After what organiser Chai Deva described as “a devastating experience” last year, the Evolve Festival returned to Nelson, but this time, so did the sunshine.
Last year’s festival was marred by howling 220kmh winds, rain, and having to completely evacuate Founders Heritage Park at a moment’s notice.
However, this was a stark contrast to the sunshine, smiles and relaxing vibes at the Evolve Festival this weekend.
The annual event took over Founders Heritage Park for a weekend-long celebration, combining old customs and new methods aiming to transform the health and well-being of individuals, the community and the earth.
With 80 stalls, 70 workshops, and 20 hours of music, Chai says the three-day festival provided a smorgasbord of “inspiration, information, and celebration” for everyone.
Paru Clarke has been attending since the festival’s inception and ran a few workshops of her own at this year’s festival. She says its one of her favourite events.
“It gets better and better every year, the music, the organisation, and the workshops all are amazing.”
“[The organisers] Chai and Bex really put their heart and soul into it and I believe that its one of the best festivals, beside Womad, and I’ve been to a lot of festivals around the world.”
Local Anna Gully says that she, her daughter, and their friend just keep coming back to the festival.
“I love it, we’ve been four times now and we’ve got our favourite people that we always come and see, it’s really great.”
There just for the day, Anna says the trio were soaking up as much of the festival as possible.
“The highlights have been having our palms read – they’re amazingly accurate which is surprising – getting in touch with your spiritual side, and doing something out of the ordinary that you wouldn’t normally do as a rule.”
After being “absolutely devastated” when last year’s festival was washed out, Anna says her daughter and their friend came down from Wellington especially so they didn’t miss out.
Following last year’s devastation, Chai said this year’s event was a complete contrast.
“It was the most successful festival we have ever had, it was really well attended – especially on the Saturday night,” he says. “Last year was pretty traumatic but the support from the community afterwards was absolutely amazing.
“People really cared about Evolve Festival and they got in behind us and made sure that we were able to carry on.”