The other weekend, some friends and I ventured to Wanderlust Whistler for the first time. In fact, it was the first yoga festival for all of us. None of us knew what to expect and I think I was half expecting to be dancing around naked with flowers in my hair (which is also what the majority of people I told thought would happen as well…!). Unfortunately for me it did not, although I’m sure the option was there!
All in all it was a fantastic weekend and I had such a good time! It was vastly different to any other festival I had been to, which would be expected, as I used to frequent the likes of Glastonbury, Benicassim and SW4. Although I’m sure Glastonbury had similar aspects to it… I didn’t see those bits! For us, Wanderlust Whistler was very much an activity based weekend. It is very much what you make of it… you can do as much (within reason) as you like or as little as you like.
I have so much to say about it so I think I’ll try and summarize as much as I can.
The girls and I stayed at the Marketplace Lodge by Whistler Retreats. It was basic, with no air conditioning (which is common in the summer ski resorts I’ve found) but it had a bedroom with double bed and a sofa bed in the living room that slept two – so it was perfect for the four of us. The location was second-to-none; we were right in the mix in Whistler Village and our balcony looked over the main stage. Plus, it was excellent value – we each paid CAD 156, all in, for four nights – you do the math. We barely spent any time in the room anyway so for Wanderlust purposes, it worked perfectly. I would recommend it for a short weekend at Whistler but if you are going in the summer and there are more than two of you, I recommend taking a fan from home (if you can!) as although there is one in the condo, there were four of us sleeping in two different rooms. There is also one underground parking space per condo.
Food & Drink
This is prioritized as I literally plan my days around food.
As we had a condo, we had a wee kitchenette so we took some breakfast supplies such as bananas, eggs and oats – ya know, being all healthy and stuff! But apart from that, we ate our lunches (when we managed to fit them in!) and dinners out. Partly because we didn’t want to cook in an already pretty cozy and hot condo, but also, we were in Whistler and on our holidays!
On the first night, once we had unpacked, parked the cars and got our wristbands (you get a free bracelet by Silver & Sage by the way…!) it was pretty late so we were starved. We were in the main part of Whistler Village and most places were crammed full so we found one that was able to seat us immediately (most people were waiting for tables outside) and plonked ourselves down. Glass of wine each, dinner and bed. Rock and roll.
We ate at the little Mexican place in the Marketplace, La Cantina, on the Friday night. It was a fab little spot, good food, quick, reasonably priced and no-frills. Exactly what we were after.
On the Saturday night, we went for sushi at a little spot on the Main Street (I think?) which was lovely as well!
On the Friday and Saturday I got myself some lunch at Gone Eatery, which is tucked in behind Armchair Books. A great little locals spot with a little bit of everything including a variety of vegan options. I went for the vegan bowl, which was really nice and then on the Saturday I opted for the vegan pad thai, which was absolutely delicious!
Only on my last day did I discover the Green Moustache! Devastated. There was so much I wanted on that menu but I ended up opting for a ‘Healing Kitchari’ as it was warm and the day was a little chillier than the rest! I had also just come down from the top of the mountain so my Raynaud’s Syndrome was having a field day with my fingers! As per the menu, the Kitchari is ‘a staple Ayurvedic healing food’. The ‘complete protein meal nourishes, cleanses, detoxifies & heals your digestive tract.’ It basically consists of rice, ‘Moon Dal’ and vegetables cooked with a Kitchari spice mix. It tasted great with whatever the sauce they gave it to me with was (it may have been soy?!). A bit of a hefty $10.95 for my lunch but pretty standard for Whistler and if you’re after a light one you can save half for dinner!
My friend and I also treated ourselves to a cheeky sunshine prosecco mid-afternoon on the Saturday when we were ‘all yoga-d out’ at some lovely little French place in the middle of Whistler Village. So you don’t have to go T-Total just because you’re at a yoga festival… I did not sign up for that!
Runs and Hikes
Throughout the weekend there is an array of non-yoga activities such as hikes, runs, rock climbing and mountain biking, amongst other things. Some of them are free with your ticket and others you have to pay extra for.
Being the total keeno I am, I signed up for the 8 am Sunrise Trail Run on the Friday morning. I love a bit of cardio in the morning to set me up for my day. We all met at the meeting spot at the bottom of the gondola, met our running guide who was a PT called Tim from Australia. It was a group run and there were various different levels of runners on it. I was in a group up ahead (yeah, punch me in the face) and we ended up going a little too far ahead, missed our turning and got a little lost so our 5km run turned into an 8.5km run. It was stunning though and nobody was complaining. It definitely did not feel like 8.5km and I don’t know why I couldn’t do that at home without feeling it. Maybe I am at a higher altitude in Sun Peaks or the fact that I run on the road in Sun Peaks as I am too chicken to go up on the trails on my own for fear of predators…!
So apparently the Sunrise Trail Run is to take you to the lake (if we had gone the correct way) and a nude dock – devastated, life is always greatest when you’re naked – and I was invited to go to the 6am Trail Run the next morning but it clashed with the hike I had signed up for with a couple of the girls.
The only thing I would say about the run is that maybe it could have been marked out so that those of us who did want to just beast it ahead could do so without worrying about missing turnings or getting lost… OR we could just listen to the instructions and not missed our turning…?!
Just a pointer that if you are going to do one of these runs or hikes I highly recommend you do it in the morning as it did heat up quite quickly and when we went it was nice and fresh.
On the Saturday morning, a couple of the girls and I did the Silent Sweat at 6am (!) with a PT called Rich who was from the UK but now a Whistler local. It was basically a small hike where you couldn’t speak to anybody, hence the name! He gave us a topic to think about on our way up and asked us what the meaning of yoga was to us and why we practised it. So the hike was like a little meditation where we get all mindful and stuff.
If you’re not into the running or you’d prefer something at a slower pace but still a decent workout, I would recommend the hikes.
I honestly do not know where to start and if I write about each individual class I went to this will tur into (even more of) an essay and you’ll get all bored and stop reading bla bla bla…
Instead I will mention a few of my highlights:
Hip Hop Black Light Yoga
I fricking LOVED this class! It was basically a flow-style class in black light (hence the name!) and incorporated several dance parties! I laughed so hard, I was so happy and I had a fantastic lady next to me who was hilarious – we practised in sync and just generally bounced off each other. If you’re after a totally fun sweat fest I highly recommend this class. It is taught by Jonah Kest who was funny, informative, a great communicator and also a real treat to look at… which helps.
This was taught by Andrew Misle at the top of the gondola surrounded by clouds and the mountain peaks, which still had snow on them. It was really wonderful. It was, however, freezing. I think the schedule said that it was going to be a slower yin-style class, however, as it was so cold that Misle made the excellent decision to make the sequence a little more active. I cried in this one too… I got all overwhelmed when ‘the clouds came over’ (aka hormonal wreck). ‘It was the clouds’, said nobody ever.
This was my all-time favourite class all weekend. It was held in the sunshine on the grass in front of the main stage so anybody could join in (regardless if they were at Wanderlust or not) and it was basically one massive sweaty dance party. I could not wipe the smile off my face! Do not miss this one.
There are so many yoga classes to go to that you will be spoilt for choice. Be prepared to not be able to make every single one you want to go to as there are a couple of clashes, they book up fast and there are only so many hours in a day! On the Friday, we got a bit over excited and by the time my fourth activity came along (a sequencing discussion with Noah Maze for yoga teachers that I am still gutted I didn’t make) I was cream-crackered! However, instead I got to hang out with my pals in the sunshine listening to DJ Drez and having a mini dance party… loves a dance party!
I enthusiastically signed up for a stand up paddle board yoga session for the extra $15. I highly recommend it. The setting was stunning and you practise in the middle of a mountain lake looking out to the mountains. It is a short drive away so you meet outside the Delta and hop on a little bus to get to the lake. We had a wonderful teacher called Rachel, who was from Los Angeles (along with everyone else bar me and the girls, it seems!). She made it fun and I liked the way they handled their class management with such big classes on boards; they had the boards already set up and they taxied you out to them two at a time.
Despite Rachel’s firm attempt to get us all in the water, only a few of us went in! The boards were really stable, definitely more so than my own personal board! But just in case, I recommend you bring a towel and don’t take anything out onto the board that you don’t mind getting wet (or sinking!). For everything else, you can leave your bag with a couple of the helpers at the side of the lake.
I would advise that you leave time between classes and extra time for the classes that are not in the village, such as the SUP yoga. We had to wait 30 minutes for the shuttle to turn up to take us back to the village so some people missed their next classes (albeit, we could have walked but I think it would have been quite a fair walk in the midday heat).
Every evening there is a band or DJ of some sort playing at the main stage, as well as all over the festival during the day at various little stages. The whole atmosphere is great! In fact, I don’t actually think they were ALL with Wanderlust, and some were just local musicians from the surrounding area. Regardless, the atmosphere is fab!
On the Friday afternoon we had a dance party listening to DJ Drez in the sunshine and Steel Pulse played on the main stage in the evening. Everyone is so exhausted by that time that the atmosphere is really chilled outside on the grass and there are people doing acro yoga (bloody impressive if you ask me…!), there were some fantastic yoga-kids giving everyone a run for their money and people having fun with hula rings.
On the Saturday night Jose Gonzalez made an appearance and on the Sunday night we had that massive dance party forward slash yoga session out on the grass with DJ Drez. I am unaware if there was anymore music on the main stage that night as I had to drive back to Sun Peaks that evening so I left pretty pronto post-dance party.
This was a biggie for me as we arrived in two separate cars (not very green of us, I know! But we were coming from different directions so it is allowed!) and I knew how much we could be stung for parking at Whistler at an event like this. As we had one parking space with the condo, we needed to put the other car somewhere. After much Googling (if in doubt, Google it!) and fannying around with speaking to companies offering cheap overnight parking, I went for a wee walk. I found that you can actually park in P4 and P5 for FREE, and overnight parking is permitted (in P5 definitely, not 100% sure about P4). I parked in P5. I do believe there is a maximum stay for up to 72 hours but I cannot remember where I read that but maybe just don’t take the piss. But my car was fine there for the weekend. What I do not understand is why they had that free parking right next to the paid parking and people were still going into paid parking when there were loads of spaces in the free parking…? As such, I was a little suspicious and if I had been able to, I would have parked right underneath the sign that said free parking and overnight parking permitted. Instead, I did the next best thing and took a picture of the sign in case someone tried to kick up a fuss.
All in all it was a fantastic weekend! Here’s a picture of me in a hammock…