As a child, you probably remember grand story book adventures, fairy princesses, and faraway lands that promised your every wish and dream coming true.
As we transitioned from kids without a care in the world to adults laden with responsibility (which can also be an exciting adventure in itself!), a lot of us have forgotten things like magic and wonder.
Then I spent a weekend at Tomorrowland.
Whenever someone asks me how my trip to Tomorrowland was, I give the same
response: it was a fairytale physically come to life.
In this blog post, I will outline my personal experience of Tomorrowland 2019. This will hopefully help a few people who might be considering committing to the trip, but are overwhelmed with all the information out there (I know I was!).
I encourage everyone to contrast and compare all the Tomorrowland guides out there as well, as they are very comprehensive.
How many people did you go with? 14 people!
What weekend did you go? Weekend 2!
Total Costs? About $3000 CAD ($2200 USD) for the flight, Global Journey Hotel Ticket, Car Rental, Food, and Misc. Items.
Did you visit any other countries? Yes! We landed in Amsterdam, took a train to Belgium for the festival, and flew out to Portugal for the duration of our trip.
Was it the best weekend of your life? Absolutely.
Have you ever tried to purchase Yeezys when everyone still wanted them? Purchasing our tickets was basically that, but on steroids.
Tomorrowland tickets are insanely competitive to buy, not only because of overall demand, but the organization reserves set amounts of tickets for people living in Belgium to ensure the residents and locals are able to attend.
Getting a SINGLE TML ticket is very difficult. Most people buy packages that they necessarily do not need just to obtain the ticket. For example, someone might buy a Train Package, but will not utilize the train ticket as they have some other means of getting to the festival.
The type of package my friends decided to try to purchase was the Global Journey Hotel Package. This is a package that lumps together the price of a hotel and ticket. The hotels offer transportation to and from the festival, along with fun cool swag such as Tomorrowland newspapers and a surprise bag!
Boom, the town that the festival is hosted in, is very tiny. Thus, Airbnb-ing was NOT an option. Most people stay near Brussels and simply commute to the festival every day. There is NO UBER available into Boom, so don’t depend on that for transport.
The first step of procuring a ticket is to pre-register on the website. The first 20 people from each country who register will be able to purchase their tickets ahead of the sales event.
When ticket drop day finally came, my friends and I set up a meeting time and we all instructed to bring: coffee, laptops, and our sense of optimism. Each person is able to purchase up to four tickets, so the more people you have, the better chances you have of buying enough for everyone.
When the website finally opened to purchase tickets, it. Was. A. Mad. House. The website loaded very slowly, and we watched packages get sold out within minutes.
The key is to be patient, and resist the undying urge to press refresh or else you will get sent to the end of the queue.
*Tip: my friend who brought his GAMING laptop had the website cooperate with him the best. He was able to purchase his tickets first out of all of us. Us regular plebs had to wait a little, but eventually the website started cooperating.
We eventually managed to buy the Global Journey Bronze Package for the NH Berlaymont Hotel in Brussels for all 14 of us! The entire ticket buying process took about an hour including lag time.
In Canadian dollars, the tickets cost about 1300 CAD per person, or 980 USD.
CHECKING IN TO THE HOTEL:
The hotel we were in decorated itself in full TML gear (see photo of the check in desk below). The employees really buy into the theme and really try to make your stay as welcoming as possible.
*Tip: we landed during the HOTTEST weekend in Belgium EVER recorded. AC is not a super common thing in most European cities. Our hotel did have AC but it was not very strong.
I invested in a $20 portable and rechargeable fan from Amazon which literally saved me from having heat stroke. One of my friends slept in the bathtub filled with water (do not try at home) because the heat was so unbearable.
Upon checking in, you received a swag bag, and were entered into a fun little raffle. I ended up winning a discount in the TML store!
GETTING TO THE FESTIVAL
While our ticket included shuttle service, my friends and I decided to rent a car to get to and from the festival. The reasons being:
- We wanted more control over when we arrived and left the festival (the shuttles at our hotel left at 12pm every day, but we wanted to sleep in)
- We could keep our valuables in the trunk
- Being in a vehicle with 4 other people vs 300 is generally just more preferable for the soul at the end of a long day
Having a car made my experience much better as we eliminated the ambiguity of where our ride home was at the end of the day, and the hustle and bustle of getting a seat on the shuttle.
From the NH Berlaymont, it was about a 25 – 30 minute drive. Parking at the festival is about 20 euros for the whole festival (a steal in my opinion when you can split that with the other passengers!).
Some things to consider if you are also thinking about renting a car:
- It is quite expensive. I luckily had a corporate discount with my company and it averaged out to about 500 – 600 CAD for one car (375 USD)
- Europeans generally drive manual cars – there are automatic cars available for rental but are more expensive
- If the driver is not over 25, there is an additional insurance fee to pay
- You need to allocate a Designated Driver per day
Overall, the advantages definitely outweighed the disadvantages and I would 100% rent a car again. The way I rationalize it is that I am already spending a lot of money on TML in general and I want the entire experience to be a good one because it is really a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Now onto the festival itself! The big TLDR of this section is that TML succeeds not only as a music festival, but as a very well-run EVENT in general. In my opinion, TML does NOT oversell tickets. We’ve all been to festivals where there were just TOO many people for the venue.
No one wants to wait in a 45 minute water line (shout out to anyone who might know which festival is infamous for committing that sin…), and TML doesn’t want you to either! This part will be broken down into: amenities, stages and performances, and overall vibes.
Why am I talking about boring things like amenities instead of the awesome line up or stages? Because good amenities, in my opinion, are what separates an okay festival from a GREAT festival. In order to give off the best PLUR vibes, you need to take care of yourself first.
Bathrooms: the TML bathroom experience legitimately ruined every single subsequent festival bathroom experience for the rest of my life because it was legitimately a 10/10 experience. The portable bathrooms, first of all, were PORCELAIN.
LET’S SAY THIS ONE MORE TIME: P O R C E L A I N.
Did I also mention that they flushed????
Did I ALSO mention how there are dedicated attendants that regularly clean the stalls so you will always have paper, and it will always be clean?
And the mic drop moment of them all: I waited maximum 5 minutes all weekend for a bathroom. I, personally, have the bladder of a hamster. This meant I basically had to use the bathroom no less than 10 times a day, and each time was the best experience my bladder ever had.
Food and drinks: to get to the point – the food at TML was amazing. My standards for food at festivals is usually very low, but TML provided great quality meals that I felt I would have eaten for a semi-fancy night out with my girl friends.
Food vendors might chance but I highly recommend the chicken burgers and pasta! My friends and I usually stopped by the food booth towards the end of the night for some last-minute unwinding time before heading home.
The water bottles you purchase at the festival are given to you without caps. This was insanely annoying to try to hold and dance at the same time.
*Tip: Bring some water caps into the festival, otherwise you’ll have to hold an open bottle the entire time. (See me enjoying a beer without worrying about bathroom logistics later. Also see the open water bottle. Annoying!)
By the way – the festival is entirely cashless. You need to load your bracelet with euros to purchase items. The entire process was very easy, and any unspent money is AUTOMATICALLY refunded back to you.
As long as you are careful about not losing your bracelet, I would recommend to load a lot of money as it gets refunded to you anyway. The reloading machines onsite can have a lag time.
Stages and Performances
Another great thing about the TML grounds is that it is MASSIVE.
This means there is NO sound bleed between stages – and there are 16 of them.
The downside is that it takes a full 30 minutes to get from the entrance to the other end of the grounds. The mainstage is closer towards the end, I would say about a 25 minute walk from the gates. However, the festival grounds are so decked out, the walk is full of new things to see, and take photos with!
While this might be annoying on the surface, I have a suspicion that TML purposely plans it out this way to help with crowd control. I found that occasionally, two big artists would play at the same time at the two stages furthest away from each other.
While it might suck not to see two big DJs due to conflicting set times, the crowd at TML was very manageable and there was ALWAYS room to dance. There are even people directing traffic, so some paths are only one way. Again, you have to appreciate how much thought goes into planning things such as traffic control.
*Tip: there are a LOT of medium to small stages at TML. It’s easy to get a very good view of the DJs playing at these stages, and the crowd interaction is usually really great!
I noticed that the DJs are genuinely very excited to be at TML and they really show their enthusiasm. I managed to get onto the video stream of various artists with minimal effort.
My life was pretty much complete when I got Yellow Claw to wave back at me! I saw Shaq (DJ Diesel) go into the crowd and head bang with the audience! Your best bet on getting on a stream is to wave your country’s flag with pride on someone’s shoulders and look like you are having a BLAST!
I also REALLY, REALLY encourage you to get to as close to the front of the mainstage as possible. It LOOKS very, very intimidating but it’s actually quite not so bad if you have the persistence, and if you are polite.
I watched the closing set at the front and there is NO OTHER FEELING like your ENTIRE field of vision being completely blocked by fireworks and confetti.
I encourage people to try to visit more stages than just the big stages. You’ll be able to socialize more, and appreciate the BEAUTIFUL stage design that the designers worked to make so intricate. TML is a beautiful, beautiful place.
The vibes at the festival were VERY positive - most people are polite and very friendly. The PLUR culture is present, but definitely not as prominent as PLUR is definitely more of an American thing. However, I did find a lot of people to trade kandi with, so definitely bring some as it is a great conversation starter.
I loved how respectful most people were. There were plenty of times where I saw people make lots of room for individuals in wheel chairs, or urgently flagging down paramedics for someone who needed them.
I will be honest and upfront when I say I felt like I needed to make my outfits a little bit more conservative, compared to North American festivals.
I did get into a situation where someone behaved inappropriately towards me (he tripped and face planted right after – instant karma!), and feedback from other girls who have attended the festival is pretty consistent.
That is a major culture shock that I think is important to recognize. But again, I want to reiterate that most people are respectful.
Carry your flags proudly – it is such a magical feeling to bump into a total stranger from the same city as you! I’m from Canada and we not only met a LOT of other Canadians, but we met a lot of individuals from other countries who wanted to learn about Canada!
*Tip: BRING A RAIN COAT. Boom has very sporadic weather and the one day it rained on Saturday, I was able to still dance and have fun while everyone else was taking shelter.
I bought 2 durable rain coats on Amazon for about $20 CAD. Even if you don’t think you need it, the rain coats you will be provided at TML are basically thin garbage bags that were largely ineffective.
I had people coming up to me, asking me desperately where I got my coat.
Tomorrowland was a dream, and I would 100% attend the festival again. Combining the cost of my ticket (Global Journey Bronze Hotel Package), the car rental, cost of food, miscellaneous items such as outfits, and FLIGHT ticket, I spent around $3000 CAD (2200 USD) on just the TML portion of my trip.
Since the cost of the flight is already so high, visiting other countries is a marginal increase in price. In total, I spent about $4500 CAD or 3300 USD travelling through Europe for 2 solid weeks.
Overall, it was a once in a life time experience I highly recommend.
Live Today, Love Tomorrow, and Unite Forever!
Whether it be for Tomorrowland or whatever your next rave is, make sure to shop here at Rave Bae Couture for the hottest rave outfits!
About the author: Catherine Nguyen
I'm a Canadian girl from Toronto who has a passion for festival fashion and food (all my friends call me Foodgirl). My favourite thing to do at raves is to connect with other girls and have a great time discussing our cultures and Instagram!
My Instagram is www.instagram.com/catherining - follow along for festival and travel adventures