In 2018, the Global Wellness Institute estimated the value of the worldwide wellness industry at $4.2 trillion. That works out to roughly three times the value of the global pharmaceutical market. That number is higher than the gross domestic product of Germany.

    “It’s a staggering statistic,” said Andria Friesen, board president of the Sun Valley Wellness Festival and Conference. “Most wellness events now are for-profit. The Sun Valley Wellness Festival and Conference is the longest-running wellness festival in the world and rare in holding a 501(c)(3) status.”

    Since 1997, Sun Valley has hosted this nonprofit festival, bringing together medical professionals, alternative practitioners, theorists, scientists, yogis, shamans, nutritionists, astrologers and more to promote both physical and metaphysical well-being in the Wood River area and beyond.

    Though some would draw a hard and fast line between the scientific and the spiritual, the festival does not view those concepts as mutually exclusive, but rather as intrinsically interdependent.

    After all, Hippocrates—the “father of medicine” himself—once opined that “a physician without a knowledge of astrology has no right to call himself a physician.”

    The festival aims to destigmatize that spiritual aspect, and draws upon a wealth of clinical studies to do so.

    “People are still saying ‘Wellness Festival? I wouldn’t go to that woo-woo thing,’” Friesen said, “but as science advances, the gap is narrowing between spiritual beliefs and scientific proofs.”

    Keynote lectures, experiential workshops and guided exercises seek to demonstrate to those in attendance that true wellness requires a balance among the festival’s four identified pillars: body, mind, spirit and environment.

    Each of the speakers on the docket for the 2019 Wellness Festival and Conference touches upon at least one of those four pillars, and some lecturers demonstrate how they all come together to form a firm structure of personal wellness.

    “This year, we are excited to feature experts on leading edge wellness topics,” Friesen said, “and have put forth significant effort to assemble a diverse yet integrated conference program that will be of interest to anyone seeking to prioritize their wellness.”

    As for the environment pillar, Friesen sees no place in the world more fit to host the festival than Sun Valley.

    “That mountain, that area, that air—that place puts people in a more open mindset,” she said. “People come from all over the country to attend this, and once they’ve had a taste of it—to be in this pristine area and be exposed to this caliber of speakers—they come back.”

    With plenty of speakers, outdoor yoga and exercise sessions, live music, film screenings and more, this year’s festival promises to be, as the board president put it, “an integrated, unique, important experience.”

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