the most part with only a dragon head on top of the main stage. To some people this isn’t important, but to most, a festival is not only just about the music, but also about the experience. For the price of the tickets, there should have been more to offer.

Uhm, Expensive much?

The prices for a 2-day GA wristband ranged from $200-$250 depending on when when the tickets were purchased. This, to me, is way over-priced for what the festival would actually be valued at. Especially since EDC Orlando is 10X the size and a 1000X the overall quality for the same price. This was honestly a 1-day festival stretched out over two days, making the first day’s lineup sub-par and ending the second day at 10pm, which is just way too early.

On top of that, the sound quality at the stages were not meant for such heavy music and could not live up to people’s expectations after paying $200+ to be there. Either the prices need to come down or they need to crank it up a notch.  I can understand how this may difficult in a town like Boca Raton where billboards and bright lights aren’t allowed but come on…you’re putting a heavy hitter music festival in their backyards, somethings got to give!

Festival Set-up/Staffing

I cannot stress this enough; festival staffing is so important in both quality and quantity. Like it or not, a lot of things can and will go wrong at large events like this and if the staff is not up to speed on the details or somewhat competent enough to understand your questions (yes, I have been to festivals where the staff is just…gone) then there is a problem. The issue at FK in consideration to staffing was that there wasn’t enough of them and the few they did have, didn’t take their job all too seriously. There are pros and cons to a laid-back staffing, but with the world we live in today, I can appreciate the feeling of safety when it comes to prepared and diligent staff onsite.

Food and drinks were provided throughout the festival and like usual they were overpriced. Though this is to be expected at pretty much any festival you attend, it would be nice if the quality of the food matched the price tag just once *fingers crossed*.  Additionally, there were two water stations available, both in grassy areas, which made for a real muddy experience, especially with the rain that came on the first day. Festival 101…do NOT put a water station in the grass. Free water is great, but it’s even better when your feet don’t get swallowed by mud and you’re able to make it out with both shoes on.

Lastly, a major mishap in consideration to the set up was that there just weren’t enough bathrooms. Not only was there only about 15-20 available porta-potties, but they were not being maintained properly to handle the crowd. So, as you can imagine, it got gross…very quickly.  I would rather hold it than go into a gross porta-potty any day, and if I am paying $200+ dollars for a smaller scale event, they better at least have a way for me to use the bathroom without being completely repulsed.

Overall…

Considering the price of the tickets, the festival could have been better. The best thing about the whole event was the venue itself, but that alone seems to come with a big enough price tag to take away from staffing, set up, and sound quality. In my opinion, and after speaking with many other attendees, we would be skeptical attending again next year for that price. I would say if you are a local, it would be worth it for the price, but this is not a festival worth traveling far for. You can get a lot more bang for your buck in countless other places in Florida.

For a quick break down see list below:

Yay

  • Great lineup
  • Multiple stages
  • Good vibes
  • Beautiful location and plenty of space
  • Easy traffic and lots of parking

 

Nay

  • Expensive
  • Not enough bathrooms
  • Water stations and bathrooms became mud pit
  • Poor sound quality
  • No totems
  • Ended at 10 pm on the last day
  • One-day festival stretched over two days

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