10. South West Four
August 24 - August 25
Day One | Day Two
This year South West Four will celebrate its tenth edition—an impressive landmark for any inner city festival. The two-day event has overcome the sound problems of recent years, and the finishing time on Saturday has been nudged back yet again. Synonymous with its home at Clapham Common in South London, SW4 has long been regarded as the city's best festival for big room sounds. The pick of Saturday's action this year takes place on Carl Cox's stage, with Carl Craig, Loco Dice, Marco Carola, Guti and the big man himself. Sunday offers revellers an interesting mish-mash of underground and commercial talent, with Groove Armada, Laurent Garnier, Scuba, Rustie and Todd Edwards among the highlights.
RA pick: Carl Cox and Loco Dice going back-to-back for the first time ever in the UK.
9. Flow Festival
Suvilahti Power Plant
The crown jewel of Helsinki's festival calendar, Flow Festival has been going for a decade now. Taking over Suvilahti—a century-old former power plant complex—it's Finland's biggest arts festival, and it's about so much more than just raving your face off (though with Disclosure, Tensnake, Maya Jane Coles and Karenn on the bill, you can certainly do that, too.) As they put it, "Flow is both a mental and physical state of being, where feeling flows collectively through music into a larger entity." In other words, a rich and multifarious event with concerts, club nights, great food, film screenings and more.
RA pick: Kraftwerk's stunning 3-D live set.
08. Øya Festival
August 6 - August 10
Like most Scandinavian festivals, Øya oozes class. Set at the striking Middelalderparken in central Oslo, Øya is well-planned, well-executed and well-attended. Since the beginning it's hosted primarily indie and pop artists, but always with some smart electronic selections as well. This time around, The Knife, Kraftwerk, Mount Kimbie and John Talabot are billed alongside the likes of Blur, Tame Impala and Kendrick Lamar, along with dozens of homegrown bands and DJs (and in case you didn't hear, we're throwing our own party with Anthony Naples and Chez Damier).
RA pick: James Blake should go down a treat with this crowd.
07. Stop Making Sense
August 1 - August 4
The Garden Tisno
As more house and techno festivals spring up in Croatia than ever before, events like Stop Making Sense are becoming all the more important. This year it returns for its fourth showing, with a clear focus on more subtle forms of house and a thoroughly laid back vibe on-site. Dixon, Prins Thomas and Lindstrøm are among the headliners this time around, while artists like Midland, Mano Le Tough and San Soda make up the rest of the bill. Throw in exceptional weather and some of the most picturesque coastal landscapes Europe has to offer, and you have the one of the best festivals calling Croatia home.
RA pick: Who doesn't want to be dancing to Dixon under the Croatian sun?
06. Eastern Electrics
August 2 - August 4
Eastern Electrics has an assured air about it this year, following a stressful 2012, when organisers were forced to change venues not once but twice. This time round they've expanded from a daylong bash to a two-night, three-day affair at Knebworth Park, about 30 minutes from London. The lineup is strong: so strong, in fact, that we've counted 41 of RA's top 100 DJs of 2012 on the bill, including seven of the top ten. Organisers are promising something "bigger, later, longer and louder" than last year's event. One thing is for sure: if this lives up to expectations, it'll be something special indeed.
RA pick:The world premiere of Moderat's new live show.
05. Beacons Festival
August 16 - August 17
North Yorkshire, UK
Beacons is a new entry in our list, and new in general: this summer's edition will only be their second so far. The young festival certainly has a lot going for it, starting with a lineup that includes the likes of Ben UFO, Floating Points and Machinedrum, all set against the scenic backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales. Throw in a gourmet street food festival, a series of workshops and a huge chill-out zone complete with a Factory Records exhibition and you've got something pretty special on your hands.
RA pick: Theo Parrish and Andrés' five-hour back-to-back closing set at the RA stage should be a no-brainer.
August 2 - August 4
Some festivals seem to exist for all the right reasons. Nachtdigital is one of them. This open-air gathering just outside Leipzig is everything most music festivals aren't: intimate, easy on your wallet, and booked from the heart, with no concern for marquee headliners (Joy Orbison and James Holden are as big as it gets this time). The crowd is laid back, the venue is green, and the short but sweet lineup is built with care, drawing an arc around deep house, techno, disco and bass. It's no wonder the tickets sell out so fast: festivals like this are all too rare these days.
RA pick: With a record bag full of darkwave gems, Helena Hauff is sure to stand out.
03. Dekmantel Festival
August 23 - August 24
An intimate summer gathering from one of Amsterdam's top promoters should be a sure shot, especially if you're into adventurous dance music. The inaugural Dekmantel festival has Surgeon, Truss and Jeff Mills representing techno, while Dixon and Joy Orbison inject some melody into the proceedings. Somewhere in between, Ben UFO, Ron Morelli and Optimo will ensure no musical stone is left unturned. Live bookings also abound, with some of the most unique performers in the game—Magic Mountain High, Voices From The Lake and a resurgent Underground Resistance, to name a few—carting their kit deep into the Amsterdamse Bos.
RA pick: Underground Resistance's first live performance in something like forever looks pretty unmissable.
July 31 - August 10
Popovka Village, Ukraine
Technically speaking, Kazantip doesn't belong on this list: it's not actually a festival, it's a republic (as anyone who works there will quickly remind you). For a spell in August every year, the citizens of Kazantip gather by the Black Sea to create a world very unlike any other, where people are friendly, pants are optional and sunsets are observed with great ceremony. This year the program has been tightened up a bit, with fewer days (14, down from as long as nearly a month) and a more hard-hitting lineup, which runs the gamut from Sasha to Eli Verveine. The real draw, though, is not the music as much as the event itself, with its white beaches, surreal ambience and impossibly good-spirited crowd. Kazantip's utopian philosophy may be tongue-in-cheek, but after few days in the sun, you might realize there's something to it.
RA pick: Ricardo Villalobos and [a:rpia:r] should hit the spot.
01. Burning Man
August 26 - September 2
Black Rock City
One does not simply attend Burning Man: if you managed the herculean act of scoring a ticket, you're less a passive participant than an integral part of an epically strange and all-too-ephemeral ecosystem. The festival—a term that doesn't quite capture the fullness of the thing—coaxes a distinctly twisted and artistic bunch to the middle of the Nevada desert each summer. For many revelers, it's the pinnacle of an entire year spent conceptualizing, preparing and transporting whatever weirdness they'll bring to the playa. Crews like Wolf + Lamb and Crosstown Rebels have long had a presence there, but we can't begin to tell you what to expect—except that by the time September gets rolling, whoever came through will have vanished without a trace.
RA pick: As you're zigzagging an ancient lakebed on the back of your spirit animal, will it really matter what we think?