If you’re over 21 and you love bright lights and big crowds, it’s time to get out your glow sticks and smear on your iridescent face paint: the electronic dance music festival Unite with Tomorrowland is all set to light up Dubai Festival City Arena on July 29.
It’s the first time that the event — an offshoot of Belgium’s fantastical Tomorrowland festival (taking place over the course of two weekends, between July 20-30) — will happen in the UAE. The Dubai chapter of Unite will be accompanied by shows in Germany, Lebanon, Spain, South Korea and more.
We give you the lowdown on what to expect from the all-day festival, including who’s performing live in the UAE — and who’s saying hello via live broadcast.
Parisian DJ Martin Solveig — no stranger to Dubai’s decks — will return to the city as Unite with Tomorrowland’s in-person headliner. He’s best known for his song Hello featuring Dragonette.
Speaking to Gulf News tabloid! back in 2013, Solveig said of the viral track: “It’s so much bigger than me. A lot of people in the world know Hello — a lot more than the people who know about Martin Solveig. Millions of people know the song, because they’ve heard it on the radio, or on the [Trident gum commercial], but they don’t know who I am. I think that’s the power of music.”
A full 2pm to 3am schedule of who will perform at Unite has been made available; the show kicks off with Arcade 82 and ends with an after-hours set by Mikael Weermets:
2pm-3pm: Arcade 82
3pm-4pm: Barry Fore
5pm-6pm: Robert Falcon
6pm-7.15pm: Ferreck Dawn
7.15pm-8.30pm: Franky Rizardo
8.30pm-9.30pm: Tom Swoon
9.30pm-11pm: Martin Solveig
[11pm-2am: live broadcasts]
2am-3am: Mikael Weermets
2. Live broadcast from Tomorrowland
Though Unite with Tomorrowland promises to entertain up to 8,000 people in the UAE, its parent event, Tomorrowland in Belgium, is known to draw out crowds of up to 180,000 people. Tomorrowland’s main stage events will be broadcast live in Dubai, with performances from KSHMR (11pm-12am), Armin Van Buuren (12pm-1am) and Dmitri Vegas & Like Mike (1am-2am). This will be accompanied by synchronised special effects to bring the show to life.
Unite with Tomorrowland will be taking place simultaneously in eight cities across the world, from Dubai to Malta, Byblos to Barcelona. These shows will be interconnected via a live broadcast, in hopes of enhancing the feeling of togetherness amongst the crowds.
Dubai Festival City Arena is an 8,000 indoor capacity venue, located a five-minute drive away from Festival City Mall. A shuttle will be available to transport festival-goers from the mall to the arena. Limited parking can be utilised at the mall itself.
4. Tickets and bracelets
Tickets are still available online, starting at Dh590 per person, and tables can be booked for anywhere between Dh10,000 and Dh100,000. But ticketholders must be aware that their tickets will not get them into the venue grounds: tickets must be exchanged for appropriate bracelets first in order to gain access to the show.
How to get a bracelet: print out your ticket and carry it along with a photo ID to Festival City Mall. A Unite with Tomorrowland booth near Centrepoint on the ground floor will be handing out bracelets all week, from 10am until 9pm, including on the day of the event. Ticketholders are strongly advised to exchange their tickets in advance, as a bottleneck or long queues might form on event day.
The theme of Tomorrowland in Belgium, which kicked off its festivities last weekend, is Amicorum Spectaculum, meaning ‘friendly gathering’ and ‘spectacle’. The first images and livestreams have revealed the set-up to be ludicrously elaborate — the festival grounds are basically what you would expect at a carnival, including a fully-functioning merry-go-round.
In Dubai, the carnival theme will be replicated on a large scale, including the use of dry ice and abundant lights. It took a team of 50 people, and five consecutive days, to set up the custom stage.