Beyond Wonderland Chicago Skyline

We went to Beyond Wonderland Chicago 2024: our experience

Beyond Wonderland Brings Whimsical Escape to Rainy Chicago, Despite Bad Weather Challenges

After over a decade since Insomniac last hosted a major festival in the Chicago area, Beyond Wonderland made a magical debut in The Windy City over the weekend of June 1-2. Despite some challenging weather, the two-day wonderland of sound and spectacle captivated attendees with an immersive, storybook-inspired atmosphere and stellar lineup.

The weather didn’t help, but the festival was amazing nonetheless

As a longtime lover of dance music festivals, I made my way down the rabbit hole into Beyond‘s whimsical world brimming with excitement. The picturesque Chicago skyline provided a picture-perfect backdrop as I approached the festival grounds on Northerly Island. While grey clouds loomed overhead on Saturday, the energy was palpable as costumed performers and vibrant decor set an enchanting tone.

The weather took an unfortunate turn as a steady rain fell for much of Saturday, making the grounds quite muddy. However, the crowd’s vibrant spirit was not to be dampened. Donning rain ponchos and embracing the elements, attendees danced joyfully in the mud, transforming sections into makeshift mud pits. The atmosphere embodied the free-spirited essence of festival culture as people came together through adversity.

Stages: Caterpillar’s Garden, Queen’s Domain and Cheshire Woods

Musically, the diverse lineup spanning house, techno, dubstep, and more offered an embarrassment of riches. I spent a good portion of the weekend at the Caterpillar’s Garden, a whimsical tent stage hosted by Insomniac’s labels. The intimate, circus-themed surroundings cultivated a carnival-like atmosphere as dancers went wild for performances from Insomniac heavy-hitters like SIDEPIECE, John Summit, and Noizu. The crowd’s contagious enthusiasm made it impossible not to get swept up in the revelry.

The Main Stage at Queen’s Domain featured massive headlining performances that demonstrated why Kaskade and Tiësto remain titans of the scene. Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, the two legends had the entire crowd entranced, with Kaskade’s uplifting melodies and Tiësto’s big room grandeur providing escapism from the elements. The elevated bleachers offered a welcome respite to enjoy the spectacle from an optimal vantage point.

Beyond Wonderland Chicago mainstage
Beyond Wonderland Chicago mainstage

The house and techno contingent was also well-represented, with GRAMMY winners like Benny Benassi and Chicago legend Felix Da Housecat delivering energetic sets. The Cheshire Woods stage, with its serpentine twists of LED panels and projection-mapped trees, made for a surreal atmosphere, especially during RL Grime’s earth-shaking trap throwdown on Sunday.

While the weather was far from perfect, I was impressed by the festival’s amenities and organization. The VIP areas offered a comfortable home base, with the Queen’s Domain VIP boasting two stories for premium views. Lines for security and re-entry were also fairly efficient despite the crowd size. The food truck options provided solid variety as well.

My main comment would be that the muddy conditions posed some access challenges those with mobility issues, as portions of the grounds became quite treacherous. But such is the risk of an outdoor event in unpredictable Chicago springtime weather. Overall, most attendees embraced the situation with a plucky festival spirit.

2025 edition is already on track

Despite the meteorological hiccups, Beyond Wonderland’s Chicago debut demonstrated why Insomniac’s wildly immersive festival brand continues to resonate. The whimsical, Alice-inspired setting truly did feel like falling down a psychedelic rabbit hole into a vibrant other-world – one soundtracked by the biggest names in dance music. With tickets for 2025 already on sale, Beyond seems poised to become a Windy City staple for years to come.

If you attended Beyond Wonderland Chicago, I’d love to hear about your favorite moments or suggestions for 2025 in the comments! For those who missed it, the pre-sale $9.99 deposit offer for next year’s edition ends June 7th at 11:59 pm CT.