With Wanderlust returning to Whistler for its fifth year, co-founder Sean Hoess might not have to describe the event too often anymore — but he’s still prepared when it comes up.
“Sometimes I think of it as summer camp for grown ups, which is a funny way to describe it,” Hoess said. “It’s all these activities — many of which you could do at summer camp, but with meditation and yoga. There’s campfire jams, processional marching bands, arts and crafts, there’s that element. For me it’s an expression of living a life in balance.”
Beyond that, though, the focus of the five-day festival — running from Thursday (July 28) to Monday (Aug. 1) — is striving to live a healthy lifestyle, he added. To that end, there’s yoga, meditation, guest speakers, music and nature-related activities like stand-up paddleboarding, biking, hiking, running and food-related events.
“We’re always trying to find new fresh faces and expand on the core of what we do —yoga practice, speakers, music — but the interesting things are these little, more local (activities) we’re able to do, whether it’s standup paddleboard or a photography class… We’ve got so many ideas,” Hoess said.
The goal, he added, is to take advantage of Whistler’s mountain setting.
After half a decade, the festival has become well established, attracting both locals and visitors from Canada and the U.S.
“In the first year, getting Americans out of America wasn’t easy, but after people tried it a few times and word spread,” Hoess said. “We’re seeing a lot more Canadians from Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton… Of all our locations, Whistler has the most international name recognition because of the skiing, Crankworx and big events there. But definitely there’s been growth spreading across Canada and in the U.S.”
While the festival focuses more on activities than big-name celebrities, the musical line up this year features acts like Swedish indie folk singer Jose Gonzalez, reggae roots band Steel Pulse and soul-folkies Rising Appalachia.
“We’ve got some cool artists we haven’t had before,” Hoess added. “Jose Gonzalez is a personal favourite of mine and Steel Pulse played with us in Colorado this year and they were amazing.”
The concerts are all free to the public and run as part of a collaboration with the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s (RMOW) Whistler Presents Concert Series. “In our early years — like all events coming to Whistler — it’s a struggle in the beginning,” Hoess said. “The RMOW was very supportive of us, also financially. As we grew a bit they were excited to put support dollars to other events; we didn’t need it as much. But the concerts we produce are free… We collaborated to align the talent.”
While the festival hopes to have a local’s pass in the future, for now they’re offering tickets for single classes and events. Those are available by visiting the Wanderlust box office. “A lot of locals have jobs that make it hard for them to attend a whole day,” Hoess said.
For more information or tickets visit wanderlust.com/festivals/whistler.