Imagine this—a stroll through sprawling lush grounds that feature spiritual music and literature, freshly prepared meals, and instructed fitness classes for all levels. Surprise–the aforementioned scene, interwoven with vibes of acceptance, compassion, and love, is a growing trend referred to as a wellness festival.
Wellness festivals have a health driven focus that aim to ensure there is something for everyone. They invite folks to immerse themselves in new experiences, engage in fitness and the beauty of nature while also connecting with like-minded individuals.
The timing of this emerging festival trend is impeccable.
According to a poll from Social Times, as of January 2015, over two billion active social media accounts exist with 300 million people sharing their photos on Instagram, 284 million users expressing their thoughts on Twitter, and more than a billion outlining their lives on Facebook. Yet, according to a Mental Health Foundation Survey, rates of loneliness tend to be universal and are increasing. Individuals reported fewer fulfilling personal interactions and only 22 percent of respondents said they never feel lonely.
Festivals allow for ongoing human interaction and bonding. They are essentially an extension of Facebook—a colossal gathering that spurs meaningful conversations and unified culture.
Meaningful conversations and unified culture are the foundation of the wellness festival Wanderlust—a festival that comes from humble beginnings. It’s first event was in Squaw Valley, California in 2009. Now it has expanded to 40 festivals annually across the globe in countries including the U.S., Canada, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand. According to its website page, their mission is to “create a community around mindful living.”
This mission statement denotes the appeal of wellness festivals—the opportunity to not only focus on physical health but to also revel in it, while engaging in accord with other attendees. Participants range from college students to parents and from experienced yogis to first timers, but Wanderlust organizers express that by the end of the festival they will all be a united community.
“We’re hoping to bring together a group of people who see yoga as a centerpiece for finding the balance in their lives,” says Sean Hoess, Wanderlust co-founder.
The core principles of Wanderlust are: practice yoga, eat well, be green, practice purpose, create awareness and showcase art. These principles are carried out in the day-to-day activities during a Wanderlust event.
A typical day at a Wanderlust event begins with an organic breakfast of fruits and fresh-pressed juice. Following breakfast, a lecture is conducted by a panel of experts. Next, attendants will engage in physical activities–some options include guided hiking, paddle boating and yoga. At the end of the day attendants have dinner at one of the sustainable restaurant options on sight and then enjoy the musical act of the day (past headliners have included Xavier Rudd and Steel Pulse). This daily schedule leaves participants feeling refreshed by the time their heads hit the pillow in the evening.
“Wanderlust Festivals are a great way to shake things up, take a step away from your day-to-day grind, get out in nature, get high on the altitude, meet people you might not otherwise, experience teachers and bands you might not otherwise, says Gina Caputo, a previous Wanderlust attendant.
The appeal of attending an event with a health-driven focus has contributed to the expansion of this trend. It is this rapid growth of that allows for each individual to find their wellness festival niche. Some additional popular wellness festivals are Further Future, Telluride Yoga Festival, and Bhakti to name a few.
There is even the option to attend one-day event wellness festivals. For example, New York’s Big Quiet was a brief group meditating session in Central Park that generated a crowd of over 1,000. The five minutes of meditating instruction was followed by 15 minutes of solitude.
“There’s something really special, there’s an energy about people coming together to socialize and connect around meditation,” says Jesse Israel, co-creator of The Big Quiet.
Similarly, The White Tour a traveling yoga event attracted 2,000 people for a yoga session at Fort York in Toronto. Additional stops on the tour: 7,000 in Montreal’s Old Port, 10,000 in Central Park, and 1,500 gathered at the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Whether the events are on a small or large scale, they all share a common theme—bringing people together. It is through these events that emphasize building a healthy mindset and respect for others, that transcend to an applicable mindset post-wellness festival, striving to build a community that can transform us all.