Summer Yoga Festivals for 2015

yoga festival
Photo by Amanda McHugh

If you’ve not yet made yoga part of your summer travel plans, it’s not too late to get passes for a yoga festival, where you can expand your yoga practice and community amidst of scenic surroundings. Whether you travel with a group or go solo, choose a dramatic desert, forested mountainsides or sparkling lakeshore, you’ll be led by the experts, learn something new and forge friendships based on a shared appreciation for the yoga life.

Going on seven years of sun-soaked yoga, uplifting music and community building, Bhakti Fest and Wanderlust have transformed the yoga festival into a cultural phenomenon. Unlimited asana classes with renowned instructors might be the backbone of these multi-day events, but the heart that draws thousands of participants year after year is connection: to self, to others and to a higher purpose. Both of these successful organizations now offer multiple yearly events while raising funds for charities around the world.

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The Woodstock of the yoga universe is Bhakti West (September 10-13, Joshua Tree, CA), with attendance approaching 5,000. And while the crowds may be smaller at Bhakti Fest Midwest (June 26-28 in Madison, WI) and Shakti Fest (May 15-17, Joshua Tree), the guiding focus is the same. All three events celebrate yoga as a spiritual path, featuring round-the-clock kirtan (devotional chanting) with performances by Krishna Das, MC Yogi and others. No alcohol, drugs, or smoking are allowed, and children are welcome. For campers, a 4-day pass costs about $350, though work exchanges can be arranged.

Wanderlust festivals focus on asana and mindful living, and offer yoga, meditation and farm-to-table food workshops. There’s even wine-tasting, music and dancing! This year’s summer events are behind held in stunning locations from Squaw Valley, California (July 16-19) to Snowshoe, West Virginia (June 5-7) to Tremblant, Quebec (August 20-23). Hiking and other guided outdoor adventures are part of the appeal. Four-day passes cost around $500 (plus food and lodging), though single-day tickets are available for $90-160.

Outdoorsy, artistic, musical, meditative, focusing on a single yoga style or embracing several, summer yoga festivals come in as many flavors as ice cream cones. Choose a festival as you would any vacation, keeping your interests and budget in mind. (Tip: Many offer early bird discounts.) Though smaller venues may lack a long roster of celebrity teachers, chances are that classes will be more intimate, with more opportunities for personal instruction. In addition to the aforementioned, here’s a sampling of possibilities:

Dubuque Yoga Festival (May 1-3, Dubuque, IA)

Downtown Yoga Festival (May 23-24, Salt Lake City, UT)

Ozark Mountain Yoga Festival (May 23-24, Low Gap, AR)

Hanuman Festival (June 11-14, Boulder, CO)

Esalen Yoga Festival (June 14-19, Big Sur, CA)

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Telluride Yoga Festival (July 9-12, Telluride, CO)

Nantucket Yoga Festival (July 10-12, Nantucket, MA)

cOMmon Grounds (July 24-26, Richmond, MN)

Finger Lakes Yoga Festival (August 14-17, Ithaca, NY)

Sat Nam Fest East (August 26-30, Waynesboro, PA)

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Santa Fe Yoga Festival (August 27-30, Santa Fe, NM)

Evolvefest (September 4-7, Wind Gap, PA)

Sunshine Coast Yoga Festival (September 12, Sechelt, BC, Canada)

The burgeoning yoga festival scene means there’s something to fit almost every budget and interest. Is there one coming up in your neighborhood? Tell us about it, or share your best festival-going advice.

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