Jet-Set Bohemian: Hard-to-Find Festivals

Travel Lists Festivals
Jet-Set Bohemian: Hard-to-Find Festivals

A jetset lifestyle doesn’t have to be all private planes and decadent digs. In Paste Travel’s Jet-Set Bohemian series, we blend the best of high and low for just the right balance … enticing everyone from backpackers to luxury boutique hotel lovers to come along for the ride.


If winter blues have you lusting after springtime festivals, you don’t need to wait until the weather warms up to get your music fix. Give me any excuse to don a Stevie Nicks-inspired ensemble and I’m there. Throw in the travel factor and an element of the unknown? Forget about it.

Even if you’re an annual festival goer and you’ve road-tripped from coast to coast making the rounds at all the heavy hitters from Bonnaroo to Coachella, consider stepping off U.S. soil and out of your comfort zone. It’s time to discover some of the more hidden festivals taking place everywhere from the far-flung desert surrounding Cape Town to the Southern coast of Costa Rica.

The third Envision festival takes place February 25-28 at Rancho La Merced in Uvita, Costa Rica. The four-day festival (pictured at top) is about a three-hour drive from San Jose along the Costanera highway. Rain forests and mountains sit just minutes from the beach and give the fest its biodynamic allure. It’s said that the place gives you a “buzz,” meaning you’ll literally feel the earth’s energy as you’re listening to a lineup that includes Shpongle and Beats Antique.

Of course there’s other ways to tap into this energy, visiting the Village Witches whose “healing arts” extend from herbal elixir bars to body and energy work performed at the Healing Sanctuary. Aerialists and fire dancers perform all night long, but if you’re looking for a more spiritual way to get involved, take part in one of the many yoga sessions led by industry experts like Sianna Sherman or Rachel Brathen, or join a class brushing up (or developing) your primitive skills. Pitching a tent among the coconut trees here is strongly encouraged. If bungalows are more your style, Vista Ballena has 20 rooms up for grabs overlooking the Pacific.

Once you’ve graduated past multi-day music festivals, Burning Man in Black Rock City, Nevada, seems to be next on everyone’s list. The annual fire ceremony started 30 years ago but it’s only in the past few years that it’s really blown up, now drawing a crowd of over 60,000 to a pop-up party in the desert. While I love the lavish campsites and over-the-top costumes sported by everyone from Google execs to Vogue staffers (and even featured in the pages of luxe glossies like Town & Country), I’d much rather dance in the desert somewhere a bit more remote (where I probably won’t run into many acquaintances) like AfrikaBurn, which takes place April 25 through May 1 in Tankwa, South Africa.

The burner party began nine years ago on a private farm dubbed Stonehenge near the Tankwa Karoo National Park, and the process of getting to AfrikaBurn in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa is just as much an experience as being at the festival itself. The drive from Cape Town is a little over four hours along the R355, which connects Ceres in the south and Calvinia in the north, on the longest stretch in South Africa sans gas stations, and many of my friends have broken down due to rough conditions along the way. Think of it as Burning Man’s little (more spirited) sister, with theme camps, mutant vehicles and art installation set in the sand that are part of the scheduled burn. For its 10th year, AfrikaBurn is taking on the theme X, which symbolizes the wheel of fortune in Taro and the start of a new cycle, heralding in the beginning of a new decade for the festival.

In June, the tiny island of Træna, 33 nautical miles in the Arctic Circle off the coast of Norway (population 500), welcomes 2,300 people for the annual Træna Festival . The only way to reach the island is by boat (naturally), via a flight from Bodø, and most of the festivalgoers also opt to sleep on the water. Vessels take the place of festival food stands, serving up seafood from seal to salmon straight off the mahogany ships, or for a more elegant affair, take a seat at the restaurant tent for a gourmet three-course seafood spread served on fine China plates. While showers are a luxury at many North American festivals, Træna embraces its Scandinavian side with a spa boat, essentially a floating resort with a hot tub, hammam and sauna. Acts are split between stages and tipi tents on the island of Husøy, with past “headliners” including Damien Rice and The Correspondents, but the real draw here is what’s happening on neighboring Sanna island, with the Kirkhelleren cave putting on some of the festival’s best performances thanks to the all-natural acoustics.

Visiting Australia for the first time in December, I quickly saw that the Aussies know how to party in style, the more remote the better. Case in point: Lost Paradise, one of the many events taking place down under where glamping is the main form of accommodation. Pull out your best tapestries and rugs posting up in Glenworth Valley, an hour north of Sydney, for an event typically coinciding with New Year’s Eve that’s a very luxe version of the kind you’d find stateside. Think creekside day beds with bottle service, a full-service spa with Champagne and banquet-style soirées with top chefs from Sydney whipping up five-star feasts served between the trees.

Lane Nieset is Paste’s Jet-Set Bohemian columnist and a freelance writer covering all things travel from her home base in Nice, France.

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