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These Transformational Festivals Will Change Your Life



Transformational festivals are not your average music festival. They normally last for a week or more and take place deep in nature such as a forest or desert in order to help participants fully detach from society. They are defined by the education, community building and sustainability initiatives that help festival-goers be active participants, and are cemented in our minds by long talks with strangers, ecstatic dance, psychedelics, tears, and laughter.


Rather than just showing up and listening to music, attendees participate in workshops, create art, listen to speakers, and co-exist in a temporary community.


Many have principles or pillars for participants to live by during the festival, similar to Burning Man's 10 principles. The intention is for the event to not just be a big party, but a life changing experience that is as inclusive as possible. Because of this, most transformational festivals are child friendly.


 

Envision Festival

Where: Rancho la Merced, Costa Rica


When: Late February or early March


Envision is a seven day immersive experience surrounding love, education, and sustainability. It engages the minds and bodies of festivalgoers through workshops, yoga, dance, martial arts, immersive art, and more. Any food and drinks on sale are organic and locally made, plastics are discouraged, and well known change makers give inspiring workshops during the day while major headliners put on shows at night. This effort to incite action and cultivate community, along with its location in the Costa Rican jungle of Uvita, gives participants a safe space to connect with themselves, one another, and nature.


Envision follows up on their word when it comes to dedication to sustainability. The foundation Somos El Cambio was started in 2020 to further strengthen and organize Envision's initiatives toward environmental preservation and restoration by educating and empowering the local community and collaborating with both governmental and for-profit organizations.


Due to the combination of limited space and a growing popularity, Envision is no longer a festival that you can decide to go to at the last minute. Tickets sell out quickly! Signing up for the waitlist is the best way to stay informed and ensure you get a spot.



Boom Festival

Where: Idanha-A-Nova Lake, Portugal


When: Mid to late July


Boom is a week long psychedelic transformational festival that aims to inspire changemaking through individual and collective growth. It attracts participants from across the globe to celebrate life, freedom, peace, love and respect of nature. its As a biennial festival, it normally happens every two years, with most being in sync with the full moon.


At Boom, to be psychedelic does not just refer to mind altering substances, but to the expanding of consciousness through art, music, creativity and empowerment.


Boom Festival has embodied this by developing a great experience for participants, including incredible music, strong sustainability initiatives, and its own unique identity. There are not only no logos within the festival, but no VIP experiences, as everyone deserves the best experience possible.






Shambala

Where: Salmo, British Columbia, Canada


When: The last week of July


Shamabala has become the largest and longest-running EDM festival in Western Canada, with multiple stages, art installations, painted murals, yoga platforms, meditation nooks, gardens, and ethical fair trade vendors spread throughout the venue. It lasts for four days, attracts big name headline musicians and sells out every year. Yet it still has a down to home atmosphere. It started in 1998 with five friends who just wanted to celebrate life with like minded people and still has a community-focused spirit. Instead of corporate sponsorships like alcohol and sports drinks, Shambala partners social nonprofits like Oxfam, Tickets for Good, and Attitude is Everything to make the festival as accessible as possible for everyone, as well as to further their social and environmental initiatives.


While Shambala is no longer a sober festival, the beer, wine and cider providers support its community and environmental focused initiatives. There are no single use plastics in their bars (a feat!) and most of the providers are based within 70 miles of the festival. Food and drinks are meat and fish free, offered on compostable plates, and do not support any Coca-Cola or Nestle products.



Symbiosis Gathering

Where and when: Changes every gathering


Symbiosis Gathering is an artistic event led by a nomadic group of creatives and builders.


While sometimes it collaborates with other festival crews, Symbiosis operates without sponsorships, the entire project being funded by the sales of Experience Passes, many hours of volunteer work, and donated resources from within the community. It is not an annual or stationary festival, but instead takes place in new venues as the opportunity and inspiration arises. This festival is often scheduled during the event of an eclipse, such as the Pyramid Eclipse Festival in 2012, Oregon Eclipse Festival in 2017, and Texas Eclipse Festival in 2024. Each new venue is seen as an adventure in nature and unity.


There is a heavy emphasis on earth-consciousness, with an organic food market, recycling program and intentional connections to the community the venue is located in. Like Burning Man, there are no brands, corporate sponsorships or any other type of for-profit commerce at Symbiosis. Instead, there is an alternative marketplace that exists through sharing and collaboration. Symbiosis draws in both well-known and upcoming artists, with the Texas Eclipse in 2024 having over 30 performers.



Lightning in a Bottle

Where: Buena Vista Lake, California


When: Last week of May


Lightning in a Bottle is a five day community campout full of interactive spaces, large scale art, and immersive experiences. The expansive learning culture encourages participants to invigorate their mind and body with over 150 talks, discussions, classes and workshops from change makers, experts, and thought leaders. Just a few include skill trades, medicine making, art, mindfulness, and yoga.


This festival is well known for its extensive marketplace full of food, clothes, jewelry, skincare and more crafted by community artisans. It's seven stages feature breakout artists alongside famous headliners in a multigene experience that includes techno, bass, house, hip hop, folk and americana.


While the festival itself encourages participation, attendees also have many ways to help make LIB happen. This includes helping to build, operate, and clean up the festival, providing art pieces or workshops, and vending.



Fusion Festival

Where: Müritz Airpark, Germany


When: The last week of June


Fusion Festival is a communal arts and music festival with a counterculture nature, identifying as "4 days of parallel society". Attended by more than 70,000 people each year, it attracts Fusionists from all over the world, who gather to explore what an alternative society would look like. While it is clear that everyone with an open mind is welcome, Fusion is unique in that it openly defines itself on the political spectrum as left wing, while most festivals avoid politics.


Since its foundation in 1999, the festival has been hosted and organized by the non-profit association Kulturkosmos. Every year a diverse group of over 10,000 people, most of whom are volunteers, work countless hours to make the festival happen, with some coming out weeks in advance to help set up. It is located on a former military airport called Müritz Airpark in northeastern Germany. The festival name is often depicted in Cyrillic letters as Фузион, but pronounced like the English word fusion.


Over 3,000 artists take part in Fusion's diverse underground music culture. Most of the featured music leans toward techno with the rest being psy-trance, DnB, reggae, breakbeat, hardcore, or unidentified. The lineup is never announced beforehand, supporting Fusion's objective of random discovery.






Lucidity

Where: Live Oak Campground, Santa Barbara, CA


When: Last week of June


Lucidity is a three day transformational festival that takes place outside of Santa Barbara, California. Structured as a temporary city, participants can camp on their own or as part of a theme camp, similar to Burning Man. These theme camps and larger villages help people enjoy Lucid City with those they identify with, including an ASL camp, circus camp, and family friendly camping.


Participants are given tools for creativity, self love and personal growth by the many visual artists, workshops, healers, performers, vendors, and mythos oracles that sign up to share their gifts. Three stages provide a mix of genre bending artists, with the stages built into natural nooks and coves to make a dreamy, cozy atmosphere. Interactive art installations, immersive environments, local food vendors, and a themed marketplace help add to the whimsy of the experience.


As a smaller transformational festival with around 3,500 attendees, Lucidity is a popular choice for those seeking healing and creativity without the large crowds of many other festivals.

Previously held on the first week of April, it is now being held at the end of June.



Universo Paralello Festival

When: Over New Years


Where: Bahia, Brazil


Universo Parallelo (which can be translated to Parallel Universe) is a nine day psy-trance festival in Bahia, Brazil. It occurs every two years, beginning a few days before New Years Eve on a beautiful beach oasis at the heart of the Brazilian summer. One of the largest alternative culture festivals in South America, people from all over the world gather at Universo Parallelo to celebrate life and love. Along with six stages playing nonstop music in a variety of genres, there are workshops, performances, holistic therapies, artistic and cultural ceremonies and more activities to stimulate creativity and growth.


The festival is run with environmental management in mind, with active efforts taken not to harm the local surrounding nature. The organizers are aware of the damage that a large festival can have on the environment and work to embody their strong beliefs in sustainability.


Website


 

Bonus: Burning Man

Where: Black Rock Desert, Nevada


When: August 28th to September 5th


This event is more than just a festival, even a transformational one. It is a temporary city that is created and run by the participants. An experiment in community, art, and decommodification, Burners use the 10 Principles and their own creativity to survive and thrive in the middle of the unforgiving Black Rock Desert. This includes creating art pieces, bike repair spots, hair salons, showers, workshops, exercise classes, fire shows, dance tents, sexual education and so much more.


Burning Man began in 1986 and is held the week leading up to and including Labor Day. Many Burners arrive earlier to set up art pieces or camps and stay later to help clean up, though everyone should be practicing Leave No Trace principles. Throughout the event several art pieces will be burned, with the culmination being the burning of the Man, a massive wooden effigy, on the Saturday night before labor day if the unpredictable weather allows.


Like other festivals, you are encouraged to cover or hide any logos in order to more fully immerse in the anti-capitalist environment. Unlike other festivals, Burning Man goes a step further. There is almost no money exchanged anywhere - not even central camp coffee. You can only pay for ice. Any other goods or services are gifted to one another, and you are expected to be radically self reliant. This means bringing everything you need, including food and water, and taking it all back out when you leave.


If you like to be challenged, meet amazing people, and attend an event that continues year-long through its active community, you will likely find your way on Playa at least once. If you have an interest in something, there is likely a camp, activity, or art piece dedicated to it - and if not you will be inspired to make your own and share next time you go.







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Hi, I'm Koi!

I'm an environmental project manager who decided to make a change from office life to to outdoor projects and small business ownership.

My goal is to help promote forward movement in outdoor spaces and live events towards full accessibility and diversity by giving everyone the inspiration and tools to create their own adventure.

I love self expression, hiking, music festivals, and Burning Man, and want to show that celebrating diversity in the outdoors makes it better for everyone.

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