This year's Imagine line-up included Tiesto, Flux Pavillon, NGHTMRE, Above & Beyond, Black Tiger Sex Machine, Seven Lions, and so many more.
|This is Paul at Tiesto with his glowing Guy Fawkes mask!|
Imagine is a camping fest, much like Bonnaroo Music Fest, which we go to every year. There's something about setting up camp and living the festival life that's truly magical. You can fully immerse yourself in the event, and just for the weekend, the campgrounds become a mini-city filled with like-minded strangers from across the country. You may never see these people again, but for a few days, you're festy besties.
The festival was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and inside the racetrack, the organizers created this beautiful fairytale scene with multiple stages, glow sculptures, a Ferris wheel, and of course, lots of food trucks. The campgrounds were outside the speedway, and you couldn't access the speedway fest area until 5 pm each night.
Since it was our first time at Imagine, I was worried about finding vegan options. We've been going to Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee, for seven years, and it's SUPER vegan-friendly, so I'm a little spoiled. When we arrived at the campgrounds, I was a bit disappointed to find only four food vendors with only two vegan options among them. Thankfully, just inside the speedway in the festival area, there were vegan options everywhere. So I knew I'd be eating well after 5 pm each night. During the day, I mostly subsisted on the camp food I brought with me (soup cups, oat cups, hummus, veggie dogs). I'll do a whole post on my camp food tomorrow.
I did order one vegan item at a food truck inside the campgrounds. On Friday, I had the Hot Vegan Balls from the Street Stix truck. This was basically falafel with marinated veggies and the most amazing potato-based garlic sauce.
Later on Friday night, inside the festival area, I ordered these Vegan Soba Noodles from the Island Noodles stand. I'd hula-hooped up quite an appetite during NGHTMRE's set, and this veggie-packed dish hit the spot. It probably had many veggies as noodles – broccoli, sweet potato, bell pepper, cabbage, onion, and carrot. Excuse the awful flash pic though. It was probably around midnight!
On Saturday, inside the festival grounds, I was SO STOKED to find this totally vegan food truck aptly named Try Vegan! They even had animal rights facts on a banner on the side!
On my last night inside the festival speedway, I stumbled across the Pie Daddy truck. They had vegan chickpea sandwiches on the menu. I tried to order one, but the homemade dough for the bread wasn't ready yet (it was just after the fest opened). They did, however, have the vegan Potato Fried Pies ready! This amazing, massive fried pie was stuffed with potato and served with pineapple salsa. I'm still dreaming about it.
Here are a few more non-food shots from the fest!
This is only Imagine's second year as a camping fest (it's the fourth year altogether). They're definitely still working out the kinks. Someone there told me last year's food selection was pretty much limited to fried fair food. Not something you want to be eating for days and days and probably not vegan-friendly. Next year, they really ought to bring in more vegan options at the campgrounds so people have more lunch choices, or they could open the festival grounds for food and shopping earlier in the day, before the music starts.
They also have some serious capacity issues to tackle. On Saturday night, Paul and I (and about 1,000 others) waited in line in the hot sun for 2 1/2 hours to get inside the fest! They only had one entrance open for the 60,000 people there! And they were taking forever to get everyone through security. Toward the end of the wait, we were all chanting, "Let Us In! Let Us In!" Paul got this great shot of all the angry faces behind us.
Most people, including ourselves, didn't have access to water that whole time we were in line because they don't allow you to bring water into the fest. You have to refill bottles and Camelbacks from free water stations inside — their way of preventing people from sneaking alcohol into the fest grounds. You're allowed all the booze you want at camp, but they want you to buy their $7 beers and $9 cocktails inside. Thankfully, there were so many complaints about the line after Saturday night that they opened up an additional entrance on Sunday, and the line moved very quickly. There's something to be said for a fest taking criticism seriously and making immediate changes.
Despite the few problems, we had a great time overall! We're still not sure if we'll be back next year since tickets are nearly $400, and so many improvements need to be made. But we'll see! The amazing light shows and music (and the food!) outweighed any negatives, and we're glad we went. Here's one last shot of our Memphis friends Thrasher and Erin, who met us there and camped beside us!
Check back tomorrow for a look at what I ate at the campsite!