“Health” isn’t a word you commonly associate with Victoria’s summer festival season. Crawling out of a sweltering tent at 7am to a campsite full of empty tinnies, nursing a serious case of sunburn doesn’t really scream, “wellbeing”.
But this year there’s a new festival on the block. Panacea Festival is making its way to Benalla next weekend. It is a fresh music festival where rocking-out meets zen-ing-out.
“It’s a three-day celebration of music, yoga and art, with a focus on rhythm and flow,” explains Chloe Foster, the festival’s director and co-creator. “The whole vibe of Panacea is of dancing like no one’s watching, enjoying the fresh air, surrounding yourself with inspiring people and embracing natural ways of healing.”
After her cancer diagnosis in 2011, Foster wanted to combine her experience in music event management with her drive to raise money for cancer research. To bring to life what she calls her “passion project”, Foster enlisted the help of friend and professional yoga instructor, Stefan Camilleri. In 2014 the two entered into what would be an 18-month development period to bring the health-and-wellbeing festival – that’s as focused on yoga as it is on music – to life.
“Most music festivals these days, like Rainbow Serpent and Earthcore, have yoga classes, but it’s not the feature,” says co-director Camilleri. “Panacea is different because people are coming for the yoga – it’s not just the side-show, which is a real point of difference at the moment. The yoga-focus will be similar to that at Wanderlust, but without the price tag.”
Camilleri is an instructor at hip-hop yoga studio Yoga 213, so the idea to pair yoga and music together in a festival format seemed like a perfect integration.
“I see yoga and music as two elements of the same thing: mindful creativity,” he says. “Music, art, yoga, sound, light, movement; they are all creative expressions that intertwine and interconnect, so it seems quite natural to bring them together.”
Over the weekend, 50 local Australian acts will perform on tandem stages, including Tijuana Cartel, The Delta Riggs, Animaux, Dallas Frasca, The Belligerents, Yeo and The Drop Bears. The styles of yoga workshops on offer are vast and varied – as Camilleri says, “You name it, we’ll have it.” There’ll be beginners, acro, partners, meditation, kids, old school, hip-hop, tribal and even French yoga, with instruction by both international and local yogis such as Jonni Pollard, Jesse French, Sara Zavik, Showga and Mark Pheely.
Alongside the music and yoga there will be art installations, discovery spaces, therapy areas, a variety of food and drink offerings and craft and fashion stalls. Look out for Foster’s pick: Eye Am Hair – a copper caravan that acts as a salon where you can get a shave, haircut, hair-wash or blow-dry, and Camilleri’s pick: Can I Kick It: an open-mic space where hip-hop enthusiasts (including those artists featured in the music line-up) can go to practice their rhymes.
Panacea runs from Friday 20 to Sunday 22 November at Riverview in Benalla, Victoria.
Second-release tickets are available until Friday November 13 at $129. Third-release tickets are then on sale at $149. Children aged 11–14 can attend for $49 and children under 10 attend for free. For the full line-up and ticket information, visit panaceafestival.com.au.