It has always been a dream to attend the Tomorrowland festival. A weekend of partying, dancing, having fun, going crazy… and leaving all the worries behind. The only problem with living so far away on the other side of earth, is that it is difficult to gather a bunch of friends who are willing to spend THAT amount of money, to travel THAT amount of distance and to stay for THAT amount of time.
I guess I got lucky. I did find that bunch of friends; and it was a surprise… completely unplanned and last minute. We decided to do it on a whim; bought the tickets, booked the flights, settled the accommodations and within a month, we were off to Tomorrowland 2014!
I was in awe the first day I stepped into Tomorrowland. The place was huge and beautiful; everything crafted and built according to the theme… it was just like a fantasy land. A very crowded fantasy land!
I knew that thousands and thousands of people head to Tomorrowland every year since it began in 2005, but I never expected it to be as packed as it was. It was crazy! With the crowd, the blaring noise, the huge location… it took a little time getting use to; but at the end of it all, I had one of the best times of my life. Watching the fireworks go off on the last day, I still couldn’t believe I actually made it to the festival. I sang and danced, made friends with random people, got lost… and as a first-timer, there were many experiences, confusing moments and unexpected situations that occurred over my weekend at Tomorrowland.
So with what I’ve been through, I’d like to share some tips with you on what to plan for and what to expect… if you’re thinking of heading to the world’s most awesome music festival for the first time.
1) Get Your Tickets Early!
Ticket sales for Tomorrowland, held every summer, usually opens at the beginning of the year. Be sure to register and get yourself a place as fast as you can; both the tickets and festival accommodations (Dreamville) are usually sold out within the first 24 hours.
However, if you make your decision late, like I did; you can still purchase your tickets second-hand. We bought ours from viagogo.com; and since it was a month before the festival, we paid twice the original amount. Not a smart decision, but that was how desperate we were. Just be really careful when you do this… internet ticket fraud is not uncommon.
2) Choose Your Accommodations Carefully
For the full Tomorrowland experience, stay at Dreamville. There are many types of accommodations here, ranging from camping sites, to rooms and mansions. It’s close to the festival and the party never stops; it could be a good thing, or a bad one… I talked to a guy staying at the camping grounds and he told me horror stories about his drunk and extremely violent neighbour. I guess he was just unlucky.
Another option is to stay at nearby cities like Antwerp, Mechelen or Brussels. We opted for Antwerp, which is a beautiful city… the only hassle was getting to the festival. The bus (No.500) to the festival takes about an hour; and getting back at midnight involves a long walk to the bus stop, a bus ride (provided by the festival) to the train station, and a train ride back to Antwerp. There are no direct public buses at that hour.
3) Don’t Forget Your Ticket and ID/Passport
These are the most important things to remember to bring if you want to party in Tomorrowland. Tickets are exchanged for a personalised Tomorrowland bracelet that shows your name in the system when its scanned. Remember to wear those bracelets and bring your ID or passport for verification purposes. If you don’t, you can’t get in!
4) Take Care of Yourself – Before and During the Festival
You want to have the most fun of your life… so be safe. People come to the festival from all over the world, and from all walks of life; so always be vigilant, know your limits and watch what you eat or drink. We saw a young woman collapse by the walkway and someone had to call the paramedics.
And before the festival, try not to get injured. I’m adding this in because one of my friends got into a motorbike accident prior to the festival and he had to hobble around on crutches the entire time. Not exactly how someone would want to party!
5) Wear Your Best Festival Outfit and Good Shoes (That You Don’t Mind Getting Dirty)
I loved seeing what people wore at the festival. Outrageous outfits, costumes, skimpy bikinis, spandex… you name it, and someone would probably be wearing it. So come in your most creative ensemble and blend in with the crowd. I was contented with my flowery headband… won’t be caught baking in the sun with something like a furry onesie.
In my opinion, shoes are very important. The festival grounds are vast, and you’ll be walking, standing and jumping most of the time, so comfortable shoes would make your experience much more enjoyable. Make sure you don’t mind those shoes getting dirty. It rained on one of the days I was there… I was on the grassy part of the main stage so my boots were covered with mud!
6) Bring your Country Flag and Wave it Around
I wish I did this. Most people had their country flags with them, and waving it while dancing in the crowd is kinda awesome. Looking down from the hill at the main stage; the waving sea of flags was quite a sight. I could see flags from countries all over the world, some more than others… but none from Malaysia. I wish I added it into the mix. I later saw a fellow Malaysian carrying a flag, but he was wearing it around his waist.
7) Study the Map and Schedule – Choose Your Acts
There were 16 stages at the 2014 Tomorrowland, and DJs performing at every one of those stages all throughout the day. Chances are, you’re gonna miss a couple of your favourite acts. So take it easy, read the schedule and choose. Remember that the festival grounds are huge and getting from stage to another is going to take time — don’t forget the huge crowd!
If you can’t decide where to head to, just drop by any random stage and enjoy the music. Tomorrowland is a great place to discover new favourite DJs. I enjoyed myself the lazy way… I selected a stage of the day and stayed there, partying with every DJ that got on it.
8) Don’t Rush to the Stage Front, the Back Offers Fantastic Views
Most people squeeze, push and pull to get right in front of the stage, especially when there is a big act playing. I tried doing it once and gave up halfway; it was hot and stuffy, and it didn’t help that I am short and couldn’t see anything up front.
So don’t rush to the front, go further back instead. You’ll still get to hear the music loud and clear. I loved sitting on the grassy hill facing the main stage, it offers an elevated view of the entire arena; including the specially designed stage. Plus, I got to lie down on the grass whenever I want to, and had lots of space to dance.
9) Stay for the Whole Show, or Not – Your Choice
There are fireworks and laser shows every night in Tomorrowland, and it’s the best part of the day. Be sure to stay till the very end to watch it, it is epic! We tried to leave the grounds early on the first night to avoid the crowd… and missed the fireworks, only watching a glimpse of it from outside the festival site.
We stayed back the next two nights to watch the closing of the shows at the main stage; and the fireworks never ceased to amaze me. The laser show was something else though… it kinda frightened me a little. But it was all worth the pushing and pulling through the crowd to get out of the festival site after the show ends. But if that is not your thing, watch it from afar, leave early and avoid the ‘after-show’ chaos.
10) Drink Water and Wear Sunscreen
It is summer time and the sun can be merciless. Music is playing all day long; and we can’t help but dance, jump around and sweat a lot. Remember to rehydrate, and don’t forget your sunscreen! Yes, I got sunburned.
11) Try the Food
You won’t get gourmet high quality food at the festival, and you will have to rush with crowd to get to the front of the line; but the food’s good! I especially loved the falafel and the mayo ketchup fries… we had that everyday! So make time to eat, and replenish the energy to continue party party party!
12) Be Careful of Your Belongings
You don’t need money in Tomorrowland; everything is paid with special Tomorrowland currency. So don’t bring too much cash or precious items at the risk of it getting lost or stolen. If you have to, there are lockers at the entrance of the festival, leave your stuff there and party with no worries.
13) Meet New People, Make New Friends
The people are part of what makes Tomorrowland fun. Don’t be afraid to make new friends, talk to people; some of them have been to the festival many many times and could offer some good advice on how to enjoy it.
I had some conversations with random people at the oddest places; talked to some Americans while stuck in a queue to buy lunch, met some Russians when we were all cramped under a small shade waiting for the rain to stop, had some laughs with a slightly tipsy Australian who got separated from her friends, and danced with party-goers from countries all over the globe. Most people are generally friendly.
14) Be Patient
And while there are nice people; there are also those who are not so nice. Some people don’t know how to queue, some can be nasty drunks, and some are just plain rude. I think the most important value to practice here is patience. Ignore or walk away.
While we were partying at the main stage, there was a drunk guy who was standing in front of us who keep on shouting at people who passed in front of him, and at one point he almost had a fight with someone. He was rather entertaining to watch, so we stayed where we were but kept out of his way.
15) Go Crazy and Have Fun!
You’re here to have the time of your life, so let go of all inhibitions and enjoy yourself! Dance like no one’s watching, sing like you’re a superstar… shake it off, head bang, do the ugly dance, who cares? Everyone is here to have fun, so get your share of it and bring back lots of exciting stories and awesome memories. Oh, and if you see the Tomorrowland videographer, try to get yourself on camera and be in the after-movie!
Some Quick Facts About Tomorrowland:-
What is it: The largest annual EDM festival in the world, started since 2005.
Where: Boom, Belgium.
When: Every summer, usually in July.
Price: The ticket to the festival is about €230++ (2014 – it increases every year) for a 3-day pass, or €90++ for a day.
Past Performers: Armin van Buuren, David Guetta, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, Tiesto, Paul van Dyk, Hardwell, Steve Aoki, Dave Clark, Skrillex, plus hundreds of other DJs from around the world.