Ten of the best happening around the world in May.
Dunsford, United Kingdom
May 23 - May 27
Three and a half hours from London lies an 800-year-old estate hidden in the undulating hills bordering Dartmoor National Park. For four years now, it has hosted Virgo Festival, though that might hard to imagine seeing it from the outside. The secluded site looks as if Downton Abbey had been taken over by a tribe of raver hippies, offering mindful perks like healing ceremonies and yoga sessions. To celebrate its fifth year, the festival will run for four days over a bank holiday weekend, hosting a lineup as freewheeling as the spirit that guides it, with cult electro head Junq joining the likes of Francesco Del Garda and Joe Delon, who will go back-to-back with Gwenan.
RA Pick: Truly Madly back-to-back Jade Seatle will be a force to be reckoned with.
The Star Festival
Stihl no Mori Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan
May 18 - May 19
Only 40 minutes from Kyoto lies a hidden campsite where, for two blissful days, you can dance to a carefully curated lineup of domestic and international DJs. The all-ages policy means it's family friendly, too (you can even brings dogs). Expect a smart mix of house, techno and bass music, with sets from the likes of Shackleton, Powder, Fumiya Tanaka, Marcel Dettmann and Dub Phizix & Strategy. Also, don't forget to bring a couple warm layers so you're nice and cozy in the cold mountain air.
RA Pick: Powder just released an excellent mix for Tim Sweeney's new Beats In Space series. Make sure to catch her DJing on home turf.
San Francisco, United States of America
May 2 - May 5
MUTEK.SF has doubled-down for its second edition. The fledgling, multi-venue affair has landed rare appearances from an array of global iconoclasts—Legowelt, Shed and Drexicya's Gerald Donald, who performs with Dopplereffekt and solo as Arpanet. The festival also emphasizes the resilient Bay Area underground. Club Chai's Lara Sarkissian returns to the bill, while Abandoned Footwear & arc, of the Oakland collective Katabatik, make their MUTEK debut. Doc Sleep, who acts as a steward of the local scene through her Jacktone label, makes a triumphant return to San Francisco. Mozhgan and Dark Entries founder Josh Cheon will play back-to-back. The city's technological developments resound around the world. MUTEK.SF aims to bring its musical contributions into the global conversation.
RA Pick: Kelly Moran's virtuosic experiments for prepared piano and electronics.
Laboral Ciudad de la Cultura, Gijón, Spain
May 2 - May 5
Few festivals can rightfully claim to present what's next, but L.E.V., the intimate seaside event in the northern Spanish town of Gijón, is part of this rarified class. Centered around the ornate and ambidextrous Laboral Ciudad de la Cultura, the festival gives precedent to the artists who are pushing experimental and electronic music forwards, regardless of whether they sell out huge venues. The live-focused festival includes appearances from rising modular synthesist Caterina Barbieri, Swedish sound artist Klara Lewis and Holly Herndon collaborator Colin Self. The club sounds, too, mix the cerebral with the visceral. Lanark Artefax performs his Monolith show while Overmono and Broken English Club apply oblique strategies to banging techno.
RA Pick: Mumdance and WIFE's Bliss Signal project, a singular amalgam of weightless and metal.
Closer, Kiev, Ukraine
May 18 - May 19
Closer, located inside a sprawling former ribbon factory, is one of the world's best clubs. Strichka, its annual festival, is its busiest party, bringing several thousand local and international visitors through the doors for a rave that stretches from Saturday night through Monday morning. From the experimental (Burnt Friedman) to the thumping (Radioactive Man, Nastia), its lineup takes in a range of sophisticated sounds, culminating in a heady afterhours session on its open-air dance floor.
RA Pick: Vera's bass-loaded tunes light up parties like this.
Het Twiske, Netherlands
May 25 - May 26
While Dekmantel Festival and its Selectors spin-off enjoy the lion's share of attention outside the Netherlands, Lente Kabinet may be the local favourite. By only running across two days, it achieves a relatively low-key feel that's at odds with its top-of-the-line production and lineup. The 2019 edition continues a pivot toward live acts that began in earnest last year, with everyone from Warp star GAIKA to Afrobeat royalty Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 gracing the stage. The DJ side of the bill will be familiar to Dekmantel followers, while the emphasis on Dutch acts and emerging talents like Ribeka and Kristiina Männikkö heighten Lente Kabinet's family affair atmosphere.
RA Pick: upsammy excels from 70 to 180 BPM and everywhere in between.
Belfast, United Kingdom
May 31 - June 2
AVA shares a lot of traits with other dance music festivals—ex-industrial venue, daytime conference, stacked house and techno lineup—but its secret ingredient is something that can't be replicated: a young and loyal Irish crowd. Try as we might, words will never do the Belfast event justice, so warm and intoxicating is the atmosphere that courses through its veins. Whipped up by thousands of extremely enthusiastic ravers, the energy across the festival's numerous dance floors is as smiley and rambunctious as it gets. The artists lucky enough to experience it this year include Ben UFO, The Black Madonna, Avalon Emerson and Call Super.
RA Pick: AVA is heavy on underrated Irish talent, Cromby arguably chief among them.
Parc Del Forum, Barcelona, Spain
May 30 - June 1
Most festivals these days need to offer more than just a good lineup to stand out, whether it's gourmet food, conferences or wellness classes. Primavera Sound isn't most festivals. The Barcelona giant's lineup drop has become a yearly event, presenting the freshest and most sought-after names in rap, rock, pop and electronic music. The focus this year is on equality, with women making up more than 50 percent of the bill. That means headliners like Cardi B, Erykah Badu and Solange alongside ravier names such as SOPHIE, Yaeji, Helena Hauff, Laurel Halo, Anastasia Kristensen and Octo Octa, who's playing back-to-back with Eris Drew.
RA Pick: New flamenco star Rosalía on home soil.
May 28 - June 2
Festivals don't get slicker than Nuits Sonores, a world-famous, six-day takeover of the picturesque French city of Lyon. Held across a number of exciting venues (former factories, cultural centres, concert halls) kitted out with crisp soundsystems and well-stocked bars, each year's lineup assembles many of electronic music's top names, drawing from up-and-coming hotshots and established veterans. For the 17th edition, look out for sets by Marie Davidson, James Blake and Lorenzo Senni.
RA Pick: Glenn Underground's feel-good house was made for outdoor dance floors.
Hart Plaza, Detroit, United States of America
May 25 - May 27
Movement is the big daddy of US electronic music festivals. Taking place on the banks of the Detroit River, the three-day event is great for casual fans and diehard devotees alike. Its broad lineup attracts people from all walks of life, whether you prefer heady techno (DJ Nobu, Oscar Mulero, Umfang), rowdy rap (Danny Brown, Gucci Mane) or colorful house (Seth Troxler, Soul Clap, Yaeji). It's also an essential pilgrimage for any techno fan looking to pay their respects to Motor City heroes like Octave One, Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson and Floorplan. When the official festivities end at Hart Plaza each night, a whole world of afterparties comes to life, so you can either rest up and get ready for the next day or keep it going past sunrise. Just make sure you save some stamina for when Monday afternoon comes around.
RA Pick: The Detroit debut of Wajatta, AKA John Tejada and the multi-talented musician and comedian Reggie Watts.
See our full festival listings for May right here.