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We first attended Envision in 2016, and 2017 solidified it as one of our favorites. We never missed another until the 2021 & 2022 editions were canceled due to the COVID pandemic. I can’t imagine ever missing this event again, and that is why we are back for 2023!

Festivals are generally not easy to attend in terms of comfort and Envision challenges even the most experienced festival veterans. The heat, the distance, the remote location, it all makes it akin to an expedition. But with good preparation, proper packing, and an unwavering positive attitude, this festival is exactly the kind of adventure that will change your life. When you go through all that you will have gone through to make it to the entrance of Rancho La Merced, you will feel like you truly earned it. You don’t stumble onto Envision, you ‘arrive’ at it. So where did it all begin …

All great festivals begin with a vision; with a stirring spark of imagination. A yearning to bring to life something the founders practice, see, and feel already in their daily lives. And such was the case for Miami-born co-founder Stephen Brooks in 2011 when Envision sprung to life.

As a lifelong Deadhead fan and Burning Man attendee, who studies the relationship between humans and plants during his day job as an ethnobotanist, Stephen simply saw this as something that had to happen. He told David Garber of Thump before last year’s Envision, “Everything I’ve done has been dedicated to creating transformation… [and] creat[ing] experiences to wake people up, so they can live differently and take a different path.” Read David’s full interview with Stephen hereCo-Founder of Costa Rica’s Envision Explains why Transformational Festivals Matter. That spark, stoked and cared for over time with effort and teamwork became a roaring flame that brought goals ever closer and made a core group of stewards ever stronger, emboldened to continue to grow the dream, year after year.

That this festival actually even happens is astounding, and that it has become one of the most beautiful festivals you can attend in the world is simply the definition of spectacular. A music festival is no easy feat to manifest; just putting it together in a semblance of function is a herculean task. So imagine then, one that is created in a remote location such as the Envision Festival in Costa Rica, where almost every structure is built from scratch, often with what is laying around in the jungle, and then mostly dismantled with no trace left. They build the festival with parts of banana trees, bamboo stalks, and palm trees. Read more about their green building in this article by Andrea Bertoli, Green Building at the Envision Festival, Costa Rica.

At the mainstay Village Stage- bamboo architecture enveloped with live plants- projects enchantment as the speakers’ aurate and musicians play. The natural beauty of the surroundings adds an element that you do not often see at other festivals: the merging of architecture, design, and nature. You feel it, especially when shopping in the Global Mercado, hanging out at the Elixir Bar, or dancing at the various intricately crafted musical stages. The festival is one with the jungle and it’s a beautiful scene.

The Selina Tea Lounge

If it was up to us, every music festival would find itself being produced in a tropical setting. The tropics are healing, lush and verdant. ‘Sweating it out’ to the heat leaves you feeling fresh, clear-minded, and connected.

Before we go further, we feel the need to distinguish that Envision is a ‘transformational music festival’ as opposed to a ‘commercial musical festival’. At Sparked we will go in-depth to explain the difference in future articles on how to distinguish the variety of festivals out there, but for now imagine a transformational festival as a well-rounded experience of learning from workshops and speakers, with soundtracks of music ranging in styles and genres both live and electronic, and with the exploration of ideas and insights into a better way to live through eating organic/quality food, eschewing that which is processed, and the discovery of your body through movement, dance, and yoga.

If that’s all new to you, it won’t feel that way. You will pick it up as if it was second nature. You will not get that at a city festival or a festival created as an accumulation of concerts and the sale of mass-produced corporate goods. In the Thump interview, David asked Stephen, “Do you see festivals like Envision as an escape from real life?” and he replied, “I wouldn’t say that it’s an escape from real life, I’d say It’s a recreation of a new life. What is real life? I think we’re being tricked into a life that’s not serving us and is supporting wars and chemical food, and a system that’s broken. What Envision is trying to do is show that it’s possible to live good and thrive, and not do that.”

Visionary Art by Blake Drezet and Autumn Skye

Visionary art is well represented at Envision, where onlookers get a glimpse into the live painter’s creative process as well as their psychedelic visions. 2017’s debut of the Envision Gallery was a tremendous success, where the artist’s previous work could be displayed, giving us all an opportunity to purchase our favorites and contribute to the continuation of the painter’s passion.  Tuffy Luffuss, the visual curator for both the gallery and all visual artists, has done a phenomenal job with the breadth and reach of the artistic representation for the festival.

The Luna Stage crafted by The Reliquarium & Magnetic Melt

Envision Festibal’s attention towards promoting Slow Fashion is well received. Yearly, we attend the Ethical Fashion Panel discussion, moderated by festival co-founder Sarah Wu, where we hear from various voices on the need for us all to care more about where our garments come from, how they are made, and how voting with our wallet truly is in making a difference in the world. In the past we have heard Francisca Pineda, a New York fashion designer, speak on ‘Fast Fashion’ and how she has taken a step back in her design business to offer a more tailored ‘slow fashion’ service where she can meet the kinds of quality standards that truly make her leather shoe line something to be proud of, so it can be worn as a true status symbol: the symbol of caring.

And we heard from Summer Rayne Oaks, an eco-model, speak on ‘What Fashion Can Lean from Slow Food’. As you can imagine, we process fibers for fabric even more than we process food for humans, and the pollution we create in doing so is incredible. It’s so astounding, that it’s very difficult to even wrap our minds around it.

Because in the end, this is what this is all truly about. A festival is a festival. We come to have fun, to dance, to live, to express. But what happens to us inside that festival is what matters the most. It can bring us joy, love, epiphany, self-discovery, or just simply a good time with friends, leaving us invigorated, like a good night of laughter would do, with the glow of happiness on our cheeks.

I believe these kinds of experiences change us. These kinds of settings, with the intention to be better, to do better, and to learn something new that we can use to help ourselves and our neighbors, are what make our world stronger. We are the change we want to see, and every single one of us can have a part in it. Pay it forward to our future.

Feel free to let us know how Envision touched you this year in the comments below or on our Facebook Page.

One corner of the Global Mercado, where ethical fashion could be purchased

And… Headless Rave Game, DJ’s Blast Government, Pandemic Alters Music Tastes, The Future of Black Rock City.

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