Written by and photos by Rebecca Hollman
Tomorrowland needs no introduction. One of, if not the, biggest festivals in the world, Tomorrowland has been outshining them all for an astonishing 15 years. 2019 marked the 15th birthday of Tomorrowland – 15 years of next level production and bringing the best artists in EDM from all over the world. This year culminated with two back to back packed weekends that created a unique mix of people from over 80 countries, and artists from every genre and countries themselves.
The first weekend, taking place from July 18-21, took place in the iconic Tomorrowland location of Boom, Belgium. This small town located about half way between the big cities of Brussels and Antwerp has been the home of Tomorrowland for all of its years. The Tomorrowland area remains pretty much intact throughout the entirety of the year and stages are put up in the same areas each year. Although the layout remains the same, the stage designs are always different. This year featured 16 different stages of varying sizes and designs.
Stage 1: Freedom by Budweiser
The “second main stage,” the Freedom stage was an enclosed building with two floors. The main floor was just a giant open warehouse space with concrete floors. There were two balconies along the sides that were on the second floor that were open to GA. The balcony along the back was for “Comfort” ticket holders, so came at a price. The stage had LED panel strips that ran along the top of the ceiling radiating out from the stage to the backs of the room. Outside, the building was covered in moving pieces and art – like gears, hands, birds, and all sorts of steampunk inspired rusty moving pieces. The Freedom stage had techno artists like Yotto, Camelphat, Christoph, and Tiga on Friday and was closed out by Eric Prydz with his HOLOSPHERE performance. Unfortunately, the stage was so crowded and hot for Eric Prydz set since the entire stage was enclosed in a room. Saturday saw trance and psytrance on this stage with artists like Will Atkinson, Jordan Suckley, Paul van Dyk, and more. On Sunday, the Freedom stage was a “Martin Solveig & Friends” stage headlined by Martin Solveig & Jax Jones present Europa.
Stage 2: Casa Corona
One of the smallest stages, Casa Corona was really more of a bar that also happened to be playing music. It was located along the water, close to the Dreamville entrance and the Freedom stage. It was a raised wooden platform/porch with a lot of beach vibes and apparently, a lot of Coronas.
Stage 3: Rose Garden
One of the oldest stages in Tomorrowland history – the Rose Garden is a massive dragon protecting it’s stage below. The head of the dragon moves in all directions, the eyes blink, the mouth opens and closes, and it also breathes hot steam through its mouth and nose. Its outstretched wings stretch over the sides of the stages and create the semicircular edges of the dance floor. The latticed framing of the DJ booth is wrapped in roses, hence the name the Rose Garden. On Friday, the Rose Garden was transformed into a Deadbeats stage – with dubstep all day and a headlining set by Zeds Dead. On Sunday, the Rose Garden was house with artists like Claptone and Sonny Fodera.
Stage 4: Q-Dance
Q-Dance is always a sight to behold – with hardstyle ravers gabbering and going mad to that heavy beat all day. And usually, the stage production is just as outlandish. This year, the Q-Dance stage was a sword piercing into the earth. The top of the stage, the hilt of the sword, was so tall you could see it above all the fences and backstage production and could see it walking from far away. As you approach the festival, you see just the top of the Q-Dance stage already going hard with LEDs. “What is that?,” you ask. Oh, it’s just the sword stage.
Stage 5: The Harbour House
Between Q-Dance and Casa Corona is a small walkway strip over the water. In this area is the small stage Harbour House. This stage really did look like a house in Loony Toon style. It reminded me of something you would see at Universal Studios in Orlando. Every time I was there the bubble machines were going so hard that the entire stage and crowd was covered in a cloud of smoke and bubbles. On both sides of the stage were water being shot out of either fish mouths or flowers.
Stage 6: The Rave Cave
The Rave Cave is probably the most iconic stage of Tomorrowland, and the least practical. Built into a small tunnel underground, the Rave Cave is truly a little hot and sweaty cave. Only a handful of people can fit in there at one time, but it is a right of passage to Tomorrowland to at least go inside the Rave Cave once.
Stage 7: Cage
Right behind the Rave Cave was an enclosed stage – Cage. This dark and mysterious stage, the idea further enforced by its name, was home to the harder styles of EDM over the weekend. On Friday, the stage was taken over by Kozzmozz, Saturday with Glitterbox, and Sunday with Footworxx.
Stage 8: L’Orangerie
Another stage built out over the water, L’Orangerie was built to look like a building made out of stained glass windows. It was enclosed expect for the semi circular face that was open to the main walkway. The inside was exposed metal beams, pretend stained glass windows and a metal dance floor. Friday saw house like Sam Feldt and the Magician, while Sunday was filled with dum n bass and dubstep like Delta Heavy and Flux Pavilion.
Stage 9: Kara Savi
Kara Savi, also known as the magic conch. This medium sized stage was in the shape of a sea shell, or a conch shell and the dance floor was sand. This sea shell beach party came to life when Vini Vici played – packing out the entire stage so much that it overflowed into surrounding areas. Other artists on Kara Savi included Chocolate Puma and Infected Mushroom.
Stage 10: Leaf
One of the smaller stages, Leaf was this cool little beach dome that was over the water connecting the two different sides of the festival. You had to follow a long walkway over the water to find the stage, so it was easily missed. But if you did happen to find your way onto Leaf, you would be greeted with house music, Coronas, lots of plants, and a cool geo dome stage and dance floor.
Stage 11: Youphoria
Youphoria was the stage made of mushrooms. This fungi stage wasn’t anything elaborately over the top but it’s background of giant, purple mushrooms was quite fun. It had a covered middle section to keep people out of the direct sun. Friday saw an Anjunabeats takeover on Youphoria with trance legends like Tinlicker, Spencer Brown, Ilan Bluestone, and of course – Above & Beyond.
Stage 12: Atmosphere
Located inside a circus tent top, Atmosphere had some of the craziest lasers I’ve ever seen in my life. With thin strips of lights coming from the point of the tent down, plus massive lasers, the tent created a crazy light show. All weekend at Atmosphere was mostly techno with Chris Liebing and Pan-Pot on Friday, Tale of Us on Saturday, and Charlotte de Witte and Richie Hawtin on Sunday.
Stage 13: Core
Hidden back behind the rest of the festival by raised stairs over a road, Core was one of my favorite stages of the weekend. The stage was made with slats of wood, with LED panels behind, to give a cool corrugated effect. The dance floor was almost a boardwalk – made of wood paneled floor over the natural ground. The floor was built around the trees so it was built in a curvy pattern. The stage had trees all around, as well as tea lights strung above the whole area. Overall, the nature, trees and lights gave a really cozy and charming feel. The whole weekend this stage was packed with house and techno – with artists like Bedouin, Damian Lazarus and a whole Dirtybird curated day.
Stage 14: The Garden of Madness
Built out over the water, this stage truly was madness. With a circular structure covering the middle area of the stage, part of the stage was covered and part wasn’t. The circular roof was covered in plants that were hanging down as well as lights. Behind the stage were water fountains spraying up from the pond creating a water show behind the stage. The Garden of Madness hosted artists like Fisher, 1991, Jauz, Alison Wonderland, Netsky, Adriatique and Solomun over the weekend.
Stage 15: Mainstage
What can be said? The Tomorrowland main stage is out of this world. No one does it better than Tomorrowland. First of all, the size of the stage is unparalleled. No other festival has a stage that long and that elaborate. Every year is different but this year was again, a bookshelf full of books, including one dedicated to the late Avicii. The middle screen was a big LED panel that looked like the flipping pages of a book. Apparently, there was also a Michelin restaurant in the main stage somewhere that only VIP VIP could be invited to. Little did we know they were looking out at us all at the main stage while eating a 5 star meal. Although the stage was still next level, it felt that the design was repetitive of previous years with not much variation on the bookshelf design.
Stage 16: Lotus
Last but not least was the Lotus stage. This stage was a big grassy amphitheater with a concrete dance floor closer to the stage. The rest of the area rose up slowly away from the stage and was covered in terraced steps of grass. This stage never got too crowded, even for artists like Tchami and Martin Garrix. The area was usually filled with people sitting or laying in the grass and enjoying the music. Friday had an eclectic mix of artists on Lotus, with headliners Louis the Child and Martin Garrix. Saturday was all house with Nora en Pure, EDX, Zonderling and Malaa b2b with Tchami. Lastly, Sunday was filled with main stage house like Nicky Romero and Dmitri Vegas & Like Mike – and also a set from none other than Paris Hilton.