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Wanderlust attendance up, with more room for growth, says co-founder

Over 5,400 tickets sold to five-day yoga and lifestyle festival
yogi Flava MC Yogi was one of several musical acts who graced the stage at the third annual Wanderlust Whistler. Attendance to the five-day yoga and lifestyle festival grew by 10 per cent this year. Photo by David Buzzard /

They came, they saw, they downward-dogged.

In its third year in the resort, Wanderlust Whistler sold more than 5,400 tickets and attracted over 2,500 unique guests to the resort, bumping its attendance figure by 10 per cent.

With an expanded program of yoga workshops, outdoor expeditions, live music and culinary offerings, the five-day festival, held from July 31 to Aug. 4, has co-founder Sean Hoess envisioning a bright future for Wanderlust Whistler.

"One of the opportunities Whistler affords is to build a truly mass yoga and outdoor lifestyle festival," he wrote via email. "Whistler is unique in the size of its bed base, the size of its village, and the availability of conference space suitable for yoga practice. We expect to be able to build the scope and scale of Wanderlust Whistler for years to come."

A growing Wanderlust would also carry added benefits to the business community of Whistler, as the typical festivalgoer is well heeled and stays in the resort an average of three days or more, said Hoess.

"Our typical guest is a female outdoor lifestyle enthusiast, an educated, affluent consumer who practices yoga, eats locally and sustainably, and likes to travel," he explained, adding that about 65 per cent of Wanderlust guests stay in resort hotels.

One local store that understandably capitalized on the influx of yoga practitioners to the resort was Lululemon, where a manager confirmed it was the store's busiest weekend of the summer, on par with the Christmas holiday. Droves of festivalgoers even lined up outside the village shop at 2 a.m. Thursday, July 31, to purchase a limited-edition line of Wanderlust clothing.

The lifestyle festival also does a good job of attracting the ever-important destination visitor, who spends an average of $160 a day in the resort, according to research carried out by the municipality's Economic Partnership Initiative committee. Roughly half of the attending Wanderlust guests this year came from outside the province, Hoess said, with Alberta and Washington State making up the lion's share of that total. About 40 per cent of guests arrive from the Vancouver area, while 10 per cent are from Whistler.

Wanderlust Whistler 2015 is scheduled for July 30 to Aug. 3.