With TomorrowWorld not happening this year, people all over the country were scrambling to find a replacement. When Imagine Festival announced that in only its third year would it transition to a camping festival, we all were interested to see how this would pan out. We knew that nothing could replace TomorrowWorld, but maybe something could keep that spot in our hearts warm while we waited for 2017.
In my opinion, Imagine Festival did just that. It filled a void for me that I wasn’t sure could be filled. Imagine is still a new festival and growing at a very steady and very fast pace. Not only did they add camping this year, but they moved into an entirely new venue and added multiple stages and perks. I was very skeptical about Imagine at first, because I knew that it was still just a baby compared to the other festivals I have attended in the past. I heard it was great, but was not sure what exactly to expect.
When I first saw the lineup for Imagine, I honestly wasn’t all that impressed and I wasn’t sure what to expect. The first night we were there, we arrived to the festival just in time to see Snails throw down a very impressive set. I must say that my absolute favorite set of Friday night was Steve Angello. He was breaking out some great house and deep sounds that I just couldn’t seem to get enough of in combination with some of his old school hits.
When Saturday arrived, I was super stoked because it was Dillon Francis day. Not only was he playing, but he was also debuting his deep house alter ego DJ Hanzel. While waiting for DJ Hanzel, I caught a decent amount of Cazzette, which I was also excited about since I’ve never seen them before. I was really impressed and appreciated their sound. DJ Hanzel absolutely killed it and stole the night with his deep house mix. It could not have been more perfect at the Disco Inferno stage with fire spinners performing in the background. On Sunday, my group was extremely excited to see 3LAU since we were playing his new Ariana Grande remix the entire weekend. I’ve always been a fan of his, and I think he definitely stepped it up with this set. He took his really great house sound and mixed it with some harder, dirtier beats to keep the crowd entertained. Other notables that evening were Benny Benassi, and Nero, both of whom I had never seen before.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this festival is the fact that they offered classes at the Temple of Knowledge. Some of the classes included sacred geometry, poi spinning, hooping, and yoga. Being a flow artist, it is very important to me for a festival to encourage flow and not turn my props or others props away. Not only did Imagine encourage flow, but they had a plethora of flow artists performing throughout the festival. They had fire spinners at the Disco Inferno stage, and even had hoopers on main stage for some of the top performers. I think that flow is a very important part of festival culture, so it was nice to see Imagine embrace that.
One thing I thought was awesome was that they held a silent disco on Friday and Saturday night in the camping area. I had never been to one before and was skeptical about what to expect. I had an absolute blast and it was fun switching between stations and seeing what other people were listening to. It was a really great way to meet people that were camping at the festival as well.
Although Imagine was an amazing festival, there were definitely some improvements to be made (which is expected with such a new festival like this). When we first arrived, I wasn’t completely convinced that Atlanta Motor Speedway was a good fit as a venue. Walking to the actual festival seemed to take forever and a lot of the walking was uphill. On the second day, they were able to change the entrance a bit and cut down on the walking which was nice, although the walks still seemed really frustrating to me. The roads that we had as walkways were covered with rocks, which were not that nice on my feet. Not to mention, we were camped all the way in the back of the camping area and in order to get food, take a shower, go to the general store, etc. it was about a 10 minute walk. I definitely think they could have made the community area for camping more centralized. The good thing about camping at Atlanta Motor Speedway is the fact that it’s made for camping. It comes complete with a full building full of showers (which were completely free), and the camping rows for cars and tent set-ups were very organized.
Another thing I thought was very strange was the lack of water stations. Coming from Florida, I am used to extreme heat, but it was honestly way hotter in Atlanta than I anticipated it to be. On the first night, I found only one water station that barely worked and had an extremely long line. Although they did make efforts to deal with the heat, like adding misting stations in the camping area and a large splash pool at the festival, there definitely could have been more water stations available.
All in all, I was extremely impressed with Imagine. The main stage and other stages were designed very well. They incorporated other elements like fireworks, throwing balloons into the crowd, and even had people walking around with huge jellyfish floating in the air. Imagine still has a very long way to go, but there is a reason that this festival is growing so quickly. It definitely has something special, and now that they have this beautiful new venue to grow into, I’m excited to see what this festival will pull out of the hat for next year.