EAT SLEEP RAVE REPEAT! EAT SLEEP RAVE REPEAT!
The echo of the crowd chanting this line still plays in my head and thumps my heart reminding me of the most memorable three days of my life. The welcome slogan at the festival is a something I would want to live by forever -Yesterday is History, Today is a Gift and Tomorrow is a Mystery! This wonderland is a living proof that one must enjoy today and live it up as this moment is inevitable.
For some, Tomorrowland is all about the disco demons and crowded areas but for me it was just something else, a mystical land, the happiest place in the world! Tomorrowland is everything you can imagine a music festival to be- a magical kingdom with people in the craziest costumes and the best spirit, bracelet lights synced to the beats, life slogans all around, confetti and costumes, helicopters showering flowers, bubbles, mysterious sounds, a rainbow, a giant ferris wheel, lots of love and happiness. But it is nothing like other music festivals, this is the father of all fiestas. Tomorrowland has it’s own party planes, designated theme hotels, branded air-hostesses and a DJ in the flight too, quite cool right! It is officially the biggest party in the world.
I never thought I’d make it here, it was something we used to just talk about. When I arrived I believed I would be lost amidst a crowd of ravers. Little did I know that I would be standing right in front of the main stage, screaming, dancing and jumping to some crazy tunes. For everybody who thinks this is not their scene and its just too crowded, then let me stop you right there. This is like Disneyland for adults. It’s a place where music unites the world.
I was simply lucky to visit this festival two years in a row, 2015 and 2016. Both the experiences were so different from each other. 2015 was my first time, I didn’t know what to expect, I was so fascinated with everything and everyone around me, it was all so surreal. I loved the festival so much that I decided to come back the next year with a bigger gang and all prepared. 2016 was equally good, more crowded but this time I got a chance to visit the stages and artists that I had missed the previous year. 2015 was all about the dancing and the madness, in 2016 I was just soaking it all in.
The stage set up in 2016
What? Started in 2005, today, Tomorrowland is the biggest Electronic Dance Music festival in the world.
Where? Tomorrowland takes place in a small town called Boom, in the Belgian countryside. Its not only a festival set up, the site feels like an entire world by itself. It is about 45 to 50 mins away from Antwerp or Brussels.
When? This three day festival usually takes place around the 3rd or 4th week of July every year.
The Main Stage 2015
A rainbow over the Main Stage
The Main Stage 2016
How to score tickets? What if you don’t get tickets on the website?
This is the most difficult part. Not only does it require proper planning but you also have to execute it at the right time. Tomorrowland is always in July and the tickets usually come out in the month of February. They are sold out in less than an hour.
Here are a few things that you could do to ensure you get tickets:
-Pre register yourself on www.tomorrowland.com so that you get all details about the online sales.
-Decide beforehand which tickets you want to buy. Once the online sales start you will have to finish booking within two minutes, so don’t bother pondering over this then.
-Keep a close eye on their website and stay next to the computer when the online shop is about to open.
-You have an option of either buying the Global Journey (flights, hotels or trains included), Dreamville (camping on the site) or just the entry ticket (extremely hard to score)
-If you don’t get just the ticket then opt for any of the other two options.
– Do not give up!! Keep the window open on all laptops and phones. Also ask friends from around the world to keep checking for you. Sometimes it opens up only for certain countries while it keeps processing for the others. In 2016I was lucky to get the package online in Dubai while my friends in India were struggling.
– You can buy 4 tickets at once so make sure to help your friends out incase their window doesn’t open up.
If you are unable to buy tickets in February and want to wait till you’re sure of your plan then you can buy it around May or June from the authorised agents listed on the website. It will burn a hole in your pocket, bigger than usual but it’s alright, if you want to go you have to pay a price. In 2015 I bought mine from Revel Travels too, their details are listed on the website www.tomorrowland.com/en/global-journey/travel-partners. In 2016 I made sure to buy them during the official sale in February. Don’t bother going to the venue without tickets. The chances of someone selling them there are quite unlikely. Also the bracelets are registered with names so there’s no way you can enter without an I’d. If you have a spare ticket, bring it with you. You can sell this but only along with the person’s I’d whose name the ticket is on or make sure the bracelet is not personalized.
Tomorrowland Ticket Price
Well, the harsh truth is that Tomorrowland is expensive! My Global journey costed me 1200 Euros in 2016 which included a Full Madness Comfort Pass, four night stay in Hotel Bloom Brussels, complementary daily breakfast and transfers to the festival and back to the hotel, a mid night buffet, a goodie bag and a treasure case. It was all worth it..
Global Journey /Dreamville/ Mansion/ Book your own?
The best part about Tomorrowland is the number of options for accommodation that you can choose based on your budget.
Dreamville is the official festival campground where people from all around the world come together and set up camps for three days. It’s an ideal place if you want to make friends, meet people and enjoy a good camping experience but definitely not advisable for people who love comfort and luxury. This camping ground has everything inside- a separate entrance, a tea house, bakery, restaurants, supermarket, hairdressers, toilets, showers and much more. I’m sure it’s an experience by itself!
As for me, I absolutely love staying in hotel rooms and comfort is my priority. So in 2015 I opted to book my own hotel in Antwerp and in 2016 I booked the Global Journey (hotel and tickets only) where I stayed in a Tomorrowland theme hotel in Brussels. Every location has a couple of hotel options for different budgets, we chose Hotel Bloom. It was a beautiful boutique hotel in the city centre but the fact that it was a TL theme hotel made it even better. There were so many events, the place was packed with party goers, there was a welcome cocktail session, midnight buffets, every little thing was customised, it was literally like a gathering for three full days. The shuttle to the festival is included in the hotel price and so is the breakfast. What I loved was that after the festival they had a midnight buffet too, something we all used to look forward to! I highly recommend taking a theme hotel in the Global Journey package, the energy and the vibe is definitely worth it..
Usually Global Journey includes everything from your doorstep and back. Along with your entry tickets they have various options for flights, trains, bus, hotels, Europe tour and friendship packages. You can either book everything through them or weigh your options and pick a few. I booked only the hotel as I wanted flexibility on the flights, which Global Journey does not allow. If dates are not an issue then you can also opt for a special Tomorrowland party flight (book your own if you want to travel somewhere post Tomorrowland) where they have a DJ inside but this is valid only for selected locations. When picking a hotel from this package you will get tons of options suiting all budget types. They also have mansions for bigger groups and bigger pockets.
If you’ve just bought the ticket then the accommodation is your choice and totally depends on how much you want to splurge. If you want to stay closer to the venue book a hotel in Antwerp. If you want a fun city then book a hotel in Brussels and if you want to be with festival crowd then check the Tomorrowland theme hotels on the website and try to get a place around.
Our room in Hotel Bloom
What is the difference between all tickets- Regular, Comfort, VIP and VVIP?
There are four types of tickets that are available: Regular, Comfort, VIP and VVIP. The main difference in these tickets is the areas that you can access. Here’s a little description about all of them:
All the ticket categories will give you entry and access to the stages and the food areas around it. Apart from this there are two little buildings near the main stage. The regular ticket holders don’t have access to these buildings. One is for those who have a comfort pass and the other for VIP & VVIP. The comfort building is a 2 storey structure just like a private lounge that has festival dancers, complementary appetizers, washrooms, a massage center, a bar and even a jacuzzi. The VIP section is another building right next to the Comfort zone and has a similar set up (minus the jacuzzi and massage center) but has premium alcohol on the house. The VVIP is on the 2nd floor of the same building as the VIP one, with more premium alcohol and Moet flowing everywhere. If you have a VIP and VVIP pass you can access the comfort zone too.
In 2015 I bought the VIP pass and in 2016 the Comfort. Honestly I prefer the comfort over everything else, it’s better than the regular because you have some premium benefits when you need them. But if you’re not opting for comfort you’re not really missing out on anything. I’m not a big fan of the VIP section because to make the most of it you will have to be on the first floor in a semi open room whereas I prefer being down in the crowd, raging and dancing.
The view from the VIP section
Our VIP table
The white roof building is the Comfort Zone
Tomorrowland is a cashless festival, that doesn’t mean you don’t take any cash along, it just means that they don’t accept cash for food, beverages and merchandise. They accept pearls, which is their own currency and you have to fill it in your bracelet.
You have to go to the cash counters, pay them the amount you want to exchange and then they fill in that value into your bracelet. So every time you want to make a purchase just tap your bracelet on their machine and the amount gets deducted, it’s so easy and convenient! The valuation of the pearls changes every year. When you buy your tickets, you also get an option of purchasing pearls (Tomorrowland’s currency) at a better rate before the festival starts. If not, on the day of the festival you can top up your bracelet with pearls. I would recommend you to buy it before hand as the rate is way better and you can avoid the long line. On the last day you can also get a refund for the ones you didn’t spend.
This was the biggest surprise in the festival. With someone who had little expectation from this fiesta, I was completely stumped to see the kind of variety of food that was available. The festival site has an area dedicated to food lovers. They have stalls serving salads, fruits, noodles, kebabs, falafels, pizza, truffle pasta, chocolates and even coffee! The stalls are well planned based on the kind of international crowd that arrives. Some of my favourites were the falafel rolls, Belgian fries, truffle pizza and strawberries with nutella. If you’re in the mood for something fancy then they also have fine dining sit down restaurants. The stalls shut down around 11-11.30pm so make sure you stock up before that. Since it’s a cashless festival you have to top up your bracelet with pearls at the main food counter and these pearls can be used to purchase anything.
Where to stay? Antwerp or Brussels?
I prefer Brussels over Antwerp. In 2015 I stayed in Antwerp and found it extremely boring. The entire town is quiet and dark after 6pm. In 2016, I was put up at Hotel Bloom in Brussels. Compared to Antwerp there is so much to do around and the place is more vibrant and lively.
Other things to do on the festival site:
To be honest apart from music there is so much to do on the festival site. I understand that crowded festivals aren’t for everyone but if you’re up for even the slightest adventure or want to have a once in a lifetime experience then you have to go to Tomorrowland. You can hop on to the ferris wheel, lie on the hammocks and read a book (see pic below) there are two restaurants (need prior reservation) for sit down meals, they have cool floating bars where you can grab a glass of bubbly or an ice cream, you can just walk around and explore the stages, smile and make friends, lay in the grass as the thumping of the music entertains you. The whole place is in constant motion, it’s a fairytale land by itself.
Importance of the Tomorrowland Bracelet? On site Purchases?
This bracelet is your entry ticket to the festival. Apart from being the only way to enter this music festival your Tomorrowland bracelet is also the only way you buy anything on site. To make any purchases like food, water, merchandise you need your bracelet. At all the counters they scan it and deduct the amount filled in it for any purchase, literally like a debit card. At no cost you can lose this bracelet, it is like your passport. Once lost it cannot be recovered and you will be denied entry into the festival.
Once you book your Tomorrowland tickets, you have to register for the bracelet and they will send it to you by post a month before the festival. If you don’t receive it please write to them. At times they also give it at the customer service counter which is at the entrance of the festival. In that case make sure to carry all your booking details and a photo I’d.
What to wear?
The key to surviving this mayhem is to be in comfortable clothing. Since 2015 was my first time I did not know what to expect in terms of fashion and comfort. I picked out the most comfortable and basic clothes and just styled them with accessories. It was raining on the last two days so we landed up roaming in jackets and raincoats. In 2016 I was a little more funky and styled my shorts, dresses, bell bottoms with off shoulder tops, capes and a big flower tiara, chunky necklaces, chokers and lots of bindis.
Attire: Unlike Coachella where people are flaunting their craziest branded dresses with lavish bags and shoes, this festival is actually more about the music. But of course you don’t have to turn up in drab clothes. Bring your hippie spirit out and wear fun off shoulder dresses, crop tops, slogan tees, pants, shorts, bell bottoms, they’re all welcome. Denims are a bad idea though. The one thing that makes the biggest difference is the accessory. Flower tiaras, chokers, tribal jewellery, silver junk jewellery, bindis (Indian tattoos), metallic sticker tattoos and quirky sunglasses are an essential. Carry a jacket or a raincoat as the weather is quite unpredictable. It can go from extremely hot to very cold in an hour. Just remember, whatever you wear please be super comfortable. There is no way you can go back to the hotel to change and you also want to enjoy the festival so don’t let your clothes be a hindrance.
Shoes: You have to stand on your feet for over 12 hours, three days in a row, so please do yourself a favour and carry the most comfortable pair of shoes. Don’t wear sandals as the ground can be mushy and slippery. Flat boots are ideal. Remember there’s a lot of walking, dancing, climbing and pushing involved so don’t wear anything that breaks or needs to be fixed, there no time to waste on all this. Also the ground is very muddy so definitely wouldn’t recommend you to wear white or any light coloured shoes, black is the best.
Slingbag/Backpack: I prefer a sling bag or a cross bag as you can keep your valuables close to you and right in the front. Your sling should be big enough to accommodate your money, phone and basic essentials.
Makeup: Don’t wear too much off it. It will either rain or you might sweat, so whatever it is, keep it simple and waterproof.
The most important tip: Don’t worry so much about how you look, make sure to have fun, let your hair down, get wet in the rain, soak in the vibe, enjoy the music and make the most of this experience.
Tomorrowland 2015 outfits
Tomorrowland 2016 outfits
Tomorrowland Packing Essentials:
Apart from the regular things that go into your luggage, these need to be carried on the day of the event!
– Camera: Do not bother carrying your DSLR because there is absolutely no way you can handle that and have fun. A Go Pro or a small Digi cam would suffice. If you aren’t too fussy with the quality then a phone camera would be great too.
– Spare battery for the phone or camera. Also a portable phone charger is essential.
– Comfortable shoes: You’re going to be on your feet for more than 12 hours, you better not where anything new that bites or is uncomfortable. I would recommend flat boots.
-Sunglasses: Preferably funky ones
-Sunscreen: You better slather lots of it, you’re going to be out all day in the sun.
– Cash (Euros): To refill your Tomorrowland bracelet with pearls or tokens and for transfers.
– A local SIM card with data, incase you need to use Google maps or to find your friends.
– A Selfie Stick
-Country flag: If you really want to get into the spirit, don’t forget your country’s flag. Let people know where you are from!
-Ziplock Bag/ Phone protector: Just incase it rains, mostly it does.
-Raincoat (if you forget one, make a poncho out of a garbage bag)
– Pack as many cool costumes/ head gears/ funky stuff/ sunglasses etc that you can find
-Band aid, wet wipes, chewing gum, candy, lollipops, emergency medicines with prescription, lens solution and chocolate.
Getting to Boom:
There are various ways to get to Boom but it depends on what package you have taken and where you’re staying. If you’re in Dreamville, well that’s just a part of Boom, right in the festival ground. If you’re staying in Brussels or Antwerp, you could either take the Tomorrowland shuttle (if you’re a part of the Global Journey), a cab (quickest way) or a train (free shuttles are provided from the station to the venue). Antwerp is definitely closer to Boom than Brussels is. I recommend the Shuttle bus as it’s quite convenient. If you don’t like the timings then you could also tie up with private car companies or taxis who can drop and fetch you. The festival timings are 12 noon to midnight. I would recommend reaching around 2.30pm so you have enough energy to last all day.
How to get home:
For people who are not staying in Dreamville, this one could be a task. Just as the clock strikes 12, everybody gushes out of the venue like an open tap of water. On the first night we got stuck for almost 90 mins in that crazy mob. Since there is only one exit point to get out of the festival main gate, it gets quite chaotic. If standing in queues and avoiding drama is of high concern then I would recommend you to leave at 11.40-11.45pm. I did that on the last two nights and escaping the venue was so stress-free. Yes you do miss the ending but that’s a small price to pay. Also the fireworks can be seen from the exit gate too.
Once you’re out of the venue, you can either take the shuttle bus back to your hotel (they have fixed timings to leave and fixed spots, also it takes a lot of time to walk till the shuttle) or you can ask the security guards to guide you to the taxi line. I’m not sure if the local buses and trains function so late, if they do that could be a cheaper option. For me, a cab was the best choice, I reached my hotel in 30- 40 mins. It costs about 50 to 60 Euros for a cab ride to the city. It’s best if you can split it up with people.
Stages & Artists:
If you’ve every imagined a wonderland, this is what it would look like. Floating stages on water, a giant ferris wheel, massive mushrooms and talking flowers, fictional heads that speak and look at you, an underground cave, secret set ups, a dancing island and lots more that can’t be put into words. You would really want to applaud the amazing stage designers for the unbelievable set up that they create every single year.
There are around 16 stages, all designed so artistically and with a theme of their own. Set at the foot of a small round hilly structure lies the Main Stage. With every passing year, this stage changes it’s name, theme and voice. Oh did I forget to mention that these characters on the stage actually speak? ‘’Welcome to the Kingdom of Melodia’’, the mysterious sound of the face in 2015 still echoes in my head today. Everything about this place will actually make you imagine and feel that you are a part of a illusionary set up. The other stages like Rave Cave, Smash the House, Opera House, Butterfly Stage were equally fascinating and some of my favourites.
The line up is usually released way in advance so its easy for you to decide which stage you want to spend time on. For the mainstage, the likes of David Guetta, Martin Garrix, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, Nicky Romero, Hardwell, Tiesto etc are the ones usually playing. The small stages have a better variety and they have a niche. I would highly recommend spending the day around the smaller stages as the artists and the set ups are more fun. Head to the main stage only after 7pm that too if you’re interested in conventional artists. You will hear the best music on the smaller ones while the main set up is your commercial music. Whatever it is, this festival has the biggest names across the globe and there’s something for everybody.
The Main Stage 2015
The crowd on the main stage
What I loved the most!
To begin with, I loved how everything was so organised. Attention was paid to the smallest detail and the set up is just so magical. From zillion food counters to tons of freshpoint stations (they have deodorants and chewing gum too) and a team of medical crew checking on everybody, it was all so impeccable. Also, you can rent portable phone charges for a small price. Surprisingly, there were so many washrooms around every stage and they were clean enough.
Also Tomorrowland is a cashless festival and they have their own currency, can you believe that! Which means, on the first day you can refill your bracelet with pearls (currency) and the same can be used over the next 2 days, so you don’t have to carry too much cash. On the last day you can get a refund for the unused pearls in the bracelet. How amazing is that!
It was also the energy and the vibe of the place that made me feel so alive. Whether it was a thunderstorm or a downpour, the place got crazier. After all, life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, its about learning to dance in the rain. Also to watch people unite with music was so surreal. Everyone I met was so happy, it is officially the happiest place in the world.
Tips and Tricks: A list of Do’s and Don’ts
-Protect your bracelet: As compulsive as this my sound please keep checking and rechecking your hand to make sure the bracelet is on. Without it there’s no way they’re going to let you in.
– Make sure the bracelet is registered on your name or else access won’t be granted.
-Do not carry any food or drinking items at the venue as your bags will be checked and everything is available on site. That said, I still kept two dates in my bag, in case of emergency. If you still want to carry something then make sure it’s a non perishable item.
-Chances of getting lost are high if wandering in a group. Decide a meeting point beforehand incase you part with the gang.
– Music aside, it’s the people of Tomorrowland that make this festival. So don’t be afraid to wave out and make new friends.
-Carry your photo I’d at all times.
-Don’t get stuck on the mainstage. The smaller stages are way too much fun. Make a list of all the artists you want to see and follow it.
-Download the Tomorrowland app. It really helps if you want to know the line up and timings.
-Make sure to visit every stage atleast once.
-Remember to stay alive. Keep yourself hydrated and eat something, or else you wont have the energy to survive.
-You could also buy a camelback, the perfect handsfree hydration system.
-Reach a day prior to the festival and later stay back to explore beautiful Belgium.
– If you want to get right to the front of the mainstage, do not panic. Just hold your partners hand, use the word Excuse me and keep marching ahead. 99% will oblige and for the rest use you will have to cut through. Just don’t push anybody!
-At any time do not panic. Incase of a medical emergency press the red button on your bracelet. If you’re lost, just ask the staff, they are really sweet and will always help you.
Pick your people
This is one experience that you want to cherish all your life so make sure that you visit this place with the most special people. Choose someone who is like minded, easy going and who loves to enjoy. Also remember – The bigger the gang, more are the chances of getting lost. The festival ground is huge, super chaotic and too crowded so make sure to pre decide a meeting spot incase you are lost or form a WhatsApp group so it’s easy to coordinate. Also be open to meeting new people and making more friends. You will find the happiest crowd around you from all over the world so don’t hesitate in striking a conversation. Just make sure no matter what, you explore all the stages and have fun!
Made some new friends too!
The Belgian weather is extremely unpredictable. It changes frequently. It might be sunny when you step out of the hotel but ten minutes later you could find a bad storm on your way. So just be prepared and be dressed accordingly. The only thing that helped us from the torrential downpour is a poncho that was provided to us at the venue. But I would recommend carry a jacket or a raincoat and roll it up in your bag. As it rains the weather gets really chilly, this could really help at that moment. For your phone and cameras carry a Ziplock bag or a waterproof cover.
The festival runs from noon to midnight (Sometimes till 1.00am). In the day you can enter around 1.30 to 2pm. If you really are in the mood to explore then be there early.
In and around Belgium:
Don’t just come to Belgium for the festival. Spare some extra days and explore Brussels, Antwerp and the beautiful towns of Bruges and Ghent. Last year, my Euro trip was quite long. Starting with Hamburg–Amsterdam-Antwerp-Bruges-Tomorrowland-Black Forest Germany- Colmar France– Dusseldorf, it was quite an adventure.
-There are sniffing dogs at the entrance gate so don’t carry anything that is illegal.
-For other rules read www.tomorrowland.com/en/dreamville/rules-regulations
Do you have more questions about Tomorrowland?
I have answered 50 questions in another blog post – Click here
This is a once in a lifetime experience and hands down the best music festival in the world! When you’re there forget about your worries, let your hair down, be yourself and just have some fun. This land is like no other, it’s not only about the music, it’s about the people, the vibe and how alive you feel in those three days. After all that thumping and raging, I left the city with tired feet, crazy memories and a happy heart but with a promise to be back again!
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or information that you need about the festival.
You can also check out my Tomorrowland FAQs article here