In 1990 the founders of Burning Man drew a line on the ground of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert and told each other, “On the other side of this line, everything will be different.” With its artful chaos and core principles of participation, civic responsibility, radical inclusion and self-reliance, Burning Man has not only lived up to its charter — it’s inspired gatherings around the globe. In a 2010 TEDx talk in Vancouver, documentary filmmaker Jeet Kei Leung coined the term “Transformational Festival” to describe this “remarkable cultural phenomenon.” These are destinations where anything goes, active participation is encouraged, the weird is wonderful and eye contact, ecstatic dance, long hugs, incense, sacred space and psychedelics permeate the scene. The events tend to take place in a natural setting over multiple days and, according to Leung, all share “the co-creation of an immersive, participant driven reality.”
Where: Rancho la Merced, Costa Rica
When: February each year
Why go: Founded in 2011 with just 500 people on a small plot of land in the laid-back beach town of Dominical, Envision has grown steadily to its current size of around 5,000 attendees. The natural location helps limit the size and places important ecological demands on the gathering. There is no plastic of any form within the festival grounds and every attendee is encouraged to bring their own reusable plates, containers, cutlery and water bottles. All food and drinks on sale are organic and locally made, while workshops cover topics like permaculture, indigenous empowerment and plant healing. Well-known artists like Ant-Ten-Ea and Random Rab have performed in past years on one of the four stages. The crowd is a beautiful mix of surfers, yogis, Costa Rican locals and a wide array of travelers that come from near and far to take part. “I love Envision,” says Chip Conley, “because it’s small, well executed and so integrated with the natural environment. Transformational festivals use nature as their cathedral and Envision does this better than most.”
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.