The Byron Shire has long been stereotyped as Australia’s ‘New Age’ centre.
This weekend marks the inaugural launch of the Byron Spirit Festival, an event that unifies the worlds of yoga, tantra, music, dance and healing in what is being called a celebration of self and community in venues throughout Mullumbimby.
Director Alex Grant says the idea came after he and fellow New Yorker and co-producer Alison Pearl attended the 2011 Bali Spirit Festival with co-producer Kate Little.
Festival culture has flourished in the last decade and although economic times have caused some retraction, Alex believes that events like the Spirit Festival reflect a whole new genre emerging in America and around the world.
‘It’s not just about being entertained,’ says Alex who is also a yoga teacher, acupuncturist and healer, ‘It is about being an active participant. This is about doing something and getting involved. It’s not passive in the least. You are not an onlooker, you are an in-looker!’
As with the Mullumbimby Music Festival, patrons may attend festival events at community spaces throughout the town including the Civic Hall (free entry), ACE rooms, St John’s Hall, Yoga Peace, Anglican Church, Yellow Church, Mullum Sari and the Santos Heart Space. The High School auditorium will be transformed into a temple for musical performances in the evenings.
Organisers have had a lot of interest from out-of-town vistiors, and in lieu of some of the accommodation challenges in Mullumbimby, event organisers are asking people to contact them if they would like to host a friendly yogi for the weekend.
‘The Spirit Festival is about community and creating a family-friendly non-drinking environment’ says Alex, ‘with a kids’ space and kids’ events throughout the day.
‘We are encouraging people to bring bikes to travel between venues and of course bring a yoga mat and wear loose comfortable clothing so you can dance!’
This is an event that offers everything from Hatha to Astunga and everything in between; a yoga DJ set and monks creating a sand mandala at the Spirit Village every morning is just some of what’s in store. For program and ticketing details for this event, which happens in Mullumbimby from Friday to Sunday, go to www.spiritfestival.com.au.