It’s hard to believe that we went three long years without the Tomorrowland magic. As COVID restrictions relaxed, all of the world’s major festivals returned one by one. Our beloved Tomorrowland ended up being one of the last major festivals to make its return, and boy did they make it worth the wait. Tomorrowland returned in 2022 with three weekends of madness and magic. During Weekend 1 Tomorrowland made it clear that it was returning to reclaim the music festival throne. There is something almost indescribable about Tomorrowland, besides saying that you absolutely must go at least once in your life. No other festival even comes close – seriously. What is it about Tomorrowland that sets it far above the rest? We’ll talk about some of the ways below.
The Holy Grounds – De Schorre Park
Tomorrowland is one of the world’s most fortunate festivals, in that it has its own lush green park that has grown into a festival theme park over the years. Tomorrowland has such close ties with De Schorre that it funds the construction of permanent improvements each year that can be incorporated into the festival. This year Tomorrowland enlisted master artisans to create a stunning mosaic staircase that is now permanently built into the mainstage area. The Tomorrowland team also re-graded the area with turf and a stepped layout so there is natural seating all around. This is no parking lot festival – it really does feel like Disney World for adults. The signature feature of De Schorre is the natural bowl where the mainstage sits, providing the most captivating mainstage experience anywhere on earth. Besides that you’ll find stages floating on lakes, a beautiful pedestrian bridge Tomorrowland funded years prior, and plenty of natural beauty.
The Mindblowing Stages
Tomorrowland’s stages are some of the most intricate music festival stages you’ll find anywhere. The festival boasts approximately 14 stages this year – and none of them feels like an afterthought. You’ve surely seen the incredible Reflection of Love mainstage, featuring a gold/white art deco theme and a design that actually encircles the entire pit crowd area. However, the side stages are all amazing in their own right.
The Freedom Stage is back and bigger than ever before. The whimsical facade has been replaced by a massive covered seating area with an amazing water feature in the center. It’s beautiful and functional, a very Tomorrowland way of doing things. This stage might eclipse the EDC Vegas 2015 megastructure in size and scale. The Freedom Stage is now a three-story behemoth with crowd viewing balconies on both the 2nd and 3rd floors that are accessible to the general admission crowd. Floating overhead are a series of LED panel butterflies that rise and fall depending on the music. This stage hosted the awesome HOLO spectacle of Eric Prydz. We still don’t know why no other festival uses structures like this one.
The Library is a new stage this year, replacing the Lotus Stage. The Library stage is a huge improvement and a great repurposing of the 2019 Book of Wisdom Returns mainstage. Tomorrowland loves to recycle its stage parts over the years in creative ways. You never know what aspects of older stages have made their way into the side stages. The water fountains from Melodia and Planaxis have made their way into the Crystal Garden stage.
The CORE stage is also brand new for 2022 and has taken on legend status already. The massive tribal head emerging from the forest creates a vibe that is unmatched for underground sounds. This stage is one of the most unique because it feels like a completely different place than the rest of the festival, and you have to take an elevated walkway in order to get there.
The Atmosphere stage is not the largest, but it is one of the best stages you’ll ever experience. The production at the Atmosphere stage is probably the best outside of the mainstage fireworks. The entire ceiling overhead displays the patterns being shown on the LED wall behind the DJs, and this is combined with lasers shooting in every direction above you. Better yet, there is a constant stream of cold air blasting throughout the stage so you don’t need to worry about getting hot.
Each stage is beautiful in its own way and each stage has the ability to change character depending on the stage host. Freedom plays host to Eric Prydz, Joris Voorn, and Ida Engberg on Friday but then hosts Q-Dance on Saturday. If you can swing it, go multiple years or multiple weekends so you can see the same artist play at different stages with a completely different feel.
The Impeccable Lineups
Tomorrowland sets itself apart by leaning on established and beloved brands, labels, and artists for its stages. This approach has grown in popularity among other festival brands as well. This way each stage each day has its own curated vibe and crowd that is consistent throughout the day. You’ll see Afterlife, Drumcode, Alesso, Anjunabeats, Ellum, STMPD, KNTXT, and more curate the entire lineup and production for the stage that day – so you’ll find it hard to leave the stage you’re at sometimes. You won’t have Marshmello fans taking up space before Eric Prydz, because Tomorrowland has enough room and enough stages to let each stage cultivate its own vibe each day.
Another really nice thing coming from the perspective of a US attendee, is the European music tastes are so different than the US. Since the US market is dominated by Insomniac Events now, all of our lineups feature many of the same names over and over again. It’s also very bass music heavy with sprinklings of tech house. You won’t find as many varieties of bass music at Tomorrowland. Instead, there are many more varieties of techno and underground sounds you’ll rarely ever get in the US. Take advantage.
Even the Tomorrowland mainstage will offer something different than most US festivals. Tomorrowland has the guts to put artists like Jamie Jones, Tale of Us and Maceo Plex on the mainstage at the earlier part of peak time. They expose the masses to new sounds they certainly wouldn’t hear at a mainstage at Ultra or EDC. In fact, Charlotte de Witte will close down the mainstage during Weekend 3 in what is sure to be a historic performance.
I particularly loved the Eric Prydz HOLO takeover at Freedom on Friday, Charlotte de Witte’s KNTXT takeover on Friday, the Afterlife stage at Atmosphere on Saturday, and Drumcode on Sunday. However, there were also amazing lineups from Diplo’s Higher Ground, Maceo Plex’s Ellum, and even a stage featuring the golden era of EDM 2010-2012.
Over the three weekends, it would probably be easier to list the artists that aren’t playing (Solomun, David Guetta, Carl Cox, deadmau5) than to list all of the ones that did. Suffice it to say that basically everybody in the entire dance music world was probably there at one point over the course of July.
The Amazing Food
We almost forgot to mention the food! Tomorrowland goes far above and beyond to create a unique and award-winning culinary experience across the festival. Sure there are your standard food stands, but pretty much all of the food is good and there is a huge variety of options. On top of those kiosks, Tomorrowland curates several amazing dining experiences. There’s the new Mesa Food Court that is like a chill-down eating area with a DJ spinning daytime chill music where the Q-Dance stage used to be (RIP).
In all of my years going to festivals, Tomorrowland 2022 was the first time I had a sit-down meal at one. Only at Tomorrowland can you enjoy a Tomahawk steak, salad, Belgian fries, water, and wine with your friends while floating on a lake in the middle of a bustling music festival. That restaurant is called Brasa, and it’s one of several across the festival grounds. Tomorrowland takes its food so seriously, that it runs and operates a restaurant year-round called MESA in Antwerp.
The Little Things Make All The Difference
While all of the above reasons are enough to sell you on Tomorrowland, the thing that really brings Tomorrowland to legend status is the attention to detail and the times when you notice Tomorrowland has thought of everything. No matter what stage you are at there are amble bars right there at the stage, so you can go get a drink without leaving the music behind. The indoor stages like Freedom and Atmosphere have bars built into the stage – even on the 2nd level balcony. No matter where you are there are bathrooms close by, and they are not your average porta potties. They are much nicer.
And who can forget the mainstage troughs? Yes at the mainstage in the very center of the crowd there are structures with bars and a viewing platform, but on the sides of these structures are long metal troughs that act as huge urinals. It’s weird but it’s also genius. Why fight to get out of the crowd and then walk 15 minutes and wait in a long line when you can make a quick stop at the trough?
What’s another cool Tomorrowland innovation? The Daybreak Sessions sets. Tomorrowland books a legendary big-name artist (Jamie Jones, Laidback Luke, Chocolate Puma during Weekend 1) to play a 2-3 hour set on the mainstage straight away at noon. Most other stages don’t open until 2-3, so it gives everybody time to trickle in earlier. Tomorrowland has a good lineup from beginning to end, so this way you won’t miss out on those up-and-comers playing in the afternoon.
Crowd areas aren’t taken away for VIP. The “Comfort” amenities are off to the side, and they’re reasonably priced. There is ample signage around the festival grounds showing you where to go to reach the various stages scattered across the landscape. The cell phone reception was generally fine throughout the entire area. You won’t find yourself dealing with as many long lines and hassles as you will at many other festivals. Tomorrowland is a well-oiled machine, and by Weekend 3 which starts tomorrow they’ll have ironed out any kinks that might exist.
So you’re probably one of the many that say “next year I’m going to Tomorrowland” year after year. Let me be the first to tell you – get planning now. Here’s a little secret – while the tickets do sell out in minutes – you can still get tickets by booking a Global Journey package. As long as you’re willing to package your travel and accommodation through Tomorrowland – there are tickets available after the big sell-out announcement comes. Make yourself a promise to go to Tomorrowland in 2023.