The summer heatwave is upon us and it's time to break out the shorts and head to the fields, the beaches, or failing that, the disused warehouses. Yes, it's festival time again.
None of our picks have air-conditioning, but if you avoided getting out of the house in July, this month's festivals are an even better bunch, with less emphasis on sheer numbers and more on the quality of what's coming out of the speakers.
RA had a hard time whittling down the finalists because there were so many likely, and varied, candidates. The only thing the best festivals in August have in common is their diverse locations, with Poland and Japan competing with Western European heavyweights for the title of best day out. Unfortunately, dance fans in North America are less spoilt for choice again – perhaps it’s time to jump on a plane and take that European vacation? Here's our top ten picks for the festival circuit in August...
Obudai Island, Hungary
For those who willing to go the distance, Hungary's Sziget Festival is a weeklong music feast held on Obudai Island in Budapest where you can catch Iggy and the Stooges, Franz Ferdinand or Mylo plus no fewer than 500 Hungarian bands - take a notebook if you want to remember their names.
While not strictly an electronic music festival, each night at 10:00 p.m. the Party Arena kicks into action with dance acts including Layo & Bushwacka!, Carl Craig, Tiefschwarz, Anthony Rother, Mylo and Coldcut. Elsewhere on the festival grounds you can see The Orb, Prodigy, and Scissor Sisters.
Event Details: Sziget Festival
9. SOUTH WEST FOUR FESTIVAL
Clapham Common, London
The South West Four (SW4) Festival takes place on the Bank Holiday Weekend on the green grassy banks of Clapham Common in London and features four stages of prog, trance, house, techno, tech house, electro, breaks and hard dance.
This year's line-up reads like the Rough Guide to UK Clubbing: Carl Cox, Paul Oakenfold, John Digweed, Pete Tong, Danny Howells, Mr C, Stanton Warriors plus stacks more. There's also an afterparty with Armin van Buuren and dirty house merchants King Unique at the Brixton Academy to boot.
Event Details: SW4 London | Event Details: SW4 Official Afterparty
8. AUDIO RIVER FESTIVAL
Placa nad Wisla, Plock, Poland
Budding local DJs might greatly outnumber the international heavyweights at Poland's Audio River Festival, but that's not to say organisers have skimped on talent at this festival outside the city of Plock. And best of all, it’s totally free.
Live sets from Mathew Jonson, Cobblestone Jazz (Jonson's live performance trio), Paul Kalkbrenner, Pier Bucci and Ada should get an enthusiastic reception from the always up-for-it Polish crowds. Gabriel Ananda, 3 Channels and Desyn Masiello round out the internationals, plus there’s thirty or so local DJs representing.
Event Details: Audio River Festival
7. CREAMFIELDS ANDALUCIA
Yes, it's a Creamfields but not as we know it. First of all, this one is held on a beach in Andalucia. Second, unlike the UK version, there's no sign of euphoric trance or hard dance. Instead the emphasis is on techno, techno and more techno - and bloody good techno at that!
Live performances by Donnacha Costello, Alex Under and Vitalic have us foaming at the mouth while seasoned Creamfields campaigners Hernan Cattaneo, John Digweed, Roger Sanchez, Carl Cox and 2manyDJs should satisfy those hell-bent on the UK version. There'll also be sets from Ricardo Villalobos and Tiga.
Event Details: Creamfields Andalucia
Japan is home to some of the best clubs in the world, but what many don't know is that it also excels at throwing outdoor bashes in the countryside. Metamorphose leaves the glossy flyers and corporate sponsorship to city festivals like Wire and Electraglide and instead guns for those who like their techno with a dash of nature. Throw in the opportunity to have a loooong bath in the hot springs on the way there and back and you've got the perfect clubbing weekend.
Black Strobe, Luciano, John Dahlback, Sebastien Leger and West Coast housers Mark Farina and DJ Sneak are all on the bill for Metamorphose 2006. Another highlight is the first ever live performance of Manuel Gottsching’s E2-E4, the techno classic remixed by the likes of Carl Craig.
Event Details: Metamorphose
The Pukkelpop Festival is one of the largest open-air music festivals held in Belgium. Now in its twenty-first year, the three-day event features seven stages of non-dance and electronic acts and is expected to draw more than 135,000 festival-goers.
Live performances by Daft Punk, The Knife, Massive Attack and Radiohead mean there'll be no shortage of eye and aural candy. DJs we recommend chasing down include Carl Craig, James Holden, Joris Voorn, Tiga, DJ Shadow, Andrew Weatherall, Justice, Tiefschwarz, Anthony Rother, Digitalism, Lindstrom & Prins Thomas and MSTRKRFT.
Event Details: Pukkelpop Festival
4. C/O POP FESTIVAL
RheinTriadem, Cologne, Germany
Although often overshadowed by Berlin, the city of Cologne has long been home to some of Germany's best dance music labels such as Kompakt and Traum. The c/o (Cologne) Pop Festival is both a three-day celebration of the city’s music as well as German electronic music as a whole, and as such, it's one of the essential festivals of the summer.
This year's line-up is gobsmackingly great: Dominik Eulberg, Einmusik, Der Dritte Raum, Roman Flugel, Alex Under, Wighnomy Brothers, Daniel Stefanik, Matthias Tanzmann, The Modernist plus lots lots more. Expect plenty of Kompakt goodness courtesy of Michael Mayer, Superpitcher, Tobias Thomas, DJ Koze, Reinhard Voigt et al. who will all be on hand for Kompakt's 'Total 7' bash.
Event Details: c/o Pop Festival
3. TDK CROSS CENTRAL
Freight Depot, Kings Cross, London
TDK Cross Central brings together many of London's top underground promoters and club nights: Secret Sundaze, Mulletover, Vice, Canvas, Deep Down and Dirty et al. for their two-day bash over the Bank Holiday Weekend. This is place to head if you want to find out about the cutting edge stuff currently rocking London floors.
Dance music purists can look forward to Booka Shade, Losoul, Audio Werner, Alex Smoke, Ellen Allien, Ivan Smagghe, Ame, Optimo, plus RA podcast old hands Scarlett Etienne, Dan Ghenacia and Serge Santiago. There’s also a healthy dollop of experimental indie/electro stuff too. Be there or be square.
Event Details: TDK Cross Central Day 1 | Event Details: TDK Cross Central Day 2
Playa del Arenal, Burriana, Spain
ElectroSplash is a five-day free beach party held in Castellon, Spain. Imagine the old Space terrace in Ibiza on a beach with DC10 line-ups. Expect to see lots of shirts off, lots of bikinis and lots of hands in the air. And expect not to pay a cent for the privilege.
This year's ElectroSplash packs quite a punch with label showcases from BPitch Control, Mobilee, Traum/Trapez, Dessous, Cynosure, Cadenza and Freak'n'Chic. Think Dominik Eulberg, Luciano, Triple R, Jake Fairley, Anja Schneider, Mike Shannon, Troy Pierce, Konrad Black and Damian Lazarus.
Event Details: ElectroSplash Day 1 | Event Details: ElectroSplash Day 2 | Event Details: ElectroSplash Day 3 | Event Details: ElectroSplash Day 4 | Event Details: ElectroSplash Day 5
Bleilochtalsperre, Saalburg, Germany
For the dance music fan of all persuasions, it's hard to look past the two-day SonneMondSterne (SMS) Festival which earn's RA's top festival pick for August. SMS has left no stone unturned with deep house, minimal house, minimal techno, hard techno, trance, prog and even breaks on the cards.
But the main reason we like SMS is because Kraftwerk will perform live on the main stage on the Saturday. Thousands of locals counting along to Kraftwerk's 'Numbers’ – why it’s the best opportunity to practise your limited German ever…
Besides Kraftwerk, expect to catch Sven Vath, Carl Craig, Ame, Henrik Schwarz, Dominik Eulberg vs Gabriel Ananda, Pascal FEOS, Andre Galluzzi, Richie Hawtin, Wighnomy Bros, James Holden, Sasha, Paul van Dyk, Pan-Pot, Der Dritte Raum, Rex the Dog and stacks more.
Event Details: SonneMondSterne 2006 Day 1 | Event Details: SonneMondSterne 2006 Day 2
And bouquets go out to our honourable mentions, there were just too many good candidates to fit into our list: Aquasella (Spain), Nature One (Germany), Creamfields (England), The Big Chill (England) all will be worth your weekend, too. Have a fantastic summer!