The theory that laughter is the best medicine will be put to the test on August 24 in Hillsborough when Sunflowerfest attempts to set a Laughter Yoga Guinness World Record.
Organisers of Northern Ireland’s leading music and arts festival - which runs from August 22 to August 25 at Tubby’s Farm, Hillsborough - say the unique ‘Laughing for Joy’ event has been inspired by a festival goer Linda Quigley and her six-year-old daughter Joy.
Linda says time spent at the festival last year helped her cope with the stress of helping her daughter, who was then recovering from a bone marrow
The youngster is now in remission from blood cancer.
“We had just returned from a bone marrow transplant in Bristol with Joy, when a friend decided I needed some relief time and suggested Sunflowerfest,” said Linda. “I had never heard of the festival before, but was overwhelmed by the friendly atmosphere and feeling of entering a new and peaceful environment”.
She said during the event she received “the biggest spiritual lift which restored my faith in mankind”.
“I was so moved by the whole experience that I left a message on the website to thank the organisers.
Organiser Vanessa Magowan said: “We have been so inspired by Linda and Joy, as well as a number of loyal festival visitors, who have experienced the joy, the
friendship, the healing and tranquillity and the unique professional therapies and workshops in the Lighthouse Bliss area at Sunflowerfest.
“The record was first suggested at the festival in 2012 with Jacky Ingram, the original laughter ambassador for NI, as she called herself, who has sadly since died of cancer.
“The discussion was initiated again in 2013 when Linda Quigley visited the festival following years of intense treatments, hospital visits and uncertain outcomes with her daughter Joy.
“The attempt will see hundreds of festival-goers laugh their cares away as they compete to beat the current record of 250 people laughing their heads off in a yoga phenomenon that has taken the world by storm.
“The aim is to have in excess of 251 festival goers take part in a 30-minute laughter yoga session at 11.30am on Sunday 24th.”
Siobhan Bogues, founder of the Lighthouse Centre and Co-ordinator of the Lighthouse Bliss area at Sunflowerfest said: “Anyone can laugh - real or imitated - and feel the benefits. We will initiate laughter as a body exercise in a group and with eye contact and childlike playfulness; it soon turns into real and contagious laughter resulting in a combination of deep breathing exercises from yoga and laughter exercises, which oxygenates our body and brain, making us feel more healthy and energetic.”
Laughter Yoga is an ancient practice now sweeping the modern world as an exercise routine.