Tomorrowland is an event unlike any other.
The 3-day festival celebrated its thirteenth year, in 2017, with two weekends of DJs spanning the entire gamut of electronic music. But limiting the annual gala to only music would greatly undersell the party. More than just an event, Tomorrowland is an experience. And the Tomorrowland experience starts when the plane first lands in Belgium.
Decorations greeted visitors as they made their way through the Brussels terminal. Beautiful ladies adorned in light blue outfits tended official welcome desks, answering questions and providing information. The steady beat of house music pumped from a nearby kiosk selling cell phone SIM cards to international travelers. Anticipation was in the air. Eyes gleamed with electricity as person after person gathered their luggage and left the building.
Belgian hospitality did not end at the airport though.
Many U.S. festivals like Imagine Music Festival, held south of Atlanta in Hampton, often run into angry residents who demand elected officials shut down or scale back the event. The entire city of Brussels, on the other hand, rolled out the red carpet for Tomorrowland ticket-holders.
Grote Markt, the Brussels town square, served as the epicenter for pre-game festivities.
Tomorrowland banners sporting the words, “Magic, Beauty, Unity and Love,” garnished the Museum of the City of Brussels located across from city hall. Tomorrowland flags waved from poles usually reserved for Belgium’s national flag. A DJ played a high-energy set from the museum’s balcony while locals and visitors danced below. Tourists packed the shops and restaurants surrounding the square, sampling food and beer. The day ended with a massive fete at another Brussels hotspot, Tour & Taxis.
Dawn brought Tomorrowland’s second weekend into focus.
Boom, a town of over 16,000 in northeast Belgium, continued the warm reception shown in Brussels the night before. Homes along the route to the festival featured Tomorrowland flags hanging from their windows. It was a sight that again demonstrated contrasting differences in attitudes toward large-scale events like Tomorrowland between the Americans and the Belgians.
Sixteen stages dotted Provinciaal Recreatiedomein De Schorre, the park that’s hosted Tomorrowland since 2005.
Unlike some American concerts, where performance areas possess little imagination, Tomorrowland’s structures tell a story through their elaborate designs that utilize existing landscapes. The dragon stage (pictured right) is a prime example of the Belgians’ attention to detail.
Each Tomorrowland carries a theme. The theme for 2017 was Amicorum Spectaculum. Amicorum Spectaculum brought the circus to town. Literally.
An enormous stage sat at the center of Tomorrowland complete with tightrope walkers, a moving merry-go-round, popcorn, cotton candy and a ringmaster emceeing the show totally underneath the big top.
2017 was the year Tomorrowland proved they are the greatest EDM show on Earth.
More than 400,000 people came from 198 countries to Tomorrowland this year. That is only seven fewer than the number of countries represented at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
The People of Tomorrow, as they are lovingly called by event organizers, carried their nation’s flag proudly. The central food court often showcased the global family gathered in Boom for this 3-day affair. The number of national colors, from around the world, seen at Tomorrowland were countless.
The People of Tomorrow and their welcoming spirit made it virtually impossible for anyone not to make friends. Music united everyone and transcended language barriers.
Tomorrowland is an event everyone should experience at least once. The festival’s magic, which starts at the airport before moving to the Brussels city center and onto the event itself, is barely describable. You have to see it in person to believe it and feel it.