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The Big Retreat Wales weekend of wellness is back

The ‘feel good’ festival returns to historic Pembrokeshire site this Whitsun with uplifting wellbeing and fitness line-up.

A wellbeing festival set in the stunning Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is to return following the success of its launch last year.

Feel-good festival The Big Retreat Wales will again take place over the Whitsun bank holiday weekend on an historic site overlooking the Cleddau Estuary. Promising to rejuvenate and uplift, the festival has an impressive line-up of more than 200 events, including wellbeing classes and workshops, cookery demos, live music and talks from renowned speakers and authors.

Described by the founders as having ‘everything that makes you feel good’, the three-day escape brings people together in the fresh air, inspiring them to find their happy and focus on wellbeing. From the very spot where the boundaries of the national park were drawn up, festival-goers can reconnect with nature and each other, regain balance through pilates and meditation, get a sweat on with new fitness and dance crazes and learn new crafts.

The Big Retreat Wales dome at night Photo by Vic Phillips

This year’s event includes a yoga tent with more than 20 hours of classes centred around different disciplines, including acroyoga, gentle hatha yoga, relaxing yin yoga and flowing ashtanga yoga. In the Talk Tent, authors and speakersincluding Danielle Merchant, Clare Dimond, Penny Blake and Mairi Taylor will share their passion and drive, discussing wellbeing subjects such as achieving a greater understanding of self and how to sleep and eat well, while yoga teacher Kerry Morgan will debate the science of kindness and happiness.

Amber Rich, who founded The Big Retreat Wales with business partner Diana Hinde, said: “Last year’s festival was a great success and this year’s event promises to be even better. There’s a stronger focus on fitness for both women and men, as well as plenty of other wellness classes, activities and entertainment.

“This year, we’ve been able to double the festival in size without losing its welcoming and cosy appeal, enabling more people to experience our weekend of relaxation and rejuvenation in this beautiful part of Wales. I love seeing the look on people’s faces when they first walk out of the trees onto the terrace and see the stunning views over the Cleddau.

“The site is in the grounds of the old Lawrenny Castle, which was sadly demolished years ago but it remains a magical setting. My father-in-law, David Lort-Phillips, lived in the castle as a child and remembers a meeting in the grounds of a group of men, including the Portmeirion architect Clough Williams-Ellis, deciding on the creation of the national park! So it’s truly a wonderful place to camp, enjoy great music and reconnect in the intimate, peaceful atmosphere that makes The Big Retreat Wales so special.”

For those wishing to slow down for the weekend, there will be workshops in spoon carving, den building, nature weaving, jewellery making, monoprinting and ‘Around the World in 80 Gins’, exploring one of the nation’s favourite tipples! And, of course, there will also be the chance to simply chill out in a hilltop hammock with a good book.

More energetic festival-goers can take part in fitness sessions on the terrace including the new Latin-based and highly addictive craze Mundo Dance, led by its creator and Cardiff favourite, Yonier Garcia, as well as Pound Rock Workout and hula fitness. Those wishing to venture off-site can join a group 5km run, a 6km walk from Lawrenny to Cresswell Bay and shore walks along the Cleddau with rangers from the national park.

Finding the balance. Photo by Owen Howells

There will be no cries of ‘I’m bored!’ from younger visitors, with under-12s admitted free of charge and enjoying kids’ yoga and fitness classes, bug hunts, bushcraft, foraging, den-making, music and arts and crafts. The Majical Youth Theatre Company is also bringing vintage swing boats and a selection of games to the main Festival Terrace, encouraging the younger generations to put down their gadgets in favour of fun in the great outdoors.

Evening entertainment under the stars includes Rusty Shackle, Climbing Trees’ Matthew Frederick, Mazaratis, Jodie Marie, Cappa Ceilidh Band, Ofelia, The Sun Dogs and more, while foodie fun comes from campside cook-outs, street food stalls and tasting sessions. Demos include The Apprentice’s Alana Spencer and her Ridiculously Rich cakes, Jackie Pallet sharing healthy Indian cooking, The Bug Grub Company turning critters into culinary delights and The Voice’s Ragsy in his new persona as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chef.

The Big Retreat Wales runs from May 25th-28th. Day tickets cost £39, with weekend passes starting from £129 and under-12s admitted free. Admission includes access to all on-site fitness and wellbeing sessions, workshops, talks and live performances, whilst a small additional cost will be charged for professional therapies, paddle boarding, canoeing and coasteering. For more details visit: https://www.thebigretreatwales.co.uk/.