Toronto’s tentpole electronic music festival is evolving. Recognized as Digital Dreams for 5 years, it was announced in March that the multi-stage concert was to rebrand as Bud Light Dreams, a boutique festival for a more mature crowd. A name change, alternative stages, and a now 19+ classification have kept show-goers curious as to what is in store for them at this event. Like many millennials, I ventured into the music festival scene on the outset of the 2010’s. In 2017, these show-goers, like myself, desire much more than a stage in the middle of a field. I took a tour of Bud Light Dreams Festival’s revamped and renovated property to find out how this year’s incarnation of electronic music programming at Ontario Place will differ from prior parties.

Meandering through Budweiser Stage’s main gates, Dreams’ audience members will instantly be greeted with the property’s amped-up VIP sector. Shaded by a patch of tall trees, RBC Echo Beach’s River Bar allows VIP pass holders to prosper with perks, an upgrade limited to just 500 guests. Although Dreams ends at 11PM, lucky pass holders can keep the party going in the VIP lounge until midnight. Designated washrooms, complimentary massages, a free braid and beauty bar, charging stations, cold press coffee, and exclusive juice/salad options are just some of the unique amenities the 500 individuals with access. “We wanted to provide a space for VIPs to come, rest and recharge,” says Mark Russell, project manager for Dreams Festival, who describes the River Bar as a more decadent meeting place among the rest of the crowd with the best view on the property.

DSC_4362-3150617-314 Pictured above ~ River Bar w/ VIP exclusive stage

The VIP experience at Dreams’ stages themselves is an option relatively unfamiliar to Toronto concertgoers. In the vein of Coachella, a 10-ft gap between the stage and rest of the audience will be dedicated to VIP pass holders only. This front row viewing experience will reach all the way across the stage to connect both risers.

“We want them to get in fast, have access to all the best spaces and best sight lines,” adds Mark, who points out that the VIP washroom trailers near RBC Echo Beach will be partially behind the stage. Haven’t you always wanted to use the bathroom backstage? Lastly, that eyesore of a soundboard in the middle of the RBC Echo Beach sand is gone. A dance pad with a disco ball is replacing it.

DSC_4378-6-1007 Pictured above ~ the location of Dream House[ currently housing picknick tables]

Dreams’ VIP ticket holders get the best viewing at the Dream House tent too, once more divided from the rest of the crowd with premium space near the front of the stage. Mark indicates that fans of dubstep, trance and drum & bass, the primary genres in this tent, are in it for the long haul and will most likely be spending their entire day in one spot. Beyond amenity enhancements, this tier of ticketing enables the most die-hard of supporters to get up and close to their favourite traveling musicians.

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Dreams’ Waterfront Stage might be my favourite plot of land on the grounds. After passing a forested zone that will feature luminescent art pieces, fans will be greeted by a concave hill which surrounds the stage. While Green Velvet and Malaa tunes bump through the air, a house-inspired yoga class will be held on top of the grassy raised area. Next to that, a group of super-comfy sofas with a hill-top view of Lake Ontario will reside.

Bud Light Dreams Festival utilizes the whole east island of Ontario Place, including certain paths and areas untravelled by the public in years. Even the wristbands of yesteryear have converted to AAA-style backstage pass duplicates. 4 free water stations around the site, an easy to navigate property and more shade than ever are some of the other features that demonstrate Live Nation’s preparedness for this leap. Dreams’ new identity as a boutique festival isn’t simply a branding technique, but a complete overhaul of the fan’s expectations at the show. Bud Light Dreams festival takes place on July 7th and 8th, headlined by Steve Angello, Above & Beyond and Dillstradamus. Buy tickets HERE.

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Article photos by Kurtis Hooper ~ DED AGENCY