The evolution of Tomorrowland Mainstage design

Known as the holy grail for dance music festival-goers, Tomorrowland has made a name for itself of being the dream festival and one that many people dream of going to. Hosted in the scenic town of Boom, Belgium, the festival is like a world of its own where people from every single corner of the globe unite as one for two weekends in July. There are many different things that make Tomorrowland as successful as it is, but one of those things is the amount of detail put into the mainstage year after year and as the 15th anniversary edition approaches, we thought we would take a look back on how the Tomorrowland mainstage has evolved into the spectacle it is today.

Hosting the first edition in 2005, the mainstage design was extremely simple yet still unique. Looking at this image, it’s hard to believe it evolved into what it is today from these humble beginnings. Compared to the size of the mainstage now, 2005’s mainstage size is smaller than the smallest stage at the festival today.

In 2006, its clear that the festival had made a massive leap from the starting year. Boasting a bigger stage, this was a huge step in the direction of what it would grow to be. Although the design was quite similar to 2005’s, it’s clear that the designers knew that they needed to expand in order for the number of attendees to expand with it and they succeeded.

2007’s mainstage was a step in the right direction to the future designs. As the festival expanded to two days for the first time in it’s history, the mainstage had to become bigger to accommodate two days of festival-goers. Featuring even more screens on the stage, they had started to make more of a focus on visuals and this was the last time that the mainstage would feature such a similar design as the previous years.

2008 was the first year that the Tomorrowland mainstage had a drastic re-branding. Adding character to their stage (with a literal animal-looking character as the focus of their design), they aimed to give their attendees a show within a show with the spectacular water fountains, adding depth and moving into three dimensional designs for the first time – which would be improved on vastly.

Moving into themes – something Tomorrowland is extremely well known for today – 2009’s mainstage was reflective of the festival’s very first theme, ‘Masker (Mask)’. With the entire stage being the focus of this extravagant character, the DJ booth was situated inside the mouth and the eyes moved from side to side as if it was looking over the crowd. The fountains from the previous year were back, seemingly finding a permanent home in the stage design.

With the theme being ‘Zon (Sun)’, it was highly appropriate for 2010’s mainstage to feature a giant sun (with the LED eyes seemingly being a nod to 2009’s mainstage character) with a blow up rainbow – the same design of which can be found in Dreamville’s camping grounds entrances today – arching the top. Going even further with their three dimensional designs, giant lillypads filled the front of the stage on either sides of the DJ booth and made it appear as if the stage was leaping out of place. The 2010 edition was nominated for 2011’s International Dance Music Awards in the Best Music Event category.

Proving that they had a formula that was working for them, the 2011 stage design featured yet another character brought to life with moving eyes, this time a tree with a face on it which perfectly encapsulated the theme of that year, ‘The Tree Of Life’. 2011 saw the festival expand even further, moving to three days, and so the stage expanded with it. Using up the entire space, the stage spanned across the entire floor and featured archways for people to pass under for the very first time, giving the designers more creative freedom to truly go all out with the extra room for design.

Regarded as one of the most iconic stage designs in festival history, 2012 saw the birth of ‘The Book Of Wisdom’. Truly the most ambitious design up to that point, the two dimensional aspects were banished completely and thus began a new standard of how festival stages should look. Wanting to showcase this outstanding design even further, The Book Of Wisdom went on to go to America’s TomorrowWorld in 2013 and Tomorrowland Brasil in 2015, both of which were the first editions. This stage design was chosen to make a comeback at the special 15th anniversary for 2019.

The theme ‘The Arising Of Life’ was brought to life for the 2013 edition, swapping out faces for a big, steaming volcano with waterfalls to accompany it. The volcano was constantly steaming with the usage of pyrotechnics to give the effect of a real life volcano that loomed over the massive crowds.

2014 was the 10th anniversary and with that, the festival got permission to expand to two weekends as a celebration – which would become a permanent thing in years to come. That year saw the iconic face design return on the main screen with a steampunk-esque design for ‘The Key to Happiness’ theme. Like the year before, this was another travelling design making it to TomorrowWorld in 2015 and Tomorrowland Brasil’s current last edition in 2016.

2015’s ‘The Secret Kingdom Of Melodia’ boasted a regal, gothic, castle which was the tallest stage design so far and transported fans into a fairy-tale world. Each door of the castle that opened up the huge video screen in the middle was 3.80 metres wide by 10 metres high (to give an idea of how truly huge this design was).

2016 saw ‘The Elixir Of Life’ transport festival-goers into a magical forest, connecting closely with nature. The set was completely drawn by hand and the main tree was made up of over 60 pieces altogether. This stage was 120m tall and took over 40,000 hours to construct.

Moving back to two weekends – a decision that would become permanent from then on – 2017’s ‘Amicorum Spectaculum’ was a true show of it’s own. Looking like it had come straight out of a circus, the stage featured three big top tents, a merry-go-round that actually moved, a wheel of death and a popcorn/candyfloss stand among other amazing details. Stage performers were dotted all around the stage and performed stunts including: tightropes, the wheel of death and swinging atop platforms that rivaled the height of the stage itself.

The latest edition before we move into 2019’s 15th anniversary was 2018. ‘The Story Of Planaxis’ threw attendees straight into the deep end with a stunning underwater theme, a nod to the city of Atlantis. With the entire structure of the stage being made to look like coral, shells were dotted around but the main focus was on the majestic golden seahorse which adorned the center spot. The usage of the fountains were also back in full swing to tie the themed spectacle together perfectly.

It’s hard to believe from looking at the stage in 2005 all the way to 2018 that it’s the exact same festival, but it is truly a testament to how Tomorrowland and the Tomorrowland mainstage has successfully branded itself into the worldwide phenomenon it is today, and we can’t wait to see what they pull out of the bag for 2019’s edition as The Book Of Wisdom returns!

A 24 year old dance music enthusiast from Manchester, UK. Lover of all genres, especially dubstep and house. Find me at gigs and festivals across the world.

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