10. Love Family Park
Those with a predilection for big name German house and techno should really be looking no further than the 14th annual Love Family Park. Catering for every conceivable hyper niche of the above bracket, what LFP lacks in diversity, it more than makes up for with generous helpings of the same satisfying flavour. Although not billed as such, this one could be dubbed "The Sven Show." The Cocoon boss will once again play host, spewing forth a likely eight hours worth of festival-friendly techno. Also making the trip to Hanau are UK festival favourites Underworld with their only German appearance of the year, Luciano and Ricardo Villalobos combining their dual percussive persuasions for a back-to-back stint, Loco Dice getting tough and housey and A Critical Mass continuing their assault on the summer festival circuit. 15,000 revelers are expected to attend across the event's 13-hour duration, although the organizers are promising, "no annoying queues" as entrance and additional facilities will apparently see an improvement on previous years.
RA pick: It will be hard to escape what Sven is serving—succumb to his boisterous charms.
July 25 - July 26
Day 1 | Day 2
Is "brash" an adjective you can use favourably when describing a festival? What's certain is the organizers behind Belgium's Tomorrowland have gone straight for the jugular when it came to selecting the 150 artists and eleven arenas for 2009. At the risk of stereotypes then, we'll make an educated guess as to which stages RA readers may find favour with, beyond the trance, drum & bass and electro house offered elsewhere: Saturday will see all of the Belleville Three (May, Saunderson, Atkins) heading up what should be named the Detroit Invasion stage with Rolando, Stacey Pullen and Kenny Larkin also crossing the Atlantic. Elsewhere among the chaos, Joris Voorn, Radio Slave and Pig & Dan will be grouped together for another tech-based showdown. Sunday's session meanwhile sees Sasha & Digweed, Timo Mass and Josh Wink sharing deck space, Kompakt hosting their own section with Michael Mayer, Burger/Voigt and DJ Koze, and Hernan Cattaneo, James Zabiela and Guy J leading what would have been labeled a "progressive" arena but only a few years ago.
RA pick: See if Michael Mayer's recent slip under the radar is but a figment of our imagination.
July 10 - July 12
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
There is thankfully much more to Brighton summer soirees than Fatboy on the beach. Returning for its third outing this year is Loop Festival, a young scallywag of an event that positions itself neatly at the crossroads between electronic dabbling bands, and guitar obsessed DJs. Things begin in earnest on the Friday as Matthew Herbert and his Big Band give the starting orders at the Brighton Dome, before the fun is decamped to Victoria Gardens for Saturday and Sunday where, among others, Squarepusher, Fever Ray, Tunng, The Field, Mirrors and Datarock will all be scaling the stage. Factor in appearances at various locations across the weekend from The Qemists, Zomby, The Juan Maclean and Riton, with further acts yet to be confirmed, and you've got yourself a lovely little south coast jolly.
RA pick: Local lads Mirrors are the weekend's hot tip.
07. Global Gathering
July 25 - July 26
Day 1 | Day 2
Since its humble-ish beginnings in Stratford-Upon-Avon back in 2001, Global Gathering has since emerged as one of the foremost exponents of the commercial, dance festival experience, with versions of the event springing up all over globe, and a likely 80,000 revelers getting stuck into the home leg. There will be no time for chin-stroking or considered musical subtleties at this year's gathering: As-per, the event is firmly centered on the biggest draw names on the planet, scattered around stages, tents and terraces with The Prodigy, Pendulum, Orbital and Armin Van Buuren securing the headlining spots. Minus, Carl Cox and Bedrock host arenas but in all honesty, it's better to just get yourself a beer, make friendly with day glow Pete, and just go with the flow...
RA pick: Get stuck right in with the Prodigy's Friday night performance.
July 9 - July 12
Novi Sad, Serbia
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
July always seems to be the month for gargantuan festivals, and they really don't come much bigger than the tenth edition of Serbia's Exit. The event has been hovering around the 200,000 mark for the last couple of years and with a line-up including Arctic Monkeys, Lilly Allen, Moby, Kraftwerk and the Prodigy, it's certain the numbers will again swell to similar levels. So what do the organizers have up their sleeves to mark a decade of parties? Back-to-back sets: And lots of them. Steve Lawler vs. Lee Burridge, Sasha vs. John Digweed, Richie Hawtin vs. Dubfire, Loco Dice vs. Magda...the list is endless. And if you needed a reminder, the site's location—within the Petrovaradin Fortress, overlooking Novi Sad—is among the most breathtaking places there is to enjoy live electronic music. Or any sort of music for that matter.
RA pick: Dig deeper into the throngs with Ninja Tune's Amon Tobin twisting samples on the Sunday.
July 16 - July 19
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
There's a lot to be said for a green light to "crank the music louder." How many festivals have you attended in which the volume is so low, polite conversations are taking place right in front of the speaker stacks? In any case, puny sound levels won't be issue plaguing Glade 2009, who, after problems with volume restrictions in previous years, are boasting a sound scope that will satisfy even the most hard of hearing. Homelands former spiritual home Matterley Bowl in rural Hampshire will be the site putting up with the din, with Underworld, Booka Shade, Squarepusher, Carl Craig and Moderat among the headliners pushing things into the red. The Avalon area promises a warped slice of '60s psychedelia, The Rabbit Hole will be filled with acoustic jamming, open mic and talent shows, while the Interstellar and Cabaret Bars are offering a chance to meet "the weird and wonderful freaks of the side shows." The bash is of course the bastard love child of Glastonbury, so expect a cloud of that free thinking spirit to pervade your Glade experience.
RA pick: Squarepusher seems to have achieved festival ubiquity this year which is by no means a bad thing.
Billed as "the biggest Rave in Spain," Monegros is also likely to be among the longest running as the event is about to celebrate its 15th birthday. We're not sure if we believe the story of a small afterparty in the desert growing exponentially to become the sweating behemoth of the present day, although it is still a cute tale. Either way, 40,000 people are expected to descend upon the baron strip near Fraga that houses the event and will be treated to a line-up that skates nicely across the board, while staying true to the event's predominantly underground roots. Fresh from their Sonar performance, Orbital will once again pick up a Spanish festival headline slot and will be joined by Carl Cox, Vitalic, Dave Clarke, Richie Hawtin and Ricardo Villalobos at the summit of the bill. Large.
RA pick: Luciano will be showcasing his new laptop-based ÆTHER project for one of only a handful of dates this summer.
July 17 - July 19
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
With one of the most satisfyingly rounded line-ups we've seen this year, and a location lifted straight from the Mad Max sequel that never got made, Germany's Melt! Festival should be considered among the European festival circuits "must-dos." The event is marketed as the meeting point between rock and electronic, and, after casting an eye over the bill, it would be difficult to imagine either camp disagreeing with such an assertion. The emphasis then is very much placed upon live performances, from mainstream headliners such as Oasis, Bloc Party, Klaxons, Glasvegas and Kasabian, through to shadier characters like Aphex Twin, Animal Collective, Fever Ray, Moderat and Matthew Herbert. Whichever angle you are approaching this one from, be sure to step out of your musical comfort zone to fully soak up the experience.
RA pick: Buraka Som Sistema's melding of musical worlds is the embodiment of the festival at large.
02. Garden Festival
July 3 - July 12
Weekend 1 | Weekend 2
Boutique. Intimate. Family. Garden Festival is all about the buzz words that bind this unique festival experience together. "Double whammy" has also been a phrase on the lips of those behind the event after it was announced that the party would span two consecutive weekends with a relaxed, but no less forthcoming, schedule laid-out midweek. The 900 year-old Croatian village of Petrcane is once again the setting as a carefully assembled crew of disco doyens and house heroes provide the soundtrack. Secretsundaze will mark the official opening on Wednesday 1st July with Brothers' Vibe, which neatly segues into Weekend 1 where Faze Action, Lindstrøm, Crazy P and Norman Jay will all get busy. Weekend 2 meanwhile is heavy on top-tier DJ shows with Âme, Dixon, Disco Bloodbath, Giles Peterson, Greg Wilson and Prins Thomas all wielding wax. In order to preserve a sense of that aforementioned intimacy, the festival operates on a self-imposed 2,000 people limit; you can be sure that each one of them will be feel right at home.
RA pick: Call us old-fashioned, but we can never say no to a Greg Wilson set.
01. 10 Days Off
July 17 - July 27
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10
Take a quick glance over the list of artist attendees that have graced the 10 Days Off stage since 1995, and you begin to realize exactly what the event has done for quality electronic music on a festival level. The ever ballsy premise of putting on ten (almost) consecutive club nights remains, although after a decade-and-a-half of doing so, who are we to argue? The party is actually part of the wider Gentse Feesten, which includes another three festivals spread across Ghent, making it the largest of its kind in Europe. Far from its original "Ten Days of Techno" tag, the 2009 version gets its kicks through diversity, with pretty much every breed of electronic music on show: Ben Klock, Nathan Fake, Carl Craig, The Subs, Mark Farina, DJ Hell, Benga, Gaslamp Killa and Richie Hawtin will all appear at varying points of the event's expanse.
RA pick: Andrew Weatherall's final day performance should be one to savour.