EVER SINCE Woodstock, festivals have represented an escape from reality, a few days break from the grind of work and responsibility. And while I can walk (well, stumble) out of Coachella feeling totally refreshed about the choices I make in life, it’s never the kind of event that inspires me to change the way I act on a scale broader than my musical proclivities.
But some festivals do strive for more. As festival culture becomes more mainstream, their potential to improve a person’s overall mental and physical health becomes more apparent. Every festival is different, but each one carries an opportunity to participate in community, appreciate art and culture, and widen our world lens. For those seeking enlightenment, there are now festivals that promote a more transformative experience.
If you’re pondering where your spiritual journey will lead you next, it’s worth considering one of these transformative festivals as your next destination:
1. Envision Festival – February 25-28, 2016 Utiva, Costa Rica
Located off the southern coast of Costa Rica, Envision Festival is as inspiring as the name implies. Festival-goers can participate in sustainability workshops, listen to world-renowned speakers, and connect body and spirit through yoga and dance. A primarily EDM line-up provides a bass-heavy soundtrack around the clock, and Envision offers plenty of opportunities for locals and other travelers to mingle through performance and visual art. When craving downtime, guests can meditate in the shaded rainforest or take a short stroll to the beach. For those craving some extended rest and relaxation, Envision hosts pre- and post-retreats to help travelers discover the wonders of Costa Rica and explore new lifestyles like permaculture and sustainable living.
2. BaliSpirit Festival– March 29-April 3, 2016 – Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
More than 50 countries are represented at BaliSpirit, a festival that embodies the Balinese Hindu concept of Tri Hita Karana, or existing in harmony with spiritual, social, and natural environments. Committed to nourishing Balinese culture, BaliSpirit donates a portion of ticket proceeds to local charities, with a special emphasis on multicultural education and performance, healthcare, and environmental conservation. Now in its ninth year, BaliSpirit holds an array of wellness classes, workshops, and panels focused on supporting community and unlocking personal potential. BaliSpirit’s welcoming community makes it a great destination for solo travelers.
3. Lightning in a Bottle – May 25-30, 2016 – Bradley, CA, USA
Taking place over the long Memorial Day Weekend, Lightning in a Bottle Festival manages to host an all-star musical line up, while still placing focus on sustainability, wellness, and art. Created by the Southern California collective Do Lab, Lightning in a Bottle is filled with art installations and immersive experiences that transport participants to a mind-bending utopia, and they soon forget they’re a mere few hours outside of Los Angeles. The festival has been recognized for its commitment to sustainability, and insists attendants “leave it better, leave it beautiful,” and take their trash with them when they leave.
4. Shambhala Music Festival – Aug 5-8, 2016 – Salmo, Canada
What began as a Labor Day party has grown into one of the most renowned electronic music festivals in North America, all thanks to a generous family opening their 500-acre British Columbia ranch every year. The neighborly spirit seems to have rubbed off on patrons, and Shambhala Music Festival has a decidedly laid-back vibe, which some credit to their ban of alcohol on festival grounds. Outside of a wide variety of electronic talent, Shambhala also offers an organic garden, meditation, yoga, and is a maze of interactive art installations.
5. Boom Festival – Full Moon August 11-18, 2016 – Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal
Located near the border of Spain in Portugal, this weeklong biennial festival practices what it preaches in terms of giving back to the community and sustainability. They recently announced a plan to plant 550 trees in “Boomland” before the next full moon in August. With a philosophy similar to Burning Man, Boom Festival describes itself as, “ a space where people from all over the world can converge to experience an alternative reality.” It’s the largest festival dedicated to psychedelic trance music, and other entertainment includes circus performers, street theatre, and film screenings. They also have a Healing Area which offers workshops, meditations, sound baths, and other holistic therapies. Boom Festival is perfect for anyone looking to explore new ways of thinking.