LOOKING BACK AT AWAKENINGS SUMMER 2023
Awakenings does not need much of an introduction. It is known for its large-scale festivals and parties with impressive light shows, bizarre good sound, and huge stages that outdo themselves at every edition. All of this has been the case for over 25 years. What once began in 1997 during Easter in the Gashouder in Amsterdam has grown into a phenomenon with a reputation that reaches far beyond the country’s borders for both visitors and artists. Last year, we celebrated Awakenings’ 25th anniversary and this year we couldn’t wait for its 26th edition.
After the success of last year, Awakenings Summer Festival settled down for the second time on the enchanting festival grounds in Hilvarenbeek on the weekend from the 7th until the 9th of July. With a three day program, that unfortunately turned into a two day program due to the severe weather conditions on Sunday, a mesmerising festival set up including intimate stages next to the big iconic stages Awakenings is known for and a major campsite, visitors were treated to one of the most astonishing multi-day techno festivals in the Netherlands.
Awakenings offers a combination of big stages, both indoor and outdoor, that hold thousands of people as well as intimate areas where you get those intimate rave vibes. Some highlights are of course our two outdoor main stages V & W, the intimate rave stage in the midst of the forest and semi outdoor stage where they imitated the iconic Gashouder with its distinguishing framework.
New addition this year was Area L or The LAB – a groundbreaking stage brought in collaboration with the esteemed music outlet Mixmag. It was a two-day extravaganza filled with the brightest emerging talents, mesmerising resident DJs, and powerhouse performances. Vibe guaranteed with visitors dancing on all sides of the booth.
Also new this year was the on-site radio studio of Dutch radio program ‘The Beat’ that focuses on underground electronic music. The Beat is part of 3FM, one of the main radio stations of the Netherlands. Here several interviews were done w/ artists like KI/KI, Joris Voorn, David Vunk and the team behind Awakenings. On Saturday there was a live broadcast that included a part of Joris Voorn’s closing set.
Experience the extraordinary at the summer edition of Awakenings. The festival this year transcended expectations, offering an exciting blend of music and culture, with numerous stages to explore, we were honestly immersed in a world of endless possibilities. The vibrant atmosphere fostered a sense of togetherness, where people we barely met before became friends and we shared unforgettable moments. The dreamlike accommodations, like waking up in a treehouse with giraffes as neighbors, added a touch of magic. And I am not even embarrassed to admit anymore that I am a silent disco STAN from now on. It united us all, synchronized in blissful harmony. Awakenings reminded us to embrace life’s wonders, celebrate unity, and cherish shared experiences. Even though the last day was cancelled, we let the joy and inspiration live on as we spread positivity, and our mutual love for music. Until next year.Sander Theeboom
Besides techno’s finest artists, Awakenings Summer Festival offers so much more. Saints & Stars offered an ultimate fitness experience to get you warmed up for the festival! Visitors could enjoy a 30-minute techno beat-driven HIIT workout, led by Star Trainer Larz! Located at the beach at the Grand Camping. Or recharge your mind, body, and soul with invigorating morning yoga and indulge in the ancient traditions of the Cacao Ceremony.
We could immerse ourselves in the tranquil realm of wellness. Y One of the most interesting ones was Soundhealing. Amidst the pulsating energy of this bustling music festival, a serene oasis emerges, offering a transformative escape through sound healing. Jochem leads you on an hour-long journey, harmonizing your body and mind, preparing you for the day ahead amidst the vibrant festival atmosphere.
After your mind was calm and ready, you could prepare your body and awaken your senses with the TikTok’s trending and proven to be working techniques – an exhilarating Ice Bath Experience. The ice bath experience consists of three parts that create a memorable and transformative journey. The culmination of the experience involves immersing yourself in an ice bath, pushing your limits and testing your resilience for a remarkable two-minute duration.
On top of taking care of your body and mind, Awakenings was there to satisfy your thirst for art, too. Whether it is fountain with projections by Beeldjutters creating experiences set at the intersection of light-art and location-theatre, state of the art light sculptures enhancing the contrast between the chaos of nature and the arranged order in the geometric shapes by Studio Groenewald or waking up your creative mind to create a unique art-piece made by the Awakenings audience at the Drawakenings.
It was short and sweet, leaving all of us wanting more. But that just shows how incredibly amazing this festival really is, due to the severe weather circumstances and for our safety we had to leave… Regardless of that, Awakenings is by far the best festival for techno lovers.
I can’t forget to mention our lovely three house in the safari, with gorgeous views and it was by far the best accommodations at the festival grounds! Can’t wait to be back next year.Mariana Malheiro
But Awakenings goes way beyond just music and art installations. It became a role model of how to organise the festivals wanting to make the world a better place. Just to mention a few, Awakenings has a long-lasting partnership with Bridges for Music, a non-profit organisation focused on empowering young talent from under-served communities to become creative change-makers, providing 21st century-tools and equipping them with the psychosocial and entrepreneurial skills to thrive in the creative industries. Awakenings offers 4 scholarships a year and mentors 2 students.
With a mandatory donation at all their events for people who are on the guestlist, the team chooses a project or group that can use their support the most at that moment. For Awakenings Summer Festival, all donations went to Bridges for Music and HandicapNL.
Next to this Awakenings also wants to make their festival, and the festival industry, more accessible. New this year was the low stimulus space they developed together with HandicapNL and Philips TV & Sound. This area was designed to provide a serene and calming environment for visitors who may require it, offering amenities such as noise-cancelling headphones, soothing sounds, and tranquil imagery. In this newly added care space, the HandicapNL staff was available to offer guidance, with the additional support of a medical volunteer for assistance. Several spaces have been set up where overstimulated visitors can find peace and quiet individually. Several artists that played the festival made an ambient playlist for the low stimulus space specifically.
The low-stimulus space at Awakenings Summer Festival is part of a pilot project, with the intention of making it a regular feature at future Awakenings festivals. The insights gained from this initiative will be shared with both the leaders group of ‘Unlimited Party’, where other festival organizers are also part of, and the internal festival working group within the ID&T Group, fostering collaboration and further progress.
We all love to dance together on our beautiful planet and want to be able to do this for many more years.
Welcoming 300.000 visitors this year alone, Awakenings is fully aware of their responsibility. They have been working with innovative solutions to make sure they minimise their impact and give back to the planet. Deposit recycle system that encourages you to bring your empty cups back to the bar might sound simple but it significantly reduces the amount of waste. By partnering with various sustainably-driven companies, they also ensure that the trash that is accumulated can be recycled in large amounts.
Awakenings offers a 100% vegetarian menu saving 2 tonnes of CO2 emissions in just 3 days.
Awakenings is participating in ‘The Green Deal Circulair Festivals’ and ‘Plastic Promise’, both initiatives by the Dutch Government. They consist of sustainable frontiers of the event industry, sharing their knowledge, best practices, and data to help and inspire others. Awakenings is also a contributor to ADE Green, the conference program of Amsterdam Dance Event focussing on sustainable and social developments within the music industry.
Although Summer is not over yet, everyone is already very much looking forward to the next events during Amsterdam Dance Event coming October. Awakenings will host several events in the beloved Gashouder and the massive Ziggo Dome.
Full line ups will be released Wednesday July 19th and tickets will go on sale on Thursday July 20th at 20:00 CEST via Awakenings.