When we organised the first edition of the Festival of Creativity in June, 2015, there was inevitably some criticism that we were trying to make a commercial Rainbow Gathering. After all, we ate in a circle twice a day, there was no electricity or alcohol, we made acoustic music and ran workshops – hey, we even did a few collective Oms!
Luckily the Rainbow isn’t a brand or a company and it didn’t sue me.
We also consulted with my lawyers on the astral plane and discovered there’s no copyright on camp fires, singing together or having a good time…
But for sure the Rainbow Gatherings inspired the festival in the Czech Republic and the retreats in Morocco that we organise and I see that as a good thing. We’re always talking about how we can bring the qualities of the Rainbow into the rest of the world and these festivals and retreats are one of the ways I try to do that. It’s so great to see people who might never come to something as anarchic and chaotic as a Rainbow as they share their feelings in a talking circle, or run a creative workshop for the first time, or dissolve in a big cuddle puddle around the main fire while we sing bhajans.
The Festival of Creativity is also inspired by Confest in Australia though. Whereas in a Rainbow Gathering you might be able to squeeze in 2 workshops a day between food circles, washing by the river, losing your plate, finding it again, braving the shit pit, taking a chai, then hurrying off to bed to make sure you don’t wake up to late for lunch, in our festival you can participate in up to 4 different workshops each day from a choice of 11 or 12.
Why is there so much more time to learn, create and have fun?
Because we cook all the food and it’s ready on time. There’s enough and it tastes great The firewood is already cut and stacked and ready to make a roaring blaze. The toilets are well-constructed shit pits and are already dug. In short, all the work is already taken care of and so everyone is free to have a good time.
Some people came to help in the kitchen anyway and the festival is all about participation – there’s a discount for anyone who runs a workshop leads a discussion and last year people ran sessions on shiatsu, henna tattoos, ballroom dance, laughter yoga, contact improv and fire making, to name just a few.
Of course the festival isn’t free.- it costs 125 euros of 99 if you run a workshop. That also includes all the food, tea and coffee from Tuesday evening to Monday morning. You can also come by a couple of days before to help set up…
Another difference between the Rainbow and the festival of Creativity was that no one yelled at anyone else or criticized them for not being a good enough hippie. I’ve seen so many people leave the Rainbow Gatherings and never come back because someone screamed at them for using a camera or taking toilet paper to the shit pit or just wearing make up. And it’s a real shame because those people often have unique qualities and talents to give and they’re shamed, silenced and chased out by hippie fanatics who are often far more judgemental than anyone back in ‘Babylon’.
In contrast, when we arrived at the end of the week and I invited everyone at the final lunch to share a few words about their experience, we soon had 60 people in tears of joy. Some had been to Rainbows before, others would never dream of going. But here they were, their hearts open, expressing their happiness, and the resulting hug-a-thon took more than an hour.
That’s why we’ll be running the Festival of Creativity again this June 21-27, 2016.