For those who have made the trek to the Black Sea Coast, Mamaia—and perhaps Romania in general—has come to represent a sort of esoteric clubbing endeavor. (Don't tell too many people and risk soiling the party's innocent charms.) The August edition of the festival is housed across the vast Sunwaves marquee and several orbiting stages, with the ensuing beach-based afterparty plowing headlong into the following day. The line-ups are usually littered with top-tier house and techno talent, and event number six is no exception: Hawtin, Luciano, Carola, Lawler, Burridge and Raresh have all been confirmed thus far, although by rights, the local, un-announced names (think Ali Nasser, Praslea, El Cezere and Kozo) should be just as much cause for celebration.
RA pick: As Raresh is the only confirmed indigenous DJ, show support for the local team.
09. Burning Man
August 31 - September 7
Black Rock City, Nevada
Erm, where to start with this one? Perhaps we'll look to the official word: "Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular colour looks like to someone who is blind." OK, maybe not. Burning Man could essentially be described as 50,000 people gathered in the Nevada Desert participating in a sort of alternate society in which money, social standing and normal behaviour become redundant. The theme this year is "Evolution" which goes some way to describing what you'll encounter visually, but what of the sounds? Music has never been deemed much of a focal point for the event—the wobbly breaks and psy trance soundtrack usually do little to fill the bellies of hungry house and techno fans—but the discerning DJs are there to be found.
RA pick: Hunt for the Wolf + Lamb-esque types, and their festival-friendly house sounds.
08. Voltt Loves Summer 2009
As Dutch festivals go, Voltt Loves Summer must shape up as a comparative dwarf. A couple of stages and a dock-side location make for one of the more intimate experiences on the circuit. The line-up, however, would hardly be described as cosy. The grand old duke of stripped techno Richie Hawtin looms large, but will find musical kinship with Paul Ritch, Marco Carola, Gaiser and Bart Skils, while housier tastes will be accommodated for by Brendon Moeller, Raresh, Brothers' Vibe, Kabale Und Liebe and Nick Curly. Relief arrives in the form of the Noorderlicht, an eatery which doubles an ample chill out area should you suddenly decide you hate electronic music, or become tired.
RA pick: Dub in a dinghy? Brendon Moeller will be skanking at the waterfront under his Beat Pharmacy moniker.
Feel the clammy embrace of 18,000 fellow stadium-goers as Wire moves into its second decade in service. The Yokohama Arena will once again be metamorphosed into an ultra-sleek, future bastion of rave with the kind of visual production that is simply unrivalled outside of Japan. Takkyu Ishino of Denki Groove is the man behind this one, and has opted for a line-up that summons a number of key favourites from previous years: Christian Smith, Ellen Allien, Jens Zimmerman, Joris Voorn and local lads Fumiya Tanaka and Ken Ishii have all been reinstated, and will be joined by DJs Mark Broom, Matt John, Len Faki and Chris Liebing, with Moderat, Dusty Kid, Hardfloor, 2000 and One and Gui Boratto all coming at it from a live perspective. Should your mood call for food, relaxation, shopping or getting lost, you can do all these things too.
RA pick: Len Faki's dragon-sized techno should do the trick.
06. South West Four / Get Loaded In The Park
August 29, August 30
London, United Kingdom
Say what you will about the "mainstream" nature of this ongoing London pair, but six years and 20,000 people per event speaks for itself. Get Loaded has by its own admission taken a lurch towards the electronic side this year, which, when coupled with SW4's Saturday stint, allows Clapham Common to boast an entire weekend of rave. Sasha & Digweed have pretty much owned SW4 down the years (Diggers has played four out of the previous five events), and will once again top the bill, while Richie Hawtin, Armin Van Buuren and Danny Howells make up the additional headliners across the four other stages. Get Loaded meanwhile haven't totally abandoned their live performance ethos. Instead, they've ditched the guitars in favour of synths. Carl Craig and his Innerzone Orchestra have been roped in for a UK exclusive, (as has Roni Size) and will be joined by the chart-bothering Pendulum, the festival friendly Booka Shade, and the irrepressible Laurent Garnier.
RA pick: A UK exclusive performance from Carl Craig and his Innerzone Orchestra? Oh, go on then.
August 7 - August 9
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
Having first set up shop back in 1997, SonneMondSterne stands tall as one of Germany's longest-running, most successful and best loved festival spectacles. Saalburg's Bleilochtalsperre dam is the location and will undoubtedly give off a sense of calm as you pitch your tent among the mountains, lakes and stars. Getting back to nature will be UK ravers The Prodigy smashing up the Friday and the erstwhile king of pop dance Fatboy Slim performing on the Saturday. The upper echelon of the bill lists Sven Väth, Richie Hawtin, Booka Shade and Laurent Garnier, while slightly lower down the pecking order, Cocoon and Freude am Tanzen/Musik Krause host arenas with Raresh, Josh Wink, Onur Ozer, Daniel Stefanik and Wighnomy Brothers.
RA pick: As variety is the spice of life, blah blah, sample some of Mr. Oizo's cut-up disco noise.
August 7 - August 9
Day 1 | Day 2
Audioriver's unique selling points are numerous: A picturesque river-side location, a small(ish) but lovingly crafted line-up, and perhaps the most affordable entrance fee of any festival in Europe (just €9 - €21). What's more, a raft of additional features have been pencilled in for 2009 including an extra stage, the return of the Festival Cinema, street performances and a showcase of young musical talent taking place in the Old Market Square. Assuming the headlining role is Richie Hawtin whose Saturday performance in the Circus Tent will be supported by James Holden, Ewan Pearson, Gui Boratto and The Mole. Backtracking a day, Friday's festivities takes in live performances from The Whip, Daniel Bell and My My, while Radio Slave, Joris Voorn, Efdemin and Caspa & Rusko do decks. Credit crunch biting, but fancy some festival fun? Get your ass to Plock.
RA pick: Shed has sneaked in at the foot of Saturday's line-up. Go see his brain-melting live set.
July 31 - August 2
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
We could wax lyrical about the wonderfully intimate nature of Olganoitz' Nacht Digital—carefully cultivated since the event's inception back in 1998—but it would be with the regrettable caveat that 2009 is sold out. So for the 3000 who managed to secure tickets (and for anyone else who is interested), here's what to expect: ND's organisers are at pains to draw attention to a line-up that avoids the trap of superfluous bookings and instead opts for a relatively modest spread of quality artists over three days. House heads can look forward to Larry Heard, Ewan Pearson, Wighnomy Brothers and Move D; disco dudes rejoice for Prins Thomas, Todd Terje and Ata; while fans of the live arena can make noise for Moderat, Black Rose (Henrik Schwarz & Jesse Rose), Tim Exile and The Field. The site is littered with handmade decoration from "carefully selected" visual artists for that extra sensory stimulation.
RA pick: Henrik Schwarz and Jesse Rose? Surely that can't work...?
02. c/o pop
August 12 - August 16
To describe C/O Pop as the German Sonar would be someway wide of the mark, although from a sheer volume-of-events perspective, the Cologne festival is not a million miles behind its Spanish counterpart. Spanning Wednesday to Sunday, the clubs, bars, parks and theatres of the West German city will host a bevy of electronic music talent in its endlessly multifaceted forms. With this in mind, we'll embark on a whistle stop tour of the line-up: Wednesday kicks off with Moderat (is there a festival they aren't playing this year?) at Gloria; Thursday sees UK ukulele enthusiast Patrick Wolf play Offenbachplatz; while Friday is bossed by The Whitest Boy Alive performing at the same venue. Saturday's child is Wolfgang Voigt donning his Gas mask at Cinedom, while the Sabbath is blessed with both Ricardo Villalobos spinning open air at Jugendpark, and Prins Thomas lifting-off at Opernterrassen for the official closing party. Don't sleep on the twenty-plus panels on Independent Creative Industries for that all important mental stimulation either.
RA pick: Wolfgang Voigt airing his Gas project on home soil.
August 14 - August 16
West + Wales, United Kingdom
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
While perusing the electronic music boards on the subject of Freerotation, you'd think the organisers had embarked on an aggressive viral marketing campaign; such is the love floating about for the event. A word of mouth success in the truest sense of the term, the event now enters its third year at Baskerville Hall—a stately 19th century hotel near the village of Hay-on-Wye, Wales. The personal touch is palpable throughout, but it's also reflected in the line-up, with artists such as Move D, Shackleton, Bodycode, Jackmate and Lakuti all receiving the nod for the third year running. Efdemin, Marcel Dettmann, Rndm, Sven Weisemann and Freund der Familie represent a sizeable German contingent, while the home-grown talent is decidedly dubstep, with Narcossist, 2562, Ramadanman, Pangaea, Ben UFO and Peverelist all getting stuck in at varying points of the three days. It seems as though the only concern on behalf of attendees is the event becoming too popular.
RA pick: If hype equates to results, Ben UFO's DJ set should be mind-blowing.