Last Sunday I volunteered for the Greenteam at Mysteryland. The world’s longest-running dance festival, this year the 22nd edition, took place at the former Floriade terrain in the Haarlemmermeer. While the first two editions of the festival where held during 2 days, this was the first time since 1994 that Mysteryland was a weekend festival. Party-promoter ID&T had a long dream of returning the weekend concept and this year they finally managed to do so and even offer visitors the possibility to camp at the holy grounds!

For me this was the 12th time I visited the festival. The first time, in 2002, I was just a 14-year-old kid and not allowed to enter the festival-site so I had to climb over the fences to enjoy the spectacle. Now, 14 years later I joined the Greenteam and could witness the festival legally backstage. And what I saw was a great example for sustainability in the event industry.

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The Mysteryland Greenteam

In the morning we gathered backstage at the campsite. We received clothing and got professional make-up applied so we all looked like happy little green bees. Our first task was to clean-up the camping area. 5000 visitors from all over the world stayed here for 3 days to enjoy the festival in all its glory. You would expect a big mess after 3 days of madness but (most) of the visitors left zero to none garbage. To be honest I was surprised about this, having visited many weekend festivals where most visitors left almost everything behind. Maybe it’s because Mysteryland takes a lot effort to leave no footprint and informing their attendees about the impact a festivals makes on the environment. Separated bins are provided throughout the campsite and garbage bags are handed out to everyone.

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Garbage bins at the campsite

After having cleaned the most part of the campsite and helping people pack their tents, we moved to the festival area. The reactions of the visitors when seeing the Greenteam where very positive. Many people took the effort to throw their plastic beer glasses in the garbage bags carried by the Greenteam members instead of throwing it on the ground. Also visitors asked me questions about what we are doing, where the garbage is being taken and how they can sign-up as a volunteer.
In front of the mainstage I couldn’t resist dancing to the sounds of Deep Dish while picking up the garbage, which put a smile on many of the visitors faces who even wanted to take selfies with me. Some experience!

Ik heb corvee op Mysteryland #lekkerprikken #Greenteam #ml15

A post shared by Wiebe Wakker / Plug Me In (@plugmeintravel) on

After walking some rounds on the terrain we returned to the campsite and wrapped things up. At 6pm we finished our work and got treated with some cold beers left by the visitors, really recycling to the max 😉

Then I had the whole day left to discover the festival and enjoy the music. What makes Mysteryland special is that they really try to create another world with place for theater, acts and my favorite part: the magic forrest. A little forrest which has been decorated with crazy creative things which can’t be really explained but have to be discovered.

What I like about Mysteryland is that they see recycling as a basis part of their sustainability plan, besides that they find it important to go further and pay attention to developing talents and local communities.
At the festival many cool sustainable projects can be discovered and I made a list of the ones I encountered:

Het Gekke Groente Museum (The Crazy Vegetable Museum)

A lot of craziness is going on at the Gekke Groente Museum #ml15 #mlnl

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A museum dedicated to weird and crazy shaped vegetables.

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A crazy and very cool idea: a tent made completely out of cardboard. Kartent knows that every year 1 out of 4 visitors leave their tents behind so they came with a completely recyclable solution. After the festival the tent can go straight to the recycling of the paper-industry. Not only is this idea very refreshing but it looks totally cool, especially when you can decorate it with your own creative ideas!

Coca Cola
The famous drink understands how important it is to create a sustainable brand and Mysteryland is the right place to show this to their consumers. They created some activities where visitors could play games from recycled materials.

Waterbar
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A great initiative by Mysteryland: the waterbar. In exchange for 2 tokens you receive a water-bag which can be refilled for free at all the waterbars placed throughout the festival. The water-bag is small and can easily be attached to your jeans. The waterbars have been at Mysteryland for already 4 years and because of its succes the City of Amsterdam even decided to make it mandatory for all events taken place in their city to provide free water to visitors.

Now back to the festival. Mysteryland is very diverse as it comes to music styles and artists and it’s a luxury problem to make the right decision. First I watched Dillon Francis play a diverse set at the mainstage and then I went to Q-dance. The stage of Q-dance is the eyecatcher of the festival and this year a huge monkey was blasting CO2 out of it’s nose while loud hardstyle played through the speakers. Wildstylez was playing and I heard him play some great new tracks.
The northern part of the festival has some small islands with crazy stages like Milkshake, the Bollywood Bar and Vieze Poezendek (dirty pussydeck, go see yourself).
At the end of the day everyone went to the mainstage to see Martin Garrix play. The youngster started here 4 years ago and this year he had the honour to close down the festival accompanied by an epic end-show.

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The Q-dance stage at Mysteryland. (Source: ML Facebook)

I had a great day at Mysteryland. It was interesting to see whats going on behind the scenes and I felt proud to be part of the Greenteam and helping a bit to reduce the festival’s footprint.
I am impressed by Mysteryland’s Festival Soul: to create a positive ecological impact and help for a better future. What I like about this is that they don’t say “we are festival X, we organize a festival and to be sustainable we support a good cause” but it’s really in their DNA to be sustainable and carry this message out. I saw that Mysteryland’s visitors are conscious of this message by the way they tried to keep the camping and festival clean. The festivals sustainable efforts have not been unnoticed and Julie’s Bicyle, a non-profit organization that is putting effort for a sustainable creative industry, has awarded the festival with the Industry Green Certificate.

Mysteryland is a great example for festivals around and I hope to visit many more festivals alike during my trip.

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Even with all these CO2-guns Mysteryland managed to receive a certificate for reducing C02 emissions. (Source: ML Facebook)

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