Friday, 30 August 2019

⭐️COVER REVEAL! 'ARE YOU WITH ME' - Book #2 in the Superstar DJ Series⭐️


It's time to reveal the cover for the second book in the Superstar DJ Series - Are You With Me.
And here it is! 😊 


Five stories
   One festival...



Are You With Me is a completely standalone story to the first book in the series, BeforeToday, and takes place over the course of four days, at Ethergy, a fictional electronic dance music (EDM) festival, concentrating on five major characters: German couple Johan and Heidi, Dutch DJ and Producer Arne Vos, and solo festival goers Markus, from Iceland, and Sonny, who's from the UK. And you can find out more about all of them, and their stories, right HERE.

Inspired by my own personal experience attending one of the biggest EDM festivals in the world - Tomorrowland in Belgium - back in July (you can read all about those experiences right HERE), and this beautiful track from Lost Frequencies...



... Are You with Me will be out in eBook and paperback in October, but watch this space for pre-order details, which should be coming soon.

But, in the meantime, you can read the first chapter of Are You With Me, for FREE, by clicking the link below!

Are You With Me Teaser Chapter


Before Today - Book #1 in the Superstar DJ Series, and a completely standalone story, as all the books in the series will be - is available to download right now, or read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited.
Also available in paperback. Click the link below to check it out.

Before Today Buy Link


Are You With Me - A story about finding yourself all over again, while losing yourself in the music... 


Have a great day! 😍

Michelle x


Friday, 23 August 2019

Are You With Me (Book #2 in the Superstar DJ Series) - Meet the Characters

5 Stories.
One Festival...

Are You With Me - Book #2 in the Superstar DJ Series - is a festival-set story based very heavily on my own experiences at my first ever festival: Tomorrowland in Belgium. (And you can read all about those HERE).

Focusing on five main characters in particular - Arne, Markus, Sonny, Heid and Johan - all from different parts of the world, it tells their very different stories over the course of a weekend at a huge fictional electronic dance music festival called Ethergy.

The book is due for release on October 30th, but for now, come and meet the characters, and find out a little bit more about the stories Are You With Me will be telling...


After quitting his job, 27 year-old Markus arrives at Ethergy – one of Europe’s biggest electronic dance music festivals – with the realization that he’s come to a bit of a crossroads in his life. But he’s determined not to let reality get in the way of the weekend, that can wait until he gets back home, to Iceland. And after striking up a friendship with Sonny – the English girl who’s pitched her tent next to his – he begins to believe that this year’s Ethergy just might be the best one yet. He feels an instant connection with Sonny. She’s beautiful but guarded, and he wants to get to know her more but she keeps pushing him away at every turn. Has he got time to make her feel that connection, too? Could they be more than just festival friends…?


26 year-old Sonny has come to Ethergy – her first-ever festival – alone. She wants to mark the beginning of the rest of her life, after escaping a controlling relationship, and despite feeling instantly comfortable in Markus’ company, it isn’t long before she’s putting those barriers back up that she thought she’d finally torn down. And she begins to wonder if she’ll ever really be free. But with the help of Markus, a new friend called Winter, and the magic of the festival, maybe she can be. Maybe…


Dutch DJ and producer Arne Vos has played Ethergy every year since the festival began. And this year he’s celebrating twenty-five years in the business by playing an epic eight-hour set on the final night of the festival. He should be having the time of his life, but what the outside world doesn’t know – doesn’t see – is that he’s struggling with the kind of self-doubt that’s caused him to suddenly start questioning everything from his career to his personal life.

He’s been in a relationship with Dutch-Belgian Techno/House DJ Elia Ida for a few years now. A rising star in the world of electronic dance music, Elia’s had to deal with people claiming she’s only with Arne because of who he is and what he can do for her, but they both know the truth. She doesn’t need Arne. It’s him who needs her, and that’s something Arne has trouble dealing with. That, and a past relationship Elia had with fellow DJ Magnus Jennsen, a.k.a. Magma. It got in the way, for a while, and it almost destroyed them all, but they got through it. Or maybe not, in Arne’s case. And with Magnus also playing Ethergy, and Elia still insisting he’ll always be her friend, can Arne continue to accept that? Or fight it. This year’s Ethergy is going to be a very different one for Arne, that’s for sure. In a way he can’t even begin to imagine…



For twenty-something German couple Johan and Heidi, Ethergy is a very special place. They met there, five years ago. And they’ve been coming back as a couple ever since. But this year, Johan has something very special planned. He’s got it all mapped out in his head, the perfect moment, and Heidi’s going to love it. Isn’t she…?

Heid has an inkling that Johan has a surprise planned, after all, they have a lot to celebrate. Johan’s promotion. Moving in together. Their future, it’s an exciting one, and Heidi couldn’t be happier. Until she receives a phone call that turns everything they both thought they wanted upside down, in a heartbeat. And they only have the weekend to work it all out…




30 year-old Winter is very much a secondary character in the book, but she's also a very important one, for Sonny.
From Michigan, USA, she's the complete opposite to Sonny - wild, outgoing and super-confident. All things Sonny would love to be - all things Sonny once was. Can Winter help her regain her confidence? Her love for life? Her trust in people?






Kristos Garcia is another secondary character in the book, but it's where we're introduced to this charismatic and charming French DJ and Producer, and close friend of Arne's.


The character of Magnus Jennsen (a.k.a. Magma) is a Swedish House DJ. An unpredictable, somewhat edgy character, he's had his fair share of demons to face up to. He has a challenging relationship with a few of his fellow DJs, and sometimes clashes with them for various reasons. Has a reputation as a bit of a 'playboy'. 
A secondary character in Are You With Me, Magnus will have his own story in book #3 of the Superstar DJ series.


                       **All images courtesy of Unsplash**


Told over the course of four days - the length of the festival - Are You With Me is a story about finding yourself all over again, while losing yourself in the music...

Out October 30th, 2019.

Before Today - Book #1 in the Superstar DJ Series, and a completely standalone story, as all the books in the series will be - is available to download right now, or read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited.
Also available in paperback. Click the link below to check it out.

Before Today Buy Link

And you can now pre-order Are You With Me right HERE! And get ready to live the magic...



Michelle x





Friday, 2 August 2019

Our Tomorrowland Journey Part 5 - Lessons Learnt...

So, our Tomorrowland experience is over, but, would we do it again? Damn right we would! However, next time - should we be lucky enough to get tickets - there are a few things we'd do differently, thanks to lessons learnt in our first outing...

Get a Comfort Pass

We'd toyed with the idea of doing this this year, but then decided it wasn't worth the extra money. Then the weather happened, and now we've decided the extra money is very much worth it as an insurance against the weather, if nothing else.

Comfort Passes give you extra access to various covered/shaded areas at a few stages, and if we'd had one of those we could've avoided getting so wet on Saturday night, and maybe found a few more comfotable places to sit down during Friday's way-too-hot weather. We definitely could've stayed drier. So, even though you have to pay 0.5 Pearls more for your drinks in the Comfort Areas, we couldn't care. We're saving up and are prepared to fork out the extra to make next year a slightly more enjoyable experience, should adverse weather strike again.

Stay in a Hotel

My husband would've done this this year, if it had been left up to him, but I'd wanted to experience the whole Dreamville camping thing. And, to be fair, the camping experience wasn't all that bad. Our neighbours in the Relax Room area were, on the whole, pretty quiet and respectful, and The Montagoe Area is really impressive. But, by Sunday, because of the rain, our stuff was starting to feel a little damp. And with the shower/toilet blocks being outside, with no shelter, there was one night when I was brushing my teeth out in the rain. So, we've decided that the longer walk to the shuttle buses after the festival is a price worth paying for a good night's sleep, a private bathroom, and a much more comfortable experience, for us. We're a little older than your average festival-goer, remember!!

Don't Even Attempt To Have A Plan

It doesn't work. We tried to have a plan, but very rarely kept to it. Until you've actually been to Tomorrowland, and got to grips with the layout and the time it takes to get to each of the different stages at various times of the day, you can't possibly plan anything. Some advice we were given by a seasoned festival goer was to have one must-see artist per day, and for the rest of the time just go with the flow, and that's exactly what we're going to do next year. We know the layout now, we'll be much better prepared next time.

Invest in A Better Raincoat

Those cheap ponchos are actually OK, to be honest. They leaked way less than the slightly more expensive raincoat I had on, but, next year, I'm going to invest in a better quality rain jacket that's lightweight, but will keep me dry should the rain hit again. It's very much possible to still enjoy Tomorrowland in the rain, you just need to be wearing the right gear.

Make Time To Eat More of the Food!

Because it all looked FAB! Everything we ate was good quality and tasted really good, and there were so many things I wanted to try and never got around to eating. I'll make sure I try a lot more of the food next year.

Dance More

Being slightly older than your average festival-goer, it took me a bit of time to realise that nobody else actually cared about that, and that it wasn't wrong for me to dance/jump/fling my arms in the air and just enjoy myself in the same way everyone else was doing. Next year I'll be getting straight down to the dancing, but my husband's still banned from hardstyle!! 😏

See a Full Armin van Buuren Set

Not denying that 15 Year Tribute he did this year wasn't something else, it was the BEST moment of the entire festival for me. But, I still would've liked to have seen either his full Mainstage set or, preferably, his State of Trance set. He's one of my favourite DJs, so, next year, as long as he's playing the weekend we (hopefully) get tickets for, I'm going to try and make sure I see him play.


Live In The Moment More

I'm a worrier. I worried about the weather, about the heat, the rain, how my husband was handling it (not as well as I was); were we enjoying ourselves as much as we should've been? Was going there a mistake? All of that was going through my head at one point or another, because that's what I do. I worry and dwell on things and then end up regretting that when I get home. Next year, I'm leaving all that crap at the festival gates, and living in the moment more. We won't be able to afford this festival more than a couple of times, so I want to enjoy the times I can get there. I'll have a word with myself before next year... 😉



So, yeah... Our first Tomorrowland outing was an experience, no doubt about that. There were good bits, and there were bad bits, and that's OK. That's fine. Nothing's perfect, not even Tomorrowland. On the whole, it's pretty close, I mean, the sheer amount of organisiation that goes into something as HUGE as that, it's undeniably very, very good. It DOES live up to the hype, but at the same time, it also does have its problems. Not many, granted, but one of the most important ones we came across was leaving the Mainstage on Sunday night after the final end show - that almost got dangerous! With so many people all leaving at exactly the same time, and with some of those people deciding that taking it slow wasn't the way they were going to go, they'd rather force their way through the crowd and try to get out faster, it resulted in a lot of pushing, a lot of frayed tempers (my husband got accused of deliberately shoving some bloke - who kept insisting he was doing it on purpose - when he wasn't, we were literally being shoved against those in front of us by those behind us, and by those who were just trying to force their way through) and there was a point when it started to feel quite dangerous. The bottleneck of people was immense, and because some kept insisting on shoving their way through it really did feel like we were close to some kind of crush happening. And that needs to be sorted, because one day it could quite possibly happen. There were a lot of drunk people there, a lot of people who thought it was their god-given right to push through and not wait in that crowd, and all it would've taken is for one of those people to kick-off, push too hard; all it would take is for someone to start on someone else and a disaster could happen. It was the one part of the festival that just didn't seem organised at all, it felt quite scary at times, to be honest. And Tomorrowland know that, come Sunday, with the majority of people at the Mainstage, way more people than normal will all be trying to leave the same place at once, heading for one of only two exits. But something seriously needs to be sorted out, and a much more organised plan is needed, in my opinion, to get everyone out of the Mainstage area and out to the exits in a safer way, because I didn't feel safe, at times.

That was my only real niggle, however, it's quite an important one. Apart from that, everything else was pretty much there. The stages, the music, the food, the organisation... all of it seems a cut above your average festival, but then, the price of visiting Tomorrowland kind of reflects that. But at the same time, the prices of food and drink there is quite reasonable, for a festival. We spent way less than we thought we would, meaning we got quite a bit of money refunded from unspent Pearls, so, that's all gone straight back into next year's Tomorrowland fund. Because we will - if we're lucky enought to get tickets again - be back. We've learnt from our rookie mistakes, and second time around we'll try and make the experience even better...


If you want to catch up with the first 4 parts of our Tomorrowland Journey, just click the links below.



See you next year, Tomorrowland! And thank you. When people say this festival changed their life, they're actually not wrong...


Michelle x

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Out Tomorrowland Journey Part 4 - The Music.

So, now it's time to talk about the artists we actually got around to seeing during our first time at Tomorrowland.

We did have some must-sees, and I'm pleased to say that we got to see almost all of those, so, who exactly did we see...?

Friday

This was the ridiculously hot day, way too hot to actually move half the time, so our plan to visit a few stages in the afternoon kind of went out the window. We stuck our heads inside L'Orangerie and saw a little bit of CID, who we'd originally wanted to see, but it was just too hot to dance, to be honest.

Same for the Q-Dance stage, where we saw the end of Zany's set. 

Our day really began around ten to 5, when we went to the Mainstage just in time for the opening show, followed by Mike Williams' set. We found a nice little shaded bit at the bottom of the hill, just to the side of the Mainstage, and sat there and watched for a while before FINALLY getting up and actually dancing! His set was a lot of fun, perfect for the Mainstage at that time of day, as was the next artist to play - Kungs. Both my husband and I really like Kungs, but we hadn't actually intended to see his Mainstage set, however, our original plans were torn up by now, I can't even remember who were supposed to have been seeing at that point, I'm just glad we hung around for Kungs, because his set was GOOD! We had a blast, stuck around and danced for the most part, but then the heat exhaustion kicked in again and we sat back down on the hill, and just chilled out watching the end of the set. Which was nice. And he did a cracking mix of Fisher's 'Losing It' which transitioned perfectly into his own hit 'This Girl'. Clever! 

Next up were my absolute must-sees for the day, all of them at The Garden of Madness - Laidback Luke, Yves V, and Timmy Trumpet. 

Laidback Luke at The Garden of Madness
None of them disappointed. Laidback Luke was on another level, he was amazing! He's just so good at what he does! Doesn't interact with the crowd much at all but that makes no difference, he engaged us all with the music. He played a really great set, in our opinion.

Yves V was next up, and I LOVE Yves V! He's been a favourite of mine for a while now, I just love his sets! And it was great to be able to get closer to the stage than I would've been able to at the Mainstage. The atmosphere was incredible at The Garden of Madness that night for V Sessions vs Freakshow, it was packed! But not so packed that I couldn't have a dance, I mean, I was throwing myself around like no-one was watching, having so much fun at Yves Vs' set. Loved it!

Yves V at The Garden of Madness
Towards the end of Yves Vs' set, though, it started to get really busy, because Timmy Trumpet was on next. And his set was an absolute blast! I mean, it was crazy good! The atmosphere shot up ten fold once he started playing.

However, I'm not sure The Garden of Madness is built for the level of craziness Timmy Trumpet brings. This stage is, basically, a floating stage erected over a lake. And at one point, people were jumping up and down so hard water started to seep through the flooring, both mine and my husband's feet got soaked, so we stepped to the side fearing the whole floor could cave in! Thankfully, it didn't. But there was another point, during 'crowd control' when, again, people were jumping so hard that the roof over the stage was vibrating so much even the Tomorrowland Crew standing next to us were raising their eyebrows! It was insane! The guy ended his set by smashing a bottle of vodka over his head! We couldn't have asked for a better way to end our time at The Garden of Madness, a stage I've always associated with more laid back, chilled out music. Not that night. It lived up to its name, quite literally, that Friday.

We ended the night at The Lotus Stage - mainly because my husband needed the loo and those were the closest ones! But we stayed for a beer and the end of Martin Solveig Live, which I really enjoyed, to be honest. He was good. And it was a nice way to end the night after all the craziness over at The Garden of Madness.

Saturday

Rain put paid to our planned early start, but we finally got to the Q-Dance stage around 3-ish for the end of MANDY's set, followed by most of Keltek's set. And they were both good. I've already said I'm not a huge fan of hardstyle, but my husband is so I wanted him see a couple of sets, and he wanted me to experience some hardstyle live, and to be honest, I actually had a great time dancing around and just letting go, the energy at that stage was wild! However, when my husband also decided to jump around and 'just let go', he sprained his ankle - hardstyle dancing! He got it strapped up by First Aid, though, (who were very, very helpful), and it was only a slight sprain, he could still walk on it, but I've banned him from hardstyle dancing from now on!

We also saw most of Coone's set at the Q-Dance stage, and a little bit of Ferry Corsten at the Kara Savi stage as we made our way back toward the Mainstage, which was packed despite the rain. But Ferry sounded GOOD, so that wasn't really a surprise.

First on the Mainstage for us on Saturday was Salvatore Gannaci, who I wasn't expecting to enjoy all that much, we'd just got there early because Fisher was on straight after him. But I actually loved his set! I mean, the man is a certified nutjob, but he really knows how to play the crowd, and he was so funny! But his set was also really good. One of the surprises of Tomorrowland for me.

After him, it was Fisher. Someone we'd wanted to see, and he was also very, very good, but at this point the rain had started again, and it kind of distracted a little bit from the music, but not too much. I thought this was one of the best sets of the weekend, in my opinion, and of course he ended with 'Losing It'. Which, despite the rain, got everyone up on their feet. Including me.

Next, Vini Vici. Another great set, although it was plagued by a couple of technical problems which saw the music stop a couple of times, which we initially thought might be something to do with the weather, but as no-one else seemed to have had any problems (either before or after them) it possibly wasn't that.Maybe their equipment...? I don't know. Anyway, they got back on track, and again, despite the rain, I was up and dancing.

After Vini Vici, it was David Guetta. By this point my raincoat had been discarded because I was just as wet with it on as I was without it, so I just let myself go, danced in the rain, and tried to enjoy it but, if I'm being honest, David Guetta was one of the sets I'd been looking forward to the most, but probably enjoyed the least, and that was because of the weather. Which was a pity, but that's the weather for you. You can't control it. At least I can watch the set back on YouTube, but I DO remember thinking it was a way better set than last year's, one of the best I've ssen him play. And I did dance a lot! 😃


Sunday

Another slightly later than planned start due to waiting for the rain to FINALLY stop, which meant we only caught the last few songs of Ben Nicky on the Mainstage. After that it was off the the Freedom Stage for Andrew Rayel's State of Trance set. Which was everything I'd hoped it would be, just pure, unadulterated trance. And for some reason, he always makes me smile, because he's always smiling! So glad I got to see him play.

The Freedom Stage - Sunday
Next on the Freedom Stage were Cosmic Gate, who we hadn't planned on seeing, but we hung around the Freedom Stage anyway, grabbed something to eat and a beer and sat down and listened to them while we waited for NWYR. Who were good, we'd wanted to see them, even though we'd already seen them as W&W at The Gathering. But their NWYR sets are quite different, and I, personally, prefer them as NWYR.

Despite Armin van Buuren being on next, we left the Freedom Stage after NWYR to grab more food before heading over to the Mainstage, because no way was I missing out on a decent view for Lost Frequencies, who was the only artist we had no intention of missing. After something to eat we got ourselves a beer and found a place up on the hill at the back (so hubby could sit down, because of his ankle) to watch the end of Solomun's set. And here was another surprise for us. We aren't really Solomun fans, but his Mainstage set was actually really good! It was quite nice, just chilling out, drinking beer, and listening to his music. 

Solomun - Mainstage Sunday Night.
But the one we'd really been waiting for was on next - Lost Frequencies.

And this guy, he was just out of this world! He is so unique, so different, he just blew me away. I couldn't believe I was actually standing there, watching him play, singing along with his songs, he's just something very special.

Lost Frequencies - Mainstage Sunday Night.
And his set was incredible! At the end, when the fireworks started going off, and the music was playing, I remember looking up and just feeling nothing but calm. A beautiful moment of happiness. I really hope I get to see him play again, more than once, and hopefully next year at Tomorrowland.

So, after Lost Frequencies, it was someone else I'd been looking forward to seeing, after missing both his Mainstage and Freedom Stage sets - Armin van Buuren with his 15 year Tomorrowland Tribute, which was just AMAZONG!! I absolutely LOVED it, in fact, it was probably one of my favourite parts of the whole Tomorrowland experience, it was just magical! The music he mixed, the fact he looked like he was thoroughly enjoying himself, and people all around us dancing and singing, it was an incredible moment. One I'll never forget, I was just completely lost in the music. 30 minutes of trance classics mixed by an absolute EDM god! 

Mainstage - Sunday Night
And the last set of the night, which should've been Swedish House Mafia but I don't think anyone's talking about them anymore now after thier last-minute cancellation, was 3 Are Legend, which is Dimitri Vegas, Like Mike and Steve Aoki. I wouldn't have chosen to watch them, to be honest, because I'm not a fan of Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, and Steve Aoki is just OK, in my opinion. But, they were the final set, and I wanted to stick around for the end show, and in reality they did what they do best - whip the crowd up into a frenzy and create a good party atmosphere. I still danced and sang and I enjoyed myself, but I - and a lot of other people - think Armin should have closed the festival. An hour and a half of those trance classics would have been such a fitting end to the 15 year celebration...

And talking of the end show, how emotional was that? The music, the words being spoken by The Book of Wisdom itself; people throwing themselves into the final few moments of Tomorrowland 2019, it was just incredible to be a part of that. I can't really describe it, it just felt really, really emotional. Especially when the Book of Wisdom closed its pages for the very last time, I swear, I had tears in my eyes! 

Mainstage - Sunday Night
It was the most beautiful end to a bit of a mixed Tomorrowland for us. But I'll remember it for all the right reasons. I saw so many DJs I really wanted to see, a few I hadn't planned on seeing but loved that they surprised me, and I missed some I would've liked to have seen. But, you know, there's always next year...


Next time, in my final post in Our Tomorrowland Journey, I'm going to talk about my thoughts in general on the festival and how, next year, we'll learn from our rookie mistakes. Check that out by clicking the link below...

Our Tomorrowland Journey Part 5 - Lessons Learnt 

And if you want to catch up with the first 3 parts of my Tomorrowland-themed posts, you can do so by clicking the links below.



Michelle x


Our Tomorrowland Journey Part 3 - The Festival, The Food, and The Weather...

So, in part one of our Tomorrowland Journey I talked about getting tickets, Global Journey, and Dreamville. You can check that post out HERE. And part pwo was all about The Gathering, which you can find HERE. But today, I'm going to talk about the festival itself - the food, the stages, and the weather...


The Festival

From The Montagoe Area it's just a 5/10 minute walk - depending on the amount of people - to the actual festival gates, which was nice. And the good thing about Tomorrowland is that the walkway is boarded, which makes it much easier.

Anyway, once at the gates you have to pass through a security check which involves emptying your pockets, having your bag searched, if you have one, and then walking through an airport-style scanner. During weekend 1 there were a few reports of security being a little lax, ie: not checking bags, just waving everyone through, but I can honestly say that during weekend 2 that wasn't happening. Everyone in front of us had their bags checked, we saw people being patted down, asked questions, security seemed a little tighter to me. Which I'm fine with. 

So, once through security, it was just one simple swipe of our bracelets and we were in... Yes. Bracelets. You're sent a bracelet a month or so before the festival starts, which has a small chip inside it, and you're then required to activate this bracelet - via your Tomorrowland account - with the unique code that comes with it, meaning that that bracelet is then asigned to you and you only, giving you access to the festival. If someone tries to enter with a bracelet that isn't registered to them, it can (but shouldn't) be done, but should that someone then lose that bracelet, and they aren't the person it was originally registered to, then it will not be replaced. And that person would more than likely be removed from the festival. It's a security thing. Your bracelet gives you access to your camping area, as well as the festival, so, for example, people who were camping at Magnificent Greens couldn't enter The Montagoe Area, their bracelets wouldn't allow it. But those bracelets give everyone access to the festival itself. 


Tomorrowland is also a cash-free festival. You load your bracelet with Pearls - the currency of Tomorrowland - and this is what you use to buy food and drink in both Dreamville and the festival itself. This basically means you transfer money onto your bracelet, again via your Tomorrowland account, it's incredibly simple and makes life so much easier once inside. Every time you buy food or drink you just quickly scan your bracelet - pretty much like you'd scan a credit card - and the pearls come off your bracelet! It really does make the queues go down faster, and it tells you on the scanning machine how many pearls you have left every time you buy something. 

Oh, and if you have unspent Pearls left once the festival is over, Tomorrowland will refund them straight back into your account! It took just a couple of days before they refunded ours, and I think this is such a great idea, because we deliberately overloaded our bracelets rathre than running out and having to top-up on site, which is actuallt really easy to do, there are booths all around the festival where you can do this. But, if you top-up your bracelet at the festival itself, then you have to fill out a form to get your unspent Pearls refunded, as opposed to that refund automatically coming back into your account if you topped up before you arrived at the festival.

Anyway, the festival itself - what is it like? Pretty much mind-blowing, to be honest. We'd looked at spoilers before we came out so we knew what the stages looked like, including the Mainstage. The Book of Wisdom - The Return was the theme this year, celebrating 15 years of Tomorrowland, and even though we knew what to expect, when you enter the festival from the Dreamville entrance, the Mainstage is the first thing you see. It slowly starts to appear over the brim of a hill, and despite knowing what it looked like, seeing it for real is something else!


The Mainstage
It is absolutely HUGE! It's imposing, beautiful, intricate, and even now, back home, I'm looking at it and seeing things I didn't realise were there. It truly is stunning.

Getting around the festival site is also something pretty well organised by Tomorrowland, in that they have a one-way system, a bit like Ikea!! You have to follow certain routes to the stages, and this can take a bit of getting used to when it's your first time because, sometimes, if you miss the entrance to a stage you want to visit it can mean you have to go round again to get there, but it does actually work. It's still an incredibly busy festival, don't get me wrong, but organising the routes in the way that they do, it does help to keep the traffic moving in a more orderly way.

So, what about the other stages? Well, first of all, there was a slight disappointment when we got to the festival, finding out that The Freedom Stage roof had collapsed a couple of days ago. The Freedom Stage was one of the stages we'd really wanted to visit - it's like a massive indoor nightclub with lights and lasers, it looked amazing when we watched old sets back. 


The Freedom Stage, Outdoors!
But, due to the extreme heat Belgium had had (apparently, although my husband still blames Eric Prydz's Holosphere) part of the roof had collapsed, thankfully when no-one was inside, and they had no time to repair it. So, instead, Tomorrowland turned The Freedom Stage into an open-air stage, and with just a few days notice to do this, I think they did a pretty bang-on job, personally. And, to be honest, the atmosphere when we were there for A State of Trance was so good! It was like a big party! And because there are lots of food stands outside The Freedom Stage, and a big seating area, it meant you could eat, drink, and sit down while still listening to the music. We actually liked it that way, although, if we go back next year I would like to see the original Freedom Stage back! I still want to experience that!!


The Rose Garden
OK. Other stages. Well, I definitely wanted to see The Rose Garden, or the 'Dragon Stage' as we called it! 😀

And it was just as impressive in real-life! I actually found myself watching the dragon more than the artists because there are so many tiny little movements it does, all the time, it's quite mesmerising! My only regret is that i didn't get to see this stage at night. It looks incredible in the dark, all lit up, so, yeah. Next Year.

The Rose Garden has been a fixture at Tomorrowland for a few years now, but this year also saw a few new stages replace old ones. One of those being The Lotus Stage, which replaced The Organ of Harmony. Although, to be fair, The Lotus Stage isn't exactly new, it was used as the Mainstage for Tomorrowland Winter back in March and was adapted slightly for Tomorrowland Belgium. 



The Lotus Stage
It's a really impressive stage, to be honest. The photos don't do it justice, and when we went there one night, for a final beer before heading back to Dreamville, it looked even better in the dark! We caught the back end of Martin Solveig Live, and stayed til the end of his set to finish our beers, it was a nice stage to end the night at. And they've made some alterations to the grounds in front of it, too, making it quite a pleasant space. There just weren't a lot of artists we wanted to see playing that stage, unfortunately. But, again, maybe next year...

Another new stage was the Q-Dance stage. I'm not a massive fan of hardstyle, but my husband is, so we went there a few times, and this is the first year, I think, that Q-Dance have been given their own desingated stage


The Q-Dance Stage
It was always busy when we we there, so it's certainly a popular genre, and I have to admit, people always seemed to be having so much fun there! 

Youphoria - or 'the mushroom stage' as we've nicknamed it, was still the same as it has been for a while now, and again, this was another stage we didn't spend too much time at because there was no-one playing there that we were desperate to see, but we did hang around it a couple of times to grab some photos and listen to a little bit of whoever was playing there at the time. It's one of those stages that has a little bit of cover available, too, which was quite welcome on the Friday when the heat was almost unbearable! 


Youphoria Stage
One of my favourite stages, and another new one, was L'orangerie, another stage that was used at Tomorrowland Winter and brought over for Tomorrowland Belgium. It's basically a huge greenhouse, but a very beautiful one. We only popped inside a couple of times, but this is another stage I'd like to spend more time in next year. 


L'Orangerie
So, that's just some of the stages we visited. We spent a lot of time at The Garden of Madness, which for some reason I forgot to take a picture of! And the Mainstage. Most of Saturday was Q-Dance and Mainstage, Sunday was Freedom Stage and Mainstage. We'd spent most of Friday sheltering from the heat, but did spend some time that day at The Freedom Stage (there was shade there!!), and the Mainstage. We also popped our heads in at The Core Stage, but we didn't really like that stage much at all. And my biggest regret is not spending ANY time in the Atmosphere Stage. This is a massive tent-like structure with the most incredible light shows inside, and I think we didn't really go in there because it was very much techno-themed on our weekend, and techno isn't a genre either me or my husband are really into. But, I wish I'd just stayed for one set, to experience the light show. I guess this is another one for next year! 

However, ALL of the stages are super-impressive, beautifully built, and all very, very different. And I don't, personally, think there is anywhere near enough time to visit them all in a single weekend. That's why we need to go again next year! 😉

A closer look at The Mainstage
Oh, and another, quite important thing, about the festival. The toilets. There are a lot of them dotted around the festival grounds, and every single one I went into was always clean, always had toilet paper, and very, very short queues. 

The Food

Couldn't fault it. There is so much choice, and for a festival the quality is top-notch! The Belgian fries were, of course, REALLY good! As were the HUGE Korean pulled pork or chicken sandwiches, the lasagne I had at the Freedom Stage, and the pizza was SO good! Oh, and the burgers - not the premium burgers, just the standard ones - they were FAB! Loaded with salad, cheese, gherkins and a lovely spicy relish, we only wished we could've had more of those. 

There's everything from grilled chicken, to kebabs; fish and chips, hot dogs, Indian food, pasta, waffles, ice cream, meatballs, beef stew, Thai food... there really is so much choice, and it's really good value for money, too. The portions are big - for festival food - and the average cost of a burger or a plate of pasta was about 7/8 Pearls - which is about 10 euros. Possibly a bit less, but worth it. I can't wait to go back and try more of the stuff I didn't get a chance to try this year.

The Weather

It wasn't good. The Thursday and Friday was the tail end of a Belgian heatwave and, quite honestly, it was just too damn hot to do anything. We spent most of Friday trying to get out of the sun, constantly having to sit down because the heat was just too much. It, thankfully, started to cool down a little by early evening, and by late Friday night/early Saturday morning it had actually started to rain. The things was, though, it didn't stop raining until about lunchtime Sunday! And yes, unfortunately, this did impact on our enjoyment of the festival. We stayed at Dreamville way longer than we'd wanted to, waiting to see if the rain would stop, and when it didn't we just put on our raincoats/ponchos and braved it, and while you try to make the best of it - as a LOT of people were doing - I think we'd all rather have had some dry weather. I wouldn't say it ruined it for me, but it did spoil the whole experience a little bit.

Saturday's not-particularly-attractive festival attire!
Sunday afternoon was dry, thankfully, and a perfect temperature, really. If it had been like that all weekend it would've been amazing! But, you know, you can't blame Tomorrowland for the weather. We still had a good time. 😊 And it did dry up for our afternoon at The Freedom Stage, which I was so grateful for, and the final acts on the Mainstage. So, it all ended on a dry note. But we really did have extremes of weather for our first Tomorrowland experience - record-breaking heat followed by below average temperatures and rain! But, what I would say is, don't let the weather spoil it for you. Embrace it. In the end I flung off my (wet) raincoat and danced in the rain (it was light rain, to be honest) to David Guetta on the Saturday night, by that time I didn't care anymore!! 😁 Just go with it. Enjoy it. Make different memories to the ones you thought you might make, I know we'll laugh about the weather situation in a few months' time!! 

Before I end this post, though, I should mention that mud isn't too much of an issude when it rains at Tomorrowland. The majority of walkways are either concrete or are boarded over, so no need for wellies! And any mud that appeared anyway was quickly dealt with by Tomorrowland staff, come Sunday we could sit on the grass at the Mainstage no problem. And even on the Saturday night - when the rain wa at its worst - the grass still wasn't muddy. There was just one really bad bit to the right of the Mainstage, and that had been sanded over by Sunday, and fixed! They're pretty much on top of everything, I have to say. And that's a big thumbs up from me for that.

Anyway, that's the festival, food and weather covered. Click HERE to read the next part of our Tomorrowland Journey where, this time, it's all about the music...

Michelle x