Five Things We Loved About Nocturnal Wonderland 2021

Nocturnal Wonderland
Photo Credit: Insomniac Events

Nocturnal Wonderland made its grand return this year with vibes at that were reminiscent of pre-pandemic times and sets that were insane!


Nocturnal Wonderland welcomed all the creatures of the night for a spectacular weekend underneath the stars, lasers, and immaculate bass lines. North America’s longest-running festival once again returned to Glen Helen for what could be the final year at the venue in the festival’s history.

There’s something magical about Nocturnal Wonderland that everyone feels as soon as they walk through the entrance. The outdoors, the art installations, the stage production, and the music all came together to create an unforgettable experience for festival-goers. All of these aspects, with Insomniac Founder Pasquale Rotella at the helm, have contributed to the success and longevity of the festival.

Whatever stage you decided to spend your time the most at, there was definitely something for everyone at the festival and many positives to take away from the experience as a whole. Read on to see five things we absolutely loved about Nocturnal Wonderland this year.

Five Things We Loved About Nocturnal Wonderland 2021

Nocturnal Wonderland
Photo Credit: Insomniac Events

The vibes at the Wolves’ Den

The Wolves’ Den was exactly what one would expect from an open-air stage, especially for an Insomniac event – yet the stage felt more massive compared to previous years and really made each set throughout the night more intense! Unlike the NOS Events Center, Insomniac has fewer restrictions when it comes to pyrotechnics at Glen Helen, and it makes the experience even more immersive. There’s just something about seeing fireworks and flames shoot up after a drop that makes the music more intense and enjoyable.

The energy was constant at whatever time of the day you showed up to Wolves’ Den. Standouts included Matroda with his bass/tech-house vibes that got us all grooving and No Mana who brought his electro sounds that took the crowd back to 2010. Others like Party Favor and Audien also played with loads of energy that had everyone jumping and going crazy! The constant variety at the stage was something one couldn’t resist, especially with all the recognizable names performing one after another.

Nocturnal Wonderland 2021 Ophelia Records
Photo Credit: Fixation Photography

The Ophelia Records Takeover at Sunken Garden

Ophelia Records is a family and it showed throughout the night! This stage takeover at Sunken Garden is definitely worth highlighting as it was packed with so much talent, one would think that it should have occurred at Wolves’ Den or Labyrinth! Acts such as Jason Ross, Gem & Tauri, Wooli, and Kill the Noise had the crowd moving to the beat or headbanging away with their own distinct sounds and styles.

Although the stage had less of a visual experience, that didn’t change the energy the DJs brought! The crowd was clearly there for the artists’ music and mirrored the energy that of the DJ performing. One very memorable moment of the night was when Kill the Noise played his psy-trance remix of the Spongebob Squarepants intro. It was such a hilarious moment and brought smiles across everyone’s faces as they sang along to the lyrics.

Nocturnal Wonderland 2021
Photo Credit: Insomniac Events

The immersive experience of the wonderland

You know you’re at wonderland when you randomly see a caterpillar surfing the crowd at a stage! It’s something that is very unique to an Insomniac Event, helping to further pursue the theme the promoter is trying to create and sustain. The creatures of the night such as the caterpillar and multiple butterflies carried by the production crew really do bring a smile to your face whenever they are near your sight.

Another element that might not get much recognition is the lighting that brings life to the night. The colorfulness of the lights placed all around the venue light up the night in a unique way, creating intimate vibes for festival-goers to enjoy. This, along with the art installations and other interactive elements including the performers, creates the wonderland we all walk around whenever we go from stage to stage.

Nocturnal Wonderland 2021 Seven Lions
Photo Credit: Fixation Photography

Seven Lions closing out the festival at Wolves’ Den

The Wolves’ Den became the Lions’ Den on the second night as Seven Lions took the stage to close out Nocturnal Wonderland. Before he did take the stage though, you could feel a tremendous amount of anticipation building up to that moment. There was silence on the stage while the production crew prepared it for Seven Lions to take over and a flood of ravers began to stream in as well. And based on the number of Seven Lions’ jerseys and other merch that was present in the crowd, the Ophelia fam was strong and present for his set.

Then, the music started playing, the LED screens began showing visuals, and soon after the man with the gracious mane popped up in the DJ booth. Seven Lions was the man of the hour, playing everything from dubstep and future bass to psy-trance and progressive trance. No matter what he played, the crowd fed off his energy and danced the night away to what was probably one of the best ways to end the night and the weekend.

Nocturnal Wonderland
Photo Credit: Insomniac Events

At least one more experience at Glen Helen

There’s something magical about having an open-air festival in Southern California. But part of the reason why Nocturnal Wonderland at Glen Helen is so special is that the venue is immersed in nature. While other festivals from Insomniac like Beyond SoCal, HARD Summer, Escape Halloween, and more take place in the open air, they’re stuck in the confines of a city.

Nocturnal Wonderland has definitely gained fame and recognition as an amazing festival due to what Glen Helen Regional Park allows Insomniac to add. The park allows for them to be more creative with the space so that they can truly transform it into a wonderland for the creatures of the night to explore. This experience becomes even more immersive once camping is added into the mix. We will miss Glen Helen if this truly is the last year that Nocturnal Wonderland calls it home, but we hope that this isn’t the final year there.


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Gustavo was first introduced to electronic dance music back in 2012 when he first heard Armin van Buuren's hit track "This Is What It Feels Like" play on the radio. Seven years later and he still continues to immerse himself into the scene. Having attended over 30 music festivals, DJ'ing locally at the biggest dance clubs in San Diego, winning a DJ'ing competition against seven other DJs at the House of Blues San Diego and also learning how to produce, Gustavo lives and breathes EDM. His favorite genre is trance, but he enjoys every other sub-genre out there as long as it's great music. Gustavo is a recent graduate from San Diego State University with a bachelor's in journalism with an emphasis in public relations and also minored in political science.

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