Indoors psytrance festival dons Antiworld take a punt on a 15,000-capacity outdoor rave in the Hampshire countryside. As you'd expect, it's chock full of the biggest names in the genre - Infected Mushroom, Hallucinogen, Skazi, Shpongle, Son Kite among the many – but it’s not wholly devoted to trance; also stirring up the doof dust will be James Holden, Adam Beyer, Hot Chip, Digitalism, Robert Hood, Ben Sims and Thomas Schumacher with breaks boffins Chew The Fat and Ninja Tune also running stages.
RA pick: Son Kite, the psytrance alter ego of Minilogue, are worth a squiz.
9. Lovebox Weekender
Dubbed as “a mini-Glastonbury in the heart of London”, the Lovebox Weekender brings together DJs and musicians handpicked by house duo Groove Armada, but it’s not as bad as you might think. They haven’t snagged a huge techno name this year (last year Villalobos played), but it’s more about the variety than genre purism. This year's two-day bash includes ten stages featuring indie (The Rapture, Fujiya & Miyagi), baile funk (Bonde Do Role), reggae (Toots & the Maytals), electropop (Hot Chip) and disco-punk (The Presets) with London club nights Secret Sundaze, Issst, Horse Meat Disco and Trojan Sound System all running individual stages. Have a wander round. Some of the most interesting names on the bill are the older ones: this year Sly and the Family Stone, Blondie and the B52's will all perform. Each night the music stops at 10:30 p.m. but the party carries on at the clubs around London.
RA pick: Deckmaster Diplo for the win.
Saturday | Sunday
Unlike the Euro invasion that is Sonar, Monegros is where the Spanish really go to party. Roughly sixty thousand of them in fact. Think Anti-Sonar but with better sound, bigger names, more bocadillos and less Brits. Held in a desert halfway between Madrid and Barcelona, the festival bridges the hot sounds in both cities with every kind of techno on offer from the hard and loopy (Umek, Marco Bailey, Michel de Hey) to the bleepy (Richie Hawtin, Gaiser) and noodly (Autechre) plus electro, hip hop and even a schranz showcase. Oh, those wacky Spanish. Detroit purists can also toot their whistles to Model 500, Scan7, Derrick May and Stacey Pullen, plus there are also big crowdpullers such as Underworld, Snoop Dogg and the Beasties. And lots of dust.
RA pick: Uncle Sven spinning picks from the new ‘Cocoon G comp’ – will he or won't he crowdsurf?
Monegros Desert Festival
7. Air Festival
Minimal in the mountains. Now in its third year, the Air Festival offers an escape from the summer heat halfway up a Swiss alp (Happily, the invite says ‘Take warm clothes’). The boutique festival is run by Swiss minimal label Imploz, and it’s not too big and not too small – think you and 1999 others. This year there’s a who’s who of the Swiss scene turning out including Kalabrese, Sonja Moonear from Junction SM and Gallopierende Zuversicht, while headliners include DJ Koze and Zip down from Germany. Worth the trek. But where’s Luciano?
RA Pick: Dandy Jack was off the hook at Sonar. Check out Los Refrescos, Dandy's live project with Argenis Brito.
Since breaking away from Glastonbury three years ago, Glade has come into its own as a friendly boutique festival just a short hop outside of the capital. This year the focus is on smaller tents and more intimate spaces with music spread over more stages than ever. There are dedicated breaks and trance tents, and the other ten stages will offer a broad sampling of electronic music on offer, ranging from dubstep to IDM to techno, without the genre overkill. Names on the bill include crossover acts such as Four Tet, Apparat and Trentemoller, so it’s a good festival to drag your non-dance mates along to. If you can blag tickets, that is – this one sold out long ago. Unlike other festivals, the Funktion 1 rig gets turned on, not off, after midnight. Favourite festival merchandise: balloons filled with laughing gas.
RA pick: Apparat and his laptop.
5. Exit Festival
Novi Sad, Serbia
Set in an eighteenth century fortress overlooking the Danube, Serbia's Exit Fest caters to music fans of all stripes over four nights: they’ve got everything from death metal to ska to hip hop to drum'n'bass happening everywhere you turn on both official and makeshift stages. The dance stage is perched over a moat-cum-valley, and this year electronic music fans can sway to Richie Hawtin, Magda, John Digweed, Trentemoller, Nic Fanciulli, and Danny Tenaglia as well as up-and-comers Justin Martin, Deepchild and Martin Landsky. Plenty of bling in the main arena too with live performances by Snoop Dogg, the Wu-Tang Clan and the Beastie Boys. But the real reason we like this festival: At less than a euro, Exit has the cheapest beer of any festival in Europe.
RA pick: Richie plays the sunrise set on day one.
Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday
4. Melt! Festival
July 13 - 15
Situated about two hours southwest of Berlin in a disused mine, the three day Melt! Festival brings together indie rock and techno and relishes the overlap. Spread across seven stages, Melt provides as many opportunities to bang your head as to shake your ass. At one end we have sets from The Thermals, The Notwist and Dizzie Rascal, at the other Autechre, Alex Smoke, Trentemøller, with Digitalism, The Faint and Von Südenfed (Mouse On Mars with The Fall's Mark E. Smith) straddling the middle ground. And, leather-chaps alert: Former members of Frankie Goes to Hollywood are singing all the hits as Frankie Says: Melt!
RA pick: Wighnomy Brothers closing out the Gemini Stage with good-humoured gusto.
Friday | Saturday
3. Synch Festival
Technopolis & Benaki Museum
Synch in Athens is a mini-version of Sonar or Mutek: think workshops, audio/visual installations as well as raving. The three-day festival is one of the few on the calendar at which live acts outnumber DJs and budding locals rub shoulders on the same stages as the internationals. The nighttime programme includes live sets from Chateau Flight, !!!, FM3, Stephan Bodzin and Thomas Brinkmann, while DJs include The Wighnomy Brothers and Prins Thomas. A lot of the action is indoors – leave your hat at home for this one.
RA pick: Deadbeat live – melodic and rocking dub techno.
Sunday | Monday | Tuesday
2. Festival Internactional de Benicassim
Now in its thirteenth year, Benicassim is one of Spain’s pioneering music festivals, mixing up pop, rock and dance music in a beachside town near Valencia. Think music + free camping + a beautiful beach. Headlining the dance stage this year are Carl Craig, The Rapture, Matthew Dear’s Big Hands, Simian Mobile Disco and Vitalic, but there’s also great rock to be had including Iggy & The Stooges, Fischerspooner and Devo as well as a rare appearance from Tropicalia legends Os Mutantes. Oh, and, er, the Arctic Monkeys.
RA pick: The Human League!
Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday
1. 10 Days Off
At last a festival where you're not forced to choose to between your ten favourite DJs all on at the same time. 10 Days Off cleverly spreads the fun over, er, eleven straight nights (but who's counting?) and three rooms in the opulent Vooruit Arts Centre. This year there are label turn outs from Get Physical, Bpitch Control, Minus and Turbo with BBC darling and dubsteppa Mary Anne Hobbs also bringing her crew. There’s a heavy showing of French artists with live sets from Joakim, Alex Gopher, Agoria and Laurent Garnier as well as Etienne de Crecy, Martin Solveig and Shonky on the decks. The only dilemma is which night to take off!
RA pick: Hard to pick one, but we love us some Konrad Black.
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Need more festivals? Check out our full international festival listings.