10. South West Four
August 25 - August 26
Saturday | Sunday
South West Four will close at 10PM on each of its two days this year. That's an hour more than in the previous nine years. Not a huge deal you might think, but this does serve to illustrate the type of obstacles an event such as SW4 has to overcome in annually staging their event in an inner city location. Another potential pitfall is the extraordinarily busy August Bank Holiday weekend in the UK—options aplenty for ravers—but SW4 has consistently succeeded in bringing people in their thousands down to Clapham Common, no doubt lured by a bill that's never shy of heavy hitters. In terms of the main stage this year, Carl Cox, Skrillex and Public Enemy all put in appearances, while acts Seth Troxler, John Digweed, Joris Voorn, Maya Jane Coles, Sasha and Erol Alkan make for an assorted and extensive DJ bill.
RA pick: There's a good reason why Eats Everything has been booked at countless festivals this summer.
09. Eastern Electrics
There's nothing like a bit of drama to kick-start your first year—and Eastern Electrics has certainly had its share. After a period of "venue TBA" secrecy, south London's Clapham Common was announced as Eastern Electrics home, only for the wider Pride House festival to be cancelled soon afterwards and the event left homeless. Eastern Electrics persevered, and eventually secured a new location, Area 12 in Greenwich, on the same dates and with the same artists and opening times. The outdoor space is said to be industrial in nature (plenty of concrete and shipping containers apparently), and across a main stage and four tents will host a DJ-heavy lineup comprised mainly of big name European and US house acts such as Jamie Jones, Kerri Chandler, Julio Bashmore, Azari & III, Andrew Weatherall and Joy Orbison.
RA pick: The rougher edges of Nina Kraviz's house selections should make a nice counterpoint to the smoothness elsewhere.
08. Sonne Mond Sterne
August 10 - August 12
It's not often that residents of Saalburg in eastern Germany get the chance to catch stadium-sized electronic acts spinning alongside their local heroes. Just once a year for Sonne Mond Sterne, in fact. The event (which translates to "Sun Moon Stars") brings some of biggest names in electronic music to the sandy banks of Bleilochtal on an annual basis, usually over several days. Close to 100 acts have been confirmed for slots, with The Prodigy, Fatboy Slim and Hot Chip among the biggest of the group. Further down the bill you'll find a slew of both international and German acts, many being of the tech house variety (Ellen Allien, Matthias Kaden and Tiefschwarz).
RA pick: DJ Rush getting heavy on an outdoor sound system.
07. Flow Festival
August 8 - August 11
Suvilahti Power Plant
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
Helsinki doesn't make it onto our top ten lists too often. But when it does, it's for a good reason. Flow Festival is one of Finland's foremost music events, and had risen to prominence on the back of a slick booking policy, classy aesthetics and eagerness to incorporate non-music elements—gourmet food, film and contemporary art—into its programming. This year, alongside a smorgasbord of sushi, short films and deserts, Flow Festival have again secured an eye-catching selection of globally relevant acts from the worlds of hip-hop, indie and electronic—Bon Iver, Bjork, A$AP Rocky, Flying Lotus, The Black Keys and Four Tet and Caribou all being prime examples.
RA pick: Northern Irish duo Bicep, riding high from their recent "$tripper" single.
August 8 - August 11
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
The appetite for music in Norway is insatiable, and Øyafestivalen may just be the biggest meal on the country's festival menu. This year's feast starts with Björk, the reunited Stone Roses, The Black Keys, Bon Iver and Feist. You'll notice that there's not a whole lot of purist dance music in there, and that's by design: Øya attracts music fans, plain and simple. That said, there will be occasions to move your feet. Ben UFO, Amirali and Shed are just a few of the names on offer. But the big news is a back-to-back live performance from Lindstrøm and Todd Terje. We emailed Terje to find out a bit more, and he simply promised us "synths galore!"
RA pick: Check out Portland's Chromatics playing songs from their excellent Kill for Love album.
05. Stop Making Sense Festival
August 2 - August 6
The Garden Tisno
Tisno , Croatia
The lineup for this year's instalment of Stop Making Sense actually makes a whole lot of sense. Though it'll take place in a new location—The Garden Tisno—rather than its former home at Petrcane, the event promises to be just as wild as previous years, and should have just as beautiful a backdrop. Despite the shift in location, the daily boat parties have been retained, offering a great alternative to the usual festival stages and afterparties. Curation comes from some of the more intriguing names in dance music—Ostgut Ton through to Warm, Electric Minds and Deviation—with names like Move D, Lil Louis, Jimmy Edgar, Steffi, Deetron and Ron Trent & Chez Damier moving what's likely to be a largely UK audience.
RA pick: Kevin McPhee's gravelly techno on the Man Make Music stage for his first-ever appearance outside of his hometown of Toronto.
04. Voltt Loves Summer
Voltt Loves Summer, and you should too, at least judging from the lineup. Though it only takes place on one day, the Amsterdam festival—which takes over the Docklands—has a packed lineup to match any stacked weekender. The emphasis is mostly definitely on techno, whether it's the minimal variety—Mathew Jonson, Gaiser—or the dubby—Deadbeat—or just plain weird—Monolake and Robag Wruhme—it's a chance to hear some of the genre's brightest and most inventive performers in the (hopefully) gorgeous summer heat.
RA pick: Deadbeat's dubbed-out live set was practically made for the scorching sun.
July 31 - August 15
KaZantip hadn't announced their lineup at the time of writing, but it hardly matters. The two week-long bonanza represents one of the global circuit's most unique offerings, meaning simply being there should be the draw for most. A sizeable chunk of the Crimean coastline on the Black Sea in Ukraine is transformed into the "KaZantip Republic" each August, a world unto itself (with its own set of laws and principles) that includes dance floors, bars, shops, cafes, cinemas, restaurants, loads of ravers and music. Lots of music. Hawtin and Villalobos headlined last year, so expect more of the same for 2012.
RA pick: The sun.
August 3 - August 5
Relatively small-scale and intimate, Germany's long-running (they turn 15 this year) Nachtdigital still has a fantastic lineup with the calibre of its more sizable brethren. It's a lakeside camping affair, so if you're one of the lucky ones who bagged a ticket (the event tends to sell out well in advance) get your tent ready, although there'll be plenty of urban amenities, including several bars, free water (a bigger deal than you'd think), a shop selling basic necessities and an island bar in the middle of the lake with a boat to take you there. The music's pretty good too: from Donato Dozzy to Ben UFO to Portable, it's about as quirky and adventurous as the festival itself.
RA pick: It's hard to imagine a better setting for Petar Dundov's ecstatic trance-infused techno than a German lake party.
01. Burning Man
August 27 - September 3
Black Rock City
The first rule of Burning Man is that you DO talk about Burning Man. Or so it seems these days in the house and techno community at least. Everyone from Damian Lazarus to Magda to Carl Cox have sung the event's praises, and the general mainstreaming of the event has meant that tickets are harder than ever to get your hands on. Those who lucked out with this year's new lottery system can breathe easy, though. The desert festival is simply too strange and wonderful to ever truly lose its spirit. Only the dedicated would fill up caravans with supplies for an entire week, bring the necessary materials to build a camp and lose themselves in Black Rock City. We can't blame them.
RA pick: The second rule of Burning Man is to never plan anything.