We see what's looking good around the world in August.
Forte Santiago da Barra, Viana do Castelo, Portugal
August 3 - August 6
Lisbon and Porto may be known as Portugal's main hotspots for dance music, but one of its finest techno festivals happens a bit further off the beaten track. Viana Do Castelo is tucked away on the coastline of the northernmost point of Portugal and plays host to Neopop, a festival this year marking its 12th edition. Neopop's lineups have matured over the years, including more and more underground sounds alongside the main stage pyrotechnics of a Maceo Plex or Loco Dice. 2017's bill is wall-to-wall quality techno, with DJs Bone and Stingray, Paula Temple and Dr. Rubinstein forming just part of a lineup stacked with heady selectors.
RA Pick: Few DJs have Jane Fitz's range, experience and sense of flow.
Houghton Hall, Kings Lynn, UK
August 10 - August 13
"The ethos is simply to do something with a difference," Craig Richards said about his new festival, Houghton. The fabric resident's approach might be straightforward, but there's no denying that his festival's first edition is one of the most anticipated UK events of the summer. Produced by the team behind Gottwood, Houghton brings top-shelf house and techno to a heavily wooded are in Norfolk. Merging visual art with music, it takes over a variety of venues, including an abandoned warehouse, a subterranean bowl and an art and sculpture park. As for the tunes? The lineup is a who's-who of classy modern dance music, with sets from Ricardo Villalobos, Floating Points, Roman Flügel and Sonja Moonear.
RA Pick: Trip out to the first UK live set from Vilod, AKA Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer.
Zrce Beach, Pag Island, Croatia
August 20 - August 24
Only a few festivals in the world are aimed at fans of minimal dance music. Croatia's Sonus is one of them. Now in its fifth year, the annual party pairs loopy beats with a friendly and sun-kissed atmosphere, making it an essential destination for anyone who enjoys lean house and techno. Many attendees highlight the Club Der Visionaere-hosted closing party, this year soundtracked by Ricardo Villalobos, Binh and Sonja Moonear. There will be plenty of great moments earlier in the week as well, thanks to heavy-hitters like Rødhåd, Floorplan, Chris Liebing and Jamie Jones. As always, the DJs spin across a number of clubs on Zrce Beach, a rowdy holiday destination that, thanks to festivals like Sonus, is etching its way into dance music folklore.
RA Pick: Janina's upbeat minimal will suit the sunny setting.
Brockwell Park, London, UK
By dividing itself in half, Sunfall brings out the best of what London has to offer dance music fans. The daylight hours pass in the rolling slopes of Brockwell Park with the soundtrack drifting from sunny house and disco to jazz, hip-hop and a pinch of techno. When darkness descends, some of the capital's finest promoters throw parties in some of its best clubs, bringing the festival into the fabric of the city's club culture. Running the gamut from living royalty like Roy Ayers, Madlib and Larry Heard to dBridge, Gilles Peterson and Helena Hauff, Sunfall is quickly asserting itself as one of the capital's best.
RA Pick: Shanti Celeste spinning in the sunshine.
Suvilahti Power Plant, Helsinki, Finland
August 11 - August 13
"Something for everyone" is a cliché in describing festivals, but with Flow it proves irresistible. The Helsinki giant welcomes upwards of 70,000 people to the stunning Suvilahti Power Plant across its three days, which means catering to an extraordinarily wide range of tastes and interests. If you've come to rave, there's Voimala and, new for 2017, RA Front Yard, which together will host the likes of Nina Kraviz, Maceo Plex, Aleksi Perälä, Willow and Shed. If pop and R&B are more your thing, Frank Ocean, The xx and Young Thug are among the main draws this year. It's even feasible that you've not bought a ticket for the music, but for the food, which is up there with the best you'll find at any festival in the world. As if that weren't enough, there's also a hefty programme of art installations and films (with free popcorn).
RA Pick: Aphex Twin has no more dates in the diary after Flow, so don't miss your chance to catch him on one of Finland's biggest stages.
Kraftwerk Berlin, Berlin, Germany
August 16 - August 20
For most of the last two decades, house and techno have reigned supreme in Berlin, but it wasn't always so. At the root of the German capital's electronic music scene is something far more experimental, an amalgam of industrial, post-punk and avant-garde that thrived throughout the '80s in the shadow of the Wall, heard in clubs like SO36 and brought together at Berlin Atonal, a festival founded by future Tresor founder Dimitri Hegemann. After rebooting in 2013 with a new team at the helm (Laurens von Oswald, Harry Glass and Paulo Reachi), Berlin Atonal has returned to the forefront of exploratory electronic music, assembling a cast of inspired and uncompromising artists each summer in Tresor, OHM and the sprawling industrial space above them, Kraftwerk Berlin. A glance at this year's lineup, which connects artists as diverse as Equiknoxx, Wolf Eyes, Shackleton and JASSS, shows the Berlin institution is as cutting edge as ever.
RA Pick: Varg presenting his excellent Nordic Flora series.
The Garden Tisno, Tisno, Croatia
August 24 - August 28
That the first edition of Selectors festival in 2016 was a roaring success should come as little surprise: both the venue (The Garden Tisno in Croatia) and the promoter (Dekmantel) are synonymous with hassle-free fun. This year, the core formula—day and night events, plus a programme of boat parties, always wonderfully sloppy affairs—remains in place, with enough intrigue on the lineup to keep attendees on their toes. DJ sets from Marcel Dettmann, DJ Stingray, Objekt and DJ Nobu will prove there's more to the Selectors concept than disco and house, while under-the-radar favourites like DJ Okapi, Zaltan, Jamie Tiller and Calypso Steve are likely to soundtrack those long, happy days under the baking Croatian sun.
RA Pick: The name Calypso Steve really says it all.
Mutek Montréal 2017
August 22 - August 28
2017 marks two big milestones for Montréal: the city celebrates its 375th anniversary, while Canada itself turns 150. Its electronic music community, meanwhile, will observe another coming of age story: MUTEK will turn 18, and move to a new stretch of the calendar (August instead of May). But however many years old it may be, the Quebecois festival has long since reached maturity, luring in dozens of forward-thinking artists from around the world each year, and highlighting the artistry of electronic performance by emphasizing the live act over the DJ (though there are plenty of those, too). With an extra day added to the programme, this year’s lineup is one of the best ever for the esteemed institution, with seasoned luminaries (Monolake, Surgeon) and inspired newcomers (Harvey Sutherland, Marie Davidson), electrifying club acts (Aurora Halal, rRoxymore) and bold avant-garde artists (Kara-Lis Coverdale, Murcof).
RA Pick: Even if RA weren't cohosting it, we'd have to recommend the closing night at SAT with the likes of Harvey Sutherland, Africaine 808, Kuniyuki and Kara-Lis Coverdale.
Fort Punta Christo, Pula, Croatia
August 30 - September 3
Dimensions is one of a small handful of dance music festivals to which punters return religiously year-on-year. Sure, the weather is glorious and the drinks are cheap, but the same goes for hundreds of other events across Europe. Instead, what lures people back is that most simple and sought-after of rave trifectas: breathtaking venues, first-rate acts and a crowd that knows its music. (The soundsystems, too, are some of the best around.) This year, you can dance to Helena Hauff and the Hessle Audio trio in The Moat, easily one of the world's best spaces for techno, or lose it to Kode9 and Equinoxx at Mungo's Arena, or, if you're up early enough, dig your feet into the sand and sway along to the sounds of Khruangbin, Antal and Dâm-Funk at The Beach, the festival's dedicated stage for funk, soul, house and disco.
RA Pick: Jeff Mills' debut at The Clearing, Dimensions' awe-inducing main stage, could go down as one of the sets of the summer.
Amsterdamse Bos, Amsterdam, Netherlands
August 2 - August 6
Festival timetables are most often discussed in terms of time clashes—do I see DJ X or DJ Y? But at this year's Dekmantel festival, organisers have clearly taken some joy in shaking things up, with headline acts Marcel Dettmann, Motor City Drum Ensemble and Nina Kraviz all given opening slots on the Selectors stage. How will they cope? It'll certainly offer them a chance to show the breadth of their collections outside the demands of peak-time sets. And how will Hunee and Antal, whose back-to-back session was a highlight of Dekmantel 2016, handle their closing slot on the main stage? These clever tweaks could provide some of the most joyous moments of this year's festival—but they'll have stiff competition from iconic acts like Tony Allen (who's playing with Jeff Mills), Steve Reich, Marcos Valle and Sun Ra Arkestra, as well as in-form contemporary artists like UMFANG, Vladimir Ivkovic and Beatrice Dillon.
RA Pick: Vladimir Ivkovic is no longer one of Europe's best-kept secrets. If you haven't seen him in action yet, here's your chance.
Bungalowdorf Olganitz, Olganitz, Germany
August 4 - August 6
With heady music at a beautiful location and a small but dedicated crowd, Nachtdigital is always a good time, but this year it will be something much more than that. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to call the festival's 20th edition a triumph for DIY parties in general, proof that you don't need corporate sponsorships, deep industry connections or even big name headliners to throw a world-class event—you just need good taste, a tenacious work ethic and a total lack of interest in profit. This August, what began as a bunch of teenagers playing records in a trailer finds itself, two decades later, as a globally respected festival and a leader in its scene. The 20th anniversary lineup is a bit more heavy-hitting than usual, with the likes of Jeff Mills and Ben UFO joining a sprawling cast of Nachtdigital regulars (Job Jobse, Manamana and The Wighnomy Brothers among others). But the crowd is still small, the décor is still homemade, and the whole thing is still the work of a few dozen dedicated people whose only goal is to throw an absolutely killer party for themselves and a couple thousand friends. Here's to 20 more.
RA Pick: Whatever you do, save your energy for the final dance on the lake stage, Nachtdigital's unforgettable send-off.
Editor's note: Yes, there are 11 festivals here. MUTEK's move to August from its traditional dates in May confused us far more than it should have, so it did not appear in our first version of this list—an error we could not let stand given the festival's exceptional programming and overall contribution to our scene year on year. Sometimes people make mistakes, even writers and editors in the esteemed field of Dance Music Journalism. Rest assured, everything will be back to normal next month.
See our full festival listings for August right here.