Our top picks from around the world in May.
The Star Festival
Forest Hiyoshi, Kyoto, Japan
May 20 - May 21
With their high-spec soundsystems and picture-postcard settings, you could argue that Japan does boutique festivals better than anyone. In addition to worldwide favorites like Labyrinth and Rainbow Disco Club, the country's spring and summer circuit boasts Star Festival, a camping event in the forest area of Nantan in Kyoto, now in its sixth year. Star Festival's 2017 programme includes sets from a cast of artists who are all masters of their respective niches, from Kassem Mosse to DJ Marky to Nathan Fake.
RA Pick: Local eyes will be on rising DJ Peggy Gou, who will be playing Japan for the first time.
May 4 - May 7
Fasma is proof that festivals run by promoters embedded in a city's scene create a level of authenticity and natural growth that big budget operations can't match. In spite of a crowded festival circuit placing ever-greater demands on smaller events, Fasma has built its reputation and programme on a bedrock of Greek and Athenian producers and labels. Rather than relying on big international names to sell tickets, they integrate visiting artists like DJ Stingray and Toxe into a local vision. That all this goes down in a city as striking as Athens is just the icing on the cake.
RA Pick: Tolouse Low Trax keeps dance floors heaving without breaking 110 BPM.
May 14 - May 21
Together shows what a well-done festival can do for a local scene. Boston has long been home to a proud cast of inspired DJs, producers and promoters, but it wasn't until this week-long, multi-venue series of events that they saw what would happen if they all worked—well, together. Combining seven nights of parties at clubs across the city with a daytime program of illuminating panels and workshops, Together aims not only to put on a week of killer music, but also to strengthen its city's scene. Safe to say they've succeeded on this front. By booking events with local DJs and visual artists alongside international acts like Avalon Emerson, Clark and the Hessle Audio crew, Together has helped put Boston on the dance music map.
RA Pick: Alessandro Cortini's live show should do the trick.
North Carolina, USA
May 18 - May 21
With each passing year, Moogfest pushes itself to go beyond what you'd expect from a festival. Attendees can make their own Moog drum machine in a DIY synth building workshop, coming away with a piece of gear unavailable anywhere else. Its dedicated protest stage stands in the face of very real and present threats—the festival takes place in Durham, North Carolina, a state that last year repealed legislation protecting LGBT rights. Encompassing themes from Afrofuturism to technoshamanism and bringing in artists as diverse as Wolf Eyes, Avalon Emerson and Derrick May, Moogfest has become an essential beacon of electronic music in North America.
RA Pick: Time travelling through African American history via noise and electronic hip-hop, Moor Mother is a genuine must-see act.
Love Saves The Day
Eastville Park, Bristol, UK
May 27 - May 28
It makes sense that a city like Bristol should have a festival like Love Saves The Day. Anyone who grew up in the area will have likely spent their years listening to all sorts of dance music, from local-brewed sounds like trip-hop and drum & bass to dubstep, techno and grime. Love Saves The Day, which returns to Eastville Park across two days, reflects this diversity. On Saturday, Little Dragon shares the bill with Jamie Jones, Peverelist and Addison Groove, while Sunday welcomes Fat Freddy's Drop, Jessy Lanza and bassline supergroup TQD. In short, there's something for everyone.
RA Pick: Ricardo Villalobos DJing inside this thing
Rainbow Disco Club
Higashi Izu Cross Country Course, Japan
May 3 - May 5
The sight of Antal's two daughters happily dancing around on stage while their father DJ'd was one of the enduring images of last year's Rainbow Disco Club. That scene illustrates what this festival is all about. The atmosphere is warm and inclusive. It also happens to take place in a spectacular setting, nestled among the hills of Izu, a coastal area in Japan known for its natural hot springs. This year's lineup is the festival's widest offering to date, with a sprinkling of Rainbow Disco Club debuts (Sadar Bahar, Fatima Yamaha, DJ Dustin) alongside returning guests like DJ Nobu, Antal and Hunee.
RA Pick: It's a toss-up between DJ Nobu and Fred P's back-to-back set and the Rush Hour All-Stars.
Lente Kabinet Festival
Het Twiske, Amsterdam, Netherlands
May 27 - May 28
As the little sibling of Dekmantel Festival, Lente Kabinet has big shoes to fill. But as with Dekmantel, you can expect top-shelf production and a killer lineup every year. In 2017, the old school mixes with the new, with sets from pioneers like Boo Williams, Matthew Herbert and Sadar Bahar confirmed alongside the likes of Helena Hauff, Konstantin, Objekt and a big cast of homegrown acts. As always, Lente Kabinet goes down at the lush Het Twiske parkland north of Amsterdam over one afternoon and evening. Dekmantel might be bigger than ever, but you can always count on a cosy waterside rave as long as Lente Kabinet is around.
RA Pick: See how Objekt's razor-sharp techno suits the sunny surroundings.
Parc Del Forum, Barcelona, Spain
May 31 - June 4
You wouldn't think it looking at this year's lineup, but Primavera Sound didn't have a dedicated electronic stage until 2012. Now it has several. Between them they'll host a wealth of DJs and live acts in 2017, from the stadium-sized (The xx, Aphex Twin, Flying Lotus) to the experimental (Vladimir Ivkovic, Swans, Polar Inertia). It's by no means all electronic, though—there's also rock, pop, disco, grime, R&B and, well, a lot more besides. All this goes down across several days at Parc Del Forum, a striking seaside complex in the heart of one of the world's most beautiful cities.
RA Pick: Aphex Twin and a shitload of lasers.
May 24 - May 27
Calling Nuits Sonores a festival doesn't do it justice. Thrown across 50 locations—which include a swimming pool, a factory, an ice skating rink and parks—in Lyon over five days and nights, there's something for the most diehard dance music fan through to the curious observer. It has everything you'd expect from an event supported by the local government, with an informative daytime programme of workshops, talks and screenings and access to dozens of interesting spaces. And for those just looking to let their hair down, this year's curators—The Black Madonna, Nina Kraviz and Jon Hopkins—have put together a lineup that features party-rockers like Derrick Carter, Daniel Avery and Rahaan billed alongside experimentalists such as Aleksi Perälä, Ben Frost and Actress.
RA Pick: Optimo back-to-back-to-back with The Black Madonna should go off with a bang.
Hart Plaza, Detroit, USA
May 27 - May 29
Movement has never skimped on international acts—Ben Klock, Dixon, Cassy and Carl Cox are just a few who've been booked this year—but it's the festival's deep roots in Detroit that really make it great. This may be truer in 2017 than ever before. In addition to the usual cast of local royalty—Robert Hood, Carl Craig, Seth Troxler et al—the festival has pulled off some truly impressive bookings, including one of the first performances of Richie Hawtin's new live act, CLOSE, and a rare set from techno pioneers Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson as The Belleville Three. Throw in a hodgepodge of inspired artists from across the musical spectrum, from Danny Brown to Thundercat to Stranger Things soundtrackers S U R V I V E, and you've got a festival worthy of its city's extraordinary musical heritage.
RA Pick: Gonna have to be The Belleville Three.
See our full festival listings for May right here.