My Experience at Tomorrowland 2018 Belgium
Tomorrowland is often dubbed as the king of all EDM festivals since the production and lineups are usually top notch. Attending this festival has been on my rave bucket list for years, but I have never really been able to go due to the cost of international travel as well as saving up a few weeks to take off from work. After watching countless after movies in 2017, my husband and I vowed to make 2018 the year of Tomorrowland! Side note, I plan on creating a series of blogs around Tomorrowland including what it was like to camp in DreamVille as well as my thoughts on traveling via Tomorrowland’s Discover Europe package. Without further adieu, let’s dive into my experience at Tomorrowland 2018 Belgium – The Story of Planaxis!
Traveling to Tomorrowland
There are a ton of ways to get to Tomorrowland, but we chose to travel via Global Journey. It’s a package you can book with Tomorrowland that ensures you a ticket to the festival and gives you a chance to travel beforehand with other festival goers. A blog about all of this is coming soon! You can also try your luck at getting tickets to Tomorrowland, but it’s extremely difficult. Anyway, we arrived to Tomorrowland from Antwerp, Belgium by bus. It was about 45 minutes away as Tomorrowland is held in a tiny town called Boom. It’s super cute and all the residents put Tomorrowland flags up in their windows! If you aren’t camping in DreamVille, your other option is to book a Tomorrowland themed hotel or to rent an Airbnb. Something that I found unique was how the whole world is pretty much represented at this festival. Tomorrowland is really proud of this and they give everyone who participates in the Discover Europe or Discover Belgium package a flag to wear or carry at the festival, so it’s a fun way to see where everyone is coming from!
Security was so easy to get through for campers. They have you walk through a metal detector and just look inside your bag or backpack. No one pat me down at all! One of our friends, however, was randomly searched very thoroughly but through the non-camping entrance.
As mentioned above, Tomorrowland always has a theme, and this year was the Story of Planaxis. It was sort of like an underwater theme that really only applies to the main stage. What I love about this venue is that it’s so green (unlike Southern California) and it was huge! Took us nearly 45 minutes to do a full loop of the venue. Something that appealed to us from the get-go were the hours. Tomorrowland runs from 12-12 and it was also conveniently a 10 minute walk to our campsite in DreamVille. I did hear horror stories about the shuttles if you stayed in a hotel. Someone was mentioning to me that they only have two times: 11:00 AM and then 1:00 AM after the festival is over. I definitely wouldn’t have loved that as 12+ hours is such a long time to be at an event in the heat of Summer. I also heard that the walk to these shuttles was 3 miles!!!
Tomorrowland boasts over 15 stages and does a great job of hosting different genres so you aren’t stuck in one area the whole time. I love the look and feel of this festival. It’s so fairy-esque and has a Disney vibe to it. The vegetation is lush and the stages are beautiful. Sound system is top notch too!
Ok, so you’re probably thinking, “wow, this sounds like the best festival ever!” right? Well…nothing is really perfect (except maybe EDC :p)! Let me introduce you to the pearl system.
Tomorrowland has its own currency called the “Pearl”. “Pearl” is the official cashless currency of Tomorrowland and DreamVille. “Pearl” is the only way of payment for food, drinks and most other items at Tomorrowland and DreamVille. Before you get into the festival and register your wristband, you are encouraged to put “pearls” on your wristband. A pearl is 1.6 x the Euro and you can imagine how this cost adds up really quick. High prices are expected at all festivals, but this was to a level that I have never ever experienced. Plates of ordinary food such as 2 small tacos, sushi, or burgers would be up to 12 pearls translating to nearly $23 USD! This was one of the most disappointing aspects of the festival as we were forced to pay these prices since we were basically trapped in DreamVille. I thought it was a sneaky way of getting more money out of everyone. Like 14 pearls sounds way cheaper than $25 USD.
A major selling point to this festival is that you are pretty much always guaranteed a solid lineup. We were so excited to be able to see some international DJs that rarely make it to the US. The staggering of talent is similar to how our festivals would be where the headliners appear last. We spent a lot of time at the Anjuna hosted stage and fortunately were able to see Carl Cox and Charlotte De Witte at the main stage. I also loved that they had a trance classics stage. Took me back to my younger years! My favorite would have to be Fatboy Slim – he always puts on such an amazing show!
Food and Drink
There are plenty of food and drink vendors. Beer is actually the cheapest thing here, but I can’t drink it (gluten intolerant), so I was actually sober this whole weekend since the alcohol was highway robbery. Tomorrowland has everything from burgers, frites (yummy Belgian fries), sushi, tacos, hot dogs, ice cream, etc. I did find them to be lacking for items such as salads or fruit, so vegans might have a tough time finding options. My favorite was a restaurant that had this local meat and it was sort of barbequed. It was called secreto. So amazing!
Another thing that I didn’t love about this festival was the crowd and the vibes. Everyone gets super wasted and sloppy at Tomorrowland and it sort of feels like one giant pub crawl (as my husband says -haha)! I am not opposed to drinking and having a good time, but so many guys were harassing girls, people were stumbling and pushing, and it just got a little too out of control. Up until 5PM, it’s still easy to walk around the venue, but after that it is absolute madness. Tomorrowland is big, but the lanes and areas to cross the stages seem tiny. It took us nearly 30 minutes to get to the stage next to us and it was way overpacked everywhere to the point you could barely move between people. Not cool considering Tomorrowland acts like this festival is super exclusive and hard to get into. Seems like they just packed it past capacity. So many people seem like they are there just to party and less for the music or culture. We did meet some nice people, of course! Regarding age, there was a huge range! I would say it was an average of late 20s and early 30s, but I saw and met people well into their 50s attending!
I had heard and researched that Europeans don’t typically dress up much for festivals, and I definitely found this to be the case! Most people dress as if they were attending Coachella (some bohemian attire and some fashion forward), but it’s all about comfort! I definitely stuck out with my outfits, but I was photographed and videoed by Tomorrowland multiple times. Even some of the attendees were asking for photos with me! I’m an over-the-top type dresser, but I’m glad I didn’t tone it down for this festival. I think you should always embrace your preferences. ?
Well, I made it very clear that the cost was probably the worst part about this festival. Trust me, I am no stranger to spending money at festivals, but I still can’t overlook this! If you absolutely are dying to go to Tomorrowland, I recommend saving for a while as attending this festival through Global Journey could’ve literally paid for 10 EDCs!!
In the end, I don’t regret going because I had a great time and really treasured this once in a lifetime experience. I am grateful to have had this opportunity and to have even more of an appreciation for the local festivals. Here are some positive and negatives if you are trying to evaluate this festival:
- Beautiful venue
- Great talent and lineup
- Amazing production
- Unique stages
- Good hours
- Easy pat down
- Sound system
- Beer is the cheapest thing
- Nice bathrooms (real working toilettes and they had everything stocked including free sunscreen and deodorant)!
- Way too crowded when moving from stage to stage
- Extremely expensive in general
- People not really there for the music
- Shuttles only run at 10am and 1am so you are forced to stay the whole time and then walk 3 miles to the pickup point
That about does it for a recap of my experience at Tomorrowland 2018 Belgium! Hope you enjoyed and feel free to let me know if you have any questions or anything to add. Stay tuned for more info on what it was like to camp in DreamVille as well as my experience with the Global Journey package!