Travel for travel’s sake is certainly excuse enough to take to the skies. But international travel with a festival as the final destination is all kinds of #travelgoals. Whether you head to festivals for a hit of escapism or to be inspired and energised, there’s a wealth of global gatherings worth travelling for. Add these picks to your itinerary now.
Envision Music, Art and Sacred Movement Festival (Costa Rica, Central America)
Envision is an idyllic collective consciousness-raising experience combining yoga, music, sustainable living workshops and retreats covering subjects like permaculture and healing arts. With a long list of eco-initiatives, the festival is held on a jungle-fringed beach at Costa Rican eco-farm Rancho La Merced, Envision is a Leave No Trace event, and organisers make concerted efforts to minimise waste, recycle and compost, and mitigate environmental impact.
For five days around October and November (the date changes every year depending on moon cycles), the people of Nepal roll the red carpet out for our friends in the animal kingdom. Celebrating the bond between humans and animals, and in gratitude for their service to us, the ancient Hindu festival Tihar is split into three segments: kaag (crow), kukur (dog) and gai (cow). The festival is a riotous melange of colour, flowers, light and mysticism. Hit this festival and you’ll see dogs and cows draped with marigold garlands and coloured rice powder, crows cawing and feasting on sweet plates as well as chanting, lantern lighting and house decorating.
fforest Gather (Wales, UK)
Shirking the moniker of ‘festival’ fforest Gather is a farm-turned-summer-campout “looking after big groups of people enjoying the simple things in life. Food, drink, music, adventure and discovery in the great outdoors,” says Jackson Tucker Lynch from Gather. In 2015, the inaugural Gather saw just 500 makers, doers and lovers of the outdoors get together for activities, workshops and talks, walks and performances like wild picking, printmaking, cooking with fire, yoga and drumming to name just a few. Jackson says the event is a new kind of holiday for people who want the festival vibe without all the chaos.
Wilderness Festival (Oxfordshire, England)
Have you ever just wanted to switch off, forget the modern world and frolic in a babbling brook with flowers in your hair? Well then, say hello to Wilderness Festival – a mid-summer refuge from the plague of busyness, celebrating arts, creativity and culture in heart of a verdant nature reserve. Four days jam packed with colourful revelry and artistic exploration for all-ages, it’s wilderness sans the Bear Grylls element. Furnished with all the festival mod-cons and boutique accommodation options, there’s myriad workshops, activities, performances and live music from some of the world’s best musicians.
Hadaka Matsuri (Okayama Prefecture, Japan)
Also known as the ‘naked man festival’ Hadaka Matsuri is an ancient Japanese religious tradition held in winter, and dates back to 767 AD, that’s based on the belief that nakedness could absorb bad luck (a very general interpretation). The exuberant participants – approximately nine thousand of them – clad only in loincloths called fundoshi tussle for sticks called shingi, with the goal of chucking thrusting them into a wooden measuring box filled with rice. The first man to insert the shingi upright is called the lucky man and blessed with a year of happiness. Very few non-locals participate every year, but it’s worth it for the spectacle alone.
Obonjan Island (Adriatic Sea, Croatia)
Not from party central Split, lies a pine and olive tree covered isle which, for six glorious weeks in summer, becomes an eco-retreat slash festival island. Stay for as long as you want (between 28 July and 6 September) and experience an island life filled with glamping, music, art and installations, wellbeing activities and creative workshops, comedy, cinema, sports, shopping and organic food everyday. The core objective of the island’s recent makeover is about much more than just escapism; organisers are working with the local town Šibenik to create a shining example of sustainable tourism.
C2SV (San Jose, California)
Brimming with workshops, keynote speeches, interactive demos, live music (from band and plenty of sparky inspiration to get the creative juices flowing, Creative Convergence Silicon Valley is like a big tech industry love-in over three days in October, in the heart of the little valley doing gigantic things. The three-day festival is held in San Jose’s historic California Theatre and the town’s SoFa District. Work the room at one of the event’s cocktail parties or just kick back and soak up the atmosphere.