::Boom, Belgium | July 26th – July 30th, twenty.12::
Well this is it folks. The culmination of 3 months of backpacking through Europe. The Piece de Resistance. The perfect ending to a perfect trip. The grand finale…
I thought long and hard about how to best blog about Tomorrowland 2012… It is literally impossible to describe the atmosphere and energy of Tomorrowland. We are talking 4 days of pure elation…
If you have no idea what Tomorrowland is, and why it is such a PERFECT ending to our trip, then let me start by saying you are missing out! Allow me to enlighten you. Tomorrowland 2012 stats:
- Tomorrowland is without a doubt one of the largest (and most sought after) electronic dance festivals in the world
- 2012 was the eight installment of the 3-day festival that is held at the De Schorre National Park in Boom, Belgium
- This year there were over 180,000 people in attendance from over 75 countries!
- The line up consisted of over 400 – yes 400 – of the worlds best DJ’s who played on 15 stages set throughout the festival grounds. We’re talking: Skrillex, Steve Aoki, David Guetta, Avicii, Nervo, Carl Cox, Afrojack, Chuckie, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Paul Van Dyke, Dirty South, Gareth Emery, John O’Callaghan, Zeds Dead, The Bloody Beetroots, Subscape, Rebecca & Fiona and Adrian Lux. I feel ashamed for not listing everyone haha
- Tickets sold out in a single day and there were over 2,000,000 people in the queue trying to get tickets
- There were over 35,000 people camping out in Dreamville – including Stace and I 😉
Obviously Tomorrowland is THE festival to attend if you like electronic/dance/dubstep/house/whatever-you-want-to-call-it type music. The story behind Stace and I getting tickets is actually pretty amazing.
See, tickets went on sale during the day in Belgium so Stace and I had to be online at 3am in order to try to get our hand on some tickets (which went on sale on April 7th.) We had done enough research about Tomorrowland to know that tickets sell out ridiculously quick and if you don’t have an enormous amount of luck on your side then your chances of getting tickets are slim to none.
Stace and I decided the best way to up our chances at getting a pair was to work on two separate computers. That way we would both have a shot at securing some tickets. The ticketing system was a little funky. But, if you take into consideration the sheer volume of people trying to get tickets at the same time, nothing is going to work smoothly.
Basically, you had to get onto the website and you were put into a waiting queue. I am pretty sure it was first come, first serve. But with hundreds of thousands of people trying to be first in line, if you were even a couple of minutes late then you weren’t getting tickets.
Stace and I both got into the queue and kept refreshing our browsers. By fate, luck and divine intervention, I happened to get a pair of tickets in my cart at the same time Stace was kicked out of the queue and put back in with like 4 or 5 hours of wait time! I am pretty sure I was sweating and shaking as I ever-so-carefully input our personal details and credit card information. A mistake at a time like this would be unforgivable!
(The ‘town center’ in Dreamville)
After submitting our order, I can remember sitting there until well after 4am refreshing my email waiting for the confirmation to come through. And when it did… it was an amazing sense of excitement and relief all at the same time! I honestly don’t know what it would have felt like had we not been able to get tickets… UGH.
We had been looking forward to this event since the day we found out about Tomorrowland and we were both overwhelmed with excitement when we were leaving Antwerp for Boom! Now you know why we absolutely had to find some camping gear… We bought the Full Madness Pass, which gave us access to the music grounds for all 3 days, and the Dreamville 5 day pass which gave us access to the campground for the entire festival. The cost of the whole shebang? Invaluable 😉
So here we are, boarding a train from Antwerpen Centraal. Destination? Boom, Belgium. Luckily, this was the origin of the train so Stace and I were able to snag some seats. With each stop, more and more and more people packed onto the train with even more of them being left behind to try their luck at the next train…
(Main stage at Tomorrowland)
When we arrived at the stop in Boom, there were busses that were taking everyone to the festival grounds. You can imagine what it was like every time a bus pulled up… like a horde of animals vying for a suckle at the tit… It took a couple of busses before Stace and I were able to cram ourselves onto one. Whew, off we go right? Wrong. The bus driver (must have been a noob) got us wedged/jackknifed at the terminal!
(The details of all the stages & decoration was absolutely amazing. No expense was spared! It’s like walking around a grown-up Disney Land)
Forward and reverse, forward and reverse. We weren’t getting anywhere and the bus was heating up like an oven with so many people crammed onto it with ALLLLL of their camping gear. After literally 20 minutes, some people had to remove the passenger-side mirror which allowed us to eek out our turn… shoulda just ripped the thing off!
When we arrived at the festival we had quite the walk to get to the main gate and then one hell-ova wait to get our wristbands. It was hot and we were parched! We finally got our wristbands and made our way into Dreamville. Dreamville is basically a ‘pop-up’ town center for all of the people camping at the festival. The campgrounds were set in hundreds of acres of grass fields. We made our way to the area where they were currently letting people set up tents.
(Dim Mak Stage)
It was a frenzy as people were trying to stake their tents and claim their ground. Since Stace and I didn’t have a gazebo or any other fancy equipment, it didn’t take us long to pitch the tent and throw our gear inside. It was pretty tight quarters because we had all of our backpacking gear inside the tent with us!
(Stace checking out the daily line-up)
The only problem we really faced was that we had nowhere to sit outside of the tent. The grass was always moist and we had no chairs. Luckily, one of the pop-up shops was selling little camping chairs! Problem solved right? Unfortunately, no. They were kids chairs and two of the legs on mine broke within the first 3 minutes of use… Should have laid off the gelato in Italy… We actually ended up buying a tarp, that was the equivalent of Saran wrap, and laid it out to sit on… eh, it worked I suppose.
(My sandal finally threw up the white flag. I walked for 3 months in these sandals… sad day had to use a zip tie to limp them through the festival haha)
Dreamville had a little ‘town center’ where there were a couple of pop-up shops, one of which was a little market. The problem with the market was that it was only open for certain hours and they limited the number of people inside at once. So there was always an insanely long line of people waiting to buy some meager rations.
Stace and I did some asking around and found out there was a supermarket a couple of kilometers away so we set off to find it and pick up some supplies. We got lost on our way there and ended up going into a little bar, ordering a beer and some water, slamming both and then continuing our search. We realized that we had passed the market because it was set back off from the street.
(Another very elaborate stage design!)
(A really quick look at life in Dreamville and Tomorrowland)
The market was great but it was lacking one thing: ice. This precious commodity was nowhere to be found in the vicinity of Tomorrowland. So, that meant we could only get things that we were either going to eat immediately or that wouldn’t spoil… Lets just say that we ate a lot of granola and peanut butter & jelly sandwich’s!
We had to go to the market pretty much on a daily basis because we could only carry so much back to the tent. Getting from our tent, through Dreamville to the road, walking all the way to the market and then back again took a couple of hours at least! We usually stocked up on water, boxed wine, beer, and some random snacks each time we went. There was food and drink available inside Tomorrowland but the options were slim, the prices steep and the lines were long…
(Rehydrating before we heading back into the festival)
(What an awesome place to party right??)
It decided to pour rain one afternoon which made the festival even that much more fun! It’s a good thing that we brought my tent from the States cause most people were using flimsy excuses for tents and their stuff ended up getting soaked!
(Main stage at Tomorrowland… Epic!)
(Yes it is as cool as it looks)
(Time to go buy some juice boxes!)
One of our favorite little joints inside the grounds was called Bicky’s. Our item of choice? The double Bicky Burger of course!… I know, it sounds really appetizing doesn’t it?? We usually picked one up on the way back to our tent and enjoyed it with a little night-cap.
Dreamville had showering/refreshment points throughout the grounds but as you can imagine, the wait was ridiculously long! So, Stace and I decided to forgo showering (hell, we’d been backpacking for the last 3 months anyways) and just basically rinse-off in the sinks at the refreshment points…
(Whats better than partying at the top of the main stage?…)
…yeah I am engaged to her
(Those spectacles of mine are actually from the DJ Tiesto concert we went to while in Ljubljana!)
(The camera was struggling to shoot smooth panoramic pics with so much movement and lighting changes… sa-weet nonetheless!)
(The energy of this many people all coming together to enjoy music and life is unexplainable…)
Dreamville and the actual music stages at Tomorrowland are completely separate. The campgrounds are on one end of the festival grounds and the stages are on the other. One day Stace and I decided to time how long it took us to walk from our tent to the entrance of the music stages… just over 20 minutes at a good click! Then, once you got into the Tomorrowland entrance, you still had a healthy 10 – 20 minute walk depending on what stage you were headed to! Lets just say that when we left our home-sweet-tent, we brought a few libations with us to stay hydrated on the trek…
I can’t even begin to list the number of DJ’s/artists we saw and on what stage. For 3 days in a row, DJ’s played noon until 1am on 15 different stages! One of the coolest things about Tomorrowland was that each morning the would hand out newspapers (like a full-on, legitimate newspaper) to everyone camping out in Dreamville. You could read about yesterday’s highlights and today’s attractions. So Stace and I would look at the line-up and try to narrow down who we wanted to see. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see everyone we wanted because so many DJ’s were playing at the same time.
(It was like the 4th of July for 3 nights in a row!)
(This is the kind of stuff your dreams are made of…)
There really is no way for me to do justice in describing life at Tomorrowland. The best way for you to experience it is to try to buy some tickets… The next best way is to watch the official Tomorrowland 2012 After Movie: I still get the goosebumps every time I watch it
And with that, it was time to pack up shop, stuff everything into our backpacks and follow the heard of people to the busses. When we arrived at the train station I figured it was going to be a nightmare trying to get onto a train. It turns out that everything was roped off, systematic and very orderly. We boarded the train and took it back to Antwerpen Centraal.
After about an hour we were back in Antwerp. We walked from the train station up to the bus station where we picked up the tickets we had reserved before we left for Tomorrowland… Let’s just say that we were not looking forward to this bus ride…
The question every one at the festival was asking: “Is there life after Tomorrowland…?”