Annually, during the month of September, Kingston Downs in Rome, Georgia transforms into the vibrant epicenter of Imagine Music Festival, where a cadre of top-tier and local upcoming DJs converge for a weekend-long celebration of music. Whether you’re a fan of bass or house EDM music, IMF has something for everyone. However, it has its own set of pros and cons that attendees should consider before deciding to attend.


Starting off with the festival’s restroom situation which was less than desirable. The rarely or never-emptied bathrooms, though a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, were certainly a low point. Attendees had to be strategic in their restroom choices to find a clean, less-crowded facility. Another mention is that even though we had VIP camping passes, we had to walk a little over a quarter mile to the closest restroom. Which is also not a huge deal, but in the middle of the night or early morning, it is the biggest deal. Especially if you pay the extra money, you expect there to be close restrooms for convenience.

Sound bleeding, an occasional issue when stages are in close proximity, can sometimes detract from the immersive experience that Imagine aims to provide. It’s not uncommon to find yourself simultaneously surrounded by two different beats, which may not always be harmonious. While at Slander on the main stage, during the quiet or low volume points amidst the melodic future bass and “cry-banging”, you could hear John Summit’s tech house beats. (no hate to Mr. Summit bc I love him) Though, not exactly ideal when you are trying to enjoy a specific music style.

Another aspect that drew mixed reviews was the festival’s security measures. While security is crucial for ensuring the safety of all attendees, some found it excessively intrusive, resulting in uncomfortable interactions and moments of unease. Our experience included an unexpectedly long three-hour wait at the festival entrance, far beyond the expected one-hour delay, and a thorough inspection of our vehicle that bordered on discomfort. At one moment, I thought they were about to rip our stuffed animals open. We were not the only car that was being extremely thoroughly searched, as every single car was getting this treatment. Again, safety is important but it did cause us to miss an entire night of music that we had to pay additionally for on-top of the actual festival ticket. 

As the music came to an abrupt halt at 1am, and with limited post-performance options available, us night owls found ourselves with minimal alternatives. We were left with the choice of either organizing our own after-party or relying on the hospitality of other camps. One would expect that law enforcement would acknowledge the nature of a weekend festival, allowing music to continue into the late hours of the night and early morning. The unusual occurrence of on-site police shutting down after-parties raised eyebrows, particularly because afters typically generate much less noise than the main stages, making it unlikely to be a noise ordinance issue. 


Nevertheless, Imagine Music Festival possesses its fair share of merits that warrant acknowledgment. Despite its increasing popularity, the festival manages to preserve an intimate ambiance, fostering connections among festival-goers and amplifying the overall experience. It’s not just the delightful interactions with strangers that stand out; even our neighboring campsite residents radiated positivity and offered assistance when a storm caused our canopy to break, flooding our tent.

Imagine invites you to craft your own festival journey, tailoring it to your unique musical preferences.The artist lineup consistently delivers an impressive blend, featuring both well-established acts and emerging stars within the EDM realm. Whether you choose to lose yourself in the beats of the house stage for some toe-tapping rhythms or venture to the bass stage for mind-bending wubs, the festival offers a spectrum of options. During our time at the festival, we predominantly frequented the bass and main stages, and we were thoroughly impressed by every act we had the pleasure of witnessing. My top five highlights included Rezz, Big Gigantic, Zomboy, Mersiv, and the premiere of Ganja White Night B2B Subtronics!

One of the other pros, were the short bathroom lines – a hidden gem if you could find a clean one. In a world where waiting in endless festival/concert restroom lines can feel like a marathon, Imagine’s relatively short queues came as a delightful surprise. Luckily, I could count on a select few restrooms throughout the festival, although even that couldn’t compensate for the unmistakable odors emanating from the less-maintained facilities. I think one of the reasons for the shorter restroom lines was the festival’s apparent underselling, which made it look almost half as crowded as the previous year despite the organizers claiming it was almost sold out.


As I reflect on my time at Imagine Music Festival, I’m reminded of a fundamental truth about music festivals: they are, ultimately, what you make of them. Fortunately, despite some of the festival’s shortcomings, we managed to have a great time. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that there’s room for improvement especially with this being the festival’s second year at this location. It’s my belief that Imagine’s organizers, Iris Presents, could enhance the festival experience by addressing recurring issues that had persisted from the previous year.

While my past experiences at other festivals may have spoiled me to a certain extent, it’s reasonable to expect that some of the festival’s cons should have been resolved by now. Although I wish I could provide a more favorable review, honesty is paramount. My aim is for everyone to hear my frustrations with the event in the hope that necessary adjustments will be made for the next year.

When it comes to the possibility of my return to this festival, the answer is contingent upon a couple of key factors. While an exceptional lineup that truly captivates my musical preferences and aspirations is undeniably a significant lure, it’s not the sole criterion. The festival’s organizers would also need to address some of the cons and challenges I’ve highlighted in this review. I genuinely hope that this festival will continue to expand and address the existing challenges, but I want to emphasize that my review reflects my honest perspective.