It’s time for our recap of Tomorrowland Winter which celebrated its 3rd edition in 2023!
More than 22,000 festival-goers from 90 different countries were attending it for a week of celebrations at Alpe d’Huez ski resort in the French Alps.
Back in detail with nostalgia on this new edition that has proven so many beautiful things for our first experience and coverage as media including our interviews with LIKE MIKE (video – text) and TONY ROMERA (video – text)!
Tomorrowland Winter: such a unique concept
March 2023, Tomorrowland has returned to the famous resort of Alpe d’Huez for its 3rd winter edition. A ski resort elected 3 times already as best ski domain in Europe. The Grand Domain had to adapt again to accommodate the festival the best possible. More than hundreds of workers have been involved for a month to organize the festival assembly at the heart of the ski resort.
Launched in 2019, Tomorrowland Winter is the French little sister of the original Belgian electronic music festival that combines its incredible festive atmosphere with the charms of a ski holiday. What can be better than coming and enjoying the magical world of Tomorrowland in a totally unique setting to party at the heart of the mountains.
Tomorrowland Winter is also about skiing, and Alpe d’Huez is one of the best for that. With 250km of slopes and more than 50 bars and restaurants, the ski resort is as pleasant for beginners as it can be challenging for experienced skiers/snowboarders with internationally renowned slopes. The most famous one is the black one Sarenne with its 16km long, but the ski area is suitable for everyone. In this paradise for skiers, at Tomorrowland Winter 2023 the non-skiers are not left out and are able to enjoy a very large number of snow activities that do not require knowledge of skiing with full access throughout the domain even as pedestrian.
Always at the top of the organization
The festival is spread around the whole ski Domain for the occasion and is combining two types of stages. The high-altitude stages which require the use of the ski lifts accessible to everyone during the day with the famous Tomorrowland bracelet, in parallel of the stages located in the “private” Tomorrowland village, also accessible via the wristband and which is located between the Sports and Congress Center at the heart of the resort during the evening.
What is always impressive about Tomorrowland is the way they are able to perfectly manage the flow throughout the festival site. Also, you are never waiting more than 5 minutes at the bar, food stand or toilets. You can easily top-up some Pearls on your bracelet (the festival currency) in several places and have real-time information via their dedicated App. Their iconic Tomorrowland shop is opened from noon until late in the evening to not miss anything from their new collection in partnership with Ellesse.
As per their summer edition in Belgium, once you have badged to enter the festival, you really disconnect and feel the magical side of Tomorrowland as a global atmosphere.
The major stages
One of the other impressive skills of Tomorrowland are obviously the stages. In Alpe d’Huez, the festival has created 8 distinctive stages bringing together more than 150 of the world’s best electronic music artists.
The major ones are being located at the heart of the village such as the Mainstage, the Cage, the Youphoria and the Moose Bar. There are four others high-altitude stages located on the slopes and accessible to skiers/pedestrians through the ski lifts: the Crystal Garden at Chantebise, the Frozen Lotus at the Folie Douce, the Core at the Signal and the most emblematic one Top of The Mountain at Pic Blanc peaked at 3300m of altitude.
Few additional smaller stages are taking places like the hyped Brasa, but also Bar Bichette, L’Alpette and Aventure hosting DJs from time to time.
The Frozen Lotus
This stage was located this year at the Folie Douce with a very minimalist but effective decor of flower buds, climbing ivy and church-stained glass windows. The atmosphere was very typical there and the musical style a bit calmer/softer than the sets made by the same DJs during the evening on Mainstage. Some memorable performances to highlight were Joris Voorn, Like Mike, Vintage Culture and Kevin de Vries ones, but also Kölsch, Lost Frequencies, James Hype and Amber Broos.
The Crystal Garden
This was one of the stage located on the slopes, precisely at Chantebise peaked at 2100m of altitude, with a unique decor of a giant eagle built into the ice, surrounded by pyrotechnics like smoke bombs and flamethrowers. This scene was mainly focus on EDM style involving R3hab, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, 3 Are Legend, Netsky, Chico Rose, Pretty Pink, Double Pleasure etc.
This one was located at Signal at 2108m of altitude, with a simplistic decor made of circle strings superimposed in mirrors but helped by a wonderful natural landscape in the background with mountain summits. A blue light atmosphere was illuminating the stage during the day that hosted great artists like Amémé, Capoon, Nina Kraviz, ANNA, Krystal Klear, Cellini, etc.
Top of the Mountain
The highest stage of the festival named Top of The Mountain, peaking at 3300m of altitude above sea level, was an incredible experience during the bright days. We had the occasion to get there on Wednesday afternoon with for example the surprising and intimate set of Afrojack under his techno alias Kapuchon with Chico Rose, surrounded by a magical mountain peaks landscape enriched by a blue sky and sun. Definitely one of the most iconic experience that Tomorrowland Winter offers like nowhere else.
Let’s talk now about the stages located in the heart of the village, starting with this new Youphoria stage having as decor big inflatable mushrooms integrating a giant LED screen. The atmosphere in there was super energetic, focusing each evening on a different music style (EDM, Techno, Hardstyle, etc.) with Djs From Mars, Mandy and more. This stage is one of the Tomorrowland Summer edition taking place on the water usually.
This one is located under the sports hall with a very dark techno atmosphere, very underground but which involved lots of lights show. Big names from the techno scene have played there the two first evenings, like the beloved Nina Kravitz, but also ANNA, Klaps and Patrick Mason (one of the best sets of the festival in our opinion). The Cage finally hosted more drum and bass vibes with Netsky for example but also the bass house and french DJ Aazar.
The Moose bar
This iconic scene remains unchanged, welcoming slightly wacky music in a very funny childish atmosphere. Entirely built in wood, this large chalet of 310 m2 with its outdoor terrace is the unmissable meeting place for all those looking for the ultimate “après-ski” atmosphere to sing along like at the Belgian festival.
Last but not least, the Mainstage that is obviously the scene of all the expectations and all the fantasies. More than 10 000 festival-goers inside this huge covered and heated structure, including one floor to accommodate the “Comfort” areas. The stage only opened from Tuesday, the day of the Gathering, with a large curtain hiding the background decor. The Mainstage is the only one benefiting from a specific ceremony for the revelation of its decoration, and got uncovered at the opening of Steve Angello’s set at 11:00pm. We could discover a huge tree in bloom, with cherry blossoms falling from the ceiling, integrating two large screens on the side to better see the DJ performances, all surrounded by large stalactites of ice. Much fewer elements than last year Mainstage, but at the same time much more refined elements. The decorative theme reflected much more the idea of a mountain festival with stalactites, stalagmites and waterfall. It was looking like being at the middle of an icy cave with a tree in its heart and two branches where the DJ was enthroned, like the master of this mysterious space.
We had the chance to attend many great performances like the Italian duo Meduza, Vintage Culture, Joris Voorn, Afrojack, James Hype, Martin Garrix, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, Amber Broos, Axwell, Steve Angello, Tony Romera, Kölsch, Steve Aoki to only mention those. Obviously, every live sets were served with strong pyrotechnic effects like few pyros, CO2 jets, and other lasers all around the stage, pretty common but always effective.
Bonus: la Brasa
In front of the Brasa restaurant this year stood a very tiny stage with an undisclosed program but which revealed few big surprises! We could see unexpected sets from Like Mike, Afrojack, Netsky, Cellini, Amémé, etc. All of them being very intimate but still pretty qualitative focus on old house style mainly, with a completely overexcited atmosphere. The dancefloor could accommodate a few hundred people max, but many more actually gathered around the place for an almost Boiler Room atmosphere. The festival-goers were having fun on twirling the lights overhanging the dancefloor, which added more madness to the confused and festive spirit of this eccentric place. That’s Tomorrowland magic: smaller stages sometimes anecdotal, but which some unexpected moments that add a real plus to the atmosphere.
Academy – Mixology – Nubes
The best thing about Tomorrowland Winter is that you can combine skiing with partying like never. In addition of that, the festival offers few other things like several winter activities such as dog sledding, paragliding, helicopter, cycling, etc. There are also add-ons like learning how to be a DJ with the Tomorrowland Academy, few Q&A conferences with famous DJs, a tasting experience with Mixology, etc.
One exclusive experience this year was the Tomorrowland Academy, a series of “Artists Q&A” involving multiple artists like Kölsch, Kevin de Vries, Lost Frequencies and Afrojack. They shared about their careers, anecdotes, gave tips/tricks and some intimate insights in their DJ life.
In parallel the Tomorrowland Academy was providing some apprentice DJing session in order to teach the basics like all the mixing techniques for a dedicated training of 2 hours.
Also one exclusive activity was the interactive Mixology cocktail experience. Animated by Matthias Giroud (L’Alchimiste, Paris), he was inviting the festival-goers to live a unique cocktail experimentation in the Papillon 1860, a cocktail bar specially built for him for the duration of the festival. As Press we had the chance to attend this experience combining the 4 elements: each cocktail was linked to one of the elements (air, earth, fire and water), starting by one non-alcoholic and then each cocktail having more and more intensity. Special mention for the earth cocktail, in which real wood was mixed!
An ephemeral restaurant named “Nubes” was taking place in a gondola lift. For the duration of a gourmet lunch, three courses were served to you while flying over the slopes and enjoying breath-taking views.
As a bonus, let’s talk about the Tomorrowland x Baobab Collection, scented candles, exclusively crafted with their delicious fragrance and stunning design. Designed to transport you straight into the magical energy of the Belgian music festival with a unique fragrance, design and accompanying playlist were specially developed by the in-house creative team behind the Belgian festival.
Tomorrowland Winter: a must-experience
To conclude this recap, let’s say that we left this 2023 winter edition with wonderful memories and a very positive opinion about the festival.
Tomorrowland’s expertise has been striking again and made possible the creation of a superb experience in the heart of the Alps which we can only recommend! Musically there were a lot of very qualitative sets, involving some usual “stamped” Tomorrowland DJs like Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, Afrojack, Joris Voorn, Kölsch, etc. However, they also had the merit of inviting rarer names like both Steve Angello and Axwell, and some artists with more advanced styles like Amémé, Nina Kraviz, ANNA, Krystal Klear, Apashe, etc. Only two French artists played on the Mainstage, Tony Romera and Ofenbach, it could have been good to see more Frenchies during this Tomorrowland edition in France, but the line-up was still top-world class.
Going to Tomorrowland Winter is definitely something, even financially speaking, but it remains an interesting value for money for a whole week of skiing compared to a week of “classic” skiing; except that you have the magic and the amazing quality of Tomorrowland’s organization.
We want of course to warmly thank the entire Tomorrowland Press team, especially Debby and Frederic that are always there if needed and have perfectly welcomed us.