menu close-menu

The Rainbow Festival has been going on since 1960 until today. Having finished in one country, the festival opens its doors in another; thus, it is held 365 days a year. What is a Rainbow? Why do people over 60 go there? And how do I get there? In the article ‘Any Nobody’ from the ‘House on Wheels’ section.

Any Nobody


We’re on the same road for all eternity.

A rainbow over the abyss

Rainbows over the pit

Rainbows over the abyss,

Hopeless April. 

Egor Letov

The beginning of this text will be for those who know nothing about Rainbow; if it is not about you, start reading the interview. To begin with, it is worth noting that people on Rainbow use specific vocabulary, and despite the fact that it makes me sick from time to time, out of respect for the community, I will try to use it. Rainbow is a gathering of different people. It’s not a festival, as almost any old-timer will tell you, probably emphasising that a festival is a place where you are entertained and you pay for it. At Rainbow, everything is organised and implemented by the participants themselves. Although there are informal leaders as well as people who do not take part in providing community life, it can be said that each Rainbow is created by each participant. Workshops, food, restrooms, and community buildings are all done together. A Rainbow usually lasts one lunar month (from new moon to new moon), with the full moon usually being the biggest hangout. The meeting is usually preceded by a seed camp for two weeks, when those who have the desire, time, and energy prepare the place. The Rainbow is also preceded by a search for suitable places and trips to them in order to check their suitability. It is usually a place in nature with large clearings for a common campfire and away from major population centres. I’ve heard that in Finland they sometimes hold winter Rainbows at campgrounds, but I haven’t been there personally. There is also a cleanup afterwards lasting about a week, where work is done to remove traces of human occupancy.

You can get to the rainbow by invitation, which includes a map and brief rules of stay. These may vary slightly, but they are usually as follows: The use of electronic devices and drinking alcohol is discouraged at Rainbow (you can do all of these things, but not in public or disturb anyone). A vegan (vegetarian) meal is usually prepared twice a day. The meal is preceded by song and dance, and afterward, people make announcements about workshops, Rainbow life, etc. The person who speaks usually holds a talking stick, and when he or she speaks, everyone else is silent and listens. After the meal, there is also a magic hat that goes around where you can drop money for food and things for the festival (no one will ask you for any more money in any situation). There are often different areas, or, as they are traditionally called, campgrounds, at Rainbow. This can be a tea house, a national or language community, or a camp for sisters and brothers with children. Traditionally there is still a camp where many Rainbow traditions are broken. Many European countries have national Rainbows. There are also pan-European, central European, etc. (I’m honestly not aware of all the Rainbows and suspect it’s close to impossible). There are also Rainbows taking place in both Americas. There is a world-wide Rainbow as well. The movement is more popular in Europeanized countries. The rest, I think, you’ll find out in the interview.

Rainbow, photo from Shuria’s personal archive


It is often said on Rainbow that the rainbow is different for everyone. So in order to present different points of view, I interviewed some of my acquaintances. They are below. Also in the interview, there was a question about what not to write about Rainbow.I won’t publish the answers for obvious reasons.

– How did you find out about Rainbow? First trip and impressions? 

Shourya: I first heard about Rainbow from my friend, the author of the article. I wasn’t really interested in it – ‘some hippies again’. A couple weeks later, we happened to be in a hippie commune in Georgia, and everyone in the house was going to Rainbow. I loved the atmosphere of the house itself and everyone around it, so I thought it was worth it to see what your Rainbow was all about. 

I met some dudes and decided to go with one of them. We hitchhiked from Tbilisi to Adjara on a longer but more scenic road, stopping to visit the drivers’ families along the way. It was very beautiful, and surprisingly, I felt comfortable going somewhere together with someone I barely knew. We got to the last village in an old UAZ car and then walked through the mountains in the dark. 

We got there late and were greeted by two brothers, as if we had known each other for a long time, hugging each other and telling us the latest news. The first few days, I was a little uncomfortable with everyone being busy with something – everyone actively socialising with each other and having fun, so to speak. And I didn’t quite realise what I could do; I just observed, got to know people a little bit, and learned how to play chess. I felt like I was thrown into a sea of the unknown without any explanation. Several times I had the urge to pack up and leave, but curiosity and admiration kept me from doing so. 

It was the first time I saw strangers being so open to each other – so much joy and appreciation for everything!!!! After a week, I felt like part of the family, which still surprises me considering I was quite sociophobic.

Any Nobody: I feel like I kept hearing something about Rainbow. Some friends of mine went there. It was held a few times near my hometown. At that point, I had my own activist family that I devoted most of my time to. After my burnout from activism and somewhat falling out of it, I started looking for a new family in different places (honestly, unsuccessfully so far). 

I also lived for two years in the glorious city of St. Petersburg, where I felt an unbearable desire to see the forest and nature. My first Rainbow was a Russian one on Lake Ladoga. I was very tired and just slept for several days, getting out only to eat. I’m an introverted creature, so at every Rainbow I go to, it’s hard for me to make acquaintances if I don’t know people beforehand. Plus, I don’t have the skills welcomed in the rainbow community: I don’t juggle, I don’t play instruments, I’m an average cook, I’m not a magician, etc.

Some of the coolest things I remember are camping baths. The bathhouse at Rainbow is a cannon. In the forest, there is not as much dirt as in the city, in my opinion, but hygiene should be maintained all the same. Out of the unusual, I met the sister of my dead friend, who had seen me once but somehow recognised me. It was a nice meeting. Hi, if you’re reading this.

Gena: I was in Georgia when I found out about Rainbow. A great friend and brother from Russia told me about it. He said that soon there will be a Rainbow and you should go there. I had heard about the Belarusian Rainbows before, but I had never been there. I didn’t know what was going to happen there, but I knew that it was in the forest and connected with hippies. There was nothing to do, and I agreed to go to the Georgian Rainbow, and later I didn’t regret it. 

After hitchhiking across Georgia, we ended up in the coolest wild forest. It was late, but we made it. Campfires and cries of ‘Hello Family!’ immediately surrounded us. Friendliness and acceptance were the first things I felt at the festival.

In the morning, we looked around the space; it was quite a large camp, divided into zones. The organisation of everything from leisure activities to food is entirely on your shoulders and the shoulders of your family (family is the informal name of the Rainbow participants), that is, self-organising, if you don’t want to participate, no one will insist. I liked it very much. It was also nice to see musicians, travellers from other countries. 

But to understand what a Rainbow is, you have to be there.

Rainbow, photo from Shuria’s personal archive

– Why did you go (stopped going) to Rainbow?

Shourya: I go to Rainbow to spend time with my family.

Now I know so many people I love madly, but we are scattered all over the world, and Rainbow is a great excuse to get together. I love to work, but money is a poor motivator for me. I like to see that my actions benefit others, and at Rainbow it’s very easy to see that. I love nature, I like places away from cities, with clean rivers to drink water from, and I enjoy the drive home. At Rainbow there are many workshops where we all share our knowledge on different topics. It’s free and much more interesting and fun than any course in the cities.

Any Nobody: For me, it’s the easiest and most enjoyable way to be in nature. When you are alone in nature, you have to do a lot of things to sustain yourself. And when those same things are done together, it’s much easier and more enjoyable. I really like the rhythm of life on Rainbow; it’s like when I was a kid, I got up, did something, talked to someone, ate, and slept. At the same time, each day feels like a week in civilization. I met a lot of good people at the Rainbows, some of whom I didn’t manage to keep in touch with afterwards.

Gena: I was only at one Rainbow, unfortunately. Why I don’t go: f*****g work, emigration, and household chores don’t let me go. But I know that Rainbow is international, and maybe there is one in Poland, where I am now. If so, I will definitely attend it this summer.

– Which Rainbows have you been to (countries, years, maybe some brief descriptions)?

Shourya: I’m not an ardent hippie who goes to every Rainbow at every opportunity. Sometimes I prioritise travel; it all depends on my mentality at the time.

Georgia (2018) – Sun & Rain Gathering. My first Rainbow, which I was lucky enough to be on. It is still probably my favourite location so far.

Georgia (2019) – Local Rainbow. Again, I ended up at Rainbow,  almost by accident. I was travelling stopover from Turkey to Tbilisi, and in Batumi, I met some rainbow acquaintances who took me along for a sit-camp. There was a lot of rain and clouds, but we made it. For the first time, it was a good feeling to see those you knew from last year.

Turkey (2019) – Balkan Rainbow. Very cool forest near Bulgaria; lots of people and meeting European hippies. I also learned that policemen don’t like Rainbows:)

Serbia (2022) – first Rainbow after COVID and my personal problems. If it wasn’t for Rainbow, it’s unlikely I would have been there,ever, because I always thought I needed a visa to Serbia, and I didn’t. That’s how Rainbow opens up new countries.

Turkey (2022) – the world’s Rainbow. Wah! There are so many people, so many acquaintances, and so much to do. I’ve never been so busy in my life! There was a lot going on; it’s a very strange and interesting experience for me personally.

Nepal (2023) – World Rainbow. Insanely beautiful place, surrounded by villages with hardly seen tourists either, huge mountains, cliffs, and streams. Wow! It was difficult with the weather, but the cold unites:)

India (2024) – local Rainbow in the Himalayas. Leaving tomorrow!

Any Nobody: I have a very bad memory for numbers, but I’ll try to stick to the chronological sequence.

Russia. Basically, my first Rainbow, I don’t even remember much.

Sweden. European Rainbow. It was in a very beautiful place in the north of Sweden, on a hill above a lake. Along the way, we protested against the construction of a factory on Sami lands. I met a lot of interesting people. Well, in general, it was my first trip to Europe, and the level of internationality was very pleasant.

Georgia. Probably my craziest Rainbow. I fell in love twice. I met old acquaintances, and made new ones.

Finland. Overall, the experience was similar to the first Rainbow. Many people mistook me for a Finn and spoke Finnish to me. Unfortunately for me, at that point I could only say ‘Hi’ and ‘Yes’. And there was a funny curse hanging over me: as soon as I met someone, that person (or me) would leave.

Turkey. World Rainbow. I was on vacation, so I decided to go to a warm place for a week. The most massive Rainbow World I’ve ever been to. Most of the camps I never got to go to. I met some nice girls from Jordan, and went to visit them six months later. On the second or third day, I settled down in a tea house, as it was a quiet place, and I was there drinking tea 24 hours a day and socialising with people. Honestly, a week felt insufficient for Rainbow. Back when Rainbow Russia started, mobilisation was announced, and there were a lot of confused men from Russia at Rainbow who didn’t know what to do now.

Gena: Georgia. As I said, the internationality of Rainbow was amazing. I saw Iranian, and Turkish hippies. I learned how to be a hippie in authoritarian countries. I lived in one large… I’ll put it this way, though it’s not quite right, but still, a large commune of people who share a common view on many things. It was a valuable experience!

– How do you see the workings of the Rainbow (where do food, community buildings, rules, and traditions come from)?

Shourya: Everything arises out of necessity. Food and tools are bought with voluntary donations, and if you don’t have money, you can contribute to Rainbow in other ways. For example, by building camps, cooking, workshops, ceremonies, preparing firewood, and travelling for groceries.

If you feel like something is missing, you can organise a group of people and build it, fix it. You can shout your announcement to everyone during the lunch circle or write about it in the daily newspaper.

It’s not common for Rainbow to say ‘rules’, replacing it with ‘traditions’. I’m a Rainbow Punk in that regard. I don’t always understand the logic behind following these traditions, and I often mistake them for hypocrisy. For example, the use of electronic devices. I myself enjoy forgetting about my phone for a month, and I don’t like it when someone ruins the atmosphere by pulling out their phone and taking pictures of everything around them. But if everyone agrees, you can take pictures. Especially often, locals modestly ask to take selfies, and why not? It will be a nice memory for them, but many guardians of the rainbow order protest. I also think that using a flashlight on your phone and jotting down important notes is okay. We live in the age of gadgets, it’s very silly to completely exclude their existence from the rainbow. What traditions are we talking about? There were simply no cell phones in the 1960’s. Well, there are a number of traditions that I don’t understand at all, and I think a lot of people don’t either, but just do as they are told. Another example is the sacred fire. I respect the feelings of those to whom it means a lot. I don’t walk around it with my shoes on, I don’t smoke, and I don’t throw any trash into it. But for some reason, it is forbidden to make tea on it. Incomprehensible!!! After all, tea is for everyone, and tea is made with good intentions, so why can’t you heat water on a holy fire? No one has explained it to me yet.

Any Nobody: Honestly, it’s a mystery to me. I don’t participate much in organising the household. I’m more of a helper. Prepare the food. Bring water, firewood, and all that.

Gena: As I understand it, food is bought with common funds and shared by all. Yes, on Rainbow, eating is collective, everyone gathers in a circle and eats together, absolutely free of charge. Food is not a privilege, but a right, and at Rainbow this is clearly expressed. If you want, after the meal, you can leave a donation in the ‘magic hat’, but no one pushes you to do so; everything is at your own will. Cooking is also done collectively and on a voluntary basis. The food is vegetarian.

Buildings, as I understood, are built by family members. When I came to Georgia on Rainbow, I was told that if you want to make a workshop or lecture, you should prepare a play and announce it in the circle during the meal. And so everyone can do it; there is no need to register. If you have something to share, prepare a place and share. And I understood that the buildings are made on the same principle: someone needs them and builds them.

Rules, traditions, as it seemed to me, are formed because of the peculiarities and characteristics of the country where the Rainbow takes place. Traditions are passed from generation to generation. At the Rainbow there are both representatives of the younger generation and the older generation. 

– What do you do at a Rainbow (are you an organiser, observer, active participant, party person, etc.)?

Shourya: At every Rainbow except the first one, I spend at least a week making tea for everyone in the camp. Often even with outings just for water. I really like the tea houses; I feel more at home there than anywhere else. I always have my little ceremony kit with me: teas, spices, herbs, and the desire to get everyone drunk and warmed up. I beckon everyone to stop for a cup, and the hangout organises itself. But I want to get involved in other rainbows, so at some point I leave the teahouse, going to different camps. I like to collect firewood and help prepare meals. And I find it easy to do these things while moving between hangouts. I’m also a werewolf fan, so if there are a few people who want to play, I try to gather the missing players and everything needed for a cool hangout.

Any Nobody: I’m an observer and a vacationer. I watch different people. Sometimes I do workshops if I have the energy. I can help if I understand how.

Gena: I was an observer and really wanted to do a couple of workshops. But due to my natural shyness and uncertainty that the workshop topics would be interesting to the family, I didn’t do them. Now I regret it a bit, but I’ll make up for it at the next Rainbows.

– How much time do you usually spend, and why?

Shourya: I love sitcamps and clearing ups when there are still or already very few people and we all get to know each other well. It’s the best time to make strong friendships. Not every time I manage to arrive before Rainbow, but I always stay for the cleanup because I feel responsible and I really want to leave the place cleaner than it was before us.

Any Nobody: For me, the gold standard is two weeks. It takes some time to readjust to the rhythm of another life and adapt. But I can’t spend more than two weeks because I start to notice not very pleasant things: hypocrisy, tribalism, and so on.

Gena: I was in Georgia, on the Rainbow for 2 weeks. But I can see myself there for a month.

Rainbow, photo from Mikhail’s personal archive

– What is the most unexpected and the most pleasant incident you want to tell about?

Shourya: The most difficult question, which I have been thinking about all day. Nothing is unexpected for me anymore. I can imagine anything on Rainbow, hah!

Gena: The unexpected happened on the first night: a snake crawled into a girl’s tent and bit her. A group of support people were immediately assembled, and the girl was taken to town right at night. Surprise… I remember a cool violinist from Turkey, and every night at the campfire you could listen to her play; it was unimaginably beautiful!

– What makes Rainbow a special place?

Shourya: It’s a little utopia. It’s a sense of home. You’re surrounded by nature and interesting people. It’s a completely different order, no hierarchy, everyone is equal, and everyone is welcome.

Any Nobody: It’s the most undemanding community I’ve ever been in. As long as you don’t openly ignore the rules and traditions, you can basically do anything you want. Nobody requires you to conform to any views or standards of behaviour. There is a song by Nirvana called ‘Come As You Are’ and I would make this song the anthem of the rainbow if I could.

Gena: Absolute horizontality of relations, the fact that Rainbow is not commercial, the fact that it is a way to live by its principles all year round, care for neighbours, and of course, people.