Tomorrowland is the definition of a melting pot, in one of the most amazing ways. Standing in a field seeing flags from almost every country, everyone dancing in unison and having the absolute time of their life. Everyone is happy to see you, because everyone is happy at tomorrowland. They need no worries and all they have to do is smile.
There was this moment at the main stage, where they were showing clips from the UNITE events happening around the world. UNITE events stream tomorrowland live on big screens and with loud speakers and special effects. It gives you that festival crowd vibe even if you can’t make the festival. The main stage was showing clips of people dancing from all over the world and celebrating us and the power of music. Every continent had at least one event. It reminds us that in the end, we as humans, we are all one. We are connected even if we have different culture and speak different languages.
How did I get tickets?
Asked people at the main gate if they had extras. I went to Boom with my Couchsurfing host. He drove us since his brother was on holiday and left the car. We parked and walked (the far walk) to the main area, then started asking people if they had extra tickets.
The first guy we talked to tried to sell us a Saturday and Sunday pass for 500 euro each…. Not interested. We asked around some more and the 2nd group who said they did, but we would have to wait for their co-workers to get there with the tickets. We ended up paying 100 euro each, which was the face value. They easily exchanged for the wristbands and we were on our way!
What are the festival structures like?
Like a small town! Tomorrowland builds a mini city inside the park. There’s a post office that I sent a couple of postcards from. They have designated photo op areas, with characters of the village standing and dancing around, mostly fairies and magician-like men.
A lot of the stages are made to be like city structures, such as an opera house or theater or brew house. There is a beach/sandy area, a garden area (VIP only though), and even world class fancy restaurants.
What are the stages like?
There are 16 stages, big and small. Obviously the main stage is the biggest and works well because there is a giant hill facing it, so a lot of people can see it with a good view. The main stage this year was a giant tree, packed with a little river, and lots of treehouse elements. Between the artists, a story is told and performers walk about the stage area performing along with the story.
Everyday most stages have a certain theme and a specific brand or label presenting all the acts. For instance, Q-dance had their own stage full of hardstyle music.
Made to look like… An Opera House. It even has a balcony area. Behind it you can ride the Ferris Wheel, for free, sponsored by Brussels Airlines.
Saturday: Lost Frequencies & Friends, featuring Felix Jaehn, Robin Shulz, and of course, Lost Frequencies
A lot like a Circus tent, mirrors all around the poles keeping the tents up. Saturday: Generation Smash, featuring artists such as Bassjackers, Julian Jordan, and Firebeatz.
A dragon that smokes and moves around…. at night his back lights up with fire. Guess he’s keeping the roses safe….
Saturday: Bonzai featuring Bountyhunter, Franky Kloeck, Yves Deruyter
Not sure why this one is called “The Arch” when it should be called “The Snake Pit” or something cool like that.
Saturday: Q-Dance. Hardstyle sounds, I was lucky enough to catch some of the Wildstylez & Noisecontrollers set and they were killing it.
Built to be “The theatre” of the city, Radio Modern took it over and had some fun interactive shows there. Guys with stilts, girls performing on stage, a bongo player drumming along to the DJ set… a lot of these smaller stages can be forgotten, but are still a blast to be a part of.
Probably the smallest stage, it’s in a brick tunnel and it gets ROWDY. Guys with too much testosterone were the reason I had to leave, oh well.
Saturday: Woody Weekend
A giant tent, with little sunlight, but lots of special effects made this place perfect for non-stop psytrance. Red Bull + fast tempo helped me bump and groove and I felt like I was in a video game flying through space.
Saturday: Cafe D’Anvers
We went to this stage right after the other Cafe D’Anvers stage, without realizing it, so although the music was still good, we wanted something new. Though, I loved getting to dig my feet in the sand. There’s a hammock hang out spot nearby, for those who need somewhere to pass out.
The library stage, very well built. The dance area was covered with a big tent, so you can still hide from the sunlight with the books.
Saturday: Dynamic (by Cafe D’Anvers)
Why is it called The Wind Stage? Because there are pinwheels and windmills everywhere, with images of hot air balloons and flying ships.
Axtone was in charge of this stage for the day and it was LIT. Meg & Nerek were on when we were visiting and were going so hard. This stage had the biggest VIP area, both inside and outside of the stage. It also had lots of LASERS and lights that definitely packed a punch.
Saturday: Axtone (owned by Axwell).
This stage is a giant treehouse, where performers can roam around between the artists to tell a story.
So many people can fit here, due to the huge hill that expands the view. This is the best place to see the expanse of cultures and flags.
Not sure what “Star Warz” is, but this stage also had some hard beats. It’s name suits it well because it was decorated to look like a forest, go figure.
Saturday: Star Warz
Good luck guessing who sponsored this stage….. The coolest thing about this stage was it was on the lake, like a floating dock lake stage. Tomorrowland is really good about using their space.
Artists for saturday included: Jacob Plant, John Christian and Pat Farrell
The only stage we didn’t manage to actually go in, but another lake stage, with two stories and who knows what kind of shenanigans.
Franky Rizardo, the dutch DJ I saw at the other festival, headlined this stage. Must have been pretty dope.
This stage was out hidden near the opera house and you have to walk through a corridor to access this glow-in-the-dark stage.
This area, hosted by Jupiler Beer (the official beer of tomorrowland), created an intimate dance floor between the DJ and music lovers.
It featured DJ’s like Julian Jordan or Firebeatz who were separated only by an open DJ booth. During the Firebeatz show, one of them was even snapchatting (or maybe just a video) the crazy people dancing in the crowd.
Who did I meet?
Lots of Californians. I saw a lot of American flags and about half the people I asked said they were from Cali. Typical.
When we first walked in, this guy with a Mexican flag started talking to us and he turned out to be from Nebraska (yes of all places). He hung out with us for the rest of the day, and it was great!
I met 2 people from Texas, who both happen to live in Chicago. Coincidence???? It’s fate. The first guy had a chicago flag shirt and said he was born and raised in Houston. The 2nd guy actually had a University of Texas flag and I ran over to him and was AHHHHH HI!! He was a little shocked at first, but then I told him that UT was my school. Turns out he was also a marketing major from McCombs who graduated a while back and lives in Chicago now.
Who did I see?
A little bit of everything. Our first goal was to at least visit all the stages, so we got a taste of about everything. We hung out at the main stage quite a bit, and stayed for the finally.
All the way through we saw Yves V Afrojack, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Axwell ^ Ingrosso. We saw a little bit of The Chainsmokers, Nicky Romero, and Regi. Honorable mentions that were really good: M.E.G. & N.E.R.A.K, Avalon (psytrance), Wildstylez & Noisecontrollers, and Firebeatz.
Was it worth it?
YES. Worth every penny, and probably even more. I spent 13 hours at the festival, which is less than 10 euro an hour. For the amount of production and beauty and work they put into it, I feel like I’m the one who got the best deal. The wristbands are removable and look like a regular leather bracelet, best souvenir I could get.
How do You survive 13 hours of festival?
Lots of Red Bull.
Although you may end up like me and procrastinate going to sleep for 3 hours after you get back.
This festival reminded me of EDC in a lot of ways, mostly in the way art and stage design is so heavily incorporated. Less flashy though and way more spaced out.
For the first couple of hours I thought I was in a dream, everything was so extravagant. If you’re a festival junkie, this festival is a must.
I wish I had gotten to bring a flag. This is a must, if helps fuel the international culture. If you’re American I would suggest wearing or bringing something that defines both American and your state. People will constantly ask where in the states you are from. Wearing your state flag and an American bandana or shirt is a good combo. If you have a famous city flag, that would work too.