Promoter Interview: Envision Festival
Envision Festival takes place from February 22nd to 25th in Costa Rica. It is nestled in a location where the Pacific Ocean meets the wild jungle and is an idyllic setting to refocus your mind, body and soul.
As well as musical offerings from the likes of Bob Moses, DJ Tennis, Chaim, Audiofly and Behrouz — plus plenty of local stars and live percussionists—the festival offers a wealth of yoga and meditation classes, performance, education and regenerative strategies and much more.
Here we speak to one of the co-founders Josh Wendel about the benefits of such practices, about the challenges of putting such a festival together, the experts hosting seminars and more besides.
“‘For us, and for many that come to the festival, Envision is a lifestyle…”
State your mission for us so we know where you are coming from with Envision.
“As a celebration dedicated to awakening our human potential, Envision provides a platform for different cultures to co-exist in sustainable community, and inspire one another through art, spirituality, yoga, music, dance, performance, education, sustainability and our fundamental connection with nature.” – From the website
Tell us how long it takes to get your festival set up each year, how many people work on it, what some of the challenges are.
Each year we have almost 2000 people that work on Envision. Most of them are locals but more than a few come from about 70 countries all over the world. The fact that we are in a remote location in Costa Rica definitely presents a lot of challenges, such as material sourcing, equipment and, in general, Costa Rica, doesn’t operate with the same sense of urgency as a festival production might demand. For myself and the other founders, we work on Envision year round in Costa Rica occasionally leaving for business trips but living locally off the land in sustainable communities. For us, and for many that come to the festival, Envision is a lifestyle.
Talk us through some of the workshops and classes. Who is hosting them, how did you pick them?
Stephen Brooks and Sarah Wu head up curation for the speakers, panelists and workshops at Envision. They hand select each educational element and always manage to bring in some of the top experts in sustainable living, permaculture and plant medicines. We always keep our 8 pillars in mind to make sure that we have enough workshops to touch on each of them; permaculture, spirituality, movement, art, music, community, health and eco building.
How much are you conscious of being environmentally friendly and not leaving a trace of the festival once you have finished?
From start to finish, everything we do is engineered with the environment in mind and I’ve yet to see another festival achieve this level of commitment being green. There are no single use plastics at Envision, so not much waste is produced at the event. To take it a step further we give back to the local community by organizing beach cleanups and by planting trees together. Onsite, we’ve even replanted more than 2000 trees in a space that was barren when we started the festival, and we’re planting more every year. It’s a long road to ‘sustainability’ but by minimizing waste and regenerating the land we’re actually on course to be a regenerative festival – probably the first ever.
Give some tips to anyone who might be thinking of coming for the first time.
Pack light! Don’t bring any layers that are too bulky and be sure to unpack anything that is new so you can leave any plastic or packaging at home. We also offer a lot of different camping and upgrade packages to make your stay at Envision and in CR much more comfortable, since we know our attendees can’t fly with all of their creature comforts. There’s a lot of comfortable ways to do Envision available.
Each of our stages has it’s own distinct flavor. Sol Stage for live bands, Luna for heavy bass acts and Lapa for the best in international house music. I love them all and you probably will too but you’ve got to give them a chance. Resist the urge to fall in love with any one stage and make an effort to check out them all. You’ll be glad you did.
Also, try the food! There are so many unique flavors you can only find in Costa Rica and spending some time in the food market is a great way to sample several of the best!
What are the benefits of yoga and mindfulness for anyone who doesn’t know.
It is the same holistic principle that we teach throughout Envision. Yoga actually means “union”. Yoga is a perfect example of practices that connect mind, body and spirit. Whether yoga is your go-to practice or not, we offer a lot of examples of this holistic lifestyle approach. There doesn’t need to be a seperation between taking care of your body, eating healthy, exploring spirituality and partying.
Tell us about the music – will this be a main focus or second to yoga, classes and workshops?
Similar to the previos question of yoga, we focus on a “holistic experience”, but… undoubtedly music is always on the top of the flyer. We are so stoked to see the yoga and workshops full and buzzing, but our production really comes to life at night with the music. We aim to bring as much creative, mind expanding original music as possible and put them on the most elaborate stages with the best sound in the world and see what happens; it’s usually nothing short of magic. We want each stage to tell a story and to be a good contrast from each other.
What sort of venues will people be partying in? Will there be day and night parties, boat parties and so on?
The whole festival takes place on on site that is nestled between the jungle mountains and a secluded beach. The stages are set in the jungle, with monkeys frequenting our sunrise sets. We have 4 main stages; all within a very short walk. Only one of the stages is going in the day, in order to focus on the workshops, beach and allow time for adventures in the area to local waterfalls, ziplines and surf. All 4 stages come to life just after sunset and we make it until sunrise the last two nights of the festival. There is almost always music going.
Have the acts been booked because they are known for their love of yoga, have you tried to ensure that completeness?
I can’t say that their “love for yoga” is a factor in booking, but vibe of the music that we seek out, is somehow ironically produced by people with similar values that we speak to. There are the few obvious artists that sing about environmental and social change; such as Xavier Rudd and Mike Love this year, otherwise we focus on music that is profoundly creative and inspired. We want our audience to go deep and have an interactive experience on the dance floor.
What’s most exciting about the whole festival for you?
Since I am the production director, I enjoy seeing it all come to life from our first basic designs of the year to seeing it become a living, breathing organism. I believe we have an incredible attention to detail that can be noticed in our production. It feels like a sustainable theme park and every way you look there is something to dazzle your eyes and tickle your ears. By far though, my favorite is seeing the impact this production has on the people. It can definitely be an eye opener into a new paradigm of living and it’s powerful to see an experience I help produce have an impact that ripples out, in hopes that it will create a wave of change on this planet.