July 6 - July 7
The seventh edition of Italy's Dancity could be sub-headed "The Trevor Jackson Show." The UK polymath has been enlisted to redesign the festival's entire graphic concept, will exhibit artworks at Dancity and bring proceedings to a close on the Saturday night with a DJ set. Elsewhere attendees across the two days will be able to catch live performances from Monolake, The Cinematic Orchestra, Morphosis, Vladislav Delay, Ital and Maria Minerva, while Jimmy Edgar, Deetron, I:Cube and Joakim chip in with DJ sets. Dancity will spread its wings this year, taking over a multitude of venues across its host town—Foligno in central Italy—with installations, exhibitions and dance performances in addition to the beats.
RA pick: If I:Cube's set is half as mad as his recent full-length, it should be quite a show.
July 27 - July 29
Beach on the Vistula River
Centuries old and with just over 100,000 inhabitants, you'd be forgiven for thinking that a festival like Audiodriver would be a little out of place in the central Polish town of Plock. Once you take a closer look however, Plock's charming medieval aesthetic and rolling riverfronts provides an ideal space for what has become one of Poland's most prominent festivals. This time around, the big names are Ricardo, Maceo Plex and Nicolas Jaar. Fans of rougher sounds will find what they're after further down the lineup courtesy of Tommy Four Seven, Byetone and ATOL (the Modeselektor, Marcel Dettman and Shed dream team), while house will be served up by dOP, Ripperton and Alex Picone.
RA pick: If last year's appearance at Melt! is anything to go by, you can expect the sounds of ATOL to tick all the right boxes.
08. Love Family Park
You won't find too many surprise bookings at this year's Love Family Park. Sven? Ricardo? Dice? They're all there, and have been for the past few years. But that won't stop thousands of sweaty Europeans stacking the Mainwiesen Hanau meadows, just outside of Frankfurst, to welcome just over a dozen of the biggest drawcards in electronic music today. Visionquest's Seth Troxler is one of the few touching down at Love Family Park for the first time, as are Romanian export Raresh and German live duo Modeselektor. Proceedings will kick off at an early 10:00 AM and will continue for the next 12 hours.
RA pick: The classy minimal of a:rpia:r co-founder Raresh should be an afternoon highlight.
07. 10 Days Off
July 13 - July 23
Spread out over a whopping, yep, ten days, 10 Days Off takes place during Ghent Festivities, a weeklong celebration of music and the arts. The festival's extended duration and rigid schedule—each night starts at 11 PM—means you won't have to cram in a lifetimes worth of music in a hectic few days, and maybe actually get some sleep. However, its timing with Ghent's art festival means that if you want to explore during the daytime, you can; the event is as much about arts and experimentation as it is about dancing. 10 Days Off takes place completely indoors, inside the historic Vooruit arts complex. Though it originally started in the '90s as a techno-centric gathering, its purview has since widened to include all sorts of genres, with 2012's lineup including names like John Talabot, Lindstrom, Richie Hawtin and Africa Hitech.
RA pick: Prog? Disco? House? Expect the unexpected when Lindstrom brings his live show to town.
July 12 - July 15
Novi Sad, Serbia
Exit is all about scale, and it always delivers on that promise, taking over the huge, almost 500-year old Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad, Serbia. It's a weekend that's as much about the surroundings as the music itself—the fortress provides all sorts of nooks and crannies and odd spaces to get lost in. With 16 stages of all sizes and shapes, it's basically a playground for a music fan, set inside brick walls and ornate architecture, and that's not to mention the area's natural beauty and colourful cast of locals as well. The lineup this year is the usual mix of mainstream heavy hitters—New Order, Guns N' Roses, Erykah Badu, Duran Duran—and high-profile dance names like Hercules & Love Affair, Luciano and Claude VonStroke.
RA pick: New Order live on the Main Stage on Friday—because it's New Order.
Out in the desert, no one can hear you rave…which is just as well considering the noise Monegros must generate. The massive Spanish event returns to Fraga (around 200km west of Barcelona) for an 18th outing this year. 40,000 people are again likely to make the trek and will be faced with five stages, 20 hours of continuous music and lots of dust. The festival tends to drop a curveball headliner into the mix each year, and in 2012 Wu-Tang (Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and GZA) will be the ones throwing a hip-hop spanner in the 4/4 works. The Prodigy and Paul Kalkbrenner will also play main stage shows, while the bulk of the bill comprises mainly big name European house and techno, with Adam Beyer, Loco Dice, Luciano, Marco Carola and Richie Hawtin, who is scheduled to play the closing set.
RA pick: Wu-Tang is for the children. And Spanish ravers.
04. Garden Tisno Festivals
July 4 - July 11
The Garden Tisno
Garden Festival | Electric Elephant | Suncebeat
The month of July will see three festivals—Garden, Electric Elephant and Suncebeat—leave their traditional base, The Garden Petrcane, and head 100km down the coast to a new spot, The Garden Tisno. In fact, with Garden and Electric Elephant taking place within a week of each other, they've linked up to offer a combined ticket for those who want to kick it in Tisno that little bit longer. Although the location has changed, the basic formula at each will remain much the same, with parties taking place day and night, and twice daily out at sea aboard the Argonaughty. As you might expect then, your choice of festival will largely come down to how you swing musically. Nicolas Jaar, Ben UFO, Kenny Dope and Metro Area are billed for Garden; Electric Elephant has Andrew Weatherall, Michael Mayer, Optimo and Ivan Smagghe in tow; while Suncebeat rolls with DJ Harvey, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Dixon and Kerri Chandler.
RA pick: We're hosting Tiger & Woods for our annual high seas adventure at Garden.
July 6 - July 9
It almost seems wrong to be recommending Freerotation at this point. After all the gushing praise it's gotten in the past few years (not least on this site), the quaint gathering in the Welsh countryside is nearly bursting at the seems, with space to accommodate just a fraction of its 2,500 members (only 650 tickets are sold in total). Would it not not be better to just leave it alone and let the hype die down a bit? Maybe, but then again, if there was an exceptionally intimate summer festival with the creme de la creme of deeper house, techno and bass music all playing in various rooms of a countryside hotel and we didn't tell you about it, we wouldn't really be doing our jobs, would we? In any case it's long since sold out so there's not much harm we can do by now. So yeah, Freerotation. It's amazing.
RA pick: October. He was a dark horse of last year's festival and he's been on a stellar run of productions ever since. Worth poking your head in for sure.
July 13 - July 15
Indie and electronic music have been increasingly becoming bedfellows at major festivals in recent times—a successful template laid down by events like the long-serving Melt!. Dance music has been its lifeblood since the festival started out in back in 1997, but this latter day mix of guitars and DJs has come to define the Melt! experience. Bands this year include Bloc Party, Destroyer, The Rapture, The War On Drugs and The Whitest Boy Alive, while big name dance acts include Richie Hawtin, Dixon, Modeselektor, Seth Troxler and Shed. The much-loved Sleepless Floor—a sandpit outside of the festival gates that's dedicated to extended partying—will feature showcases from Groove magazine and Freude am Tanzen, with Mathias Kaden, John Talabot, Agoria and Motor City Drum Ensemble keeping ravers moving. Aside from the sounds, we probably don't need to tell you that Melt! offers one of the global festival circuit's most unique locations in Ferropolis, a giant open air museum of industrial machinery located near to Gräfenhainichen in Germany.
RA pick: Caribou embodies the crossover spirit of Melt!
July 6 - July 7
London Pleasure Gardens
Since Bloc announced they were moving on from the template of their much-loved festival, the voices of dissent have gradually turned to shrieks of anticipation. Butlins holiday park in Minehead in March was to be swapped for a July date at London Pleasure Gardens, a sixty thousand square-metre space at the city's Victorian Docklands designed by Shangri-La of Glastonbury fame and Mutate Britain. The main stage is being described as a "gargantuan…monolithic auditorium," surrounded by steel shipping containers; the second stage, The Hub, is an acoustically treated geodesic dome (hosted by RA), with the DJ stationed in its centre; and the MS Stubnitz, an 80 metre long GDR fishing vessel, will dock at the site to host two rooms of music. Not to be outdone by the spectacle of the venue, the bill runs the entire gamut of electronic music, from Orbital to Richie Hawtin and Flying Lotus, to Amon Tobin, A.T.O.L., Ricardo Villalobos and countless others besides.
RA pick: Pioneering minimalist composer Steve Reich will headline the RA stage on the Friday.