Calling all house music lovers - Americans in particular – people, it’s time to branch out. Time to stop seeing the same faces at Ultra and EDC that you could go see (basically for free) in Vegas. It’s time to get to know the up-and-comers. Explore all of the different genres of house. Yep, it’s time to cross the pond and go to Tomorrowland. The Godfather of house music festivals, Tomorrowland in Boom, Belgium is absolute magic. Sixteen stages, people from all over the world, top-notch food, multiple weekends, camping options from bring-it-yourself to full-on mansions. There’s nothing quite like it. But everything that makes it special can also make it daunting to plan. That’s where it helps to have some experience, and boy are there experienced people. This festival is so popular that there are people who have been flying in from Australia for this thing 10 years in a row. It’s crazy – but totally worth it.
I’ve only been twice, but I think even in the two years that I’ve gone, I’ve learned a bunch of tips and tricks – some from trial and error and some from the other experts. In my series of posts, I’ll run you through everything from how to get tickets to what to bring to my favorite places to eat inside the festival, plus some things I wish I’d known in advance. This one in particular focuses on the logistics of getting tickets, outlining the options and their pros and cons.
Purchasing Tickets: Why go with Global Journey?
Let’s start with how to get tickets. From my experience, since regular tickets sell out SO quickly for the festival, I always recommend that people coming from abroad do what’s called Global Journey.
So why go with GJ? Well, not only does this give you access to tickets a week before the general admission goes on sale, but it also means that all of your transportation to the festival plus your accommodations are taken care of by Tomorrowland. The thing with Global Journey is that there are a bunch of options (flights, buses, trains, even full weeks in Europe planned by TML before the festival) but in my experience, the best option is the train package. One, it’s WAY cheaper to buy your own flight into a major European hub and then buy their train ticket. For comparison, the first year that I went, I compared a flight package from Seattle to a train package. The flight package was about 6K euro total, while I paid 1,200EUR for my train package plus probably $1000 for my flight. Significant difference in cost. Also remember that trains are much faster than the bus options and only about 100euro more.
A couple of key things with the day-of purchasing Global Journey:
Use the simulator page in advance to know exactly what housing you want and from what city you're traveling. You can easily compare prices beforehand and tell your group exactly what they’ll owe you
On the day that tickets go on sale, make sure you have everyone’s full name, phone number, email address, and nationality ready to go. You’ll need to provide it at the time of ticket purchase. If you have to make changes later, they'll charge you.
Only one person has to purchase a tent. You can purchase up to 4 festival tickets per person, which means two 2P tents or one 4P tent.
You can all log in at once and see who gets to the actual purchase page first and then that person can buy, but make sure you’re communicating so you don’t each buy something.
On the day of, you should immediately enter the store when the clock hits the right time, but DO NOT REFRESH. It’ll push you to the back of the line and this line is LONG. I actually had a pre-sale code this year and I still waited 32 minutes until I got in to buy my tickets. It’s super stressful and you convince yourself that you won’t get what you want, but you likely will. Remember that there's up to 300,000 people going to this thing. It takes some time for everyone to get in.
Have a backup plan. There have been a couple of times now that I’ve gotten into the system and the exact train time that we had planned on isn’t available. Just make sure you know exactly what you’ll choose if your ideal time doesn’t come up.
You only have a certain amount of time to get through everything, so do not hesitate. That's where planning in advance comes in handy.
One last piece of advice, check your hometown Airline's hubs to help plan. Don't just choose whichever city has the cheapest train/flight fare. London Heathrow is almost always the most expensive airport to fly into unless you're flying British. It will also be the most expensive train option because it's from the UK into the EU and the Eurostar is $$$$ relative to local trains from Amsterdam or Paris. Delta will always be cheapest into CDG or AMS. United probably has the most versatile route structure into Europe, but they're big into Germany.
Maybe you've seen pictures of the TML branded flights, but know that those are only on Brussels Airlines, so if you want to do one of those, buy a GJ flight package from somewhere like Munich or another location in Europe. There are no Brussels Airlines flights from the States, aside from maybe JFK.
In summary, Global Journey is the way to go, but you need to plan in advance what package you want.
How to choose where you'll rest your head
So, you've figured out how you'll get to the festival grounds, but the next step is where you'll sleep once you're in Belgium. Well, you have a few options - Dreamville, a nearby town, or a major city. The key is to weigh the pros and cons and understand what is most important to you - proximity, air conditioning, creature comforts, and of course - price.
Dreamville is the name of the entire campground – everything from bring-your-own tent to staying in a mansion with hot tubs – it’s all possible in Dreamville. There are three separate areas of camping: Magnificent Greens (includes Camp 2 Camp), Easy Tents, and Montagoe. One of the nicest perks to Dreamville is that you get access to The Gathering, which is an extra night of music on Thursday evening before the festival truly starts. Only Dreamville people are allowed to attend because the stage is inside the Magnificent Greens area.
Mag Greens is the cheapest option. It’s also the longest walk from the festival (depending on where you’re at, could be 45 minutes), but it is also the biggest area and is where the most food/shopping options are. They do have a few different types of camping in MG where you don’t have to bring everything yourself. You can also rent tents/chairs/etc from one of the stores, but it’s not cheap. This is popular with people who aren't flying in, because they can bring ANYTHING with them - except glass and other prohibited items. But we're talking floaties, grills, giant tents, huge speakers, etc. Keep in mind that something like 30% of the tickets go to Belgians, so this area is a lot of locals that drive in or take a local train on their own.
Easy Tents is where I’ve always stayed (see pics). It’s nice because it’s a pretty big area, but only ET people can sleep, eat, shower here. You also have the option for a hot personal shower area for 1 pearl (we’ll talk about those elsewhere) plus there’s an entire indoor area by the hot showers with big mirrors and plugs for the girls to get ready. There are three levels of Easy Tents so make sure you know what you’re looking for. What makes ET nice is that they provide the tent, the air mattress, a lantern, a mirror, sleeping bags, and pillows. I always go with Spectacular Easy Tents because on top of all of that, you also get a locker, a plug in your tent, you’re raised up on pallets (in case it rains), and you get chairs outside your tent. The Supreme ET is the fancier option, primarily because of two things – each person has their own cot (as opposed to a queen air mattress) and there’s a cooler provided for you. Downside is that they’re only 2P options in Supreme, so you’d have to split your group if you have 4. Also, now that I’m thinking about it, that might not be great for couples to have separate beds. Or maybe they love it - guess it depends on how long you've been together :).
Montagoe is the most expensive area. Honestly, I’ve never been in there but it’s only about a 10 minute walk to the festival entrance and I’m 99% sure there’s a pool. Fancy fancy.
Outside of camping, you can also look for an AirBnB or hotel through Global Journey. I looked at a few of the AirBnBs, and they’re pretty far outside of town, but they are super nice and have AC. I’m not entirely sure how transportation works though to/from the festival every day, so make sure you confirm that beforehand.
As for hotels, most of them are in Brussels or Antwerp so you’re definitely looking at a bus ride every morning and evening. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when you think about the other 40,000 people trying to leave at the same time, plus the ride itself, it can take quite a while. I think friends of mine did it and said it was about an hour to/from plus the line. So the amenities may be worth it if that’s important to you, but camping is way more convenient. Especially if you want to ever go to and from your tent to change because the morning was 100 degrees and the evening was 50. Might be a bit of an exaggeration, but you’d be surprised.
Go get those tickets!
The logistics to planning for TML is the only stressful part of this experience, but it doesn't have to be! Remember that this festival is going to be one of the best weekends of your life. No matter where you fly in from or where you end up sleeping at night, you're sure to make new friends from all over the world, discover artists that you'll follow on the spot, and make enough memories to last you until the next TML ;). It's time to start collecting wristbands!
If you want more details on packing, what to expect at the festival, and how the Pearl system works, make sure to check out my next post: The Guide to the Ultimate Tomorrowland Experience.