Wellness Is Within Reach


Sun Valley Wellness Festival & Conference will celebrate its 23rd year in operation


Nora McInerny, a grief expert and host of the “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” podcast, will be one of the visiting speakers at the 23rd annual festival, held in Ketchum. Photo credit: Sun Valley Wellness Festival & Conference

Now recognized as a leading festival on the subject of health and wellness, the Sun Valley Wellness Festival & Conference will celebrate its 23rd year, Friday through Monday, June 26-29, at its new location in downtown Ketchum.

“The Argyros Performing Arts Center, the Limelight Hotel and Forest Service Park are in many ways the pulse of our community,” said Andrea Friesen, president of the SVWFC board. “The Argyros will be used for featured and key speakers. The Limelight will accommodate festival speakers, visiting attendees and serve as the headquarters. The Limelight Lounge will feature the SVWFC In-Sight Stage, which [will] offer, free and open to the public, brief lectures and Q&A from our presenters.

“And Forest Service Park and Washington Avenue will be transformed into an Experience Park with vendors lining the perimeter, movement classes in the center, and music throughout.”

The 2020 Wellness Festival will feature content-rich programming with more than 50 presentations, workshops, and movement classes by top wellness experts addressing diverse aspects of body, mind, spirit, and environmental wellness. The SVWFC will also offer film screenings and music.

On Saturday evening, the keynote speaker will be sleep expert Matthew Walker, whose TED talk has garnered more than three million views in less than a year. According to Walker, our ability to learn, to remember things, to function in the world is directly related to sleep. This bodes well for those who get a full eight hours of sleep at night, but is a depressing thought for the rest of us. Fortunately, Walker has suggestions and ideas. He is the author of the bestselling “Why We Sleep,” which synthesizes cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, decades of research, and clinical practice.

Walker is also a professor of neuroscience and psychology, and founder and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He has appeared on the BBC, CBS and NPR, and was featured in a “60 Minutes” special titled “The Science of Sleep.” Walker also helped create the recent National Geographic documentary, “Sleepless in America,” the PBS NOVA special, “Memory Hackers,” and most recently contributed to the BBC Horizon documentary, “Curing Alzheimer’s.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., will speak at the 2020 Sun Valley Wellness Festival & Conference. Photo credit: Sun Valley Wellness Festival & Conference

Other speakers include clean-tech entrepreneur Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who is also an environmental attorney, author and climate activist. He will open the festival with a talk on Friday evening at The Argyros. Former SVWFC keynote speaker Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon whose near-death experience lead him to profound insights, will catch participants up on his groundbreaking work.

Dr. Zach Bush is focused on applying the rigor of science, the strength of humanity and the intelligence of nature to transform the world.

Also presenting will be Dr. Sasha Heinz, a developmental psychologist and behavioral change expert, and Nora McInerny, a grief expert and host of the “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” podcast.

Terry Real, an internationally recognized family therapist, speaker and author, will speak on male depression and healing processes for trauma. His ideas on men’s issues and on couples’ therapy have been celebrated in venues from Good Morning America, The Today Show and 20/20, to Oprah and The New York Times.

On the environmental front, California-based environmental advisor Gay Browne will present during the festival. She is the author of “Living With a Green Heart: How to Keep Your Body, Your Home and the Planet Healthy in a Toxic World” and the founder of Greenopia, a comprehensive guide to green businesses. Browne is also a trustee for fellow speaker Kennedy’s environmental organization, Waterkeeper Alliance, and serves on the advisory board for the safe soil movement, Kiss The Ground.

The entire weekend will showcase not just renowned visiting practitioners and speakers but local gurus including Cathie Caccia, Lauri Bunting and Erica Linson, among others.

Special lodging rates and a 20 percent discount on festival passes (valid with a confirmed lodging reservation) is offered by the Limelight Hotel in Ketchum, the 2020 SVWFC headquarters.

Festival information and pass sales are available at sunvalleywellness.org.