Festivals have always been something Jacob and I have enjoyed, even before we became a couple and attending them together made it even more fun.
After living in the USA for 5 years, there was never a shortage of festival options, whether it was Coachella in California, Ultra Music Festival in Miami or Electric Zoo in New York, we loved every one of them, but we knew there was always something bigger and better over in Europe.
The most sought-after EDM (Electronic Dance Music) festival in the world. The festival that draws 2 million people online for their chance to buy tickets. The festival that sells 180,000 tickets in a blink of an eye. The festival that allows an entire terminal at the airport to be taken over by attendees. The festival that turns a Boeing 747 into a party mid-air. The festival that brings together 180,000 attendees from over 100 countries worldwide. The festival that is Tomorrowland!
Quick Facts about Tomorrowland:
- What is it: The largest EDM festival in the world, originating in 2005.
- When is it: Every Summer usually towards the end of July.
- Where: Boom, located between Brussels and Antwerp, Belgium.
- Attendance: In 2005 when the festival first began there were 9000 people, in 2016 there were 180,000.
- Price: Depending on your type of ticket, one day passes start at 98€, 3 day passes 272€ and for some packages, as high as 6000€. Costs depend mainly on accommodation choices.
- Past Performers: Think of any EDM DJ in the world and I’m sure they have been. Otherwise; Armin van Buuren, Axwell Ingrosso, Steve Angelo, David Guetta, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, Steve Aoki, Martin Garrix, Martin Solveig are regulars and some of our favourites.
- Theme: Every year is a new theme, this year was Elixir of Life. “ Trust your senses… Take a deep breath and enter the gorgeous tale that will be written during your weekend. The Elixir of Life has the magnificent ability to bring you to your future, and your past. Live Today, Love Tomorrow, Unite Forever.”
Tomorrowland is more than just a music festival. It is an adult playground with an entire theatrical production. It is well known for its incredible lineup, mind-blowing sets, over the top magical scenery and the incredible firework and laser shows.
Let us take you on our 4-day journey…
How to get a ticket to Tomorrowland
Getting a ticket is obviously the most important part of it all. We won’t go into detail of all the different choices because it would take up the entirety of the post, however, please see the following page should you want to know your options.
Your tickets are wristbands that become your electronic wallet for the entirety of the festival. The festival is cashless and everything is charged for via your wristband. Prior to the festival, you load your money onto it and anything not spent will be returned.
The Global Journey Package
In a nutshell, the 3 day passes sell out almost instantly and you are considered extremely lucky if you can snatch up one of them on the date of sale. The best chance you have of getting a ticket is purchasing the “Global Journey Package“. This package is an organised package that includes everything you need!
Inside your Global Journey you’ll receive your flights (from your choice of selected European countries along with countries worldwide), hotel or camping (variety to choose from), the 3 day pass, transfers to and from the airport and festival, pre-parties, your flag, a goodie bag, a detox day and of course, the chance to meet people from all over! Although the package is a little more expensive, it is by far the most stress-free way to attend Tomorrowland.
Note: In order to be eligible for Tomorrowland ticket sales (not including Global Journey) you must complete a pre-registration generally opening in February. This gives you a unique access code in order to enter the online ticket store when the sale opens.
It all started at check in…
We arrived at the airport and had our own “Tomorrowland” check-in line. You could see the excitement on everyone’s faces as the lines began to move. People were coming from all over, already introducing themselves to one another. It’s started we thought, let the facebook friend requests begin. Stepping onto the plane in Barcelona, we didn’t realise that the entire plane would be filled with guests only attending the festival, not to mention an entire terminal in Brussels was dedicated to all the thousands of people travelling from all over.
There were seat covers on the seats, Tomorrowland newspapers in the back pockets and the staff were just as excited as the passengers. The captain made an announcement regarding the festival and proceeded to tell us that directly after takeoff, we will dim the lights, close the blinds, turn up the music, pass out glow sticks, hand out the beers (it is only 9:30am!) and get this party started…
“Your journey to Tomorrowland has begun”!
Every year, Brussel Airways have 180 flights from all over the world bringing people together in Belgium. Every one of them with a party in the sky. Ummm awesome!
Grand Place, Brussels (Pre-Party)
Grand Place is the centre of Brussels and has one of the most impressive squares we’ve seen in Europe, especially when the sun shines down onto the gold on the historic buildings. We took a walking tour throughout the city, but we both knew we were only in Brussels for one thing…
The day prior, the Grand Place comes alive with flower decorations, bar stalls, flags from all around the world, 1000’s of festival goers and a DJ up in the Maison Du Roi building. I’m sure people visiting Brussels, unaware that Tomorrowland was taking place may be slightly confused by the transformation of the square but we loved it.
“The Gathering” is the pre-opening party (with just a mere 35,000 people :O) of Tomorrowland and it happens in Boom at the camping site called “Dreamville” the Thursday before the festival begins.
This pre-party gave us a small taste of what was to come for the following 3 days. We jumped on board the bus from Grand Place and headed out to Boom for the one-hour journey. Strangely enough, even with such a range of nationalities surrounding us, our entire bus was filled with Australians proudly carrying Aussie flags. Travelling brings together nationalities from all over the world but you know, without fail, that meeting up with fellow Aussies, there is bound to be some seriously loud singing and an awful lot of Aussie slang being thrown around. In other words, you’re in for a good time.
Note: The Gathering party is only for people camping at DreamVille or people with the Global Journey Package. Day ticket holders or 3-day ticket holders do not get access.
The Official Party Begins: 3 Days of Madness
Not even the pre-party prepared us for what the next 3 days entailed. The gathering at Dreamville was large enough, but stepping into the festival grounds of Tomorrowland was something else. During the 3 days, the site in Boom was vibrant with life and was filled with a magic that you can only feel by being there.
More than 200 DJs take the stages and the choices of who to see, are endless. By downloading the app, we were able to set ourselves a rough plan of who we wanted to see and when. It didn’t always go to plan, but we were never left disappointed, as there were so many other places/tents/stages to stumble across.
Our days started with a buffet breakfast, a sensible move to line our stomachs! People gathered in our hotel lobby and every morning at 11:30 am we jumped on board the shuttles. The bus drivers set the mood with an upbeat playlist and by 12:00 pm we were onto our first drink of the day. Honestly, we weren’t sure we could make it 3 days in a row but as each day came to a close, we were still looking for more.
No matter the lack of sleep, or how badly our bodies wanted to take a break, we still woke up just as excited as we did the last. Sign of a good festival? Ah, Si! – That’s yes in Spanish
Apart from all the paraphernalia we received on our flight, upon landing, we were given our “goodie bags”. Inside was a journal, a pen, a pack of cards, an apple with “Global Journey” engraved, a tote bag and the most elaborate lip gloss, packaged inside of a 3 tier golden cylinder. I guess we know where some of our money went!
Walking the festival grounds, it felt as though you were walking through a fairytale. The grounds were a story in itself and you couldn’t help but notice the extravagant scenery that was on every corner. Each stage had something unique about it, some were smaller than others, some were on podiums in the water, some inside, but one thing they did have in common were the over the top decorations and exquisite detail. Everything from fire-breathing dragons to hot air balloons, to giant lily pads and even as far as engraved floorboards.
The main stage was the most impressive stage we’ve ever seen. Flags from all over filled the dance floor, there were smiles from ear to ear on every single person, the costumes were at large and the backdrop of the stage was a moving story. There were many times throughout the night that we looked around and saw the number of people filling every single space on the dance floor and the grassy hills surrounding the stage and turned to each other and simply said: “This is incredible, how can we do this again next year”!
It’s the small things in life
Can we just talk for a second about how clean the bathrooms were at this festival? Public bathrooms. Everyone’s worst nightmare. However, these toilets were often cleaner than some hotel toilets we’ve used before. Every single time we found ourselves here (which I must admit was quite a few), they were always cleaned just moments before. There was running water & soap, people handing out deodorant and enough toilets that you never had to wait in a line! The smallest of things that can truly make a difference to a venue. Nobody likes to wait in line for the toilet, nor step into a toilet that makes you turn right back out the door.
After meeting fellow Aussies at The Gathering, it soon became clear we would be seeing these guys a whole lot more. Every day we would gather on the hill at the main stage in the same spot and no matter how many times you left and came back, someone would always be there. We’d all just met each other but immediately everyone began looking out for one another and it was awesome.
There wasn’t a single DJ we didn’t enjoy but there were definitely a few that stood out the most. Explaining every detail of each set would be merely impossible (& long) but if describing how we felt is any consolation then that’s the best we can do.
Armin Van Buuren, Martin Garrix, Dada Life and Dimitri Vegas + Like Mike were our top 4 choices and we have continued to watch their videos over and over, and every time our bodies are taken over by a wave of goosebumps.
Each of their sets had a firework display to coincide with the song they were playing and Jacob and I found ourselves dancing around like lunatics more than we ever have egged on by the hundreds of thousands around us. It was absolutely unbelievable and really, nothing we had ever seen before.
For most of the sets, we held back from the centre of the crowds. Getting to the front of the stage is a mission in itself but during the day when the crowds aren’t at their peak, it was possible.
During one of our favourite DJ’s we took advantage of this space and found our way to front centre stage for Dada Life with yet again, another bunch of Aussies. I think our ears were still ringing 2 weeks after leaving those speakers, but it was so unbelievably worth it.
Second, to the music, our favourite part of the weekend was having a dance with an 84-year-old seasoned festival goer! This man has been coming to music festivals for years and swears to return every year he possibly can. He was so into it and the nicest old man ever. Who says age can stop you from attending such events?! Let’s swap sunglasses!
If you want to relive any of these DJ’s, visit the official Tomorrowland Page and check them out!
As part of our Global Journey package, the Monday after the festival we were treated to a “Detox Day”. After being driven to a “secret location” just outside of Brussels, we spent the afternoon surrounded by relaxation and fun. Beanbags and games were scattered along the grass, whilst we filled our bodies with an all included healthy buffet lunch, snacked off the fruit stand & downed a few smoothies. They also provided massages & manicures along with an area for men to grab a shave. It was definitely the icing on the cake and it was such a fantastic way to end the 4 days, all whilst saying goodbye to our newly made friends.
Quick Tips for Tomorrowland:
- Pre-register for your tickets. Get on the computer early (as well as all your friends) and try to grab your tickets. Check out Electronic Festivals for detailed tips and tricks on getting a ticket.
- For an almost guaranteed ticket, go for the Global Journey Package. It’s worth every cent and is far less stressful.
- Once inside the festival, keep your water bottle lid so you can refill your bottles. (They take them away when you buy one).
- Remember to top up your bracelet before the festival so you can avoid the lines inside and grab the bonus’.
- Pick up your free flag before the festival & wear it there. Everyone gets one so you won’t look out of place! We wore ours the whole 3 days.
- Have a regular meeting spot in case you cannot reach your friends via phone.
- Don’t spend the whole time at the main stage, there is so much to explore!
- Download the Tomorrowland app. It helps to plan your day.
- Arrive early to get the most out of your day. We went every day from 12:30pm-1:00am and it still wasn’t enough.
- Don’t forget to eat! There are so many good international choices for food.
- Only bring a backpack if you really need too, the lines to get in are very long as they do thorough backpack checks.
- Don’t forget to apply for your refund before the final date to ensure you get any unused “pearls” back to your credit card.
- They provide deodorant at the bathrooms, but not sunscreen so come prepared.
- Pace yourself.
- Most importantly….have the most fun ever!
- See here for more tips on how to survive a festival.
Do you plan to head to Tomorrowland? Have any questions? Shoot us an email or comment and we’ll be happy to elaborate on any of the above information! Until then, watch the Tomorrowland 2016 Offical Aftermovie! It’s killer.
Festivals aren’t for everyone, but if you love EDM music, making new friends and dancing until you can’t possibly dance anymore, Tomorrowland should be on your next list of events to attend.
It was one of the biggest highlights of our 16-month trip so far and we would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Sometimes high expectations can ruin experiences but Tomorrowland exceeded ours from the moment we stepped onto the plane!
Can’t make Tomorrowland? See this list of other Belgium festivals by Cedric& Bo.
I wish we could say until next time, although…. never say never 😉
Thank you to Tomorrowland for some of these photos. Our phone photos just couldn’t do it justice and we didn’t have access to a helicopter ;).
Married days survived; 512