OTB’s Ultimate Tomorrowland Guide
Tomorrowland: the absolute mecca of all electronic music festivals. Once a year (and now, twice a year with an addition of a 2nd weekend), the tiny town of Boom, Belgium brings in over 100,000 EDM fans from around the globe, turning Boom’s local recreation area into an electronic dreamland, filled with over 10 stages, incredible production design and every electronic artist you can think of. From Armin Van Buuren to Zedd, from hardstyle to trance to dubstep: there is absolutely something for everyone.
This year’s Tomorrowland is extra special, as this marks its 10th anniversary. The festival never expanded, even with the high demand that grew each year, until now. Tomorrowland’s first weekend will take place on July 18-20, and the 2nd weekend on July 25-27. Per usual, tickets sold in a mere number of minutes, with what is rumored to be over two million people on the wait list.
So, say you’re one of the lucky ones who was able to get a ticket; you’re probably already getting your packing list ready and you’ve taken a look at that daunting lineup. Will you see Tommy Trash or Kaskade? Diplo or Deorro? Green Velvet or Fedde Le Grand? Even though festival organizers ID&T have optimized the schedule so that sets are staggered quite well, there are still a number of conflicts that you’ll have to work through. Luckily for us, Tomorrowland has its own app that provides you with exact timetables for each day, as well as maps, information on every artist and lists of amenities for those camping in Dreamville. It’s 2014 everyone, if you’re not downloading festival apps, you’re living in the past. This, as well as a paper map that you can grab at any information booth (which I recommend you grab multiple copies at the start of your weekend), will save your life.
Being a duel citizen (yay, Switzerland!) and having attended festivals in both Europe and the US, there are a lot of inconsistencies in how Generation Y dresses for raves around the world. Heads up to you ladies, this most definitely is NOT EDC. We recommend you leave your furries, pasties and Little Black Diamond bottoms at home in favor or more comfortable garb, like a nice pair of denim shorts and a comfy tank top. You won’t see 20-somethings with kandi lined up to their armpits, and the majority of the rave bras and flower crowns are brought in from North American Tomorrowland attendees. Now, of course, take this with a grain of salt, as I think you should wear whatever makes you happy. Just know that the rave scene in Europe will be quite different from what you’re used to. Dare I say it…it’s much less about fashion and more just about the music.
On to the essentials: Sneakers. It’s not known for raining in Boom during Tomorrowland, (they actually use hail cannons to keep bad weather away, I swear!) but one must always be prepared for the possibility. (Word of advice: flip flops don’t do well in mud.) Bring a backpack; days are going to be LONG. There might be a need for a sweatshirt as night falls. My motto? Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Do keep in mind that food and drink of any kind from outside the festival is not allowed in the grounds, and most Tomorrowland veterans recommend that you purchase a BoozeBag ahead of time. It will save you the need to take out cash, as well as waiting in longer lines for food and alcohol. Which, by the way, let me add that all the food is AMAZING. You’ll have the options for Tapas, craft cocktails, anything you can imagine. We recommend the same for a locker if you don’t want to drag your backpack around with you. Also, sunscreen. I feel like it’s almost unnecessary to tell you ravers not to forget it at this point, but some people will.
If you have a Dreamville pass along with your ticket, are you ready for camping in Boom? The weather is usually nice, but can sometimes be unpredictable. Don’t forget a sleeping bag, and we recommend bringing your own tent if possible. Not into camping? There are a few hostels in Boom (but let’s be real, if you haven’t booked yet, there’s a slim chance they aren’t all booked up by now), or you can take the train in from Brussels, a city which boasts some of the best nightlife (and beer!) in Europe.
While most non-Belgian Tomorrowland attendees privately book their travel on the airline of their choice, some have purchased a “Global Journey Package” which includes all of their transporation to and from the festival including accommodations and festival tickets. The luckiest of them all land a flight on Brussels Airlines’ Tomorrowland planes, which are only filled with Tomorrowland attendees and a live DJ, so you can get the party started even before you arrive in Boom.
Although the festival ends Sunday night, I encourage you to give yourself at least 24 hours travel time to get to your departure airport when you head home. There will be a lot of people trying to leave Boom at the same time, so you’ll need some time to spare. Doesn’t sleeping in the day after a festival sound better anyway?
What To Expect
Large Crowds, and Even Larger Stages
For those of you who have sat in front of your TV or laptops and watched the numerous Live Streams that occur at Tomorrowland, you can see that there are a TON of people. Being in a crowd this size is almost unfathomable, especially if you’ve never been to other global massives like EDC or Ultra. Even if you have, these crowds are even bigger. It’s nice to have almost 15 stages as it disperses the crowd a little bit, but all eyes will be on the main stage. If you’re going in a group, get a totem. THEY ARE ESSENTIAL. Didn’t end up packing a totem? Even if it’s you and just one other friend, pick a meeting spot and stick to it. Pick a place where there won’t be too many people around; something tall, near a sponsor booth or away from the stages.
As for cell service, if you are even lucky enough to have a plan that allows international usage without fees (thank you T-Mobile!), service will likely be awful. That’s just the way it is, when you’ve got thousands upon thousands of mobile phones in the same place, all searching for signals on the same tower. Walkie Talkies will save your life, especially if you can’t use your phone. There is a rumor of free internet in Dreamville, but nothing like that in the stage areas.
But, these stages. Oh man. Whether it was the main stage (complete with running waterfall and a VOLCANO), or the epic monster death-caterpillar that was the Q Dance stage last year, you are sure to be blown away at the time, resources (and money) that ID&T puts into each of its stages. Also, lasers and fireworks. So. Many. Lasers. and. Fireworks. If you went to EDC this year, you know how incredible Insomniac’s cathedral-style stage was, but I guarantee Tomorrowland’s will blow those out of the water. Save some battery on your iPhone for epic pictures!
Big Room House
Ahh, yes…big, loud festival bangers. We thought that electronic music fans in the US all loved big room house, but Europeans ADORE it. DJ duo Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike may be Greek by name, but were born and raised in Belgium, earning them the title of Tomorrowland’s most popular artists and unofficial festival ambassadors. The two brothers have been behind Tomorrowland’s anthem track for the past few years, and they are the only artists to play two days each weekend. The two are known for their massive progressive house tracks featuring big build ups and even better drops.
Big room house definitely isn’t my favorite EDM genre (in fact, it’s one of my least favorite), but I will admit there is nothing like being in a huge crowd of people and jumping at the same time to the 130 BPMs filled with hard kicks and tons of reverb. Big room house not your thing? You have plenty of choices outside of the main stage, whether it be hardstyle at Q Dance, trap at the Mad Decent stage, or groovy techno beats at Carl Cox & Friends.
Listening to Artists You’ve Never Heard of…That You’ll Love
With over hundreds of electronic music artists jam packed into one weekend, there’s a ton of DJs that you’ve never seen. I know, it can be tempting to go see all of the DJs that you know and love, and continue to see even though you’ve watched over 5 of their live sets before. I encourage you to take some serious time to look at the lineup, and to make a “must-see” list, but then also make a “new artists” list. Although the US gets a ton of electronic artists flying in from all over the world to play gigs, the fact of the matter is that a lot of other DJs haven’t quite gotten to the A-List level of fame yet. It’s easy for Laidback Luke to jet off wherever he likes, because he gets paid the main stage salary. What I’ll be doing? Listening to a lot of SoundCloud tracks before I leave, and meeting some Europeans once I get to Boom. European electronic music fans are huge vaults of knowledge (and most have great taste). Shell out a few hours to tag along with them and to take you wherever they’d like to go. I guarantee you’ll listen to some artists that could become your new favorites!
Check out some Psytrance with Vibe Tribe
Or maybe you’ll be feeling some Hardstyle by Coone
Maybe you’ll end your night with some minimal Techno by Joran van Pol…the possibilities are endless.
Meeting New People
France, Australia, South Africa, India, Canada, Spain…the list goes on and on. At last year’s Tomorrowland, ID&T recorded attendees from 214 different countries. This is THE top festival to meet people from all over the world. Countless Tomorrowland veterans have also said that this is the nicest festival in the world, where it’s rare that you will encounter someone who isn’t warm or friendly. However, we all know how it goes when you meet new people in the whirlwind that is a festival; you meet, you dance, you have fun and then you often part ways, with slim chance that you’ll ever see them again. This year, Tomorrowland is completely revolutionizing the festival experience by letting each attendee sync their Facebook with their Tomorrowland bracelet.
On the bracelet are two things: the iconic Tomorrowland logo, as well as a small heart button. Say you’re at Alesso’s set, belting out his rework of OneRepublic’s “Lose My Mind” and you catch the eye of a cute girl from The Netherlands next to you, singing just as loud and passionate as you. You spend the entire day with her, but she’s camping in Dreamville and you’re taking the train back to Brussels for the night. Before you say your goodbyes, you put your right wrists next to each other and both press the heart button; this will automatically connect the two of you on Facebook, where a friend request will be waiting when you log in. I don’t know about you guys, but this is an incredible idea. So go ahead, make some new friends, some that may even last a lifetime.
An Experience Unlike Any Other
Hopefully by now I’ve gotten you excited for your weekend ahead if you’re attending Tomorrowland, or at least sold you on trying to attend the festival next year if you’ve never been. Tomorrowland is something special. It’s a mystical world created for two weekends out of the year, devoted to dance music and the “evolution of conciousness.” Disney lied when they said they had the happiest place on Earth; Tomorrowland takes the top spot for sure. Want to see the craziness that will ensue next week? Take some time out to sit and watch the 2013 Aftermovie to see what Tomorrowland is all about.
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