Timeline & Preview Guide of Transformational Festivals
A timeline featuring our top picks for transformational festivals from around the world.
“The Great Convergence was a once in a lifetime experience that was truly unforgettable. We were able to take over 300 people to Giza and experience private tours in the Great Pyramid, private sunsets in-between the paws of the Sphinx and a pretty epic celebration in the desert with the illuminated pyramids as our backdrop. To top it off, we took a 5-day cruise up the Nile with some of Egypt’s most enlightened and knowledgeable Egyptologists. It was a tremendously rewarding experience getting to produce an event on the other side of the world in a country that is experiencing some hefty growing pains. We made some great relationships along the way and hope to continue the Great Convergence experience in other parts of the world.” – Dede Flemming
“Envision was born out of a collective vision by our founding partners to bring a piece of the emerging transformational festival subculture to pristine Costa Rica. We saw a missing link not only within the North American and international culture excited for a springtime Central American experience, but within the local community as well. Envision is something a lot of Central Americans didn’t know about.. but were yearning for at the same time.” – Justin Brothers
Focus: Nature, cultural immersion, healing
“Envision places notable focus on healing, by offering healing sanctuary workshops. Not only do we offer numerous modalities of healing and education… but we are endemically different due to our location and cultural immersion. No other festival is able to offer the unique environment of coastal Costa Rica coupled with the music, performance and education that Envision offers.” – Justin Brothers
Healing workshops, music, social activism, spoken workshops, yoga and movement workshops and yoga
“Meg Pappenheim and I initially connected over a shared love for African dance, live music, and the movement arts including yoga. In 2007, prior to our first event, Bali had very little on offer for any of these, and we hungered to create at least a microcosm of the NYC and West Coast global cultural and spiritual arts scenes we’d been active in before moving to the island. This was just after the second bombing, and we were also driven to assist in the island’s recovery by promoting spiritually- and culturally-inspired tourism, as a counterbalance to the reactive rush toward mass commercial tourism being promoted at the time. Bali is revered as a vortex where creative potential seems to fluidly manifest into reality, and many of us here are actively living an answer to the question, ‘What world do you want to live in?’ It only took a single, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could dance and pray for a whole week?!?’ conversation to set the wheels in motion, and the momentum quickly took hold.” – Robert Weber
Focus: Globally-Minded Programming & Social Consciousness
“Meg and her Balinese husband Kadek Gunarta carry a deep commitment to giving-back to Bali, and we all are committed to working in support of the general health and vitality of our community and our planet. We imagined our event could supercharge the well being of all who attend, while also contributing positively to the local culture and ecosystems… Initially we simply integrated fundraisers for established non-profit projects into the festival’s program. In the last few years, we’ve developed the capacity to create and manage our own outreach and eco-remediation projects. Currently, we fund and operate an HIV/AIDS awareness and education campaign targeting local youth, as well as a bamboo-focused reforestation project on the degraded slopes of one of Bali’s most sacred mountains.” – Robert Weber
Diverse workshops, intense multi-day workshops, yoga, concerts, setting in Bali, Indonesia.
Two record label owners began reimaging the stereotypical music festival as a retreat that offered escape from life and rejuvenation in nature. The realization that such a festival were possible “was the birth of Wanderlust, but over the years, we’ve been able to distill the central mission behind it: creating community around mindful living.” – Sean Hoess
Focus: Nature & Yoga
“We focus a lot on nature because nature is a muse. I can’t prove it, but I’m certain that many of the feelings that nature inspires — awe and inspiration at the epic beauty of the mountains, or a feeling of interconnectedness when quietly hiking on a wooded trail — are hard-wired into our psyche. Once can find transcendence on a cushion in a dark room, of course, but we think that nature can facilitate the process. Simply said, we think our locations are some of the most beautiful places in the world.” – Sean Hoess
Yoga, outdoor classes and venues, meditation hikes, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, Speakeasy talks. Food programs with a focus on local and sustainable foods and wines to come (hopefully).
June 20 – 23, 2013 (Vermont)
July 4 – 7, 2013 (Colorado)
July 18 – 21, 2013 (California)
August 1 – 4, 2013 (Whistler) www.wanderlustfestival.com
“”LIB started as a birthday party for my brothers and partners Jesse and Josh in 2001 in the mountains north of Los Angeles. After a few years of hosting that and after we began doing some work at the Coachella Music Festival, we decided we wanted to start our own arts and music festival, but with more of a focus on art, sustainability, and different lifestyle elements. In 2004, we turned LIB into a 24-hour event at a ranch near LA and loaded it up with art and had two stages. With the little success we had, we took 2005 off in search of a piece of property suitable to host a proper festival. That property was the Live Oak Park in Santa Ynez. Now, 8 years later, we’re making our new home at the beautiful Lake Skinner.” – Dede Flemming
“LIB is not a place to go and see things but a place to go to be a part of things. It’s a participatory community that you’re coming to and not as much of a spectator festival. With this always in mind, we have to go a step further and make sure that you’re always in a special environment when you’re here, and not just when you’re at a stage or an art piece or in the campgrounds. When you’re going from one place to another there should be something goofy and entertaining along the way or some beautiful lighting or sculptures to guide you. I don’t think we’re necessarily trying to stand out from any other festival but are just trying to create our own unique experience.” – Dede Flemming
Lucent Temple of Consciousness with speakers, workshops, and yoga, music, interactive art, camping, food, family-friendly environment.
“Gratifly came about from the deep feeling of appreciation for transformational gathering culture, and the earnest wish to empower the East Coast conscious creative community to come together in a celebration and congregation of joyous expression and communion with the positive elements of being. We hope to achieve a wider appreciation for events that bridge the gaps between music festival culture, Burn culture, and spiritual retreat culture. It is a new thing for concerts, festivals and other musical events to include multifaceted offerings on the East Coast, and so, with Gratifly, we also hope to show audiences and promoters that this is what a large part of the music community wants and needs.” – Edwin John Leskin, Ryan Fearon
Focus: Spiritual Knowldge as Practical Knowledge
“…one thing that distinguishes Gratifly are the offerings that move past merely spiritual concerns, and go into practical knowledge for the daily life and creating a sustainable reality through education on permaculture and regenerative design. These sort of offerings, as well as the inclusion of indigenous wisdom and positive psychology, present a unique diverse spectrum of learning and experience for participants.” – Edwin John Leskin, Ryan Fearon
Music, art, yoga, educational workshops, crafted stages that are elaborate set designs.
Beloved grew out of its founder’s attempt to combine underground electronic dance parties, kirtans and other devotional music events, and educational events, as well as the powerful transformative atmospheres they possess.
“We like to think of the stage as a mandala, concentrating and holding the energy of the festival throughout its duration, rather than dispersing the attention in too many directions. This allows for the carefully chosen sequence of artists to tell a continuous story of the Inner Journey, to perform an Alchemy of the Heart.” – Elliot Rasenick
Focus: Attention to Detail
“A lot of care goes into the experience of the festival attendees… There are many specific examples of this care; one is through our awareness of the effect of the natural cycle of the sun. When planning the event, we consider where the sun is and when are the major transition periods throughout the course of the day. This consideration is reflected in the timing of the workshop offerings and music being presented at those particular moments. I think there is a level of care, passion, and love that infuses everything that everyone who is a part of the event is offering to people.” – Elliot Rasenick
Yoga, music, art, workshops, Council meetings on Saturday (forum among teachers, artists, community organizations, and audience members). Shuttling transportation system to come.
“Evolvefest was borne from a strong group of local artists, musicians and educators who gathered for weekly potluck shared meals. We’d be tossing a frisbee, doing yoga and sitting around a campfire talking about ways to organize a gathering for people who are feeling that inward call to awaken and thrive.” – David Bryson
Focus: “Being the New in this Now”
“We understand that everything, like consciousness Itself, is fluid and that we are all caught up in a great cultural current that seems to have a life and intelligence of it’s own, kind of like some ‘Great Oneness’ manifesting Itself collectively in our midst… Everyone who is a part of Evolvefest kind of gets that and knows that Evolvefest is constantly evolving and breaking conventional rules while innovating new strategies as a Evolutionary Transformational Festival.” – David Bryson
Music, yoga, art, education, group meals via superfoods.
“It all happened because of some far-fetched ideas and delusions of grandeur and we found a bunch of wingnuts, music whores, and people who like staying up until sunrise.” – Kevin KoChen
Focus: Being a Festival Like None Other
“We don’t really think about other festivals. This is what we are trying to create. If people are called to it, it feels amazing like we are striking a chord that resonates or that is familiar to people. It’s an authentic thing. We aren’t trying to get anyone to do anything. If it makes sense, then we are community.” – Kevin KoChen
Elizabeth Perry is a writer originally from Hastings-on-Hudson, New York who earned her BA in English from Vassar College. Her interests include arts journalism, nonfiction, poetry, and prose, as well as music, art, and philosophy. Her writing has appeared in The 22 Magazine, The Paper Shell Review, and several local literary magazines.