[Event Review] Unraveling Tomorrowland’s Book of Secrets

The rising popularity in electronic music has paved the way for a multitude of festivals to spring up all over the globe. However, there are three iconic festivals that sit at the top of every American electronic music lover’s bucket list: Ultra Music Festival, Electric Daisy Carnival and Tomorrowland. For obvious reasons, the earlier two are a lot easier to check off for the average American festival goer, but the latter continues to elude most.  Tomorrowland is the mecca of all music festivals, that people from all around the world dream that they will one day be able to make the pilgrimage out to Boom, Belgium and join the ranks of the People of Tomorrow.  Unfortunately, a small number of lucky people each year will make their dream a reality, making Tomorrowland the most sought after festival ticket. With the demand, Tomorrowland has grown exponentially since it first put its roots down in 2004, with this year marking the 10th anniversary of the esteemed festival. In honor of its birthday, Tomorrowland temporarily expanded to two magical weekends, allowing more People of Tomorrow to experience the madness this year.

The allure of the festival not only lies in its history and the artists that grace its world-renowned stage, but in the stellar production of the entire event—attention to detail is everything here. The details of the festival go beyond the visual production and span to the tent city of Dreamville, with fresh bread baked made every night to tantalize the senses before the city’s inhabitants fall asleep. Even the food and beverage choices are no accident, with local restaurants and famous chefs joining in on the fun and due to the hard work of the insane behind the scenes infrastructure that keep the festival moving each day, all the details are seamlessly integrated to create the whole experience of Tomorrowland.

Music & Stage Design

You can credit the festival for its production, merit, or overall expertise. But one of the most striking aspects of Tomorrowland is its ability to bring people together.

“People of Tomorrowland, show your flags!”

A phrase shouted across most of the Tomorrowland stages both weekends. The experience of Tomorrowland was unique in this imagined space–an atmosphere uniting people across national and ethnic difference. A unique moment during weekend one occured when just a few fans from Sweden came together under their flags on the slopes of the mainstage. Soon, the amount of Swedish fans multiplied, identifying their national comrades. This inspired fans from other countries to assemble around Sweden, proudly holding their banners high for others to see. Within the hour, one side of the gorge was a pastiche of nation united together. During Kaskade’s set on weekend two, people from all over the world lined up next to each other across the gorge and holding their flags side by side creating a ring of nationalities around the mainstage, joined together by the love of music. Individuals journey from around the world to experience Tomorrowland, coming together through the affective bond of music.

The music of Tomorrowland itself was impeccable; Europe often considered the place of tastemakers of new electronic tunes. Both weekend’s boasted brilliant back to back sets, including Sander Van Doorn x Yves V, Laidback Luke x Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano x Dyro x Chuckie, and of course the hallmark Tiesto x Hardwell b2b to close out the mainstage each Saturday. While weekend one and weekend two differed in lineup and set times, it would be difficult to share an assessment on which was subjectively “better”. Weekend one was lucky enough to see Skrillex tear up the dance floor, while weekend two enjoyed their dose of group therapy with Above & Beyond. This proliferation of the event beyond one weekend alone allowed for a diverse and massive list of appearances to take place over Tomrorrowland’s two weekend 10th anniversary.

The diverse lineup catered to all tastes in EDM, from deep/tech house hosted on various stages throughout the grounds (a sound more widely available than at American festivals), including the esteemed Carl Cox & Friends stage, to dubstep, electro house and more. Genre was largely organized by stage, with 41 overall stage host overall.  Tomorrowland stage host’s often curated artists and sounds relevant to their labels, such as Steve Aoki with Dim Mak, Sven Vath with Cocoon, Ferry Corsten with Full On and Jamie Jones with Paradise. Trance fans could head over to the Trance Addict or Legends of Trance stage for some classic uplifting or to Q Dance to get crazy with some hardstyle over on the other end of the euphonic spectrum. Pop-up stages like the Mad Decent Stage each Friday was hosted by Diplo, Dillon Francis, DJ Snake and others. The Opera stage competed with the Tomorrowland mainstage for attention of fans for sets from heavyweight headliners, boasting an entirely new redesign this year.

The mainstage additionally debuted a new design this year, with its awe inspiring steampunk theme complete with a 9 meter waterfall and detailed moving parts. 45 high definition cameras captured the madness of the crowd each day at 7:00 pm in a group photo so clear that each person can find themselves in the massive crowd. Being the largest in size and stature, it dominated the festival’s helm. Yet stages were around just about every corner, and each offering up a uniquely different atmosphere from the next. The details of the stages often had a story behind them, like the Garden of Madness, created by artist Daniel Ost. His firework-inspired ceiling decorations included flowers specially created for the festival in a installation that can last up to 6 weeks. As a good deed to the community the plants are donated to a local Belgian hospital after the event.

The lineup itself was ambitious in undertaking, but as with any huge bill, sacrifices must be made in order to prioritize set viewing. But Tomorrowland itself curated an immersive space, encouraging attendees to get lost from any preconceived schedule.


Part of the complete Tomorrowland experience is snagging a spot in its expansive 35,000 people strong tent city, Dreamville. The expansive camping village, Dreamville, is bigger than most Belgium cities and serves as the home to more than half the festival for the weekend. As a magical haven where People of Tomorrow can relax and recharge, Dreamville provides a spread of amenities that are unique to Tomorrowland. Including its own massive Tomorrowland pre-party, called The Gathering on it’s iconic sun and moon stage with world renowned DJs kicking of the celebration.

Festivalgoers have a spectrum of accommodations options available to them when camping in Dreamville, ranging from bringing your own gear to glam-ping in one of six luxurious mansions. The event organizers make things easy for world travelers offering an Easy Tent option where all you have to do is show up and your camp is already set up for you with a colorful themed tent complete with camp chairs and air mattress all branded with the Dreamville logo. The best part about this option is you can take the gear home with you as a unique souvenir! If you have a bit more money to spend, you can spend your weekend in lavish DreamLodges, RelaxRooms or Mansions. These come equipped with electricity, actual beds among other things and a lovely communal area that resembles a (Moroccan lounge). Here you can get massages, haircuts and catered food. It truly is a home away from home.

The Dreamville Village is a world of its own, crafted like a small European town with a fountain at the center of the square, the inhabitants of the camp city will find everything they need and could ever want. Just like any town, there is a butcher serving up fresh cuts of meat for personal grilling, a bakery with freshly baked bread available every morning, and a general store to remedy all those forgotten needs. If camping has you a little frazzled, there is a beauty salon to tame the bad hair days and get your Tomorrowland style on. On top of all this there is even an authentic hookah lounge to relax with friends and enjoy the Middle Eastern tradition.

Around every astroturf covered corner, on every ergonomic bench, the inhabitants are lounging and socializing. The atmosphere in Dreamville is vibrant, relaxing and exciting, as cultures and nationalities collide to become the united People of Tomorrow.

Food & Beverage

Tomorrowland is about stimulating all the senses. Not only does it curate an excellent auditory journey, but it also mixes a tantalizing culinary experience. Tomorrowland provides a wide range of food options from healthy treats to innovative Belgian classic provided by world-renowned chefs. Patrons have a choice of over 60 food vendors, including the option to eat in a authentic Belgian Steak House or join in on a special B-Eat session, which pairs a celebrity chef’s creations with world class music. Everything is top-notch quality, certainly fresher and tastier than any festival food you will acquire in the USA and reasonably priced to boot, thanks to Tomorrowland’s token economy.

No matter what taste you are looking for, you will find something that satisfies at Tomorrowland. Belgian classsics abound, from the obvious chocolate, waffels and fresh strawberries with whipped cream from the strawberry capital Hoogstraten, to local Belgian favorites of cheese and shrimp croquettes and chicken and applesauce from a popular stand at the Antwerpen Saturday market. Even the famous delicacy of Belgian fries (frites) isn’t provided by your run of the mill festival vendor, but rather by the local fry legends of Belgium, Swa and Marieke who have come out of retirement specially for the 10th anniversary celebration, sharing their delicious frites with the People of Tomorrow. Sticking to uniting nations, Tomorrowland doesn’t just provide the tastes of Belgium, but expands to a worldly culinary experience ranging from thai food to italian to fine middle eastern cuisine–even the Chattahoochee Hills Smoke House makes an appearance all the way from the USA! It truly is a global journey of tastes.

With great food comes the need for good drinks, Tomorrowland has that covered with many delicious Belgian beers to choose from. Move over tasteless and expensive festival beer and make way for popular Belgian pilsners, ales, and wheat beers! The official beer of Tomorrowland, Maes Pilsner celebrates 10 years of partnership with the grand festival providing its delicious pilsner that will make you sneer at the selection of beer at American festivals.

Infrastructure and Improvements

After 10 years of Tomorrowland at De Schorre recreation area, it is safe to say that it is the official home of the festival. This permanent location has allowed the event organizers to put down permanent structures that benefit the festival, as well as the recreation area such as laying certain areas with concrete, erecting a permanent canopy structure and Arne Quinze’s special creation: The People of Tomorrow Bridge that exudes positive messages of life, love and unity. Event organizers are continuously looking to for ways to improve and preserve the space, coming up with ingenious ways of doing so.

Last year’s edition of Tomorrowland proved to be very wet and muddy, making the main stage’s steep slopes a hazardous and slippery mess. To remedy this and prepare for wet weather, the slope was leveled a full 80 degrees and a drainage pipe was installed. Grass protector grids were laid on the mainstage slopes for preservation of the grass while providing traction for festivalgoers.  All walking and dancing areas were laid with some sort of temporary hard surface to protect the grass as well as provide excellent mess free dance floors. With all these improvements and permanent installations, mixed with the creative, magical details, Tomorrowland has achieved the visual feel of a theme park versus a pop up festival.

In order to execute the massive production, Tomorrowland has a large behind the scenes team. There is a control center tucked away on the grounds, here 30+ people from the police to the social media team, are monitoring cameras placed around the festival and working tirelessly to keep the event running seamlessly. The organizers found a solution to crowd control making entrance into the festival occur quickly and seamlessly with the 35,000 people of Dreamville entering the festival on one end of the grounds, while the 25,000 others enter in another area of the grounds. 500 people are simply devoted to the ecological development of the festival, which includes clean up, maintenance and restoration of the grounds. Always looking to improve on methods each year, the founders of Tomorrowland anonymously roam the grounds, observing, talking to festivalgoers and asking about their experiences at the festival.


First time Tomorrowland attendees may be shocked to find that the massive festival is right in the backyard of residents of Boom, Belgium One thing most electronic music festival face is criticism and disdain from local residents, citing extreme noise levels, garbage and traffic congestion. Often, festivals must fight against the residents in order to keep the event coming back each year. Tomorrowland has found a way to work with the residents in Boom and create a sense of community between the actual town and the festival.

Tomorrowland opens its magical gates early (Wednesday) to all the residents of Boom, allowing them to come experience the wonder and see what the festival is really all about. There is a special family-friendly party thrown for the town to celebrate the community and Boom residents are offered cheaper ticket prices to Tomorrowland. The event organizers make a huge effort to include and educate the town in the mission of Tomorrowland.

For the duration of the festival, Tomorrowland provides a 24-hour hotline that residents can call with any complaints or problems. This hotline allows the event organizers to remedy situations immediately and keep the townspeople happy, instead of waiting for the mountain of complaints form angry residents to arrive once the festival is over. Tomorrowland also gives special trash bags to the people of Boom in case trash ends up in their yard. All the people have to do is leave the trash bags out in the yard and Tomorrowland staff will come collect and dispose of the waste. These measures preserve the town and immediately diffuse any problems that may arise in the community in regards to the festival.

The Future

Unique, magical and awe-inspiring, it’s no wonder people around the world are hoping to one day make the journey to Tomorrowland and become part of the madness. Luckily, Tomorrowland is here to stay, continually improving to bring you the best experience possible. However, if you happen to live half way around the world and find it difficult to make a trip to Europe, there are a few options for you to get a taste of the madness. Tomorrowland expanded to the US of A last year with its first edition of Tomorrowworld. It’s like Tomorrowland, but with its own American flair. Is that still too far away for you? Well, during weekend 1, a very special announcement was made during David Guetta’s set—Tomorrowland is coming to Sao Paolo, Brazil in May! This international festival has officially gone global reaching its magical arms around the world in a uniting embrace. It’s worth the trip!