10,000 Train Rides to Paradise City Festival: Pioneering Groovy, Sustainable Transport

DJ playing at sun down
Photo courtesy of Jaan Van Damme (@jaanvandamme)

Climb aboard the rave train to Paradise City Festival. Read below how they’re making transportation to festivals less terrible for the climate.

Paradise City Festival: an unlikely place for paradise

In my memory, Belgium has always been a dreary country to generally be avoided. Rainy, cold and boring. No thank you.

Is it time to give this place a second chance? I think so.

Discovering Paradise City Festival is my catalyst for a fresh perspective. I flip through dream-like pictures of festivalgoers dancing under a warm June sun. Watching sets of the world’s best electronic artists enveloped by lush forests and medieval castles — I begin to wonder. What is this place? Could it be… paradise?

Festival attendee dancing in the afternoon light
Paradise City Festival. Picture by Jaan Van Damme

All roads lead to Ribaucourt: tickets and lineup

Paradise City Festival is a 3-day deep house festival at the end of June. Heading northwest from Brussels, you’ll stumble upon the Castle of Ribaucourt and the expansive grounds surrounding it. As a private residence, the grounds open annually for Paradise City where half a dozen stages are assembled, creating a playground of music and dance.

Individual day tickets range from 62 to 79 euros while the entire weekend is 145. If you’re looking for the full 3-day experience, with camping and breakfast, it’ll run you just north of 200. With the likes of Maribou State, Marlon Hoffstadt and Bonobo on the lineup, the experience seems well worth the price.

Click here to lock those tickets in.

Paradise City Lineup
Paradise City Festival lineup.

Paradise City Festival Express

Belgium is a remarkably well-connected country for rail transport. This means if you’re in the regional vicinity, getting there should be a breeze. Paradise City not only recognizes this but is taking full advantage. Teaming up with Bombay Sapphire last year, they provided two party trains called the Paradise City Express.

Inside a stage at Paradise City Festival
PC: Jaan Van Damme

Fully equipped, the Express had everything from a proper sound system, DJ’s, neon lighting, and (of course) plenty of drinks. This is one of many ingenious ways the organizers are leveraging the local rail network. Apart from the Paradise City Express, organizers also coordinated evening trains to transport non-camping guests from the grounds.

In total, roughly 10,000 rides to and from Vilvoorde station were taken by attendees in 2023.

Emissions from transportation: does it really matter?

Helping festivalgoers coordinate trains isn’t just beneficial for the guests, it’s also good for the climate. After diving into some reports on music festival impact, I was shocked with the findings. One would assume most of the greenhouse gas emissions come from the electricity and power needs of a festival, right?

Not the case.

Chateau Ribaucourt at Paradise City Festival
Chateau Ribaucourt. Photo from Jaan Van Damme

Researched by a non-profit in the UK, “transport is the most significant source of emissions from event production and touring, typically accounting for more than 80% of an outdoor event’s carbon footprint”. (ecolibrium)

As it turns out, all these flights and kilometers of driving add up to be terrible for the environment. Luckily, trains and buses are usually an effective, less polluting alternative and Paradise City is using both to lower emissions.

Top rating in sustainability

Continuing the theme of sustainability, the festival received an outstanding (the highest rating) from A Greener Future for their efforts. Apart from pushing for environmentally friendly transportation, they also have a meat-free food court, carrying over this trend from the previous year.

Additionally, their efforts to decarbonize the electricity they use shouldn’t be overlooked. Last year, the Contrast Stage was nearly completely solar powered. Half of the onsite solar was dedicated to powering this stage while the rest was allocated for general production. In total, the event had 435m2 of onsite solar surface area — not bad.

Read the sustainability results of Paradise City 2023 here.

A must for summer 2024

Lastly, one change you’ll see this year is the addition of the 7th stage — which is completely dedicated for chill-out, downtempo and ambient performances creating a perfect area to rejuvenate between shows.

A couple at Paradise City Festival
Love at Paradise City. Picture courtesy of Jaan Van Damme

After an exceedingly successful event last year, which tallied more than 43,000 visitors, 2024 is set to be better than ever. With a high percentage chance of grooving all weekend long — Paradise City is a no brainer for this summer.

Can’t wait for festival season?

Read everything you need to know about the best festivals at the festival section of Underground Sound.

Written by Louis Rouffaud

Louis Rouffaud is a sustainability professional with a Master in Sustainability and Energy Management from Bocconi University, writing content on sustainability in the music industry. He is also a hip-hop and R&B enthusiast.

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