As Shakespeare famously quipped, “All the world’s a stage.” Of course, back in the Bard’s day, a stage meant a few planks of wood, some painted backdrops and candlelight. Lots and lots of candlelight. Today’s stage designs incorporated the very latest in technical advances with regard to light, sound and special effects. They also manage to pull of some pretty cool creations even for one-time events. Here are some of the knockout stage designs from the past 365 days.

1. Electric Daisy Carnival (Kinetic Field, Las Vegas)


If you bill yourself as the Electric Daisy Carnival, then there really can’t be anything traditional about your stage design. This year, designer Pasquale Rotella pulled out all the stops to create a stage that incorporated the four elements of fire, ware, air and earth. Kinetic Field was the perfect spot for a stage that spanned 480 feet across and over 100 feet high. Rotella also plugged in one thousand lights, 40 lasers, 22 pyrotechnic cannons and 15 confetti cannons. Don’t forget the waterfalls and geysers. Amazing design from start to finish.

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2. Minus Zero Festival (Vermont)


What is the best thing to do after a day of skiing and snowboarding? Rock out to some sweet tunes. Mountain Productions crafted a mobile main stage for the Minus Zero Festival that offered up a totally chill vibe. Backstage in the VIP area was a hot tub. Don’t you wish you had an “All Access” pass for this event?

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3. Defqon.1 Australia’s Red Stage


Gothic was the order of the day for last year’s Defqon.1 festival down under. A ginormous skull stared down on the festivalgoers as they rocked out to pulsating electro. The end show featured explosive pyrotechnics that put most 4th of July displays to shame.

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4. Mysteryland (Netherlands)


For this past year’s Q-Dance festival in the Netherlands, Mysteryland went animalistic. The big baboon main stage design shot smoke from its nose and flames from its head. Might impressive during the day but even more spectacular when lit up at night. Like many of the festival stage designs, this particular set up proved to be a challenge for the riggers. Fortunately, they were up for that challenge thanks to specialized rigging. You can only pull off these kinds of stages with the right equipment. You can learn more about the common rigging equipment and services that one should consider when planning an event here.

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5. Tomorrowland (Belgium)


Amazing stage designs don’t happen overnight. For the epic dance party Tomorrowland, their most recent set up took a year to design and four weeks to build with 100 workers making it all happen. The theme was the Kingdom of Melodia. It is a mythical realm that featured a 138-foot castle, stained glassed windows and lush faux foliage framing the entire space. Hidden in the confines of the castle was a fully functioning restaurant. This is one fairytale land you wouldn’t mind moving into.

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6. Coachella’s Do Lab Stage (California)


Over the years the Coachella music fest went from, “What’s Coachella?” to “I’ve got to get to Coachella.” Every year, the Do Lab Stage is where all the big action goes down. For 2015, Do Lab was really Big Fish. An explosion of colored gills framed the stage and became positively luminescent after the sun went down. Hats off to director Josh Flemming for another memorable look.

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7. Arcadia Spectacular (Central Bristol)


The whimsical fairytale approach of some festival stages took a backseat to last year’s Arcadia Spectacular. You knew you were in for something amazing at the first glance of the giant alien spider that housed the DJ booth. It took 50 tons of recycled military metal to craft this unique stage. Blending into the steelworks were fire cannons and laser lights. You could also catch a glimpse of swinging acrobats who made the spider’s legs their home away from home. Great images for your next nightmare.

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8. Electric Zoo (Phoenix)


Total immersion was on the agenda for EZOO helped along by creative directors, Made Event. As with all the EZOO fests, the animal vibe was in full effect with a zebra-stripped octopus stretching its tentacles far and wide across the main stage. Inside the “head,” the rotating DJs looked out onto the hardy crowds who danced the night away.

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9. Ultra Music Festival (Florida)


Lots and lots of lights were the draw on the main stage at the Ultra Music Festival. The 200-foot-wide and 88-foot-high stage was filled out by production designer Ray Steinman and lightening director Patrick Dierson. There were huge video walls and pixel-mapped effects that played as a backdrop for the thousands of dancers that surged onto the stage. A sight to behold.

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10. Shambhala’s Fractal Forest (Kootenay, Canada)


The Shambhala’s Fractal Forest was billed as the “show within a show within a show.” This wasn’t just a front facing stage presentation but a one-of-a-kind experience that surrounded the festivalgoers with gnomes, fairies and pixies all under the umbrella of towering cedar trees. There was something to look at no matter where you turned.

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Quite an amazing array of stage designs. One thing is for sure. This year’s upcoming festivals promise to be bigger and more spectacular. Get your cameras ready for some incredible photos.

Featured photo by Thomas Hawk


About the author

Lexie Lu

Hello! My name is Lexie and I have a fervor for design, writing, and coffee. I graduated with a dual major in Creative Writing and Commercial Design, and through those grueling study hours (facilitated by coffee, of course) I always found time to write for myself.

My posts feature design trends throughout all industries and show how the field is always changing. There’s never a dull moment in the design world!

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