10. Electric Zoo
August 31 - September 2
New York, US
Day One | Day Two | Day Three
Though the headliners could be described as unashamedly mainstream, Electric Zoo has to be recognized for the incredible spectacle of it all. Taking place in its usual location of Randall's Island in New York, Electric Zoo is three days of some of the biggest names in dance music converging on a 24-acre outdoor venue. In addition to the usual suspects—Guetta, Tiësto, et al.—this year features a Luciano/Vagabundos stage (a potential oasis amidst all the big-room acts). Elsewhere DJs range from Marco Carola to Above & Beyond, meaning you'll get plenty of variety either way, plus a series of art installations and exhibits along the shoreline for when you need a break from the beats.
RA pick: Boys Noize, whose deceptively deep record bag never ceases to surprise.
09. Berlin Festival
One of the most exciting things about the two-day Berlin Festival is its location. In a city renowned for its ability to hunt out interesting spots and throw parties in them, Berlin Festival stands out as event that applies the model to a grand scale: the vast disused hangers of the city's former aeronautical hub, Tempelholf Airport. Music-wise, almost every act on the lineup is well suited to big room showings, with Orbital, Paul Kalkbrenner and Friendly Fires being some of the larger names set to take to the stage. Alongside the festival's Tempelhof activities, parties will also been thrown at arenaclub as part of the Club X-Berg satellite series—Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Brandt Brauer Frick and Junior Boys will all be appearing at the Kreuzberg spot.
RA pick: We'd recommend being front and centre when rave icons Orbital step up for a rare German appearance.
08. Reworks Festival
September 21 - September 22
Day One | Day Two | Day Three
Reworks has gone from "the first ever complete audio-visual art festival in Greece" to the country's only electronic music festival full-stop. Against a backdrop of unprecedented economic uncertainty it feels like a minor miracle that Reworks will take place in 2012—let alone with a line-up that, even based on its first wave of announcements, appears enviable. Nicolas Jaar will present his ubiquitous live show in the role of headliner, joined at the top of the bill by Portland synth pop outfit Chromatics, with further live appeal via Benoit & Sergio. The DJ showing is also strong, with Soul Clap, Tale of Us, DJ Tennis and Daniel Bortz all confirmed so far.
RA pick: Tale of Us and DJ Tennis presenting the sound of Life & Death.
September 6 - September 8
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
Held over a 72-hour period in early September, Electrosanne is distinctly split between day and night-time showings. Each of the parties takes place in one of the seven venues located in and around Lusanne's city centre, with Place de l'Europe and Place Centrale set to host the daytime activities, and Loft Club, La Ruche and Mad representing the nocturnal spots. On each of Electrosanne's three days, things will get underway sometime in the afternoon, with free entry for all in effect until 8:00 PM. The likes of Toodd Terje, Claude VonStroke and Sonja Moonear will each be on hand to soundtrack those afternoon sessions, while Dixon, Axel Boman and Christopher Rau will all be present when the action makes its way in to one of the aforementioned clubs.
RA pick: Local hero Sonja Moonear has been in fine form of late, so expect her to deliver the goods when she steps up.
06. Green & Blue
This edition of the Frankfurt festival is remarkable not just because it's their tenth anniversary, but also because they're pledging it to be their last. The Cocoon-managed, single-day festival happens at the Waldschwimmbad Obertshausen along Lake Langen near Sven Väth's hometown, an attempt to bring Ibiza club vibes to a gorgeous German lawn. The lineup has a host of usual suspects including regulars Väth and Villalobos, Robag Wruhme and Josh Wink DJing, and a live quotient provided by Henrik Schwarz, Guy Gerber and Paul Ritch.
RA pick: Guy Gerber, whose contemplative live set as seen on Fabric 64 seems suited to a warm September soiree.
September 21 - September 22
The Hague, Netherlands
For two days each September, the coastal Dutch city of The Hague comes alive with the sights and sounds of Todaysart festival. The event was started back in 2005 with an agenda to present "adventurous contemporary visual and performing arts," augmented by city-wide workshops, symposiums and other such pursuits. Todaysart's programme comprises a blend of free-entry and paid-for events (although even in the latter case a weekend pass costs as little as €25) staged indoors and outdoors, day and night. As is often the case at Todaysart, 2012 proffers a batch of unique or rare performances. Pantha Du Prince and The Bell Laboratory will again collaborate; Ben Frost, Daníel Bjarnason and Sinfonietta Cracovia will present Sólaris; and Wolfgang Voigt and Jörg Burger will join forces as Mohn.
RA pick: Demdike Stare and Andy Votel (Slant Azymuth) performing live alongside Bruno Spoerri.
September 6 - September 9
Robin Hill Country Park
Isle of White, UK
Do you remember the part in Pinocchio where he was taken to Pleasure Island? He took a trip on a boat and was turned into a wild animal after ODing on fun. Oddly enough this is also the agenda for Bestival 2012, albeit with the added inclusion of some excellent music. The theme for this year's event is wildlife, so expect the site to resemble a rave version of a David Attenborough documentary as around 55,000 people party-down in animal costumes. Musically, Bestival really does have something for everyone. Stevie Wonder and New Order are just the pick of a live music roster that includes more than its fair share of household names and blog-famous bands. The DJs on offer are none too shabby either, with everything from Moodymann's Blaxploitation-soul to Jackmaster's jump-up bass music covered. Throw in an array of imaginative stages and a whole heap of silly activities and you have a festival that's guaranteed good times.
RA pick: There's no sound that can test David Rodigan's at a festival.
03. Outlook / Dimensions
August 30 - September 3 / September 6 - September 9
Fort Punta Christo
Outlook | Dimensions
Outlook already represented a mammoth proposition for fans of low frequencies, but the addition of a sister festival, Dimensions, this year has ramped up things to eye-popping levels. The two will take place within a week of each other at Fort Punta Christo, the 1800s-constructed abandoned fort across the water from Pula, Croatia, that has hosted Outlook since 2010. So why the need for a dual offering? Well, although they'll both be firmly rooted in bass music (with a large number of artists playing at both) it seems as though Dimensions will allow for an extensive exploration of house and techno, leaving Outlook to dive even deeper into dub, reggae and roots. The talent list across the two weekends is almost insane, but know that Nicolas Jaar, Fat Freddy's Drop, Four Tet and Carl Craig represent a few of the headliners, and attendees will also have boat parties, beaches and the sun to look forward to.
RA pick: Loefah feels about as slap bang in the middle of things as is possible.
September 26 - September 30
Taking advantage of Seattle's many different spaces, Decibel is a true city festival. Boats, warehouses, cinemas, parks and even a club or two will be employed for its ninth edition. As has been the case with the past few years, Decibel is once again taking a step up in terms of the numbers of artists booked and tickets sold. That means big-name acts like Orbital and The Cannabinoids feat. Erykah Badu will take headlining status. The undercards, however, pack a purist punch: Actress, Fennesz, Cut Hands, Demdike Stare and Monolake are just a few of the internationals that will descend upon the Pacific Northwest in late September. For more on the festival, take a listen to our recent RA Exchange with founder Sean Horton.
RA pick: Swedish house weirdo Axel Boman making his Seattle debut.
September 15 - September 17
There's not much to say about Labyrinth that hasn't been covered on RA already. Put simply, it's great DJs and live acts in an optimal environment. The organizers go the extra mile in creating a situation where the artists can succeed—all of their equipment requirements met, the typically up-for-it and educated Japanese crowd, few DJ booth distractions, great sound. You couldn't ask for much more. Each year there are the regulars (Donato Dozzy, Peter Van Hoesen and Appleblim return) and a few new wrinkles added to the sonically cohesive stew (Petar Dundov and Spectrum Spools' John Elliott seem like artists that could've been booked years ago). And each year it continues to be one of the highlights of the festival calendar. We don't expect that to change anytime soon.
RA pick: Donato Dozzy and Peter Van Hoesen's sets at the festival are legendary for a reason.