Bansko Nomad Fest – A Digital Nomad Experience
Wow, what an incredible week it was in Bansko, Bulgaria! The last week in June was time for the most significant digital nomad event ever I attended so far – Bansko Nomad Fest! It’s also one of the biggest events in the world, maybe even THE biggest!
“8 Days, 60 Speakers, 200 events, 700 people from all over the world, one epic fest!” (Source: Bansko Nomad Fest 2023 Video) And I was part of it!
Resources & Recommendations
- Bansko Nomad Fest – Get your ticket for the next event already!
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- Viator – A Tripadvisor Company*– Find exclusive and unique sightseeing tours worldwide!
- Best Free Travel Apps – Find valuable apps for your travels!
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Why Bansko Nomad Fest
I’ve been dreaming about living and working location independently for quite a while now. So it was a perfect opportunity for me to connect with that dream and meet all kinds of like-minded people from so many parts of the world and get inspired by all their stories, lifestyles, businesses, and of course, their dreams!
It was a great chance to meet people who share a similar idea of living! Something that I usually don’t have at home, where many people still live the old-fashioned way of being employed, spending most days in the office, and exchanging their time for money.
My dream life looks different! I want to decide how and where I spend my time. And to see, meet, and speak to all those people from all over the world and learn how they spend their time was so refreshing, inspiring, and motivating for me to continue following my dream!
Bansko is a town and ski resort in southwestern Bulgaria at the foot of the Pirin Mountains. It’s most famous for being a winter destination for skiing and other winter sports lovers. But let me tell you, in Summer, Bansko is beautiful, too. Especially just before the Summer tourists arrive (at least for me because I like it when it’s a bit quieter than packed) and, of course, when Digital Nomads from all over the world take over the town for Bansko Nomad Fest week.
Bansko is indeed a charming town with a rich history and cultural heritage. In the old city, you can find traditional Bulgarian architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, and various restaurants, cafes, and shops. You can explore historical sites, such as the Holy Trinity Church and the Velyanov House Museum, which gives you insights into local customs and traditions.
Also, its stunning natural landscapes, outdoor recreational opportunities, and surrounding Pirin National Park await you with all kinds of outdoor activities and opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and nature exploration. Unfortunately, I haven’t had many opportunities to explore the nature around the town, but I have a feeling that it won’t be the last time I’ll visit. Plans are already up for visiting again next year!
During the winter months, Bansko is usually pretty busy with visitors who come to enjoy its ski slopes and facilities. The ski resort offers a variety of trails suitable for beginners, intermediate, and advanced skiers. It has modern lift systems, ski schools, rental shops, numerous accommodations, and whatever else that skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts are looking for and wishing for.
And, of course, it’s the home of Coworking Bansko. That is mainly responsible for building one of Europe’s most popular digital nomad hubs. Also, the founder of Coworking Bansko, Matthias Zeitler, is the genius behind Bansko Nomad Fest and is responsible for building a unique community in this area!
Bansko Nomad Fest 2023
As I mentioned in the beginning, it was an incredible week. With over 700 attendees, it has been the most extensive version of that digital nomad conference since starting in 2020 for the first time.
When I heard about the event back then, I wanted to be part of it and immediately applied as a volunteer! I wanted to help and support it! But unfortunately, well, we all know what happened that year! The pandemic crossed not only my plans but also affected all others, including plans for Bankso Nomad Fest.
But they managed to make it happen anyway. Besides obstacles like the pandemic, about 100 attendees made it to Bansko that year, with a growing audience ever since.
So, quite a success story, I would say. And, most important, this year, I made it to Bansko, too! Let me tell you this, every single minute of waiting was well worth it!
So, the last week of June is usually when hundreds of digital nomads, freelancers, and soon-to-be location independent workers take over the small town of Bansko. They come together to connect, exchange ideas, get inspired and be the inspiration for others, but all with the same dream in mind, to decide by themselves how and where to live and work!
But what was it like?
I was pretty excited already a few weeks beforehand. Since I applied as a volunteer, I had my first Zoom calls with the organization. I learned how I could contribute. I booked my flights and accommodation to be in Bansko eventually and got in touch with the first people. And yes, I was not only an attendee but could have some insights behind the scenes, as well as enjoying the event to the fullest.
When you meet me for the first time, I’m pretty introverted and mostly shy. Therefore, I was a bit scared about how I would feel. Comfortable or not? Would I get in touch with the other attendees, or would I feel excluded or like I wouldn’t belong there? Again, yes, I often have these thoughts and fears, and I’m still seeking something I can call my people or tribe. But talking about all my fears and doubts is enough for another blog post…
All those doubts and fears were unnecessary this week at Bansko Nomad Fest! Those people from many parts of the world didn’t feel like strangers at all. Whenever I made a step forward or turned around, there was someone I immediately connected with and could talk about pretty much everything.
Especially the first two nights at the pre-party and opening night were made for mingling and getting to know each other. I had the feeling of being part of something bigger, and I had different experiences at other conferences like that. Therefore I was pretty happy, and I absolutely loved it! For the entire week, as soon as I went into town and saw someone with a pink shirt, or wristband, I immediately felt connected and less alone!
The Keynotes, And Panels
With those first two nights in mind, I looked forward to the week ahead. The mornings until around noon were full of keynotes. Inspiring speeches, informative ones, talks and panels that give you food for thinking, and motivational examples that dreams can come true.
All kinds of topics like “What does home mean for you?”, “Is having a podcast for you?” or panels about the future of remote working, digital nomad visas in different countries, or tax strategies for location-independent workers and entrepreneurs.
All that took place in two different stages. Sometimes even impossible to decide which is more interesting to me. But no worries, all panels, and keynotes were recorded, so there was a chance to listen to everything.
The best thing about Bansko Nomad Fest is that it’s not just sitting in the audience and listening all day to the speakers. The afternoons were packed with possibilities to connect with the other attendees. A sense of building a community drives the conference.
In the first half of the day, you can listen to all the on-stage keynotes. In the afternoon, you can unwind, connect, and get in touch with others while participating in one of the many activities the entire week. A city tour, rafting, jeep tours into nature, BBQs, bonfires, epic pool parties, Karaoke, and many more.
There is something for everyone! All that together creates a unique experience.
Also, in the afternoon, loads of unconference took place—an opportunity to listen and engage with the other attendees and speakers. One of the first activities on Monday was pitching your idea of an unconference on stage. More than a hundred people pitched their ideas within thirty seconds, and afterward, you could subscribe to what was most exciting and you wanted to attend.
From creating your perfect business pitch to improving your mic work over a photograph class and Kundalini awakening. No matter if you were business-oriented or wanted to meet your spirit animal. I mean, out of a hundred pitched ideas, chances are pretty high that you will find something for you.
Some of my highlights during that week were: the perfect pitch unconference, how to improve your photography with your phone, and, yes, I connected with my spirit animal.
Partners And Sponsors
Of course, no Fest without a couple of sponsors and other contributors. Sure, such an event is nothing without the people and the attendees, but having a couple of partners helps a lot, too. To name a few, there were SafetyWing, Native Teams, WiFi Tribe, Coliving Semkovo, and many more. All of them had some information stands or sessions during the week. You could talk to them, get information about what they do and have to offer. They also had some fun games, and you could win great prizes. But most important, you can exchange experiences and benefit from their unique wisdom and view of the location-independent lifestyle.
People who live their dreams or looking for ways to make them happen. People who reconnect to their desires and found back to what they really want, and people who slowly start to believe that their dreams can come true, too.
That week was fully packed with all kinds of opportunities to meet like-minded people who share a similar vision of how their life should look like. Mostly location independent, with or without a home base, but for sure, deciding by themselves about how, when, and how long they like to travel!
Bansko Nomad Fest – A Unique Experience
That’s my dream, too! And every day, I decide again to make that dream come true! Every day, I try to take one tiny step closer to that dream. Sometimes more, sometimes less! I have to admit I can be pretty lazy sometimes. But although I might take a bit longer one day, I’ll be that location-independent girl and travel the world on my terms! Maybe, next year, I can give you a “success” side note about that dream! Feel free to hold me accountable!
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From my point of view, Bansko Nomad Fest is THE place to be in Summer. I can’t wait to be back next year and meet some of the people again. Not only the town itself but also the way the conference is organized is fantastic! And it’s worth spending every single second there. It’s a tremendous mixture of information, listening, exchanging experiences, connecting, and having fun! And most important, meeting so many inspiring and like-minded people from all over the world!
So, what do you think? Will I meet you in Bansko or nearby next year, too? Feel free to leave me a comment, your opinion, or a way to connect to you!
By the way, tickets for next year’s Bansko Nomad Fest are already available! So what are you waiting for? Will you be there?