Tomorrowland in Boom over the years

(This is an updated version of an article first published on July 18, 2019)

2005: Buy tickets at the Free Record Shop

Tomorrowland 2005.

On August 14, 2005, a bedroom idea by brothers Manu and Michiel Beers becomes a reality: Tomorrowland opens its doors for the first time. Fighting for tickets? Queues online? None of that. You can simply buy tickets in Free Record Shops stores. And no sign of a double three-day event with 400,000 visitors from around the world. The starting signal was given with ‘almost’ 9,500 visitors who went to the recreational area De Schorre one day at random. The very first line-up could count: Armin van Buuren, Justice and Sven Väth went to Boom. Although their star at that time was not as high as it is today.

2006: Six kilometers walk to the campsite

Tomorrowland 2006.

Tomorrowland 2006.

Second edition confirms: Tomorrowland again attracts 9,500 visitors on the last day of July. The site at De Schorre will be expanded to eight stages, and for the first time, 2,000 festival guests will spend the night at the campsite. Small downside: it’s six miles away, in Rumst.

2007: The first foreign interest

Tomorrowland 2007.

Tomorrowland 2007.

Rumors of the new Belgian dance festival are gradually circulating abroad. In its third year of existence, Tomorrowland suddenly welcomes Dutch, French, German and British peoples. Boom receives 15,000 ‘People of Tomorrow’. The organization also sees the growth opportunities and expands the festival site to nine stages. And this time, Tomorrowland lasts not one, but two days.

2008: The big leap forward

Tomorrowland 2008.

Tomorrowland 2008.

Now it’s really exploding. In one year, Tomorrowland climbs from 15,000 to 50,000 visitors. The artists also hear about the phenomenon and massively agree: More than a hundred DJs are on the bill. The organization must also, for the first time, deal with a bulging version: the mercury rises to almost 30 degrees.

2009: Atmosphere, Food and Moby

Tomorrowland 2009.

Tomorrowland 2009.

Another first. During the fifth edition, Tomorrowland may put up the ‘sold out’ sign for the first time. 90,000 partygoers – almost twice as many as the year before – see a turnaround happening right in front of them: the organization aims for a total experience. Music remains important, but atmosphere, food, drinks and fringe entertainment are also at the center. Suddenly a ski slope appears halfway through the square. Tomorrowland also features its first real world star: American musician and producer Moby.

2010: Stumbles across big names

Tomorrowland 2010.

Tomorrowland 2010.

All 120,000 tickets are sold out a month in advance. The campground, where 25,000 campers pitch their tents, is dubbed DreamVille. The organization has fourteen phases where another operator fills the bill every day. The line-up is impressive: David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, Dada Life, Armin van Buuren,… Every fantastic DJ is present. And it now also attracts Studio Brussels’ attention: Ungdomskanalen makes live radio from the festival site all weekend.

2011: At a restaurant by Wout Bru

Tomorrowland 2011: The Tree of Life.

Tomorrowland 2011: The Tree of Life.

Tomorrowland again adds an extra day: From now on, the weekend will last three days. There is so much foreign interest in the 180,000 tickets that the organization is arranging a separate sale for Belgian visitors for the first time. All tickets fly out the door in less than a day. Together with star chef Wout Bru, Tomorrowland also runs its own restaurant for the first time. The Dewaele brothers in 2Manydjs are allowed to close the festival, following tops like Tiësto, Avicii, Fedde le Grand, Faithless and De Jeugd van Nowadays.

2012: 8 million viewers and the first controversy

Tomorrowland 2012: The Book of Wisdom.

Tomorrowland 2012: The Book of Wisdom.

The Belgian tickets are sold out during the day, the international ones in a few seconds. So Tomorrowland is teaming up with Brussels Airlines to fly visitors from all over the world to Boom, and a YouTube channel has been set up to let 8 million people watch live. It gives the organization the award for the best dance festival in the world, an award that it receives three years in a row. But there is also controversy: After the festival, a British woman is found dead in her hotel room, after an overdose. Other festival goers complain about the poor handling of the safety and damage to the eyes from too sharp lasers. The organization is not to blame.

2013: The crossing to America

Tomorrowland 2013: The emergence of life.

Tomorrowland 2013: The emergence of life.

Despite the rain, two hundred nationalities are coming down over Boom. This gives Manu and Michiel Beers a new idea: a foreign edition. It takes place for the first time in the American Atlanta and attracts 140,000 visitors. After two sequels, the sister festival will take place in the USA. The Belgian version launches its own radio station, broadcasting live DJ sets in more than thirty countries. Listeners hear how Armin van Buren arrives just in time for his show: He comes straight from the hospital where his wife had just given birth.

2014: Anniversary with a double

Tomorrowland 2014: The Key to Happiness.

Tomorrowland 2014: The Key to Happiness.

Tomorrowland’s tenth anniversary is celebrated with two party weekends. The numbers are staggering. 360,000 tickets go out in less than an hour. More than 16,000 visitors fly to De Schorre with 150 flights from 50 different cities. Not exactly organic, but it does give Tomorrowland an award from Tourism Flanders. The locals are less happy: They are demanding a ban on the festival, which would cause too much inconvenience. That claim is referred by the judge to the trash.

2015: Celebration via satellite

Tomorrowland 2015: The Secret Realm of Melodies.

Tomorrowland 2015: The Secret Realm of Melodies.

Brazil is also visited by Tomorrowland, but after two editions, the organization is pulling the plug. They are doing well in Belgium. Cash disappears, everyone pays via bracelets from now on. The worldwide interest has become so great that satellites are being used to broadcast the DJ sets on other continents. Tens of thousands of fans in South America and Asia watch Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike at work.

2016: Choice of 120 food stalls

Tomorrowland 2016: The Elixir of Life.

Tomorrowland 2016: The Elixir of Life.

This time, seven countries follow the festival live on one screen: Mexico, Colombia, Germany, Israel, Japan, India and South Africa. About 1.3 million Chinese are introduced to Tomorrowland thanks to the festival’s own television station. On the page itself, the organization is once again more grandiose. Meanwhile, 38,000 campers live on DreamVille, and more than 120 food stalls serve dishes from all continents.

2017: Even the king is curious

Tomorrowland 2017: Amicorum spectaculum.

Tomorrowland 2017: Amicorum spectaculum.

Tomorrowland hits 400,000 festival goers thanks to two more weekends. More than a thousand artists adorn the poster, well over 104,000 minutes of music. Because the festival coincides with the Belgian National Day, King Philip and Queen Mathilde can no longer ignore it: they also come to watch Boom.

2018: The underwater world and winter edition are announced

Tomorrowland 2018: The story of planaxis.

Tomorrowland 2018: The story of planaxis.

Once again, 200,000 visitors per. weekend almost the most impressive scene they have ever seen. Tomorrowland has been transformed into an underwater world and features David Guetta, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Martin Garrix, Steve Aoki, Tiësto and Afrojack. As a warm-up to the 15th anniversary in 2019, the organization is announcing a winter edition in March. It takes place in the Alpe d’Huez, in the middle of the French Alps. There, at an altitude of 2,000 meters, comes 20,000 ‘People of Tomorrow’. The countdown to Tomorrowland 2019, with the theme ‘The book of wisdom: the return’, has officially started.

2019: Celebrate it with more than 1,000 DJs

Tomorrowland’s fifteenth anniversary will have the theme ‘Book of Wisdom: Return’. The festival thus builds on the theme from 2012 with a flashy decor filled with giant book covers, a magical library and two large water cannons along the sides. The late Avicci also receives a beautiful ode. The Swedish DJ is honored with the message ‘In loving memory of Tim Bergling’ – his real name. More than 1,000 DJs are on the bill, many of them playing songs by their deceased friend.

2020-2021: Even more crazy stages, but online

Two years in a row, the corona throws a key in motion. Tomorrowland, like all other Belgian festivals, is suspended and seeking refuge on digital channels. Impressive virtual scenes are built on the fictional island of Papilionem, which fans can visit during ‘Around the world’. Also on New Year’s Eve, one million people participate in the celebration via their laptop and TV screen. Although the hunger continues after ‘the real thing’.

2022: A record edition to forget the corona

Three weekends, 600,000 ‘people of tomorrow’. After two years of corona disorders, Tomorrowland intends to wipe out the misery in one fell swoop. A record number of people come to Boom for a release with more than 800 DJs. This year, the festival chooses a ‘state of the art’ space station, direct from Star Trek. The Eye Catcher is a tower that reaches high above the heads, in the valley where the Main Stage is located.

2022: 'The Reflection of Love'.

2022: ‘The Reflection of Love’. © dvg

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