Forget sweating in the dusty desert — this Costa Rican festival takes place where the rainforest meets the beach, and it’s unlike any other music festival you’ve been to. Envision Festival is held annually in Uvita, Costa Rica, and is a fusion festival celebrating music, arts and yoga — all set against the mesmerizing jungle backdrop and beach-side sunsets. If you are only into going to music festivals solely to see your favorite DJ play, this isn’t the festival for you. Envision is transformational, with unparalleled good vibes and a sense of community not often found in the iconic (and chaotic) music festivals around the world. Here are a few reasons why you should be heading to Costa Rica next February for Envision.

1. Freedom to perform

Walking through the festival, you are bound to run into someone spinning poi, another person juggling, or someone balancing on one hand. If you have a talent, you’re free to share it. This fire troop called Pyrodanza performed numerous times throughout the festival and left the audience in awe each time. Every night, many other flow and acrobatic performers take the stage as well.

2. Impromptu jam sessions

It’s not just the stage acts you’ll find jamming out around the festival grounds; musicians bring instruments of all shapes and sizes, some of which you may never have seen played before like this portable harmonium. These men were surrounded by a small group, all gleefully chanting the Hare Krishna mantra.

3. So much live art

Envision welcomes you to display live visual art as well, and you can find them in a dedicated section setting up their canvases, drawing and painting away. In this image, Brad Rhadwood finishes off a painting of his signature style, trippy creatures. There are also groups working on larger scale murals throughout the festival. It’s beautiful to see the progress of each of these pieces every time you walk by. The outdoor visionary art gallery at Envision actually is like a real gallery you’d find in the city, except for the fact it’s in a jungle. You can spend hours getting lost in the art.

4. Inspirational speakers

In addition to music, Envision’s schedule includes many different speakers who share their knowledge on a wide range of topics. Kaypacha, an astrologer and spiritual practitioner, is seen here speaking on how astrological cycles are related to a shift in consciousness. Being able to take new knowledge back into the ‘real world’ is part of why events like this are transforming people’s lives.

5. You can practice yoga with expert yogis

There are two huge yoga temples, each with an all-day schedule starting very early in the morning. This particular class was being led by Kenny Graham, a well known instructor in the yoga space. His class was packed with yogis eager to participate.

6. Workshops that dig deep

You can attend a wide variety of workshops and group activities at Envision, from cuddle puddles to more serious workshops on sexuality and relationships. This particular workshop was led by the Mystic Misfits, a group dedicated to helping others find purpose in life. Participants were asked to share something they were struggling with. It’s a very emotional release for some. After each person spoke, the group would rub their hands together, then throw that energy to the person in the middle while shouting, “You are beautiful!” Being able to openly discuss taboo topics in a supportive environment is something many don’t get to experience in everyday life.

7. Spectacular stage design

Each of the three stages at the festival are very intricately designed. At this year’s event, Luna Stage was visually the most impressive, with a multicolored map being projected onto the creature’s face to bring it life. Every now and then flames would burst from the top and from towers surrounding the dance floor, lighting up the entire crowd.

8. To meet new people and make deeper connections

This image sums up the daytime vibe at this festival. If you’re not attending one of the many scheduled events, you’re probably just chilling in the jungle, meeting new people. It’s very easy to make new friends here. With about 7000 attendees, Envision is a relatively small festival, compared to others. You’re bound to see the same people over and over, and thus, are able to make stronger and more meaningful connections. And these people will embrace however you choose to express yourself; if something compels you to dance or dress a certain way, no one is going to judge you — they’ll probably join you.

9. To experience synchronicities

If you don’t believe in synchronicities or “meaningful coincidences” before Envision, I almost guarantee you will after. The festival’s easy-going communal vibe seems to make these more prone to happening. I heard countless stories of people running into their childhood friend they haven’t seen in 20 years, or needing some obscure object and the person next to them happening to have it in their back pocket. A memorable one for me occurred when I met a guy named David, and after talking for probably half an hour, we randomly realized we had the same exact birthday, down to the year.

10. Sunsets like this

Of course, the sunsets in Costa Rica are always mesmerizing, but set against the beauty of the festival it feels like pure magic. The shoreline fills with dancers dancing, hula-hoopers hooping, and fire spinners spinning. This lady danced with her silk flow fans, creating beautiful silhouettes. Each evening, everyone cheers and howls during the sun’s last few moments above the horizon.

11. You can dance until the sunrise

The energy on the dancefloors at Envision is palpable. This photo was taken the third morning at Lapa Stage. Be Svendsen was spinning techy beats as the sun rose. You truly feel at one with everyone else on the dance floor who has made it this far into the dead of night without ever stopping dancing.

12. What you take with you back home

This photo was taken on the last morning, during the sunrise set. Tor was closing off the festival at Luna Stage. The other side of this sign reads, “We dance.” By the end of the festival, you truly do feel like family. You are united with everyone by more than your love of music and dance. You’re united by the highs and lows, the new knowledge, new connections, and magical moments. You all integrate what you’ve gained from Envision into your daily lives and the experience becomes a part of you.

All photos are the author’s.