Live music is a major part of the festival but it isn’t intrusive in the 
overall experience.
Live music is a major part of the festival but it isn’t intrusive in the overall experience.Shot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

Adventure celebrations: A look at the Outback Festival

The Outback Festival is the perfect place for adventurers from all walks of life to kick back and have a nice time

As I step out of the room early in the morning, there’s a nice nip in the air, a mouthful of smoke (read condensation) comes out of my mouth and I’m treated to one of the most stunning views I’ve had the pleasure of laying my eyes on — the Himalayas. Now you don’t get to see the tallest peaks in Leh but given that it was my first time this far up north, I was hardly complaining. At the risk of sounding repetitive, the view was so stunning that I almost forgot why I was in Leh in the first place. Motorcycles, cars and mountains go hand in hand, and in the case of us Indians, Ladakh is the holy grail. Adventure, music and good food is all part and parcel of this experience. What happens when you put all of this together? You reach the Outback Festival. 2023 marked the second season of the festival and it was held against the picturesque backdrop of Leh.

A custom sound system set up at the Outback.
A custom sound system set up at the Outback.Shot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

The Outback Festival is a celebration of adventure. It doesn’t matter what tools you choose to celebrate the spirit of adventure. Just that you do. You could be a biker, you could be from the 4x4 clan, you could be a trekker, a cyclist, it really doesn’t matter. As long as you seek adventure, you have a place at the Outback.

If you really think about it, Leh isn’t the most hospitable of locations and getting there is a challenge in itself, irrespective of whether you ride down, drive down or fly down. So there is a sense of accomplishment in just getting to the festival. Once you’re there it is two days of sheer bliss.

Starting things off was some high-octane stunting with record-setting stunters pulling off some gravity defying manoeuvres. At one point, two of the riders were even riding the bikes while wearing roller blades. That was certainly an interesting first for me. The whole theme of the Outback Festival was not to cram events left right and centre but to enjoy and experience each event to the fullest. There was always good music playing and when there wasn’t, there was some or the other notable adventure personality talking about their escapades.

Stunt riding in a safe environment can be quite entertaining.
Stunt riding in a safe environment can be quite entertaining.Shot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

Maral Yazarloo, a biker who’s traversed more than 60 countries on her motorcycle launched her book ‘Bump on the Road’, in which she penned down what it was like to do a solo international ride, spanning over 60 countries while being pregnant. Then there were people such as Lalli Singh founder of Lalli Singh Adventures, a company that was founded in 1988 and has been among the oldest Royal Enfield groups in the country. Lalli shared with fellow enthusiasts his story and what keeps him going. Then you had the likes of Vijay Thomas and Ravi Avalur talking about many of their adventures on and off motorcycles. Gaurav Gill was also present and spoke about motorsport and what the challenges along the way are. But here’s the thing, these were just some of the panellists that were invited to talk at the festival. But almost everyone you meet here has such interesting stories to tell. About the rides and drives they’ve had, the adventures they’ve been on and so much more.

Dr Maral Yazarloo launched her book - ‘Bump on the Road’ at the festival.
Dr Maral Yazarloo launched her book - ‘Bump on the Road’ at the festival.Shot by Abhishek Benny for evo India
Gaurav Gill was there too.
Gaurav Gill was there too.Shot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

Unlike certain other festivals this is not a place where people come to rev the nuts off of their machines. Here you’ll find people unwinding and having a mellow time.

Courtesy of the really tight schedules we keep, it wasn’t really possible for me to ride down to the Outback Festival. This particularly bummed me out because this was my first-ever time in Leh and I would like to think of myself as a biker. But I have never ridden in Ladakh and I decided that it is high time to rectify that. Harley-Davidson India was kind enough to give me the keys to a spanking new X440. So I took the X440 out to explore Leh and have an adventure of my own. In a span of just a 100km, you’re treated to such stunning sceneries. Even the roads are so well paved for the most part and such a stark departure from the pothole ridden tarmac that we have now gotten accustomed to back home. The X440 proved to be the perfect partner for my first-ever riding experience up in the mountains. Happily though, my motoring experience didn’t end there. Toyota was a part of the Outback Festival and had a bespoke off-roading course set up for adventure seekers to get a first hand taste of what it is like to use the Hilux in the wild. It was quite the experience with a proper course laid out which included everything from steep inclines and declines, ruts, stones and even articulation tracks to get some wheel-in-the-air action.

Our man Karan got the chance to ride in Ladakh for the first time on a HarleyDavidson X440.
Our man Karan got the chance to ride in Ladakh for the first time on a HarleyDavidson X440.Shot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

When the sun set, the festival would truly come alive with some great food, drink and foot-tapping live music right from local artists, to Big Mountain all the way from California. There was also a reggae session that happened in front of a wall of speakers set up by Delhi’s BFR Sound systems.

Finally when the two days of the festival came to a close, we were left with a real warm feeling, similar to that of having your favourite home-made dal-chawal after a long and tiring day. It felt like a home away from home and that is the highest praise I can give the festival.

An army of BMW motorcycles caught our attention.
An army of BMW motorcycles caught our attention.Shot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

Ladakh is one of the most iconic places when you think of motorcycling and adventure, and the organisers of the festival couldn’t have chosen a better place for adventure seekers to gather together. As for me, I cannot wait to go back, on a motorcycle however.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Evo India