Wanderlust organizers already thinking about next year 

Festival draws more than 1,300 yogis to Whistler for events

The number of yoga mats in Whistler was up drastically over the course of the Wanderlust Festival in the resort last weekend.

Most of the mats belonged to visitors in Whistler specifically to participate in the various events that made up the first-time festival to Whistler.

Jeff Krasno, one of the co-creators of the event, said the scale of Whistler makes it an exciting place for his team to hold Wanderlust.

"We've spent a lot of time thinking and strategizing how to create a yoga-critical mass in a place this big," he said as he stood amongst yogis relaxing in hammocks and on pillows outside Whistler's Lululemon store. "Having seen a bit of Crankworx and seeing how massive that has grown here... we have decided... in year one to create a very sustainable model that will allow us to grow in future years."

Wanderlust opened on Thursday and continued through the weekend with yoga classes, lectures, food events, hiking and concerts. The core audience is women between the ages of 25 and 44 but the creators agree the main demographic draw is people who live the yoga lifestyle, being mindful of their health and the wellbeing of their environment.

Tourism Whistler (TW) is still calculating the impact the festival had on Whistler. Research Manager James Buttenshaw of TW said the resort was very busy during Wanderlust.

"We have had lots of positive feedback about the vibe in the village," Buttenshaw said of the overall feel in the resort.

"Those outdoor yoga classes they had at the plaza, they overflowed onto the grass and so all indications are that it was a good weekend," said Buttenshaw adding that the pace of bookings heading into the weekend was well ahead of the pace at the same time last year, and late bookings were strong too.

"The weather probably played a role in last minute visits," he said.

According to Krasno, the festival is creating a large platform around ideas like personal spirituality, yoga practice, buying organic foods and consuming ethically.

One of the festival sponsors, Lululemon Athletica, proved to be a popular draw for festival participants. A gathering spot was created for festival participants in the square outside the store. Village visitors lounged in the hammocks and on pillows set out in the square.

Lululemon is a publicly traded company that doesn't share its sales information from individual stores, but Chris Brumwell of Lululemon confirmed the Whistler store did very well during the festival.

Krasno told reporters that he hopes new friendships created through Wanderlust in Whistler might result in positive changes for the world.

To make his point he shared an observation from the Michael Franti and Seane Corn show on Friday. Krasno noticed a man at the event that he described as somewhere around his early 60s and possibly from northern Europe. He said the man didn't look like he had ever tried yoga.

"He got out on the grass, no matt and just started getting down and practicing yoga," said Krasno. "For me that is the big win. If you can then touch people outside of the core people that are expected to come then it is like pushing the circle out — the tent is getting bigger. That can only have positive consequences."

Festival co-organizer Sean Hoess said planning is underway for a second Wanderlust in Whistler.

"I've had a lot of conversations already with the various stakeholders, the RMOW, Whistler Blackcomb, we have hotel partners and everybody seems to be reacting positively thus far so I'm pretty sure we will be back," said Hoess.

Buttenshaw confirmed that TW is involved in ongoing discussions about the future with the Wanderlust organizers.

According to Krasno, it just makes sense to look ahead to future years.

"It is a tremendous amount of work just to get anything going in the first year, so to not be thinking long-term about coming in with something of this scale is foolish," said Krasno. He added that with each of the other Wanderlust locations the organizers have returned for a second event.

"We're really happy with the results here," said Hoess. "This is a great first year for us.

We'll probably have 1,300 to 1,400 yogis walking around today and that's exceeded our first year results in other areas so we're really pleased. We feel like it is off to a great start."

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