Interview: Victor Verstraelen of Mandala

Mandala describes itself as “a holiday and festival in one.” Now in its third year, it takes place in the beautiful Vakantiepark de Bergen Wanroij in the Netherlands, decorated by different “Tribes” and surrounded by forests full of hidden areas to discover. Here, the festival and camping are one and a tent can be placed almost anywhere. I caught up with Madala’s spokesman, Victor Verstraelen, who told me a little bit more about what the festival entails.

Mandala Festival 2017
Photo: Kim Balster

I heard that Mandala all began from a child’s drawing- could you tell me the full story?

That’s correct! Marcel Mingers is the founder of Extrema, a Dutch event promoter. When he was in Spain with his daughter Julia, then four years old, he saw her making a drawing – there was a lake, a forest, even parking places! When he asked her what the drawing was, she replied: “This is a festival named Mandala. Only for nice people, daddy and me.” Marcel decided there and then that the festival should one day become a reality. So in 2016, the real Mandala was born, just like the drawing.

How would you describe the feel of the festival?

Mandala is really laid back. The venue is quite big, so it’s never too crowded. And there really are ‘only nice people’, like Julia imagined. Camping and festival are one, so you can just roll out your tent and enjoy the parties, music, theatre and all forms of creativity. Also, Mandala aims to be as trash free as possible, so it’s really tidy. Everyone treats each other and the environment with lots of respect.

What makes Mandala unique, in your opinion?

The way it is built is very special in The Netherlands. Everything you see, feel, hear and experience is made by “Creators”, ie groups and individuals that make their dreams come true at Mandala. They can be creators of music, theatre, art, wellness, whatever! We (the organisation) try to connect these creators, so they can form areas called Tribes together. One Tribe might consist of a caterer, music collective, stage designer and decorator, for example. Tribes are like very small villages. All the creators sleep around their project. Visitors are welcome to join too. One more thing that makes Mandala special is that kids are also welcome, and we have our ‘Family Tribe’, where it’s a little quieter at night.

How can people become part of these Tribes?

We make announcements on our website and social channel with videos, so people can get a little taste of what to expect during the festival. Every year, we open registrations and anyone with an idea is welcome to register. We see if it fits Mandala and if so, it’s a go! Creators don’t get paid, but we ensure it does not cost them anything either. We’ll provide them with a budget and help wherever we can.

What genres of music can we expect to hear?

World music, pop, bands and electronic music like Psytrance, Techno and House. At the beach, there are singer-songwriters playing, and visitors are allowed to join in with them. We actually just released our live music lineup, which you can view on our Facebook page.

Photo: Jasper-van-den-Ende

Could you describe the location?

Mandala is located in Wanroij, The Netherlands. It takes place at a Holiday Park with a beautiful lake, deep forests (great hidden parties!), beaches and green fields.

What does the future hold for Mandala?

This June, the third edition of Mandala will take place with a very special project called The Temple For Peace. We’ve got two visitors/Creators from New Zealand called Kiwi and John. Kiwi built the beautiful Temple of Transition at Burning Man 2011 and now he’s here to build the Temple for Peace, in the middle of the lake! We’ve already invested a lot ourselves, but for the last bit we’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign. There’s a beautiful story behind it and you can read it about it here.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Just the link to the video for our crowdfunding campaign, as we can always use a little helping hand 😉


For more interviews with festival organisers, follow my series “Tell me about your festival” on Medium.

Composed by: Milly Day
Feature photo: Nina Crebas

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