Within the confines of ‘exercise’ falls two types of people: those who can run with grace, and those who can’t.
The benefits of a good jog have been well explored (Bella Mackie’s Jog On, Running for my life by Rachel Cullen, Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor). It’s no secret: running, or exercise in general, releases good endorphins and can assist with overall health, both mental, physical and emotional.
But, finding the will to dust off those old joggers and confidently head out on a trail run is another story. And here a distinction needs to be made, the disparity between a trail run and an urban stroll.
Nowhere is this disparity more evident than last weekend. I found myself at Love Trials Festival – a festival which celebrates trail running, in all its multifaceted forms. With a programme encompassing everything from 5km to 55km, Love Trails certainly catered to the curious runner, as well as to those who compete in Marathons and Triathlons. Additionally, yoga, exercise classes, rock climbing, surfing and paragliding, live music and entertainment were on offer. The tagline for the event was #earntheparty, naturally.
Festival culture has completely changed – gone are the bikinis and booze, hello trail runs, vegan delights and ‘woke’ music. Our appetite has shifted from debaucheries, glutinous fun to wholistic entertainment.
And here, within this wellness bubble of Bikram Yoga and Turmeric Lattes, festivals which cater to the spiritual, physical or emotional empowerment of their guests have thrived. Love Trails celebrates running, Also Festival reconnects us with nature, Soul Circus is all about yoga and Verve grounds us in Mother Earth.
During my short sojourn at Love Trails, I completed over 20km of runs, five intense exercise classes, four yoga forays, three inspirations talks and two cooking workshops. I packed my weekend with every type of ‘wellness’ activity that was on offer; I completely and utterly rinsed myself in ‘wokeness’.
Yet, you can’t deny there’s something utterly fulfilling in attending a festival which celebrates your health, rather than impinges on it (music festivals: great fun, terrible for the liver, and the insomnia). Every day at Love Trails was a saturation in good health, fun and activeness. The embodiment of this was a female-only trail run which took in the Welsh peninsula, mountains and even a prehistoric Neolithic site. It was 10km and despite the heat and distance, the energy was palpable. Here were 20 women aged from mid 20s to 70s connected by the simple pleasure of running.
I loved how inclusive Love Trails Festival was – connecting people to an activity rather than booze encourages a genuine communal spirit.
So, here’s to the Wellness Festivals which are in abundance in bucolic UK over July, August and September. Make sure you sign up to one and head along!
5 Best Wellness Festivals
Enjoy a complete immersion into the wild with the aptly named Wilderness Festival. described as a hedonistic music and arts festival, it promises utter ‘wellness’ this year. Cue, Qi Gong to clary meditation, yoga raves and a workshop on toxic masculinity.
Where: Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire
When: 1-4th August 2019
Cornwall is the place to descend on in a UK summer. Soak up a weekend of sunshine on the Cornish Coast with BoardMasters, a traditional music festival. Traditional festivities aside, there’s also a wealth of wellness classes to enjoy. Think: surf school, yoga and so much more!
Where: Trebelsue Farm, Watergate Bay, Newquay
When: 7-11 August 2019
Tickets: Weekend camping from £187.00
The Cotswalds provides the perfect backdrop for a bucolic weekend of festivities. Fitness and music collide in this three-day weekend bash. Enjoy yoga during the day before dancing under the stars at night.
Where:Elmore, The Cotswolds
When: 16-18 August 2019
Tickets: Weekend tickets from £175.00
If you’re after more of a retreat, then FloVibe is your go-to place (their slogan is, ‘where retreat meets festival’). Everyone is invited to this weekend (children too!) which promises to nourish and re-engergise your mind, body and soul.
Where: Stansted Park, Rowlands Castle, Hampshire
When: 16-18 August 2019
Tickets: Prices start at £15.00 for a day ticket, and £125.00 for the weekend
Enjoy the last of the summer’s rays with Verve festival. This is fresh on the fitness scene this year and promises an invigorating dose of healthy hedonism. Guided trail runs, ashtanga yoga and shrinken-yoku are all on offer.
Where: Ebbesbourne Wake, Wiltshire
When: 7-8 September
Tickets: £140 for the weekend