Boom festival review & guide to Portugals wildest festival

James

The legendary Boom festival – I’ve been waiting to go for just about a decade to see what all the fuss is about.

Operating since 1997, Boom is by no means a newcomer to the scene, and has been pushing the boundaries of what a festival is, and how to do is sustainably, since then.

Anyways, this review and guide to Boom will let you know my personal thoughts, how it compares to other festivals around the world, and how you can best prepare to have the best experience possible!

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I’m going to cover the most important aspects of a festival – atmosphere, music & soundsystems, food, camping, organisation, workshops, and more. Lets start with…

Atmosphere

Situated on private property in Central-East Portugal, the festival grounds is surrounded by natural forest dense with olive, cork oak, and eucalyptus trees, and features a large lake for cooling off and swimming around.

In the peak of summer, this property gets plenty of sunlight, but that also comes with plenty of heat. Dry, hot air and that sub-desert feeling.

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As nighttime falls over Boomland – photo Amir Weiss

Plenty of shade created by the foliage and manmade structures offer refuge from the heat, and a dip in the temperate lake is a favourite pass-time for many.

Psychedelic decorations, organic structures, handmade statues, and unique findings scatter the grounds and lend way to infinite curiosities to spend your time.

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The entire festival is a playground – photo by Jacob Kolar

Not to mention the kind partygoers dressed in all their wacky goodness: psychedelic, groovy, and earthy.

The last thing to mention is the quantity of people and size of the festival – it’s BIG! Boom festival brings in just about 40,000 people to its sizeable property! This for me is the biggest festival I’ve been to so far, but it somehow didn’t feel overwhelming! This can be explained by the outstanding logistics and organisation of the festival.

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Seeking refuge from sunlight – photo by Amir Weiss

The overall atmosphere is kind and pleasant – partygoers have all been fantastic, and you can tell the sentiment of peace and love is strong at Boom, even with the highly diverse crowd.

Music & soundsystems

Boom is primarily organised around 5 primary dancefloors, which is actually quite small considering the scale of the festival. They are also in quite close proximity to one another which makes navigation easy, and the sound engineers do great and managing sound bleed.

There are 2 main large stages, 2 smaller stages, and a couple other auxiliary stages around the festival grounds. We’ll go from biggest to smallest here. They all employ d&b audiotechnik sound systems, which are industry-standard and high-quality. To boot, all the dancefloors are covered with sand – which makes barefooted grooving very welcome!

Sound nerds can read how d&b control the boom at Boom.

Dance Temple

The largest and most awe-inspiring stage, the Dance Temple hosts primarily psytrance tunes from Goa to Forest to hi-tech and beyond. Legendary artists and performances happen here in this massive space.

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Daylight flooding the Dance Temple – photo by Amir Weiss

Incredible visuals, projection mappings, and general structure makes this dancefloor iconic. A powerful D&B audiotechnik system provides excellent fidelity and power, which impresses quite well. Quality earplugs are certainly recommended here, especially the closer you go to the stage.

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The nighttime spectacle – photo by Pierre Ekman

While I’m truthfully not such a big psytrance fan, I found myself here grooving out for a good amount of time just taking in the absolutely incredible visuals and production. Downright impressive and one of the largest dancefloors I’ve seen yet with plenty of space to dance wildly due to the abundant space.

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A performance at the Dance Temple – photo by Amir Weiss

Alchemy Circle

Bringing down the tempo down a bit, the Alchemy Circle usually hosted techno-based rhythms, and on odd occasion, drum and bass (which I loved most!)

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The Alchemcy Circle opening – photo by Jakob Kolar

A lovely projection mapped front stage and laser installation brought some visual satisfaction, however the half-cylinder shaped nature of this dancefloor felt a bit claustrophobic once it stated to fill with patrons. Cigarette smoke often filled my lungs at this stage, which makes it impossible for me to enjoy a good groove, so I often stayed far away unfortunately. I wish Europeans would stop smoking right beside others just trying to dance and enjoy music…

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Psychedlic projections – photo by me

I spent the least amount of time at this stage as a result, though if you find your music tastes and party-style to be ‘Berlin’, then you’ll quite enjoy it here!

The Gardens

The dancefloor with the trippiest variety of music, The Gardens is a cozy refuge from the high-tempo stimulus the other stages and offered some unique experiences. Each time I arrived I was greeted by a new set of music – from downtempo to DMT-inspired wackiness. The soundsystem was notably quieter than the two main stages, though still satisfying. Some of my favourite, and least favourite, performances happened here.

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The Gardens enjoying a live show – photo by Amir Weiss

My entire group and many others I met agreed that The Gardens would be perfect as a designated downtempo/chillax/psydub stage, but in a way if felt as though there wasn’t much rhyme or reason to the program here, which felt like there was untapped potential.

Sacred Fire

Primarily oriented towards live music, we came across many fantastic live performances here ranging from Brazilian funk to psychedelic rock, trippy cumbia, and more! It’s the smallest of dancefloors here but truly had the best music of the entire festival! A stones throw away from the enormous Dance Temple, it served as a lovely refuge from the psychedelic conundrum, and more often than not our favourite place to enjoy music.

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Live music at the Sacred Fire – photo by

Certainly the best place to grab some food nearby, lounge around, have some rest, and enjoy some more wholesome and organically produced music. Extremely impressed by the sound management and lack of noise from the Dance Temple considering the proximity – great job sound engineers!

Other dancing areas & overall

Smaller area such as the, Nataraj dance stage, Prana Shala, Chi Temple, and so forth hosted ecstatic dance, mantra singing, acoustic music, and other activities. The sunset ecstatic dances were absolutely some of the best energies felt throughout the week and something our group went to frequently – partially to escape the intensity of electronic calamity found at the other stages!

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An ecstatic dance at the being fields

Overall we found there to be decent selection of music, however I personally found there to be quite a distinct lack of variety. No psychedelic dub at a psychedelic festival?!? I would’ve also liked to hear some electro-funk/swing, vinyl hiphop, and deep house as well. Some drum and bass and dubstep would’ve been fantastic on those d&b soundsystems too..

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Another decadent dance performance

Many of us were in fact a bit dissatisfied by the selection considering we were there for 8 days – however Boom is primarily a psytrance festival, with techno as a secondary, so go in with that expectation! Oh yeah, and BRING GOOD EARPLUGS!

Food

The primary vendor village had about as many food options as you could hope for, with the 86% of food options being vegetarian/vegan. Prices were generally quite good and portions alright, though I found myself more often than not opting for a pizza as I’d get the most bang for my buck (I eat a lot of food!)

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The quality of the food vendors was overall fantastic!

As per the size of the festival, I’d recommend bringing your own food for campsite breakfasts, since walking down to the common area is quite a journey, depending on where you setup.

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No doubt you’ll find something to fill your tummy. Official prices for water was €2.10, beer €3.70, iced tea €3.85 in 2023. All food vendors use the cashless bracelet payment system, which, makes things easier at 4AM when far less than sober!

Camping and parking at Boom

First come, first serve! Camping spots fill up quick, and prime real estate is highly sought after. Camper vans are relegated towards the back of the camping area (correctly so), and the free parking is held in large lots further than that. Parking was handled very well and orderly.

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The map to the festival grounds

Going from campsite to parking is quite the long journey, so I would recommend do your setup in as few trips as possible, and bring a wagon to carry your stuff in – trust me!

In fact, the #1 single best thing you could do… is bring a bike!

Holy sweet mother, am I ever happy I brought my bike. Not only did it make setup and teardown much easier, but getting from campsite to dancefloor to food and back was a breeze. Boom is BIG, and saving your energy is instrumental. Instead of taking 50 minutes to get to the Being Fields, it took only 10 while cozily cruising around. Literal game-changer.

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Repair your ride at the Bike Village!

The camping situation is really quite pleasant – trees and foliage to shade from the sun, close in proximity to the lake and vendor village, and overall just a nice place to be. However, flat ground is a luxury and the good spots fill up quick. I bring my festival hammock camping setup for luxury living instead.

Workshops

A fantastic array of workshops to choose from in the Being Fields – from classic yoga and mantra singing, tantra, sound journeys, inner work, and more.

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One of the many workshops at Boom festival

If you like workshopping, then Boom is a great festival for that – however due to the scale of the festival you can expect there to be dozens to hundreds of participants at each one!

Dance performances of all types as well as personal therapies (ayurvedic massage, reiki, deep tissue, shiatsu, hypnotherapy,) are in abundance and you can find almost anything your heart desires!

Other attractions

Infinite little curiosities scattered around – small interactive games, hidden art pieces, secluded lounging spots, or even the naked clay pool – there are many things to capture the imagination and spend an afternoon enjoying.

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One of many spontaneous performances and shows

A very wide range of high-quality officially established vendors as well as a ‘pirate’ market where anyone can come to sell their wares. Jewellery, clothing, art, and so-on – a multitude of trinkets and souvenirs available, particularly in between the space of Dance Temple to Alchemy Circle. Unfortunately the vendor Anahi scammed our group for over $200 by selling us fake silk and refusing a refund, then calling security on me… buyer beware!

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One of the fantastic dance performances

Boom is also a family-friendly festival which kids are welcomed and have the designated Young Dragons area where parents and their children can connect and engage in the various activities and workshops.

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Kids area at Boom festival

Over the course of 8 days at Boom, we still discovered new things and feel there’s more to find out – and being on bikes which enhanced our movement means we saw more than usual over the 8 days!

Speaking of which, there is a bike village space in case you have a flat tire or other repair in need! Truly a game changer!

Organization

Talk about impressive… I look deeply into the organisation of the festival I go to, and Boom is among the most impressive. As they’ve been doing this for over 25 years, they’ve clearly done things quite well.

There were many water-points to fill up your water, the compost toilets were spotlessly clean almost every time I went(!!!) and the overall feeling was quite refined. Genuinely impressive.

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Somehow always clean and stink-free when using the compost toilets!

Boom loses money on selling bottled water – their show the price breakdown and the cost for Boom is €2.47, selling at €2.10 to Boomers. 62.8% of items produced for Boom 2023 were made in Portugal to support local economy,

For 2023, they had 2,526 people employed/volunteering to put the show on, with people from 169 different countries! With an official 39,456 attendees at Boom, this makes a population of 6.5% workers/volunteers.

Sustainability

By default, Boom only happens every other year to allow the land to recover and so they can plan the subsequent event even better.

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Their sustainability and transparency ethos are world-leading in the festival space, and it was very interesting to read their public sustainability reports. I won’t go into everything since you can read the Eco Letters yourself to find out more, but I’ll list off some fun bullet points!

  • Water consumption: Avg. 17.3L/person @ Boom, vs. 190L/person avg. in Portugal city
  • 100% compost toilets
  • 45 tons of compost from food vendors to use fertiliser
  • 1,000+ trees planted on property since 2015

The environmental workshop area, Spaceship Earth, hosted 33 workshops to share environmental innovations. Events all around the world can learn very much from how Boom co-ordinates things, and there is no doubt in my mind Boom is one of the best festivals on earth considering impact. Especially considering how huge the festival is!

Overall

What a fantastic time! I will certainly return, however even for a festival ‘veteran’ like myself, Boom was quite a lot to take in! It’s a very large venue with a ton of people. There are so many things to do and see, but by the end of day 6 my friends and I were approaching burnout and looking forwards to returning home.

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Say hi if you see me at Boom 2025 🙂

Boom is a festival where you absolutely want to pace yourself. The amount of stimulus and the scale of things can wear you down, and sleep and nutrition is the #1 way to keep yourself running during things like this. BRING A BIKE!

No doubt I’ll be back, though Boom did leave me with a longing in the music department.. but that’s just my tastes! Personally, I feel that Shambhala festival in Canada has the best soundsystems and music lineup (and most hilarious people) I’ve ever seen, which Boom did not beat. Boom is more organic and brings a more organic crowd.

Waking Life in Portugal is smaller and cozier, yet still a fantastic festival which I highly recommend if you want something less overwhelming than Boom. Read my Waking Life review & guide here 🙂

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Pros

  • Excellent soundsystems
  • Incredible location
  • Solid organization

Cons

  • Hectic
  • Very large
  • Hard to access

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