The rise of the wellness festival

Perhaps it’s my age, but after waking up last summer in a sodden field with the world’s worst hangover and a glittering false eyelash stuck to my chin, I decided it might be time to consider greener, more zen-like pastures than those I’d been exploring for the majority of my teens and early twenties.   

With a rising interest in teetotal-ism (42 percent of millennials say they are drinking less than they were three years ago according to this report) and a more active societal pursuit of both mental and physical health, it seems I am not alone. Forget plastic pints of cider and all-night raves; these days, folks are just as interested in attending wellness festivals as they are music ones.  

You only have to take a ten-second scroll through your Instagram feed to know that ‘clean living’ is on the up and according to Nick Charlier, Head of Communications at barefoot shoe company Vivobarefoot, we can attribute this to the more authentic connection we feel with people when sober. “Previously, […]pubs and bars were a mainstay of how we socialised. This has changed dramatically over the last [few] years and many of us now use fitness and wellbeing as a way to connect with like-minded people”.  

It’s this feeling of community, of finding your ‘tribe’ that the UK’s most popular wellness festivals are pedalling. After all, we can all recall the magic of singing along with thousands of others to a live performance, so imagine the kind of high you can achieve when spurred on by pilates – induced endorphins.  

From yoga en masse to midnight forest runs, fitness brands all over the world are answering the call to get a sweat on with weekend-long events featuring green smoothies, downward dogs and upright rows.  

One of the best to spring onto the scene in the last couple of years is Lululemon’s Sweatlife hosted at Tobacco Dock. With great food, sweaty workouts, cool threads and inspiring discussions – what’s not to love?

Much like its sportswear, the festival is uber cool, super fun and well put together. With ‘this is not your practice life – this is all there is’ emblazoned across the rafters, Sweatlife and the various fitness movements that join in (think Psycle, The Foundry and Frame) pump you up to bash out that last burpee or savasana with as much enthusiasm as you can muster. No wonder it was such a popular event again this year.

Lululemon’s Sweatlife

Those after something more rural will be heading to the St Clere Estate on the outskirts of London for LoveFit this July. Get muddy by day with the likes of 1Rebel and Mr Motivator (yes, you read that correctly) before taking a dip in the hot tubs and dressing up for an 80s themed after party.

If you decide to pull an all-nighter, you can even see in the new day at the sunrise silent disco. This is a festival all about the joy of getting outside, getting sweaty and then enjoying the downtime. Classes include everything from farmyard weight lifting to hot yoga, there’s not an exercise stone unturned at this wellness event. With music featuring heavily throughout the weekend, it’s like an extended gig – but without the hangover.

Secret sunset meditation 🍃

A post shared by LoveFit Festival (@lovefitfestival) on

Having taken off in the US and Europe, it was never going to be long before Wanderlust found its way to London. Set to light up Battersea Park this September, its popularity has made it more of a movement than just a festival.

If the word ‘triathlon’ is evoking scenes of wetsuit chafe-age and soggy shoes, you’ve clearly not yet been enlightened by this festival’s take on the sport. Instead of the usual cycle, swim and run you’ll be jogging a 5k as fast as you like, taking on a 90-minute yoga session before (and here’s the best part) joining in with a half hour meditation.

Perhaps the reason we love them so much is that we’re all just tired of ‘adulting’ and the pressures and responsibilities it brings. Whilst all-night raves are fantastic, the hangovers only serve to remind us of how unhealthy we feel, whereas at a fitness festival you can party away with people on your wavelength and still get up before 12pm the next day. These movements are all about celebrating the joy of feeling alive and the ability of both the mind and body – which is certainly not something to be sniffed at.

If you’ve spent the last month trying desperately to find something – anything – to fill the Glastonbury shaped hole in your heart, a fitness festival might just be the answer. And you can always grab yourself a dirty Dominos afterwards to avoid feeling too virtuous – you know, just to get back that all important balance.


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