It’s unsure what Tomorrowland will smell like tomorrow, but right now, it smells like soil, wood, and hydrangeas.
It’s 6 p.m. the night before the curtain draws on the Belgian mega-festival (which runs July 26-28), and thousands of painters, riggers, sound technicians, florists, and other wizards are bustling around the massive grounds, preparing the spectacle for the estimated 60,000 (per day) from over 214 countries who will bound through the gate tomorrow starting at noon.
Swans circle in the various lakes, while far away a tech tests one of the massive stages’ bass power with Massive Attack’s gut-quaking “Angel.” And it sounds pretty great.
DreamVille, the festival’s campground, opened this morning at 6 a.m., to a torrent of travelers toting tents, hiking backpacks, and sleeping bags. Some arrived on chartered Tomorrowland planes as part of the festival’s “Global Journey” package, touching down in Brussels Airport to be greeted by costumed tour guides, and set pieces from the festival gilding the baggage carousels. Campers can drop a pin in the official Tomorrowland app to locate their exact tent location, which might be adjacent to others from their country: Tent “streets” are organized by nationality.
The artists are starting to arrive as well. Everyone from Avicii to techno legend Jeff Mills, David Guetta to Jamie Jones, and Zedd to Richie Hawtin converging on the small town of Boom, Antwerp to the North, and Brussels to the South. Anyone visiting the country of Belgium these four days will encounter Tomorrowland and its legion in some fashion, be it at the Customs desk at the airport, the tram station, or the convenience store, buying water and sunblock.
Rain is in the forecast, but Tomorrowland organizers have planned for that as well. Where there isn’t paving (which the festival has installed over its eight years at the Boom site) hundreds of thousands of feet of wood flooring cover the walkways and the stage areas, mitigating the potential of mud that has ruined so many other festivals.
At around 7 p.m., when a breeze begins to soften the heat of the day, a man on a bicycle pulls in front of the massive Main Stage, looks up at it, and smiles. Paparazzi have been trying to sneak snaps of the structure since the team started building it in late June, going so far as scaling walls and putting cameras on very tall sticks. But no picture could capture its size and intricacy. The man’s walkie-talkie barks, and he pedals away, toward one of the 14 other stages. It’s Michiel Beers, co-owner and creator of Tomorrowland, and he will not rest until Monday night. But for now, he likes what he sees. Tomorrow, so will the rest of the world.