August 19 - August 21
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
If the official figures are to be believed, Belgium festival Pukkelpop was 600% larger in 2009 than it was at the first event back in 1985. For the not-so-maths-savvy among you, that means a whopping 180,000 people visited the three-day party last year. Take a look at the acts booked for 2010 and you can clearly see why: Placebo, Queens of the Stone Age, Snow Patrol, Iron Maiden and The xx will all adhere to the event's guitar-indebted history, while dance acts like 2manydjs, The Prodigy, Deadmau5, Boys Noize and Plastikman will look after dance interests. Fuck Buttons, Hot Chip, Flying Lotus, Erol Alkan, Joker, Caribou and Martyn also entertain the hordes; as do a further 193 acts spread across eight stages.
RA pick: Go see what all the fuss over Toro Y Moi has been about this year.
Held indoors at the gargantuan, 17,000 capacity Yokohama Arena, the all-out techno marathon that is Wire reaches its 12th edition in 2010. Two main stages and a warren of shops, massage zones, chill out areas and bars play host to some of the hardest hitters in international techno, albeit with a particular emphasis on all things Germanic: Berlinette Ellen Allien, peak time tech houser Monika Kruse, Gigolo main man DJ Hell and the prolific Frankfurter Roman Flugel all play on the night. On the home side, the holy trinity of Japanese techno in the form of Takkyu Ishino, Ken Ishii and Fumiya Tanaka are once again on the billing, all three representing very different flavours of the techno pie. The venue itself, one of the largest indoor arenas in Asia, boasts a ceiling "capable of supporting up to 100 tons" which should be put to good use by the extensive laser and lighting system and, as a matter of course in Japan, the impeccably engineered speaker installation.
RA pick: Festival regular Jeff Mills touches down for one of his frenetic live 909 work outs.
08. Kazantip Republik
July 31 - August 21
With the same pool of bands, live acts and DJs making the rounds of music festivals each year, claims of uniqueness sometimes need to be swallowed with sizeable grains of salt. Not so for Kazantip. Like a hybrid between Burning Man and Ibiza circa its hedonistic 1980s heyday, Kazantip is as decadent, outrageous, and, yes, unique as it claims to be. A pseudo republic on the Crimean Black Sea coast, its annual three-week existence regularly leaves eye-widening tales of holidaying gangsters, Caligula-esque escapades and non-stop partying in its wake, long after its multiple dance floors, bars, and open air Crimean halls have been packed away for the year. While the music can sometimes get lost in the folklore, it is very much a vital factor of the Kazantip experience, with the festival regularly attracting some of the most popular marquee names within electronic music. This year will see the big man of UK techno, Carl Cox, a UK breaks contingent led by The Freestylers, the Romanian trio behind [a:rpia:r], heavy-hitting house and techno talent in the shape of M.A.N.D.Y., Ricardo Villalobos and Guy Gerber, plus special events hosted by labels like Poker Flat, Desolat and Freak 'n Chic.
RA pick: Coxy's stadium techno will be a good match for the sensorial spectacle that is Kazantip.
07. South West Four Weekender
August 28 - August 29
Day 1 | Day 2
Similar to its counterpart, Lovebox, South London's South West Four has extended its programming this year, expanding from a single day on the Common to a full weekend-eating festival. While both Lovebox and SW4 appeal to fans of the "no mud, no camping" ethos of city festivals, the comparisons end there. The latter continues to harness its commercial appeal in its sixth year, filling both days with festival favourites and crowd pleasers, yet adding just enough musical gristle to give demanding revelers something to chew on. Day one pulls out the big guns with Tongy, Erick Morillo and Armin Van Buuren in his only London appearance for the year on the Kiss stage, plus Mark Knight and John Digweed adding to the main-room-outdoors feel. Josh Wink and Joris Voorn, meanwhile, provide deeper journeys into sound. Day two will add some texture courtesy of a Boys Noize stage and the Together Arena featuring Benga & Skream, Mary Anne Hobbs and Caspa, while Fatboy Slim, Carl Cox and Dubfire are guaranteed to keep energies high throughout the day.
RA pick: Vitalic's V Mirror Live Show promises an audio-visual spectacular of LED lights, mirrors and the Frenchman's high-octane electro rock sound.
06. Electric Elephant
August 27 - August 29
The Garden Petrcane
Stop Making Sense, Garden, Soundwave, Suncebeat: You may begin to wonder what sets all these festivals in Petrcane apart. Well, the merits of the location certainly aren't in question. The picturesque white-washed village is on a stunning stretch of the Adriatic Coast, while the complex in which the festivals themselves are held is a perfectly pitched blend of relaxation and dancing. In the case of Electric Elephant (run by the team behind erstwhile Manchester club night Electric Chair) the ploy appears to be simple: Book our favourite artists and invite all our mates to join us. Francois K, Todd Terje and Andrew Weatherall are the big boys on a DJ heavy bill; The Juan MacLean, Prosumer, Richard Norris, Hunee, Ashley Beedle, Beppe Loda and Ramadanman also spin. There'll also be a dash of distinctive live action, as breakthrough noise duo Fuck Buttons and cut-up disco aficionado Soundstream both perform.
RA pick: The Unabombers. It is their party after all.
05. Voltt Loves Summer
Boasting what must surely be Europe's highest proportion of summer festivals per capita is no small feat for a teeny nation like the Netherlands. But along with the luxury of a plethora of choices comes... the nightmare of a plethora of choices. For Voltt Loves Summer, location is key: The surroundings of the NDSM Docklands, a former shipyard on the northern banks of Amsterdam's waterfront, offers a bit of industrial grime and a whole lot of space, plus easy accessibility to the centre of town. Of equal importance, of course, are the bookings, which offer a no-nonsense cast of artists who regularly pack clubs as headliners in their own right. 2010 is no different, with Adam Beyer leading the techno charge alongside Len Faki and locals Anton Pieete and Bart Skills, while micro and minimal subgenres get a look-in via Ricardo Villalobos, Isolee and Magda. Matthias Tanzmann will provide the house grooves, and The Revenge will add a sprinkle of disco dust to the proceedings, which will all be neatly packaged into a non-stop 12-hour stretch.
RA pick: The palate-cleansing dub techno of DeepChord's Echospace project will offer a bit of breathing space in the jam-packed program.
04. Sonne Mond Stern
August 6 - August 8
Underworld, Faithless, Plastikman, David Guetta, Sven Vath. How's that for a statement of intent? Although clearly pursuing a "megastar" agenda, the 14th Sonne Mond Sterne festival is as much about its compact selection of showcases as it is its mainstage behemoths. Cocoon, Upon.You, Dusted Decks, Freude am Tanzen and Stil vor Talent will all have a hand in curating tents this year, which means the likes of Cassy, Onur Ozer, Anton Pieete, Mathias Kaden, Daniel Stefanik, The Koletzkis and Moguai will all get their kicks. The party takes place in Saalburg, central Germany, on the banks of the Bleilochtal reservoir meaning all sorts of beachside, water-based antics can, and probably will, ensue.
RA pick: Build sandcastles with Peaches.
July 30 - August 1
The recurring word you'll hear in reference to Nachtdigital, a relatively bite-sized offering on the summer festival circuit, is "intimate." Not just because of its diminutive scale (two stages), or limited capacity (just 3,000 punters) but also for its handcrafted quirkiness, like its famously ramshackle "Hollywood" sign that graces the shore of the Bungalowdorf Olganitz lake each year. Altogether it's a cosy and inclusive experience, but the warm fuzzies are kept separate from the programming, which has consistently favoured the bigger names of underground techno, house and electronica. For lucky number 13, Nachtdigital will call on the talents of Kompakt duo Supermayer, Berliners Margaret Dygas and Scuba, talented newcomers Floating Points and live ensemble Feindrehstar, plus longtime festival favourites like Theo Parrish. This year's second stage will also feature Border Community's merry band of eclecticists, and local Dresden talent like Philpot's Break SL, all nestled in the wholesome surrounds of a wooded family holiday camp.
RA pick: Redshape and Drums. Witness techno's masked crusader take his dynamic show up another notch with live drums.
August 6 - August 8
Beach on the Vistula River
Poland's Audioriver has brewed a perfect storm scenario for itself since its inception back in 2006. A combination of affordable entry (25 euro for a two day ticket until July 31st this year), an attractive beachside location and an assorted roster of leading electronic music talent has seen in excess of 12,000 people travel to the banks of the Vistula River outside the Polish town of Plock each year. Richie Hawtin certainly seems to have developed an affinity for the event. The Minus boss reprises his headlining role this year, although it will be the ominous glow of his Plastikman live experience that tops the bill this time out. Laurent Garnier, Hadouken!, Four Tet, The Modern Deep Left Quartet and The Black Dog will also be doing the live performance thing, while DJ sets of note include Simian Mobile Disco (making their Polish debut), Ellen Allien, Magda, Starkey, Karotte and D-Bridge & Instra:mental, who set up along with vocalist SP:MC.
RA pick: Experience the joy of feedback through Oni Ayhun's live set.
01. Burning Man
August 30 - September 6
Black Rock City
You probably have a good idea of what Burning Man is in your head. And, to be honest, it's correct. Burning Man is everything that you think it is. It's also a lot of other things as well. That's why people like Wolf & Lamb and Carl Cox can both swear that it's their favourite festival of all, and you're inclined to believe them. As Duke Shin put it in his lengthy write-up of last year's goings-on, the festival is "an adult Disneyworld. A mashup of Mad Max, Tron and Brigadoon...where the archaic and future meet in a supernova, creating a shining star called Black Rock City that only exists one week of the year (and in the process becomes the fifth largest city in Nevada)." It may seem cliche, but the music is only a tiny bit of why this is our #1 pick of August. It's an experience like no other. Just remember to pack water. (And everything else.)
RA pick: Say hi to Gadi and Zev of Wolf & Lamb.