Awakenings Festival

Awakenings Festival 2023: A Techno Paradise in Hilvarenbeek

Awakenings Festival, the pinnacle of techno music celebrations, unfolded on the 7th and 8th of July in the picturesque town of Hilvarenbeek, nestled in the Netherlands. This summer edition, eagerly anticipated by electronic music enthusiasts, drew a staggering 100,000 attendees, representing over 100 nationalities. Awakenings, a venerable brand in the techno realm for more than a quarter-century, has successfully crafted an experience that transcends the conventional festival. It is not merely an event but a techno holiday, seamlessly blending music with relaxation and spirituality, making it an exceptional and unique affair in the festival circuit.

Arriving at Awakenings

Our journey commenced on a Friday afternoon as we arrived at the festival grounds. We opted for a convenient train ride to Tilburg and then hopped on a shuttle to reach the Awakenings music festival. Booking the shuttle was a breeze through their website, simplifying the travel logistics for festival-goers. Upon arrival, clear signage and helpful staff guided us effortlessly through the entrance. Refreshment stands along the path from the parking lot to the festival entrance ensured we stayed hydrated and refreshed.

The Enchanting Venue

Awakenings transformed the North Brabant province of the Netherlands into a techno paradise. Bathed in sunlight, the festival grounds epitomized the concept of an ultimate techno holiday, complete with stunning lakes and shaded woodlands for those seeking respite from the sun. Bridges connected the festival’s stages, providing unique opportunities for exploration. We had the chance to traverse the festival via boat, a novelty in the festival world. Pedal boats also graced the lakes, a refreshing collaboration between Awakenings and Fuze Tea. The festival’s art installations were awe-inspiring, especially the illuminated geometric structures in the woods. At the heart of the festival grounds stood a Ferris Wheel, offering a bird’s-eye view of the spectacle. A word of caution: for those fond of white shoes or fancy platforms, an extra pair of shoes is advisable, as the festival grounds tended to get quite dusty.

Culinary Delights and Libations

Food and drink options abounded at Awakenings, with prices in line with other festivals in the Netherlands (approximately five tokens for 19 euros). Festival-goers could choose from an array of offerings, including smoothies, burgers, spring rolls, kebabs, cocktails, and toasties. Notably, Awakenings committed to sustainability by making the festival 100% vegetarian, not only for attendees but also for the festival crew.

A Techno Odyssey Across Stages

Awakenings organized its stages alphabetically, with Area W serving as the main stage, a colossal structure akin to a stack of skyscrapers that illuminated the Saturday night sky. Area V, the second-largest stage, dazzled with wooden architectural splendor and breathtaking fireworks displays. Area Y, a personal favorite, hosted the techno scene’s heavier hitters, complete with large video screens and lasers. Area U stood out as the only stage built entirely on water, evoking vacation vibes as attendees danced atop the lake to pulsating techno beats. Area L, also known as “the Lab,” situated across from a shaded woods area, provided a space for cooling down and enjoying art installations, hosting emerging talents in collaboration with Mixmag and Red Bull. Area X, tucked behind the main stage, featured legendary artists like Nina Kraviz, perfect for laser enthusiasts. Area C, home to beloved artists such as Seth Troxler and Patrick Topping, and Area D, the Gashouder stage nestled in the woods, paid homage to the iconic Amsterdam venue, recreating an outdoor Gashouder. Area H, an intimate woodland area with illegal rave vibes, showcased some of the hottest names in the local techno scene.

Daria Kolosova delivered an electrifying techno set that left the audience in awe. Her performance was a high-energy journey through the pulsating beats and hypnotic rhythms of the techno genre. With masterful mixing and a keen sense of timing, she skillfully guided the crowd through peaks and valleys of sound, creating an unforgettable sonic experience. Kolosova’s passion for music and her connection with the audience were palpable, making her set a highlight of the festival. Her performance served as a testament to the power of techno music to unite and elevate the spirits of all who were fortunate enough to be in attendance.
Nina Kraviz
Estella boersma

Visuals and Sonic Excellence

Awakenings boasted a state-of-the-art sound system, and no issues regarding sound quality were reported across any of the stages. Each stage featured unique visual elements, including lasers, pyrotechnics, and decorations. Saturday evening treated attendees to a spectacular fireworks display at Area W.

Atmosphere and Organization

Throughout the weekend, Awakenings maintained its commitment to an underground vibe, a quality sometimes overlooked in the increasingly commercialized electronic music scene, especially in the Netherlands. Despite being one of the world’s most renowned techno festivals, Awakenings preserved an intimate atmosphere, delivering a true underground experience. Stage L, inspired by Boiler Room parties, epitomized this intimacy, inviting guests not only to dance in the crowd but also to dance in close proximity to the DJ booth, a hallmark of Boiler Room events.

The Musical Journey

Awakenings showcased an impressive lineup of artists, representing the global and diverse spectrum of electronic music. ANNA’s early Friday afternoon set was a highlight, setting the tone with contagious energy. Ben Böhmer, known for his pandemic live streams, graced the stage with beloved tracks as the sun set on Friday evening. Kölsch, a rising star, had the crowd grooving to a mix of deep melodic elements and euphoric rhythm. Deborah De Luca, an Italian DJ and producer, mesmerized with her dark pulsating music and captivating stage presence.

Sustainability and Accessibility

Awakenings leads the way in sustainability and accessibility within the festival scene. Initiatives like the Social Safety Hub provide support and guidance to festival-goers facing difficult situations, emphasizing the importance of mental and physical well-being. The Low Stimulus Space, in partnership with HandicapNL and Philips TV & Sound, offered a quiet and safe haven with ambient playlists and noise-canceling headphones for those seeking respite from sensory stimuli. Medical assistance was readily available in this area. These initiatives underscore Awakenings’ dedication to inclusivity, making the festival welcoming for all, including those with disabilities. Sustainability efforts included a recycle token system and the reuse of stage materials, showcasing a commitment to eco-conscious practices. Awakenings’ status as a 100% vegetarian festival further bolstered its sustainability initiatives.

In Conclusion

Awakenings Festival transcends mere music, standing as a brand committed to major causes such as sustainability, accessibility, representation, and diversity within its lineups. The festival’s lineup featured talented female artists from around the world, a refreshing departure from the male-dominated electronic music scene. Despite a weather-related setback that led to the cancellation of the final day, Awakenings demonstrated its dedication to safety and patron well-being. Plans for refunds, safe accommodations, and important information were swiftly communicated to attendees. It is indeed a tough decision to cancel a festival, but prioritizing safety is paramount.

Awakenings Festival 2023 was a testament to the enduring allure of techno music, fostering an atmosphere of unity and celebration. For those seeking an authentic and immersive techno experience, Awakenings remains an unparalleled destination. As we reflect on this year’s festivities, one thing is clear: we eagerly anticipate returning next year to once again embrace the magic of Awakenings.

Awakenings After Movie