Laboral Ciudad de la Cultura
Squirreled away in the Spanish city of Gijón, L.E.V. has all the hallmarks of a well-kept secret. Chris Mann's rave review from last year told of "good food, cheap bear, a welcoming and intelligent crowd," and "glorious sunshine." The festival's emphasis on experimental sounds may not scream fun-in-the-sun to everyone, but the lineup is pretty hard to argue with. Laser-happy electronic pioneer Robert Henke tops this year's bill, joined by Atom TM, Vessel, Vatican Shadow and Luke Abbot, plus a raft of impressive Spanish artists.
RA pick: At a festival exploring "the natural synergy between image and sound," we can't imagine Robert Henke not smashing it.
09. International Music Summit
May 21 - May 23
To call Ibiza's International Music Summit a "festival" is to sell it short. Taking place across three days and nights at the brand new Hard Rock Hotel in Playa d'en Bossa, the event treats delegates to an onslaught of workshops. Guest speakers this year include Danny Tenaglia, Alfredo, Boiler Room founder Blaise Belleville and Paul McGuinness, former manager of U2, to name but a handful. Once the conference is done, everyone heads up to the iconic Dalt Villa for The Grand Finale, soundtracked this year by Seth Troxler, Eats Everything and Jamie Jones.
RA pick: Nile Rodgers was the talk of the town last year; this time it'll be Mr. Parliament Funkadelic himself, George Clinton.
08. Mysteryland USA 2014
May 23 - May 26
New York, USA
Mysteryland is the latest big-tent festival to make its way from Europe over to The States. Going down over Memorial Day Weekend, it takes over the gorgeous fields of Bethel Woods, which you might recognize as the historic home of the original Woodstock festival. For us, the most appetizing part of the program is Sunday School's Mini-Fest, which will take place within Mysteryland all weekend. Sunday School have three whole stages all to themselves, featuring the likes of Chris Liebing, Scuba and Seth Troxler.
RA pick: Josh Wink playing a vinyl-only set to celebrate 20 years of Ovum Recordings.
07. Life Festival 2014
May 23 - May 25
Belvedere House & Gardens
An 18th Century manor makes an arresting backdrop for Life Festival, the annual outdoor event in Ireland's County Westmeath, with lakes and woodland spilling out from the main area. This year organisers have plumped for a mix of house (Dixon, Maya Jane Coles, DJ Koze), techno (Ben Klock, Rødhåd, Nina Kraviz) and big name festival favourites like Groove Armada and LFO. There's also a healthy sprinkling of Irish talent, including techno vet Sunil Sharpe and Hivern Disc affiliate New Jackson, whose live show was one of the highlights of this year's RA party at The Twisted Pepper in Dublin.
RA pick: Dixon's elegant house selections should nicely match the stately surroundings.
06. Love Saves The Day
May 24 - May 25
Last year Bristol's Love Saves The Day expanded from one day to two. It will keep that format in 2014, with a wealth of house, bass, dub, disco and techno spread across six stages at Castle Park. Saturday's highlights include Craig Richards, Nina Kraviz, Motor City Drum Ensemble and a live performance by Todd Terje, while Sunday sees John Talabot, Jamie xx, Tessela, Special Request and SBTRKT take to the stage. Hometown talent will be well represented on both days, with Livity Sound, Futureboogie and Pinch all repping Bristol.
RA pick: Expect Jamie xx to drop his new single "Sleep Sound," and expect it to get a huge reaction.
05. Southport Weekender
May 9 - May 11
It's the big 5-0 for the Southport Weekender this year, and boy have they booked a lineup fit for the occasion. In fact, the organisers have done such a comprehensive job of charting house and disco through the ages, it would almost be easier to name the acts that aren't playing. Nestled amongst the usual slew of pioneers (Carl Cox, Tony Humphries, Greg Wilson, Kenny Dope) and current favourites (Seth Troxler, Ben UFO, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Vakula), are some of the most revered vocalists in house and disco. Omar? Check. Faith Evans? Check. Ch-ch-chaka Khan? Check.
RA pick: World premieres are always worth catching, especially when they involve Kerri Chandler and a full live band.
May 27 - June 1
MUTEK by itself is already a force to be reckoned with—for years it's been a leader among electronic music festivals in North America and around the world. This year they've teamed up with Elektra, an event whose digital arts vibe meshes well with MUTEK's. Both will be celebrating their 15th anniversaries, and with a lineup that includes Donato Dozzy, Move D, Nicolas Jaar and Robert Henke, there's more than enough get excited about.
RA pick: Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer playing live together in a rare North American appearance.
03. Primavera Sound
May 29 - May 31
Parc Del Forum
Barcelona may be synonymous with Sónar in electronic music circles, but have you seen the lineup for this Primavera Sound thing? Headliners like Neutral Milk Hotel, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Slowdive might seem more college-radio than Mix Of The Day, but the electronic side of things is far from an afterthought. Darkside, Disclosure, SBTRKT and Laurent Garnier will all play headlining sets. And The Haxan Cloak, Demdike Stare, Genius Of Time, Daniel Avery and Dominick Fernow (as both Prurient and Vatican Shadow) bring a wealth of edgy, underground heat to the programme.
RA pick: Take a quick reprieve from 4/4 beats and get your eardrums blown out by Wolf Eyes.
02. Nuits Sonores
May 28 - June 01
The bullet points for Nuits Sonores are convincing enough on their own: a sprawling lineup that connects the dots between Huerco S, Nina Kraviz and Kraftwerk, spread over four days in the lovely French city of Lyon. But anyone who's been to the festival knows that's only part of the picture. What makes Nuits Sonores truly memorable are the countless other surprises: the friendly and upbeat local punters, the spectacular food to be found across town (it's the gastronomic capital of France), and most of all, the free parties you stumble upon between venues—under bridges, down back alleys, perched on a hillside overlooking the Saône. Combine all that with the staggering lineup and you've got what is undoubtedly one of the best electronic music festivals in the world all year.
RA pick: Not to toot our own horn, but Robert Hood during the day on the RA stage should be one to write home about.
May 24 - May 26
There's something almost biblical about Movement. The ritual of artists from around the world converging on the birthplace of techno, prompting thousands of fans to make a pilgrimage to Detroit—even just the idea of the thing is epic. But the main reasons Movement stays at the top of this list year after year are much more concrete. For one, the programming is absolutely killer, always capturing the full breadth of the electronic zeitgeist (where else would Jeff Mills bump elbows with Tale Of Us, Kode9, Tiga and Jamie XX?). Movement means more to more people than most festivals in the world, and it's not hard to see why.
RA pick: You can't do much better than Jeff Mills on his home turf.