Early Monday morning, Belgium’s Tomorrowland festival drew to a dream-like close after attracting record crowds (the final numbers showed nearly 200,000 attended over three days this year). Sporadic rain didn’t deter Dutch, French, and Belgian fans of electronic music from flocking en masse to the event, which is quickly emerging as Europe’s answer to the Electric Daisy Carnival. 469 DJs played in total, with names such as David Guetta and Swedish House Mafia among the top draws. Tomorrowland, which began in 2005, is now firmly established as a global DJ circuit “must” for fans and industry members alike.
But the truth is, Tomorrowland is better than EDC for a number of reasons. The most surprising reason, however, might just be the level of culinary sophistication available at the otherwise muddy, gritty festival. Promoters of the event, Holland-based ID&T, offered up a tantalizing taste of a trend possibly heading America’s way at festivals such as Coachella in the years to come: Upscale food and cocktails to go with your gnarly outdoor festival experience.
Sure, you can get all kinds of veggie grub now at festivals such as EDC and Lollapalooza, but the genius minds behind Tomorrowland have found a way to take things to the next level. Guests not only could feast on hot dogs, pizza and typical festival fare, but oysters, lobster and Belgian frites were also on the menu. And for those who planned ahead, an honest-to-god full meal at a wonderfully set table could be had at an upmarket restaurant specially set up this year, inside the VIP area overlooking the main stage, featuring food from Michelin starred chef Wout Bru, of Belgium’s Maison Bru restaurant inside Chez Bru.
Cocktails were also on hand, designed by the men behind Antwerp-based SIPS bar (Manuel and Oliver Wouters). So does this portend a move towards offering more upscale fare for those willing to pay a little extra at music festivals such as Coachella and Lolla in 2012? It’s too soon to tell, but chances are America will see a similar move next year towards offering the wealthiest 5% of festivalgoers gourmet options beyond the typical fare.