We see what's looking good in the first two months of 2017.
Harpa, Reykjavík, Iceland
February 16 - February 19
Of Sónar's many offshoots around the world, its Reykjavik edition surely has the most stunning surroundings. Spread across four stages in the ultra-modernist Harpa Concert Hall, a stone's throw from Reykjavik's famous Old Harbour, this year's edition of the festival's northernmost leg hosts dance floor destroyers like Helena Hauff, Ben Klock and Moderat alongside a strong cast of local heroes, including FM Belfast, Sin Fang, Emmsjé Gauti and the almighty GusGus. Throw in a few curveballs like Forest Swords and hip-hop giants De La Soul and you've got a sure-shot festival.
RA Pick: Moderat's live show should win over Reykjavik's indie rock crowd.
Cape Town City Hall, Cape Town, South Africa
February 7 - February 12
Whether it's new or old, there's a huge amount of interest in South African electronic music right now, and rightly so: it's a country rich with talent and passion. Events like Cape Town Electronic Music Festival are crucial to the continued blossoming of the country's scene, and the sixth edition boats its most far-reaching lineup yet. A series of workshops, taking place in central Cape Town and beyond, culminate in three days of music at Cape Town City Hall, with international guests (Âme, Coldcut, Peanut Butter Wolf, Ryan Hemsworth, Heidi, Dave Clarke) as well as homegrown talent (Portable, Jazzuelle, Jullian Gomes, Kid Fonque).
RA Pick: The final slot on Sunday night tends to bring out the best in both the crowd and the performer at CTEMF.
Let Them Eat Cake
Werribee Park, Melbourne, Australia
"Every weekend I go down into dark basements," KiNK once said while discussing Let Them Eat Cake. "It's refreshing to be out here in the nature when the weather is so nice." Let Them Eat Cake became one of Australia's best-loved festivals after just one edition. Four years later, it's easy to see why its combination of sunshine, crisp sound and quality beats remains a firm favourite of Australian dance music fans. With a capacity of just a few thousand, this is an intimate New Year's Day experience with all the hallmarks of a world-class festival. This time around, its smart booking policy brings the likes of Mano Le Tough, Leon Vynehall and TOKiMONSTA to the lush Werribee Park.
RA Pick: It'll be hard to beat Shanti Celeste's bag of sunny house music.
The Peacock Society Winter Edition
Parc Floral De Paris, Paris, France
February 17 - February 19
Last year, The Peacock Society happened twice for the first time, hosting a wintertime edition as well as their main event in July. For 2017, that wintertime edition has doubled in size, expanding from one night to two—proof, if any was needed, that the Parisian festival is going from strength to strength. It's no mystery why they've got such momentum at the moment. Set at Parc Floral De Paris, a botanical garden in the 12th arrondissement, The Peacock Society delivers slick lineups and world-class production in one of the best cities in the world. This year's bill is characteristically on-point, ranging from crowd-pleasers like Modeselektor and Fatima Yamaha to techno heavyweights like Paula Temple, Bjarki and Planetary Assault Systems.
RA Pick: House legend Larry Heard playing live.
January 16 - January 22
Astropolis is close to the heart of dance music in France: now in its 22nd year, it's a rare vestige of the country's free party scene, which was mostly extinguished in the mid-'90s. The Brest festival is still going strong in 2017, with a robust winter counterpart to its main summer event. The six-day programme for Astropolis L'hiver 2017 presents exhibitions, film screenings, vinyl markets and Ableton workshops, as well as nightly concerts and club parties, with a music programme that runs the gamut from DJ Stingray, Floorplan and Factory Floor to FunkinEven and Syrian wedding singer Omar Souleyman.
RA Pick: New York trio François K, Joe Claussell and Danny Krivit teaming up for a Body & Soul showcase.
Victorian College Of The Arts, Melbourne, Australia
Sugar Mountain is the sort of festival that seems to please everyone, whether you're into radio rock, avant-garde dining experiences or dog shows. But in recent years, the Melbournian event has had increasingly on-point electronic bookings that are perfect picks for a 26-degree summer day spent between the serpentine lanes and red-brick buildings of the Victorian College Of The Arts. Palms Trax and Mood II Swing should prove ideal party-starters in the heat, but Jessy Lanza, Pantha Du Prince and synth duo Suzanne Ciani and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith signal an increased emphasis on heady live electronic performances. Darker fare comes from Dro Carey and My Disco, two Australian acts who've been steadily honing their craft for years now, while headliners like Blood Orange should unite fans from across the musical spectrum.
RA Pick: Beppe Loda is the OG king of industrial-tinged Balearic.
Parque Dos Ojos, Tulum, Mexico
January 6 - January 7
One way to get ahead in today's crowded festival market is to find a venue that will blow people's minds. Located between Tulum and Playa Del Carmen, Parque Dos Ojos is home to a vast underwater complex of caves, known locally as "cenotes." The water is bright blue and crystal clear, perfect for a quick dip in between performances by the likes of Omar-S, Sonja Moonear, Ambiq, Lawrence, Kyle Hall and the Giegling crew, all of whom are in tow for this year's edition of Comunite, a vegan, eco-friendly festival that'll have the run of Parque Dos Ojos for its second edition.
RA Pick: Omar-S debuting his new live show with LA singer Nite Jewel.
January 27 - February 5
CTM was a key instigator of what is now a prevalent model in electronic music festivals: shaping bookings around a theme, creating dialogue with workshops and lectures, cultivating continuities between various types of media, and explicitly embracing a political dimension. Over time, it's become increasingly international in scope, with bookings that reflect a diversity that eludes most festivals. Amidst January's deepening frost, CTM draws artists from South Africa, Iran, Mexico, Turkey and beyond, then sets them loose on some of Berlin's best performance spaces. Mutant club styles are given a particularly long leash. Ziúr, Marie Davidson and a NON Worldwide showcase represent just the tip of the iceberg, while Pan Daijing, Pharmakon and SØS Gunver Ryberg offer bleak takes on pulverising electronics. There will be more immediate dance floor thrills as well, thanks to Raime, who appear under their dank garage moniker Yally, and Bjørn Torske, one of Norway's most consistently impressive producers and DJs.
RA Pick: Don't miss Moor Mother, who is producing some of the most vital experimental rap out there.
The BPM Festival
Playa Del Carmen, Cancun, Mexico
January 6 - January 15
Every January, BPM Festival transforms Mexico's Mayan Riviera into a "winter Ibiza." It's easy to see the similarities: miles of sandy white beaches, thousands of sun-kissed ravers, dozens of events featuring many of the world's biggest DJs. BPM is going big in 2017, celebrating its tenth anniversary with more than 460 artists and 80 showcases. Carl Cox, [a:rpia:r], Honey Dijon, Seth Troxler, Jamie Jones, Cassy, Jackmaster and Carl Craig are all on board, gearing up for ten days of music and partying in a setting as breath-taking as they come.
RA Pick: The Bunker's showcase with Mike Servito and Derek Plaslaiko at Salsanera feels like the odd one out this year—all the more reason to check it out.
Dekmantel Festival Sao Paulo
São Paulo, Brazil
Feburary 4 - February 5
"It blew us off our feet." This was Dekmantel cofounder Thomas Martojo's reaction when he visited The Jockey Club in São Paulo, the site of the daytime programme for the first ever Dekmantel festival in Brazil. Attendees will likely have a similar reaction. Located in the sprawling city's west, the '30s-era hippodrome boasts a wonderful view of São Paulo's skyline, while also offering a unique space full of intriguing "little corners," Martojo says. In addition to all the things that are now synonymous with Dekmantel events—strong bookings, great atmosphere, flawless execution—considerable effort has been made to make this festival gel with its location. For starters, they're partnering with Gop Tun, a highly respected local crew, and the lineup includes some well-selected Brazilian talent, from venerable acts like Hermeto Pascoal and Azymuth (the latter was a highlight of the 2016 Dekmantel festival in Amsterdam) to slick DJs like Selvagem.
RA Pick: The bearded 80-year-old Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal must be one of the coolest Dekmantel bookings ever.
See our full festival listings for January and February right here.