Guide to Magnetic Fields Festival (December)

Written by Charlotte

A 3-day celebration of contemporary art and music, set in the historical and luxuriant halls of Alsisar Mahal in Rajasthan, India. Engaging and captivating, this festival hides more than just impressive music and art showcases behind the palace’s walls. Relaxing in the desert, secret pop-up parties, dancing on the palace’s rooftop until sunrise, watching the lights switch on in the desert from a distance as the sun goes down, these are just a few of the magical moments that await. One of the most unique escapes, an absolute must for music revellers and keen adventurers. Plan your festival travels with The Nitty Gritty Guide to Magnetic Fields Festival!

When did I attend? December 2019

When is the next Magnetic Fields Festival? TBC 2020

What do you hear at Magnetic Fields Festival? A thrilling mix of underground and electronic music genres

Where? Alsisar Mahal, Rajasthan, India

What’s the local currency? Indian Rupee

What’s the local language? Hindi

. Magnetic Fields Festival is a 3-day underground and electronic music festival that features homegrown forward-thinking artists and international creatives.

. Magnetic Fields Festival has been going strong since 2014.

. Magnetic Fields Festival is set up in and around a royal palace (or mahal in Hindi), which was earlier the residence of the Thakur of Alsisar.

. Magnetic Fields Festival unites India’s contemporary culture with its historical royal hospitality and traditions under one programme which extends beyond just music into captivating activities and liberating experiences.

. Magnetic Fields Festival welcomes festival goers of all ages. Children under 12 go for free, children above 12 need a full ticket.

Alsisar Mahal
Photo Credit: Parikshit Deshpande

Tickets for Magnetic Fields Festival 2020 are not available yet, check back soon!

Tickets are sold in 3-day passes, there are no 1-day or 2-day passes available. Tickets are released in several phases, so the sooner you get hold of one the cheaper they are.

There are several ticketing categories catering to a variety of accommodation types, broken down into Classic Tents, Bedouin Tents and Palace Rooms. You can also buy a pass to pitch your own tent if you are equipped with the necessary gear. The on-site accommodation packages normally include a festival admission ticket, double check before purchasing so you do not buy an admission ticket twice!

The Classic Tent and Bedouin Tent packages are particularly useful if you’re not from the area and aren’t able to bring your own camping equipment to the site. They come in a range of different capacities ranging from the smallest one-person tent to a bigger six-person tent package. The Bedouin Tent packages can accommodate up to three people at a time.

Tickets to the Magnetic Feasts also become available a couple of months before the festival date. Keep an eye out for updates on their social media channels as these sell out quickly so you will want to get them as soon as they are released! To know more about the Magnetic Feasts scroll down to the ‘Food & Drink’ section below.

All children aged 12 and under are free as long as they meet that age requirement at the time of the festival, not at the time of your ticket purchase.

Online ticket sales close when tickets run out. The festival sold out in 2019 so make sure you pre-book your festival tickets online to avoid disappointment!

You’ll be able to collect your wristband when you arrive at the door. Make sure you have your ID and a copy of your booking confirmation on hand.

Keep in mind that tickets are non-refundable!

If you’re coming from abroad then flying into either New Delhi or Jaipur is the easiest option to begin your journey to Magnetic Fields Festival. Jaipur is closer to Alsisar and will reduce your travel time by a couple of hours so if you are able to make the journey from there then it will definitely be a bit more comfortable.

For festival goers coming from Delhi this is the recommended travel option. Trains depart New Delhi daily for Sadulpur Junction, the journey takes under 4 hours to complete. From there you can hail a taxi to Alsisar, the drive is only 45 minutes long.

Magnetic Fields Festival release a schedule with train times departing and arriving into Delhi closer to the festival date. Check this page for more information.

We arrived into Delhi and because we had planned a whole trip around the festival we opted for hiring a car and a driver. After the festival we continued onto Jaipur and Agra before heading back to Delhi. This made everything so easy, we never had to think about how to travel to our next destination. A quick google search for a car service, cross-referenced with some Trip Advisor reviews will have you sorted in no time. Before selecting one we emailed a few to compared prices and the different services. We booked a few weeks in advance so there is no pressure to get this sorted months ahead, take your time and find a company that ticks all the right boxes for your trip.

The journey from Delhi takes on average 6 hours, and from Jaipur only 4 hours. If you plan on coming by your own means then pop this address in Google Maps before setting off: Alsisar Jhunjhunu, Alsisar, Rajasthan 331025, India. Upon arrival you can hand your keys over to their valet service, they will park your car and have it back to you when you are ready to leave. There are no car parks, the town is small so it is not advisable to try and park your car in a random location, you may be blocking someone’s home or street. 

If you are coming from either Jaipur or Delhi but do not feel like driving yourself, you can also book a car or bus through Magnetic Fields Festival’s official transport partner: Transportal. They haver regular services running between the festival and both cities throughout the day. If you have a query or problem with your booking during the festival you can speak to a member of the team at the Transport Desk by the Palace Reception.

Magnetic Fields Fesival has on-site accommodation available for festival goers, these include Classic Tents, Bedouin Tents and Palace Rooms. You can also buy a pass to pitch your own tent if you are equipped with the necessary gear. They’ve got a selection of packages available for the duration of the festival which vary in size, capacity and commodities. All tents and tent pitching areas are located in the palace desert, situated about 100 meters from the main palace.

The Bedouin Tent packages offer the full glamping experience. Each Bedouin Tent has its own private ensuite bathroom, towels, toiletries, lights, blankets, power sockets and can fit up to three twin beds inside. And this is not a mattress on the floor kind of situation, you get a proper bed. Bear in mind that water isn’t available 24 hours a day which is not too inconvenient as long as plan your day around a few hours when it is running.

The best and most memorable way to experience the palace is by staying in one of its extravagant rooms. However, because they are situated in the thick of the action, it is not necessarily the most relaxing experience. If you need your sleep between rave sessions then this is not the best option for you, choose a cosy Bedouin Tent or off-site accommodation.

All tent packages sell out fast so if you want to stay on-site you need to get around to booking almost as soon as they get online. If you miss your chance do not worry there are plenty of other options. During the days of the festival, locals open up their homes and welcome festival goers to their homestays. Join one of the festival’s community groups, post in them asking for recommendations or assistance in booking something. Everyone is super friendly, Magnetic Fields veterans will be happy to help! We stayed in a homestay which was located a couple hundred metres away from the palace. Someone I had been speaking to on Instagram helped me negotiate the rate and finalise the booking via WhatsApp as the host did not speak much English. The host’s family was extremely accommodating, they offered to drive us to and from the festival on all days. They made our stay as comfortable and easy as possible!

Other than homestays, there are hotels nearby in the same village or furher afield in adjacent towns. However, because of the round the clock scheduling it is easier to stay in Alsisar so you can walk back to your accommodation or the festival at your own leisure and not worry about driving anywhere else.

The Bedouin Village
Photo Credit:Uday Rana aka Wolfman

One of the highlights of Magnetic Fields is how the site is spread out. Stages are scattered all over the palace as well as in the desert, adjacent to the camping grounds. Part of the fun is found in roaming the halls of the palace or wandering through the sandy planes, following the music to discover all the different stages at the festival.

The event hosts over 10 stages overall featuring collaborations with word-acclaimed music institutions and collectives. All are eccentric and have their own unique flair, they each deliver a special experience, showcasing different types of music acts and genres. Some of the best moments were had on the rooftop which sets the scene for unforgettable sunsets and sunrises. As well as the Peacock Club, an indoor stage which is pulled from the ground up for the festival, it sits in the middle of the campgrounds. The fact that you have to trek through the sand to go find it is pretty memorable and the structure is also impressive, they basically set up a whole nightclub in the middle of the sandy fields surrounding the palace. The production is impeccable, dare I say that the sound systems and speakers used are better than bigger and more mainstream events located in some of Asia’s biggest cities… They really overdeliver on curating a jaw-dropping experience.

The programme divides itself in a way that means that you usually find yourself walking between stages and exploring the site in full. A whole adventure awaits at each stage, make sure to wander around the festival to really take it all in.

Photo Credit: Avirat Sundra

Magnetic Fields is an underground and electronic music festival. The lineup highlights a good mix of homegrown talent and international artists. This was my first time travelling to India, so this was a real eye-opening experience, it gave me great insight into the electronic music scene in the country. Turns out, they are really into underground music and they go hard. The music programme is pretty advanced compared to other Asian festivals I have attended, it lives up to the height of experiences you get at underground and electronic music events in Berlin or Amsterdam. The combination of the fantastic location and the quality of the music give Magnetic Fields this raw and edgy feel to it that make this event truly spectacular and really heightens the music. It sets a very high bar for music festivals in Asia, there is nothing else like it.

JBABE Performing at JioSaavn
Photo Credit: Ron Bezbaruah

Every stage is exceptional and offers its own vibe. You get swept up in different ambiances and discover all sorts of genres depending on the stage. The lineup welcomes an incomparable variety of different acts and genres that appear throughout the weekend. From live acts and performances to DJ sets, you will get to witness a broad range of music entertainment. One of the most significant things that stood out was how they incorporated a number of acts that honoured and blended traditional Indian instruments and music with electronic genres. The lineup was phenomenal and undoubtedly makes this festival worth travelling for.

The lineup for Magnetic Fields 2020 hasn’t been released yet but this is what the 2019 programme looked like:

I was overwhelmed when Magnetic Fields Festival was over, in the best way possible of course. Genuinely sad when it came to a close, it was quite simply one of the most fantastic festival experiences I have ever had. And I really have the people who helped me put my plans together in the months leading up to the event to thank because it was seamless.

Little did I know that their kindness in sharing advice with me and offering their help was just a teaser for what I was about to be shown and exposed to at the festival. The attendees were well behaved, courteous, full of life and open to welcoming new people into this magical desert oasis. I shared some really incredible moments with complete strangers and is that not what all music festivals should be about? From simple smiles to words being exchanged, my heart felt warm, and it wasn’t the four layers of clothing I was wearing, it was peoples’ authentic kindness and openness that stood out to me.

Photo Credit: RC Photography

There was this infectious enthusiasm that coated the crowd, even in your most fatigued moments you will not be able to stop moving your feet because of this wild energy. One of the most significant highlights of Magnetic Fields Festival is the crowd. They are genuine music enthusiasts. Respectful of each others’ space and attending to enjoy the artists and acts. And they actually dance and get into the rhythm, which shockingly does not happen at every festival I go to! There has been some criticism that the festival has gone too big and become too mainstream. I am not able to compare with previous editions but compared to other festivals in Asia I feel people spend way less time on their phones and are there to really to get stuck into the music. Sure you get a few taking photos and videos, we live in that kind of world now but overall you get a real sense that these guys are die-hard music fans, that they trekked to the desert to lose themselves to the beat and nothing else.

I would say that the food was an activity in itself, at least it was for me… There was a very diverse range of dishes being served up, from local delicacies to international foods. There were a number of carnivorous, vegan and vegetarian meals available on site, everyone was catered for at Magnetic Fields Festival. The same stalls were set up in both the campgrounds and within the palace walls, so if you had munched on something you loved at the palace you could grab another portion of it in the desert without fretting about needing to walk back. I was impressed by the selection, it had been well planned to accommodate every meal of the day. I particularly enjoyed the fresh coffee stands they had, I am a devoted coffee fiend so this really hit the spot for me. There was nothing better than being able to indulge in a delicious coffee on those misty mornings, really shakes you out of bed and gets you ready for the day.

In terms of local standards, the prices were definitely above average but if you are coming to this festival from overseas you will not think twice about the prices. This is one of the cheapest festivals I have been to in Asia. Drinks were also very reasonably priced, wine and mixers were priced on average at 6USD, whereas I would normally spend between 8USD to 10USD for a drink at a music festival in Thailand. And most main dishes were being sold for around 4USD.

Other than food stalls the festival also hosts brunch feasts for which they curate elaborate menus (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus are available). They set up large banquet tables in the palace dining halls so you can feast like royalty after a long night of raving. Conveniently, they are held later in the morning and into the first hours of the afternoon, so you don’t have to worry about rolling out of bed too soon after ending your morning sessions. They release tickets for these a few months before the festival. They need to be purchased separately to the admission ticket. They sell out quite quickly so keep an eye out for announcements!

Because you are granted unlimited re-entries in the festival you may also want to opt for walking around the village of Alsisar. Locals set up all sorts of food stands by the festival’s entrance gates so you can also tuck into a more local experience if you feel like it!

This festival is about more than just music, you will find spread across the grounds a number of other distractions to keep you busy and entertained throughout the day. Such as a range of stalls and shops, many of which promoted an ecological message or charitable cause, and all were hosted by local craftsmen and designers.

Photo Credit: Parikshit Deshpande

In addition to this, there were a number of engaging and fascinating experiences waiting to be discovered. Several artists were on site throughout the festival to showcase their artistry. Their exhibits were open during the day and at night so if you wanted to take a break from the music you could wander off into the desert and lose yourself in some impressive displays in the middle of the night.

A dedicated wellness and wellbeing area was set up in one of the palace rooms. If you needed to refresh your mind and body, you could also take a couple of hours out of your day to meditate or do yoga with other fellow ravers or learn the art of Ayuverdic massages. One of the best moments I had at the festival was taking part in one of the 3-hour morning meditations, it felt incredible to be able to lay back and lose myself in the space for a few hours to rejuvenate. Going beyond the music at Magnetic Fields Festival you get to explore more of India’s culture, talents and traditions. Definitely make the most of all the other additional workshops and activities featured on the programme, they are included in your ticket so let yourself wander.

As if that was not enough there were all sorts of surprises kept springing up on us which kept us on our toes and made the festival even more thrilling. Including secret parties which you have to track down and a treasure hunt for which there are clues lying around the site that need to be assembled. Worth giving it a go, the prizes are pretty sizeable! Needless to say, Magnetic Fields Festival offers more than just a journey into music, it opens its festival goers up to feeling curious, playful and letting their inner adventurer roam.

Photo Credit: Avirat Sundra

Toilets and showers in the camping areas: did you really think they would let you walk around for three days without taking a shower?

Merchandise: official Magnetic Fields Festival merchandise is available for purchase on-site. 

Lockers: there are lockers available at the festival able to accommodate small items. But if you are worried about the remainder of your belongings then make sure to lock up your valuables inside your tent or your room.

Printed Ticket and ID: you will need to arm yourself with both of these to get your wristband and be granted entry into the arena, so make you sure you don’t forget either or you’ll be missing out on the epic party!

Re-Entry is permitted! you can come and go as you please as long as your wristband is kept intact. 

Fully charged phone: always good to have a full battery or one that lasts the whole duration of the festival so you can capture your favourite memories and locate your friends.

A reliable bag: keep your belongings safe in a bag you can rely on! Last thing you need is to lose your phone or other personal items in the desert or somewhere in the palace.

Warm layers: think proper winter layers, people were raving in big jumpers, thermals, coats, scarves and hats. This includes additional blankets if you are camping. It gets very cold, particularly at night but it was also cold during the day as a thick fog set over the festival and the sun didn’t come through. Come prepared, you can always strip a few layers off!

A torch: whether you are camping or staying in a homestay outside of the festival this will come in handy. Evenings are very dark outside of the main areas of the festival so you will want to have a light to guide your way.

An extension cord: the tents have a limited number of plugs, if you are sharing with a few friends then you may not have enough to go around in which case I recommend bringing an extension cord so everyone can plug their devices.

List of prohibited items: make sure you check back with the festival’s social media pages closer to the event to get the full list of prohibited items so you make sure you don’t bring anything that would get confiscated as you will not be able to get them back!

Top Up Stations: Magnetic Fields Festival uses a coupon system. Look out for top-up stations when you arrive to exchange your cash for festival coupons, this can be done using cash or card. We used cash as the card machines seemed to be out of service when we tried to use our card.

Sim Card: If you want to stay connected throughout your stay in India you’ll need to get a tourist sim card at the airport. Arriving into any major city airport you’ll be able to find a kiosk at arrivals. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work right away, it takes a few hours for the network to activate the new sim!

Cash: card machines are not always a fail safe option at music festivals and especially don’t expect to be able to find an ATM in the middle of the desert either! Come prepared with cash in hand to make sure you don’t end up not being able to make purchases.

Ear Plugs: long or repeated exposure to loud sounds can cause long term damage to your eardrums, don’t risk ruining your hearing, think of all the festivals you have yet to explore! Keep them safe with ear plugs!

Stay Hydrated! drink plenty of water! You’re going to be raving for hours at a time and you won’t necessarily feel like leaving the crowd to get some more water so stock up before finding a good spot in the crowd.

Pharmacy travel kit: include anything from plasters to pain killers and anti-diarrheal tablets. There won’t be a pharmacy waiting for you when you get there! People visiting India mostly get worried about getting an upset stomach. Thankfully we didn’t get sick, the food at the festival is definitely clean but if you’re worried about falling ill then I would definitely load up on some basic medication just in case.

Agree on a Meeting Spot: a lot of people will be attending this festival so set a meeting point before going to any stages so you can easily find each other at the end of the festival should anyone go missing from the group and they’re unreachable during the festival!

Want to share your experience of this festival or know any other festival hacks for Magnetic Fields Festival that I missed out? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Photo source: Magnetic Fields Festival
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My mission lies in acting as your virtual festival tour guide and relieving you of all the hard work that goes into planning for a festival so you can focus on having fun and making the most of your music festival experiences!

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