BOOM, Be. – Pope Francis and a small delegation from the Vatican will attend the upcoming 2016 Tomorrowland music festival in Belgium, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, announced Friday. “His Holiness will be in attendance along with Cardinal Sandri of Argentina and Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Mechelen-Brussels,” Father Lombardi said.
Held annually in Belgium and Brazil, Tomorrowland is said to be the world’s largest electronic dance music festival and boasts a wide variety of notable performers including David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Skrillex, and Fatboy Slim. Set in the small Belgian town of Boom, thirty-two kilometers north of Brussels, the three-day festival has been known to draw in upwards of four hundred thousand attendees.
The Vatican has reserved a small plot of land on the outskirts of the festival grounds where a large tent, complete with electricity, running water, and internet access, will house Pope Francis, his entourage, and a small security force made up of the Pontifical Swiss Guard. “The Pope has expressed a desire to immerse himself in the festival,” Father Lombardi said, adding, “His Holiness understands the positive effect music has on young people. He wishes to use this experience not only to spread the Word of God, but to interact on a personal level with the youth of today and promote a message of peace, love, and unity.”
Working in conjunction with the Vatican, ID&T, a Dutch entertainment enterprise and Tomorrowland’s chief organizer, announced it has secured a spot for Pope Francis among the official 2016 lineup which, ID&T said, has yet to be disclosed in its entirety. “We are pleased to announce that in addition to the regular musical acts appearing at the 2016 installment of Tomorrowland, Pope Francis will celebrate a special EDM-style midnight mass on the main stage,” Emma Van Dijk, a spokesperson for ID&T, said Thursday.
Branded by both the Vatican and ID&T as “the most unique and visually stunning religious experience of its kind,” the ninety minute mass, presented in Latin by Pope Francis, will include a synchronized visual and musical production performed by Tomorrowland veterans Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. “Pope Francis and the Vatican have pulled out all the stops to make this as distinct and unforgettable as one can possibly imagine,” Van Dijk said, adding that production costs for the mass alone, which the Vatican has said it will pay in full, are likely to surpass 3.5 million EUR, the equivalent of roughly $3.8 million USD.
Tickets for Tomorrowland 2016 will be available through a number of online ticket outlets including festicket.com. The exact dates of the event have yet to be announced but organizers speculate 2016 is likely to see the largest turnout in the festival’s history.