10. Free Your Mind Festival
Not sure what to expect from Free Your Mind 2012? This 2010 photo gallery should tell you most of what you need to know. As you'll clearly see, the event is based on the classic Dutch summer festival formula, meaning tons of space, tons of tents, tons of people and, of course, tons of music. The site in question here is Stadsblokkenon on the banks of the Rhine at the eastern city of Arnhem. A focus on indigenous talent is as much a part of the Free Your Mind booking policy as international guests, with acts like Kabale und Liebe, Julien Chaptal, Lauhaus, Steffi and Quince given pride of place on a bill that also includes Function, Surgeon, Ame, Raresh, James Holden and Guy Gerber.
RA pick: Deslolat's tINI and her percussive house sound seem to be growing in stature each year.
09. Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, US
There's no question that Electric Daisy Carnival is a polarizing festival. But regardless of its chest-beating lineups and the fashion choices of its attendees, EDC is unquestionably one of the foremost events of its kind. The levels of production, for example, attain heights that other events can only dream of—a lighting show so intense you fear the stage may actually be on fire, a soundsystem powerful enough to shake Las Vegas Motor Speedway to its core. As for the talent, the usual gang are all in place—Armin Van Buuren, David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, Tiësto—while EDC's flirtation with more refined sounds continues this year with the bookings of Richie Hawtin, Loco Dice, Magda, Josh Wink, John Digweed, Green Velvet and Dennis Ferrer.
RA pick: Boys Noize tossing gnarly sawtooth synths at the masses.
June 9 - June 10
Platt Fields Park
Day One | Day Two
Festivals from the UK dominate the mid-section of our list this month, the first of which is Manchester's Parklife Weekender. The appeal here is simple: you get 100 artists performing across seven stages over two days staged on good old English grass. Taking place at the city's Platt Fields, the event will play host to both stadium fillers and underground favourites, with The Flaming Lips, Crystal Castles and Kelis counted among the former. At the other end of the spectrum, Joy Orbison, Maya Jane Coles and The Field will each deliver their more niche sounds, while Crosstown Rebels, Heidi's Jackathon and Hospitality all represent with their own stages.
RA pick: Nile Rodgers laying down some stone cold classics with Chic.
07. Field Day
If you can leave your expectations of crystal clear sound at the gates of Victoria Park, Field Day annually promises one of the global festival circuit's most prized lineups. Last year we described the cast list as "hipster oddities, blog faves, tasteful pop and on-the-money dance," and we don't think there's a better way of putting it this time out. Field Day usually opts not to over-emphasize its headliners, preferring instead to draw upon a fertile mid-range talent pool, although both Franz Ferdinand and Modeselektor could stake a decent claim to the title if we're playing that game. Elsewhere, the curatorial hands of Eat Your Own Ears, Bugged Out!, Bleed and Lanzarote will roll with names like SBTRKT, Peaking Lights, Maya Jane Coles, Kassem Mosse, Grimes, Laurel Halo, Fennesz and Kindness.
RA pick: Maya Jane Coles making a homecoming of sorts after a series of international dates.
June 15 - June 17
Day One | Day Two | Day Three
Lovebox began life in somewhat more humble surroundings than its current 50,000 capacity home. 93 Feet East on London's Brick Lane was the club for founder's Groove Armada's regular night under the name; as Lovebox's first birthday approached they decided to celebrate outdoors down on Clapham Common… Ten years later and Lovebox is now a three-day, multi-staged beast held in the city's Victoria Park, a festival that this year the organizers themselves are modestly billing as "East London's biggest party ever." The cheaper entry Friday evening is set to be headlined by Hot Chip and Crystal Castles, with Rinse, Digital Soundboy and Hessle Audio hosting stages. Saturday is the day to catch Hospitality, Crosstown Rebels and Warm & Electric Minds, while on Sunday it'll be the turn of Dalston Superstore, Gutterslut & Trailer Trash and Horse Meat Disco.
RA pick: The NYC Downlow, hosted by the Horse Meat Disco boys features Andrew Weatherall, Tim Sweeney and Optimo.
June 14 - June 17
King's Lynn, Norfolk
After a turbulent couple of years it seems as though Glade has once again got its groove back. 2011's event, their first at Houghton Hall, was by all accounts excellent, and Glade will return to the Norfolk site for 2012—a venue they're now describing as their permanent home. The site's green fields will feature every genre you could shake a stick at, spread across several stages, from Sven Väth to Andy C to Kuedo. The Pyro-mid—a pyramid-shaped stage that is set ablaze at the end of the festival— will return this year, curated by Hypercolour and featuring Mosca and Eats Everything. Then there's a "psychedelic village" replete with healing tents—acupuncture, reiki—and saunas. Like dancing animals? Glade's got you covered there as well.
RA pick: Appleblim, one of the UK's most unpredictable but reliable DJs, at the Pyromid.
04. Hideout Festival
June 29 - July 1
Hideout Festival marks one of the first events in the increasingly busy Croatian summer season. The island of Pag, and more specifically its lovely Zrce Beach, is the home to this particular jaunt on the Adriatic which returns for 2012 with an entire week of events, an extra venue (club Kalypso) and an increased capacity after last year's successful debut. Looking at the Hideout bill it's tough to trace a recurrent theme, with the emphasis instead placed on covering multiple bases. The headline pack are neatly indicative of this: you've got the groove and swing of Ricardo Villalobos, the tear-out dubstep vibes of Skream & Benga, and Jamie Jones and Seth Troxler representing the newer DJing elite.
RA pick: Four Tet & Caribou DJing back-to-back are bound to dig up some interesting oddball gems.
Taicoclub is part of a select group of global festivals that also includes Nachtdigital in Germany, Freerotation in the UK and fellow Japanese event Labyrinth. The key thing that binds these events? Love. Yeah, soppy, we know, but these highly intimate and unique offerings seem to attract the same devoted following year-on-year, engendering a sense of community that's almost impossible to replicate. Taicoclub's established blend of bands and DJs will again be journeying out to the stunning Yabuhara ski resort four hours outside of Tokyo, with Ricardo Villalobos making his third appearance at the festival. Animal Collective and Boredoms will be looking after more indie-centric interests, while Sepalcure, Josh Wink, Pepe Bradock and TR-101 (DJ Pete & Sleeparchive) rep for team dance.
RA pick: Pepe Bradock's disco treats lifting the already sky-high feel-good factor.
02. Awakenings Festival
Jeff Mills. Carl Cox. Adam Beyer. Marco Carola. Ben Klock. Marcel Dettmann. Ricardo Villalobos. Ben Sims. Dave Clarke. Planetary Assault Systems. Speedy J. Laurent Garnier. Robag Wruhme. San Proper. Davide Squillace. Mathias Tanzmann. John Digweed. Joris Voorn. Martin Buttrich. Pan-Pot. Marcel Fengler. Countless others. 11 hours. Nine stages. Spaarnwoude, Holland. We don't have anything else to add except that...
RA pick: We're fascinated to see how Donato Dozzy & Neel adapt their dusky Voices from the Lake project to a festival setting.
June 14 - June 16
Along with Movement and WMC, Sonar is one of those festivals that got so big (and good) it outgrew itself. Nowadays when someone says they're "going to Sonar," they're probably referring to more than the festival itself, which, with a three-day program split between CCCB and Fira Gran Via that runs the gamut from Deadmau5 to DJ Harvey, would be more than enough. Parlance aside, "Sonar" officially doesn't include the dozens of other events strewn across the city, which range from invite-only soirees to 1,000+ capacity club parties. These days there's even a four-day off-Sonar event, East Ender. All things considered, it's a pretty good weekend to be in Barcelona.
RA pick: It's hard not to be curious about Mary Anne Hobbs going back-to-back with Blawan at Sonar By Night.