By: Katalina Collins
Tomorrowland really puts you through a lot, before you’ve even got your tickets in hand. You fight through a pre-registration process, hoping you might be lucky enough to become a ‘first 20’ guest. If (probably when) you miss out on this, you have to pray that lady luck shines down upon your group out of millions, to even make it to the purchase page. Finally, you’ve bought those tickets, you’ve arranged your transport to the festival, and your tickets have finally arrived (and all those extra goodies along with them) but you might find yourself thinking, “Wait, why is this in some rural Belgian town again??”
Boom is located in the province of Antwerp, north of its capital Brussels and is home to less than 20,000 residents. The streets are lined with gorgeous classical European houses, wide footpaths, and picturesque garden beds. The bike lanes are almost wider than the car lanes, and residents silently glide around town attending to their chores, passing with a smile. When the festival began in 2005, Belgium wanted a music festival to capture the attention of Europe. The stage (yes, only one back then!) saw none of the production quality we’re used to now. It welcomed less than 10,000 people to the town of Boom that year, a far cry from the hundreds of thousands the town now expects every July.
The 15th iteration of the festival was held just last year (2019), and it was clear that travelers attending the festival weren't the only ones celebrating. The locals of Boom were out in force, even given the heatwave they were experiencing (40C/105F+). Every few houses saw another local sitting by a cooler of water ready to pass on to the visitors to their town. Some houses had gotten together to put up shade structures, offering a reprieve from the heat, already blasting tunes to set the mood, before we’d even stepped foot onto the festival grounds. I have never traveled to an international festival before and felt so completely welcomed. After we had entered the festival and moved all our gear into our pre-erected tent we decided to head out to explore the town, and the experience continued to amaze us.
Along the streets between the festival site, and the rest of the town, the passion for Tomorrowland was evident. Every other window seemed to be flying the Tomorrowland flag. Temporary speakeasies had been set-up in garages, where residents were welcoming guests into their own homes to cool down and share a beverage. Even the local children were getting involved in the festival, some boys had jerry-rigged carts to their bikes, and were helping campers transport their bags from their car to their tents (best €5 you could spend in that heat). A young girl even poked her head out of her house as we passed by with a tub of ice cream and cones to offer us one ‘to cool down in all this heat’. That’s something you just don’t see anywhere else.
This atmosphere in town drives the overall feel for the entire festival. All of these smiling, positive, happy people in one small place drives the good vibes deep into the very bones of the festival. After all that trouble to secure your tickets, traveling thousands of miles away from where you thought home was, to find that home can truly be anywhere. Boom embodies the values of the EDM community, Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect. Just like the rainbow welcoming you to Dreamville says, Welcome Home, People of Tomorrow, to the community of Boom.