10. Rave On Snow
December 12 - December 15
Across the Northern Hemisphere, the onset of winter heralds the end of the festival season. But as some festivals remind us, the change in weather need not be a cue for hibernation. Rave On Snow, as you can tell from the name, is one of those events. Taking place at Saalbach-Hinterglemm in Austria, this three-day, multi-venue hootenanny has been putting on parties in the depth of winter for 20 straight years. By day, skiing and snowboarding high in the alps. By night, a soundtrack of pumping house and techno from Sven Väth, Monkey Maffia, Ruede Hagelstein and Round Table Knights among many others. A winning combination, as long as you can take the cold.
RA pick: You can count on Chris Liebing to dish out the toughest beats of the weekend.
09. Le Guess Who?
November 28 - December 1
Each year Le Guess Who? takes over the bars, squat hangouts and cobbled canals of Utrecht, a Dutch city just outside Amsterdam. Though early editions only booked Canadian acts, these days it casts its net worldwide, with a policy that favors leftfield sounds. This year you'll get synth adventurers Oneohtrix Point Never and Stellar OM Source, the gritty electronics of Vessel and Visionist, and the earthy experimentation of Forest Swords. Utrecht's modest size makes it easy to get around from venue to venue, and the city's squat spirit is alive and well—the festival organises its own couchsurfing program for out-of-town visitors.
RA pick: Stellar OM Source's new live show packs a serious punch.
08. Creamfields Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Whenever Creamfields is in town, you can count on a few things: a big budget, big sound and big names. This year's Buenos Aires edition is no different, with around 30 house and techno high rollers descending upon the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve just outside the city centre. Underworld, Sven Väth and Richie Hawtin are at the top of the bill, with Visionquest, Tale Of Us and Guti also confirmed. It's one of the biggest events on the South American clubbing calendar, so expect things to get heavy.
RA pick: Who wouldn't want to see Papa Sven working his magic in front of 10,000 screaming Argentinians?
07. Womb Adventure
Tokyo's Womb is a monster nightclub in its own right, so when it sheds its Shibuya confines and grows by a factor of ten it's worth taking notice. Womb Adventure offers the 10,000 clubbers who descend on the Makuhari Messe a potent mixture of modern and minimal-leaning beats from a cast of artists big and small, international and local, up-to-the-minute and old school. (Richie Hawtin, a festival staple, would seem to fit all of those categories except "small.") Promotional text isn't exactly known for its evenhandedness, but when the festival calls Womb Adventure "a 'one-night-superclub' to rival no other," they might actually be onto something.
RA pick: This is the time and place to see Richie Hawtin in Japan.
06. I Love Techno
Flanders Expo Center
I Love Techno has changed a lot over the years. Once a purely techno affair with room for about 7,000 punters, today it hosts roughly five times that number and takes in club sounds of all kinds, including poppier acts like Wankelmut. But there's no doubt that this one-day mega-rave is as vital to the festival calendar as ever. After all, it's hard to argue with an 11-hour party that runs the gamut from Nina Kraviz to Disclosure to Cajmere Cat. And for the true techno devotees, the festival still lives up to its name, thanks to heavyweights like Chris Liebing, Len Faki and Marcel Dettmann.
RA pick: If there's anyone that can rock hangar-size venues, it's French veteran Laurent Garnier.
05. Time Warp Holland
It's no secret that rave culture is deeply entrenched in the Netherlands. That's part of why big events like Time Warp thrive, giving punters—especially those outside clubbing centres like Amsterdam and Rotterdam—a welcome chance to wave glow sticks to tough techno for 12 hours straight. Going down in Utrecht, this year's edition will be the German brand's fifth excursion to Holland. Marcel Dettmann, Chris Liebing and Gary Beck will be on hand to dish out the hard stuff, while Magda, Loco Dice and Robert Dietz get groovy.
RA pick: Be sure to see the godfather of Dutch techno Steve Rachmad on home turf.
04. Doomsday Festival
So the Mayans were off on the whole world-ending thing last December. But that hasn't stopped Antwerp's one-day Doomsday Festival from egging on the apocalypse once again. Should the prophecy come to fruition this year, you could certainly do worse than spending humanity's final hours in the warm techno embrace of Sven Väth. (Can you imagine him facing the end times with anything less than his usual ebullience behind the decks?) And in Len Faki, Blawan and Truss, you have a team of techno jocks likely to fight hellfire with hellfire. Though more names are yet to be announced, a look at last year's lineup, where Jeff Mills and Robert Hood were among the bookings, suggests this Doomsday's four-room assemblage will only grow more unmissable.
RA pick: If you're looking for hefty sonics, Len Faki's got it in spades.
November 6 - November 11
Berlin seems like a pretty unbeatable place to host an electronic music conference, what with its seemingly countless nightclubs and generally techno-friendly atmosphere. BerMuDa, the annual amalgamation of club nights, concerts, panels, book readings and so much else, takes full advantage of this fact. The 2013 edition will engulf roughly 40 different nightclubs, including internationally renowned spots like Watergate, Tresor, Chalet and KaterHolzig. Most of the lineup is still under wraps, but label showcases from institutions like Diynamic, Get Physical, Clone and Delsin have all been confirmed. And really, do you need an excuse to spend a week party-hopping in Berlin?
RA pick: The Clone VS Delsin night at Tresor should strike BerMuDa's deepest chord.
02. Strawberry Fields 2013
November 22 - November 24
Aussie bush festivals have an undeniable charm. There's something reassuring about partying in vast, open nothingness—you can be as loud as you want, and wear what you want, and that's exactly what people do. The musical stereotype for this sort of thing has long been fluorescent, glow-stick wielding psytrance, but Strawberry Fields buck this trend with a strong and diverse range of artists. This year you'll be able to catch everyone from Detroit stalwarts Moodymann and Carl Craig to deep house heads Jacob Korn and Moomin.
RA pick: Andy Stott's scorched-earth techno is a perfect match for the dusty setting.
01. Alfa Mito Club To Club
November 7 - November 10
These days most electronic festivals fall somewhere between two poles: enormous raves in fields, or classy digital arts conference scattered across an urban center. Part of what makes Club To Club great is that it gives you both at once. On the one hand, you've got massive parties in a Fiat factory. On the other, James Holden playing live in an 18th century opera house. But as with any good event, what really brings it to life is its lineup: with Factory Floor, Four Tet, Fuck Buttons, Modeselektor, Objekt, Ben UFO and Kyle Hall just some of the names confirmed for this year, it's safe to say Club To Club is the best electronic music festival in Italy.
RA pick: It's hard to look past James Holden's live set in Teatro Carignano on the opening night.