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 mysterious wonderland is a living proof that one must enjoy today and live the moment as this moment is inevitable.
For some, Tomorrowland is all about the disco demons and crowded areas but for me it was another world, a magical 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, mystical sounds, a rainbow, love and happiness. But this is nothing like other music festivals. It’s the father of all fiestas. Tomorrowland has it’s own party planes, designated party hotels, branded air-hostesses and a DJ in the plane, quite cool right! It is officially the biggest party in the world.
I never thought I’d make it here. 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 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. Tomorrowland 2015, you were amazing!
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.
When? This three day festival usually takes place in around the 3rd or 4th week of July every year.
The Main Stage
A rainbow over the Main Stage
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 tickets usually come out in the month of February for the July festival. These are sold out in less than an hour. Here are a few things that you could do:
-Pre register yourself 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.
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 the usual but it’s alright, if you want to go you have to pay a price. Last year I bought mine from Revel Travels too, details are listed on the website.
www.tomorrowland.com/en/global-journey/travel-partners. 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. Well, the harsh truth is that Tomorrowland is expensive! A global journey with a five star hotel stay for 4 days and a Comfort pass ticket would cost around 1200 Euros. Steep but 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 their comfort and luxury. This camping ground has everything inside, a separate entrance, a tea house, bakery, restaurants, supermarket, hairdresses, 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 I opted for the Global Journey. In this package everything from your home back to your home is planned for you. 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. You can also opt for a special Tomorrowland flight (or book your own if you want to travel somewhere post Tomorrowland) or stay in a theme hotel with all the other fellow party people. Since they have various hotel categories depending on your budget you can choose one.
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.
The difference between all the tickets?
There are four types of tickets that are available: Regular, Comfort, VIP and VVIP. If you want to know the difference here is your answer.
The comfort zone is a separate section altogether opposite the mainstage. It’s a 2 storey set up with a private lounge, washrooms, festival dancers, a jacuzzi, massage center, a bar and some incredible views of the main stage.
The VIP section is another 2 storey structure right next to the Comfort zone and a similar set up, just with added luxury, lesser crowd, cleaners washrooms, Moet flowing everywhere and somehow more Asians. The VVIP is on the 2nd floor of the same building as the VIP one, I think it’s just the quality and amount of alcohol that gets better.
With all the passes you get access to each and every stage of the festival except that you can’t enter the comfort zone and VIP building. Apart from that they’re all the same. I had the VIP ticket last time but spent all day hanging around the stages instead of watching the view from the VIP lounge. I found it a little sad, felt more like a concert from up there. I would recommend take a regular or a comfort pass.
The view from the VIP section
The pink building is the Comfort Zone
Our VIP table
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?
Last year the entire Tomorrowland Global Journey crowd was put up at Hilton Antwerp. As a tourist, I found Antwerp extremely boring especially after 8pm. Maybe there are some great spots but as a traveller it was even difficult to find food joints after 10pm around my area. I had friends who stayed in Brussels and couldn’t stop raving about the place. So I’m sure Brussels will be a better choice.
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.
Importance of the Tomorrowland Bracelet? On site Purchases?
Apart from being your only way to enter this music festival, your Tomorrowland bracelet is also the only way you buy anything on site. So if you want to buy food, water, merchandise or anything at all, you have to refill pearls or tokens in your bracelet for a certain amount and these pearls are then used to purchase anything you want. 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. On the last day, you can also get a refund for the ones you didn’t spend.
What to wear?
The key to surviving this mayhem is to be in comfortable clothing.
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.
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.
Slingbag/Backpack: I prefer a sling 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.
Tomorrowland Packing Essentials:
Apart from the regular things that go into your luggage, these need to be checked and 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 could be quite handy.
– 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.
-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)
-Band aid, wet wipes, chewing gum, candy, emergency medicines with prescription, lens solution and chocolate.
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) 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, the cab was the best choice, I reached my Antwerp hotel in 25 mins.
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 might just want to hug and kiss the amazing stage designers for the unbelievable land that they create.
There are around 16 stages, all designed so artistically and with a theme of their own. Set at the food of a small round hilly structure lies the Mainstage. With every passing year, this stage changes it’s name, theme and voice. Oh did I forget to mention that these characters on the stages actually speak? ‘’Welcome to the Kingdom of Melodia’’, the mysterious sound of the face 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 were equally fascinating and my favourite.
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 the typical stuff you hear on your radio station. Whatever it is, this festival has the biggest names across the globe and there’s something for everybody.
The main stage
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 need of the partygoers. From zillion food counters to tons of freshpoint stations where people can smell amazing again 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, the washrooms were clean enough to use and the lines weren’t crazy.
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.
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.
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
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 life, 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 crazy memories, tired feet and a happy heart only 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.