LOCATION: Biddinghuizen, Netherlands
PRICE: 120 EUR / $190 AUD
Defqon.1 is as an annual three day festival dedicated exclusively to the harder styles. The world’s largest hard dance festival features over 200 artists across 11 different stages and is known for being one of the craziest festival experiences on earth! Tickets start at 120 euros for a weekend pass with camping options available and is the ultimate experience for all hard dance lovers.
2018 marked the 16th edition of Defqon.1 in the Netherlands and was the biggest edition to date! This was my third time attending this festival and it still remains as my favourite festival in the world. Founded in 1999 by Q-Dance, the biggest hard dance event organiser in the world, this festival is the world’s biggest celebration for the harder styles. Located just an hour away from Amsterdam in the village of Biddinghuizen, weekend warriors gather to the ‘holy grounds’ for three days of pure madness. Upon arrival, warriors set up camp at one of six designated campgrounds which includes pre-set up tents, teepees and ‘yurts’ at an additional cost. Each individual campground includes premium toilets and showers, lockers, token machines and a small cafe/food stand. The general camping grounds feature a wide variety of food trucks and vendors, a merchandise stand and for the first time this year: an arcade and gym! There are also multiple chill out areas as well as booths to purchase camping supplies and power banks.
Like many Dutch festivals, Defqon.1 uses tokens as the currency to purchase food, beverages and tickets for rides and games. Tokens are purchased in multiples of 3.5 starting for 10 euros with most food options costing around 2-3 tokens and drinks at 1-2 tokens. Merchandise can be found all over the grounds with the general price ranging from 20-50 euros for apparel and 5-30 euros for accessories.
The overall festival remains similar each year with the same general layout of stages and vendors. The grounds are large enough to prevent sound from interfering between stages but small enough to be able to quickly walk from stage to stage. There are a total of 10 merchandise stands and three food courts with other food and beverage vendors spread out among the grounds. Throughout the weekend, a variety of activities are scheduled including The Gathering, the official opening party and Power Hour, the craziest 60 minutes of the entire festival!
After accidentally letting the jet lag get the better of me the last two times, this year, I finally made it to my first power hour and absolutely NOTHING could have prepared me for those 60 minutes. The fast paced set features back to back artists dropping track after track with characters, dancers, and just about anything you can imagine appearing on stage. Artists dive into the crowd and get carried away on huge inflatable rafts and the crowd is submerged in a sea of pool noodles, beach balls and basically anything that can be inflated! Confetti and streamers rain down on the regular and aside from the constant dancing and jumping, there are also opportunities to partake in the largest crowd controls, sit downs and row your boats! This is easily the most insane 60 minute experience you will ever witness!
THE END SHOW
Crowned as the worlds best festival end show, Defqon.1 never fails to put on the most incredible display of lights, flames and fireworks! Closing out Saturday, the biggest day of the festival, the last 20 minutes of the festival are dedicated exclusively to the mighty end show! Accompanied by the festival’s anthem and other iconic tracks featured on the yearly compilation, every inch of the sky above the main stage is filled with fireworks! Of all the firework displays I’ve seen around the world, nothing even begins to come close to the Defqon.1 end show and should NEVER be missed!
My favourite set of the weekend was Mr I AM HARDSTYLE aka Brennan Heart. The Dutch DJ, known for his iconic melodies and hardstyle classics including Imaginary, opened up the closing ceremony on Sunday night with a mixture of new tracks and remixes with timeless anthems. The first time I ever saw Brennan Heart was at the main stage at my very first Defqon.1 and two years later, his music and energy continues to bring the entire crowd to life.
For the first time ever, Defqon.1 introduced the Sunday Funday theme for the final day of the festival and kicked off the morning with three opening activities, one of which was an open airbed concert featuring The Hardstyle Pianist. Upon arriving at the UV stage first thing on Sunday morning, the entire area had been transformed with hundreds of inflatable pool rafts laid out in rows. Seeing hundreds of weekend warriors laying down in the middle of a stage was quite the sight but the best part was the vibe! Joining The Hardstyle Pianist on stage were multiple vocalists as well as a violinist, covering classic hardstyle tracks as well as Defqon.1 anthems and new releases. The concert eventually turned into a set by DJ Deetox with the entire crowd dancing at the rail and throwing the inflatables in the air at every drop! This was definitely one of my favourite moments of the festival and the perfect way to start off the day!
My only suggestion for this festival is to introduce free wifi. Although this is a luxury, many Dutch festivals work together with a festival hotspot company to provide free wifi in major locations throughout the festival grounds. The phone signal in this particular village is almost non-existent most of the time and being able to connect with others online would definitely be a bonus! Aside from this minor inconvenience, the festival is faultless!
Defqon.1 has yet again proven why it is the biggest and best hard dance festival in the world. From the moment you enter the campgrounds down to the very last firework, Q-Dance has worked endlessly to ensure that weekend warriors truly have the most incredible festival experience on the planet and I am already counting down the days until Defqon.1 2019!