Everyone knows the big ones. Woodstock. Burning Man. Electric Daisy Carnival. Somehow in modern culture the measure of success of a festival is in the size. People are astounded about the growing number of people in attendance at Burning Man and news attention is caught by a new record set by EDC. There is an assumption that for festivals quantity equals quality.

Less Is More

That’s why microfestivals like the Heartlands’ recent CoLab Campout are extraordinary. They are challenging our American assumptions that bigger is better. And to be honest in my many years of experience of taste-testing festivals all over the world, it’s usually the small ones that really get me. I love the intimacy of the gatherings. I love the feeling that everyone around is someone that I truly know and love. I like the feeling that we are really there together as friends and not as random participants.

It also is instilling a different view of how we create impact in the world. Small numbers of people may become activated and then through their individual impacts to their communities create a chain link of activation that ripples out through the world. Festivals like this one are striving to create impact by charging the potency of their offering by making it limited to a select few invited participants. The CoLab Campout created a container for Outerwork, Innerwork, Transformation, and Celebration and with those four pillars at its foundation, created a chamber that supercharged the minds and hearts of an intimate few with great power to create lasting change.

Festivals are Planting and Building

The CoLab Campout was held on the permaculture farm near Grass Valley, California known as Heartland. Their vision is to co-create a living & business system that succeeds in the same symbiotic way nature thrives. They grow and produce some of the food that the community lives off, and a lot of the food cooked and served at the festival was grown on the land.

This microfestival was four days. The first two days were focused on Outerwork & Innerwork. Outerwork involved collaborative projects like building an Earth based cob oven and participation on creative functional structures on the yoga deck and learning & working in the food garden. The Innerwork happened in the evening and the first night involved doing a spiritual Balisian practice called the Kecak or “Monkey Chant”. The second nigh’s Innerwork entailed participation in a blindfolded ritualistic Trance Dance on “Oya”, Heartland’s large cedar yoga deck.

Focus on Art & Music

The final two days and nights of the festival were all about Transformation & Celebration with amazing music from world class performers like David Starfire and Scarlet Crow. During the day a stage was built atop a purple limousine by the beautiful lake that people swam in to escape the summer heat. The Celebration was on as the music played and people sipped alcohol free but intoxicating elixirs on the lakeside or in the cozy dome space curated by Natalie and Sean of Spirit Nectar.

“Here at Heartland we like to stack the cool,” said founder Anders Gustavsson. This was most evident during the nights where a very intimate dance temple was unveiled in an old barn. With psychedelic projections on 3 of the interior walls, and with beautiful candlelit altars all around the interior perimeter, this created a dance experience that was especially surreal and sexy. The space was close and intimate and I found myself totally transfixed by the projections by light wizards Zach Ariah and Anthony West. At one point I left the space to experience an especially powerful and tranquil setting of the full moon over the lake, but when I returned the music was still raging and pumping long into the light of the morning.

Part Party, Part Workshop

I think the CoLab Campout lays out the blueprint for a very powerful new festival experience. Part party, part workshop, the CoLab Campout gave the participants not just a fun time, but new skills that people can use and integrate into their lives. Furthermore participants are working towards the building of a space that they can call home, and one which they can take pride in knowing they are one of the co-creators of. Not only did I have a fun time dancing and connecting with my local community more deeply, but I was also struck by the potency of the ideas being implemented by the festival. I’m excited to attend future offerings from Heartland, and to see more Transformational workshop-microfestivals of its type soon.

Photos: Jake Kobrin Art and Design

Looking for a Microfestival?

NuMundo’s Experiences Directory features some of the top microfestivals with a focus on education, planetary regeneration, permaculture, medicinal plants, art and music. These intimate gatherings will leave you with new friends, stories, knowledge, and passion to step into your fullest potential. Here are some microfestivals you can’t miss:

Jungle Camp

A Transformational Camp for Adults
Punta Mona
Caribbean Coast, Costa Rica
October 10-15, 2017


Medicines from the Edge

A Tropical Herbal Convergence
Punta Mona
Caribbean Coast, Costa Rica
October 19-22, 2017


Cacao Convergence

A Magical Immersive Experience of Cacao, From Bean to Bar
Finca El Porvenir
Alta Verapaz, Guatemala
January 11-15, 2018