Interview: finding our true north with Wanderlust 108 festival director Jonnie Halstead

Wanderlust 108 is the world’s largest yoga and lifestyle event in the world and, in returning for it’s third Australian and New Zealand tour, is set to bring an air of inspiration and exploration to Sydney, Auckland, Brisbane and Melbourne. We cannot wait to dive into the concept of Wanderlust even further when it comes to town, especially when the day itself will feature a world first “mindful triathlon” as one of its major events. What this will basically involve is a 5km walk/run, a large-scale outdoor yoga class, and a guided meditation led by the world’s top teachers. To find out more we had a chat with festival director Jonnie Halstead ahead of the Aussie tour about the festival’s unique air of inspiration.

What does Wanderlust mean to you?

The word itself means the desire to travel, to seek out new places and experiences, and I think that is what our festival experience is all about. We are becoming a great voice to a growing audience, or community of people, not just around Australia but also globally that want to be inspired by that experience, even at home on a day-to-day basis. We are becoming more of a content and message driven platform so you can go to or go to where you can learn about those things on a daily basis.

What do you think is so appealing about this concept to people?

Well it’s aspirational. It’s about being our best selves, and everyone wants to do that. I also think that we are tailored for the modern, urban dweller and people living this busy urban life who possibly feel like the weight of the world is getting too heavy to bear, so we are giving them the opportunity to connect with a like-minded community, connect with nature and hopefully by doing so, reconnect with themselves.

How does this event aim to further enrich people’s lives?

Basically, we are giving people experiences that we like to refer to as transformational, so even if you come with a bit of scepticism, and a lot of people say “Am I going to be a good enough yogi?”,  I often say that it’s really irrelevant because it’s about yourself, not the person next to you. It’s about having a transformational experience both for yourself and the community, and being a part of them in these awe inspiring locations is quite an entertaining experience. They almost open up and start adding new ingredients to their kit which they can use moving forward.

There are three key concepts to the 108 series – run, yoga, meditation. How do these interconnect and create a more wholesome experience?

Primarily, these are an example of three things we should all bring into our daily lives as best we can. When I am feeling the most stressed I know what I need to do is get up a bit earlier and go for a run, do a bit of flow and then meditate; all hopefully before my kids get up and the day gets busy. We are trying to have have an experience of doing that on a much larger scale for a day so you walk away with some skills and some inspiration. We have also described it as the world’s only mindful triathlon. We say you can do these things but we play on the words ‘triathlon’ even though it’s non competitive and about participating rather than competing. I think that’s important because it’s as much about play, fun and enjoyment as it is with the achievement of completing the three activities.

What can we expect on the day? What can we do?

Attendees can expect an inspiring day with a like-minded community. The main event is the triathlon with a 5km run, yoga and meditation. They can also schedule an additional activity such as Acro Yoga, Barre Body Yoga, Hooping, Essential Oil workshop or music workshop. So it’s a great day to try something new and add some new practices to your tool kit. We also have our Mindful Market with tasty organic treats, apparel or jewellery to browse amongst.

What would you say to those who feel slightly nervous to come to this festival because they may not feel “yogi enough”?

It’s pretty hard these days. It’s hard to ignore the awesome handstands on Instagram, who looks best in the latest Adidas activewear, or the fashion of yoga, and I am conscious of that. I am not the world’s greatest yogi, and I came to yoga through the inspiration of my wife; I wanted to be a better person in myself, as a husband, a father and businessman. So, first thing I would say is you are not alone and everyone feels some form of challenge, and if the primary challenge is just turning up, then you can tick that box pretty easily and take the day as it comes. The other thing I would say is that it’s quite easy when you are in a crowd of 2-3-4,000 people because no one is watching and everyone is playing. Just be a part of that collective experience and feed off that energy.

This is already an international festival but where do you see the Wanderlust Festival growing to?

To be honest, we are now in year three and we are pretty much everywhere we want to be. We haven’t yet ventured into South Australia so Adelaide is definitely on the agenda. We are looking forward to returning to Perth and we would like to do more in Queensland, a great state; the weather is amazing and that sun-surf culture really fits with Wanderlust. We would also like to get down to Wellington in New Zealand which is my home town, so there are a few cities we would like to add to the 108 circuit. The 108 event is the opportunity to dip your toe into the Wanderlust waters and what we call our gateway experience. Hopefully attendees leave feeling inspired to come and join us at the Wanderlust Sunshine Coast Festival or Great Lake Taupo in New Zealand, which is a four-day immersive experience. That’s really what our mission is; to grow the mindful community and get them to experience new things.

Wanderlust 108

Sat April 8 – Sydney, NSW, Australia @ The Domain
Sat April 29 – Auckland, New Zealand @ Western Springs Lakeside Park
Sat May 13 – Melbourne, VIC, Australia @ Catani Gardens
Sat May 27 – Brisbane, QLD, Australia @ Roma Street Parkland

For more information and tickets head to the official website HERE.

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