Our monthly series returns with ten of the best from around the globe.
The Beat Hotel
March 19 - March 22
In the past few years, Morocco has become a new destination for dance music festivals. Beat Hotel, which launched in 2019, is primed to become one of the key events in the country's calendar. A big part of that is down to pedigree: Beat Hotel was once a beloved stage at Glastonbury, until finally leaving the UK festival last year for warmer pastures. The spirit lives on with clever crossover bookings like Floating Points and Gilles Peterson, along with a healthy number of Moroccan artists, such as Polyswitch, Driss Bennis and Maâlem Houssam Guinia. The festival takes place at a resort just outside Marrakech, so you can spend your downtime relaxing or exploring one of North Africa's most vibrant cities.
RA Pick: Casa Voyager, the Casablanca crew making some of the best house, techno and electro around.
Knoxville, United States
March 26 - March 29
Big Ears built its reputation by venturing where few events of it scale in the States would dare. By fully embracing experimental music in all its forms, Big Ears makes its vision clear: you attend not just to enjoy music but to be transformed by it. With the likes of sax demolitionist Peter Brötzmann, drone lord Phill Niblock and harp deconstructionist Zeena Parkins, we see the 20th century's finest still pointing toward the future, while their modern day acolytes (Caterina Barbieri, Astrid Sonne, Sarah Davachi) continue the tradition of fearless experimentation.
RA Pick: Annette Peacock's vocal acrobatics.
February 28 - March 1
Milkman has played a crucial role in pushing leftfield dance music in Mumbai and across India, touring the likes of DJ Stingray and Interstellar Funk in a nightlife climate that has been slow to support more challenging acts. Big ups to Milkman, then, on the standout bill for the second edition of their festival, Terminal 1, which takes place in three Mumbai venues at the start of March. The crew will bring electro phenom Helena Hauff back to the city, with additional slots for Neil Landstrumm, Luca Lozano, Samo DJ and Henry Wu, plus a grip of locals, including Yung Raj, Anushka and CHRMS.
RA Pick: Aïsha Devi, whose recent live sets have resembled exorcisms.
March 25 - March 30
Listen!, like ADE or inner city electronic, makes an entire city its venue. Rather than corralling the audience into one space, it sends is attendees fanning out across Brussels, dancing in historic spots like Les Brigittines, a chapel-like centre for contemporary dance. This year's marathon programme is a cross-section of dance music in 2020, with a sprawling lineup that spans Bradley Zero, Yu Su, Skee Mask, Roza Terenzi and the Hessle Audio trio, plus well-established pioneers like Terrence Dixon and Gilles Peterson.
RA Pick: With his label, STROOM, Nosedrip is a steward of Belgium's rich musical legacy.
inner city electronic
Leeds, United Kingdom
March 7 - March 8
Last month, Ralph Lawson announced he was leaving seminal Leeds party Back To Basics after 28 years as resident. This is a blow to the city's nightlife, but there's an upside, too: Lawson can now fully concentrate on inner city electronic, the 24-hour festival he helped launch in 2018. As curator, he's responsible for this year's heady lineup, which sees more than 50 acts spread across eight venues, including top-drawer spots like The Warehouse, Freedom Mills and Wire (where Resident Advisor will be hosting a party.) Highlights include Orbital, Peggy Gou, Surgeon and Kosh. Also, don't miss Lawson on home turf.
RA Pick: Detroit In Effect at Hifi, a cosy basement club that usually hosts soul, pop and comedy nights.
March 5 - 7
For centuries, Istanbul has been home to some of the most stunning music, art and architecture on the planet. Next month's edition of Sónar will combine that rich history with three days of forward-thinking electronic music, hosting a lineup of international stars, nerdy heroes and local talents in this beautiful metropolis. Alongside techno acts like Ben Klock and Paula Temple, you can catch mind-bending sets from experimentalists like Actress and Tzusing, who share the lineup with some of the best electronic acts Turkey has to offer. Whether you're a local electronic music fan or a curious foreigner, Sónar Istanbul combines worlds like few other festivals.
RA Pick: Ece Özel, a killer local DJ with a taste for weird, wonderful dance music.
March 4 - March 8
MUTEK's Barcelona edition is like a warm-up for the city's summer festival season. You still get a world-class lineup, but with a more cerebral vibe and a focus on live performances. This year feels especially exciting with the worldwide live debuts of two huge artists, Special Request and Levon Vincent, plus DJ sets from the likes of Sherelle, DJ Plead and MARICAS resident ISAbella. Those looking for the festival's signature highbrow electronics should check out more subdued sets from Grand River and Tomoko Sauvage.
RA Pick: Jane Fitz going all night long at Nitsa.
March 4 - March 8
Never a festival to shy away from existential questions, this year Elevate asks us: what is humanity's greatest challenge? The climate, or human nature itself? Over 30 discourse events and a week's worth of contemporary art will use these ideas as a starting point for knowledge sharing and raising awareness, all backed up by an equally thought-provoking music programme. Performances of key works by French composers Luc Ferrari and Jean-Claude Risset give you a sense of how lofty things get at Elevate, but just as much emphasis is placed on the party-rocking side of things, thanks to DJs like, re:ni, Sherelle and Peach.
RA Pick: Michael Rother and Gudrun Gut's collaborative performance unites two Germans whose work helped shape music as we know it.
Pitch Music & Arts
March 6 - March 9
For four days in March, a section of sprawling, picturesque grasslands a few hours west of Melbourne hosts one of the best parties in the world. This year's Pitch Music & Arts will bring a few dozen high-profile house, techno and disco acts for its fourth edition, wrapping up a long, hot (and destructive) Australian summer. Midland, Aurora Halal, Marcel Dettmann and Regis are among the international names due to touch down at the foot of the Grampians mountain range, joined by an all-star cast of local DJs that includes Moopie, Late Nite Tuff Guy and Sleep D.
RA Pick: Go on a trip with Skatebård, Norway's favourite cosmic explorer.
Southport, United Kingdom
March 12 - March 16
There's a beautiful paradox at the heart of Bangface. Its venue, Southport Holiday Park, is decrepit and bleak. The weather is typically crap: cold, wet, windy, you name it. A decent meal is hard to come by. By all accounts, you should be miserable, but instead you're having the time of your life. This is the magic of Bangface, the UK's favourite rave weekender, a full-hearted celebration of our dear culture played out in dazzling technicolour. Does any festival in the world have a better sense of humour? Where else can you get a free haircut from a drunk man live on TV? But don't be fooled. Bangface is also extremely on point when it comes to the important stuff: sound, visuals, production. Every year, the lineup spans the full spectrum of rave—no taste, no matter how extreme, goes neglected. 2020's highlights include Helena Hauff, Fabio & Grooverider, Estonian rapper Tommy Cash, Altern-8, Sherelle, Partiboi69, jungle pioneer Lennie De Ice and Squarepusher, who will premiere a new live show, just for Bangface.
RA Pick: Fabio & Grooverider celebrating 30 years of seminal London party Rage.
See our full festival listings for March right here.