The Best of Beyond Wonderland 2016

This past March, the immersive world of Beyond Wonderland returned for its sixth installment at the San Manuel Amphitheater and Grounds in San Bernardino, CA. The 2016 iteration of the fan-favorite event featured a new, reconfigured festival layout, brand-new art installations, the maiden voyage of the Beyond Wench art car, and more rad tunes than your earholes could handle. From the Awesome People we met to the fabulous fun we had at the expanded campground, these were our favorite moments from Beyond Wonderland 2016.


BYDSOCAL2016_0319_182229-6953_JSLAt the entrance to Beyond, the Starport tunnel of lights welcomed Headliners, complete with refractive glasses for instant transportation to another dimension. Approximately 65,000 attendees reveled in exploration of the grounds, from the top of Lookout Mountain to the depths of Queen’s Domain. Scattered throughout the grounds and camping area were nods to the festival’s inspiration, in the form of giant chess pieces. No nook or cranny was left without attention, and even the media room had one of the biggest disco balls we’ve ever seen. Speaking of balls, did we mention there was a ball pit for grown-ups? Add to that an inflatable playground, and there was never a shortage of childlike wonder to be found.


BYDSOCAL2016_0319_220449-8104_JSLTrying to decipher which of the four stages would technically be considered the “mainstage” was a difficult task, because all of them were going off, with over 50 artists performing all kinds of music throughout Beyond. But the undeniable force of the #TranceFamily came out strong on day one for the Dreamstate stage at Outer Realm, with assorted crews from around the country making appearances.

While the inaugural Dreamstate festival in San Bernardino last year sold out, it appeared there was double the crowd for this installment of the trance scene revival. Giuseppe Ottaviani and Solarstone teamed up for an out-of-the-box live performance, complete with fresh tracks just for Dreamstate as they performed as their Pure NRG duo. But the biggest moment everyone was waiting for was Ferry Corsten’s resurrection of his Gouryella classic trance alias. The Beyond Wing of the Magic Eye was emblazoned on the stage, which featured epic lighting design by go-to festival wizard Steve Lieberman of SJ Lighting.


BYDSOCAL2016_0318_195537-4947_JSLTrance was swapped for bass on Saturday, when the Outer Realm played host to the Bassrush crowd, with on-point sets from the likes of Delta Heavy, TroyBoi and Datsik, among others. Over at the Cheshire Woods, soulful deep house and techno vibed under a colorful circus tent, complete with a closing set from the highly respected Pan-Pot. The crème de la crème of elaborate stage design was the pyramid-like Queen’s Domain stage, with superstar DJs like Alesso and Galantis. If the water fountains weren’t enough, a signature spectacle in the form of a pyrotechnics show and a multimedia intermission wowed as the show reached its pinnacle each night.


BYDSOCAL2016_0318_152033-9797_JLBDuring the days at the campground, a variety of arts and crafts options kept attendees creative as they woke up—or were still up from the Silent Disco the night before. From tie-dye crafting and dreamcatcher making to melted crayon art and more, the creative hub offered myriad ways in which Headliners could express their inner Picasso, and many brought along their own kandi-making supplies as well. Then there was the camaraderie among campers, readily willing to offer up a cold one or even join their crew for an epic beer pong session.


BYDSOCAL2016_0318_215406-5413_JSLThe beats weren’t restricted to the big stages, though. The Beyond Wench art car made its debut this year, combining art and music and providing a traveling sound oasis for Headliners throughout the festival. The shining gold vessel was adorned with an elaborately dressed Alice and Wench Queen. Other interactive options for Beyond music were at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, where Headliners could sample treats and make more kandi for trading.


From sexy Stormtroopers to full-on furries and onesie pajamas to pasties, self-expression was out in full force at Beyond; the infamous Left Shark even made an appearance. Furthermore, there were plenty of totems to voice creativity. A few of our favorites were the little green alien in the light-up UFO that’s becoming a staple at music festivals, plus a variation on the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign from Headliners making the journey from Sin City. Characters from Bob’s Burgers were also a fan fave. Plus, who can deny the awesomeness that was David Bowie in Labyrinth? And you can’t go wrong with Buzz Lightyear and a raved-out version of his mantra: “To Infinity and Beyond Wonderland.”

Author Insomniac Editorial Team