SW4 gets points for bang for your buck: Forty pounds buys you access to the biggest names in progressive, trance and breaks right on London's doorstep. A daytime party happening over ten hours, if you're fed up with elbows in overcrowded clubs and willing to put your faith in the English weather gods, SW4 is a good bet for Bank Holiday weekend. The dressing rooms at this one are going to be big: lined up are Paul Van Dyk, Sasha, John Digweed, Roger Sanchez, Josh Wink and Plump DJs among twenty-odd acts. Trance fans are in for a double treat with PVD also headlining the afters at the Brixton Academy.
RA pick: Latest GU picks Layo & Bushwacka! - tens of thousands of Brazilians can't be wrong.
South West Four London | South West Four Afterparty
9. TDK Cross Central
Kings Cross Goods Yard
The idea behind TDK is simple: take some of London's best promoters and get them to program a stage each at the Kings Cross Freight Depot. The result is a diverse two days out across ten stages, but don't try to get to everything: best make your choices early and stick with them to avoid to the squeeze. Saturday night is aimed more at the nu-rave/indie set, with breaks and hip-hop also featured, while Sunday night is the real deal for house and techno heads. A sampling of the more than 80 scheduled acts include Switch, Chloe, Joakim and Optimo on the Saturday, and Ricardo Villalobos, Tiefschwarz, Daniel Bell and Theo Parrish on Sunday. Get in.
RA pick: Check out Martin Buttrich's live set.
Saturday | Sunday
SonneMondSterne is an apt name for this massive German festival, as its sprawling and diverse line-up has something for everyone under the sun, moon and stars. Around 150 acts will play over two days, running the gamut between the biggest of big names (The Chemical Brothers, Paul Van Dyk, Faithless) and finest of the underground (Ame, Tobi Neumann, Ricardo Villalobos, Henrik Schwarz, Laurent Garnier, Ellen Allien, Sven Vath, James Holden, etc). Get your diaries out now and start making maps and charts or you'll miss everything...
RA pick: Romanian up-and-comer Raresh in the Cocoon tent.
Friday | Saturday
Beach on the Vistula River
After an impressive debut in 2006, Audioriver returns, this time in an expanded two-day format that again features budding locals playing alongside bigger international names. Best thing about it - it won't cost you a cent. Friday's programme focuses on drum'n'bass (Fabio & Grooverider, Future Prophecies) and techno (Pascal FEOS, Andre Galluzzi) while Saturday features progressive (Hybrid, Infusion, Spooky) and minimal techno (Robert Babicz, Jacek Sienkiewicz, Jake Fairley). Look out also for live performances from Matthew Dear's Big Hands, Tigerskin aka Dub Taylor and DJ sets from X-Press 2, Martinez and Oliver Huntemann alongside a thirty-strong cast of Polish locals including S.L.G and Etiop. There's also a chill-out area and a cinema to boot. And did we mention it's totally free?
RA pick: Local talent Jacek Sienkiewicz for the win.
Friday | Saturday
Suvilhati Power Plant
Flow is the contemporary arm of the wider Helsinki Festival pitting the cream of Finnish jazz and soul against international names in dance and pop over three days and nights. This year the festival moves to a new home, the Suvilhati power plant, with a programme that includes Sebastien Telllier as well as the Finnish debuts of !!! and legendary punk funkers ESG, while the club arena hosts sets from Carl Craig, Mathew Jonson and Tiefschwarz. Flow is as much about the homegrown talents as it is about the guests so be sure to check out Finnish talents like Luomo and Jori Hulkonnen on home soil.
RA pick: Luomo: making techno nerds sway to RnB since 2000.
Friday | Saturday | Sunday
Small country, big festival. Pukkelpop is one of the biggest draws in Europe - this year over 130,000 people are expected to attend the three-day party along the Kempische Steenweg. Starting out as an indie festival in the eighties, the festival has slowly by surely morphed into a more electronic-friendly event, albeit one that still retains its rock edge: turning out this year are posses from Ed Banger (Justice, SebastiAn), DFA Records (LCD Soundsystem), Kitsune (Digitalism, Gildas&Masaya) Modular (MSTRKRFT, New Young Pony Club), Turbo (Boys Noize, Tiga) as well as errant rock types such as Erol Alkan, Black Strobe and Shitdisco. There's even a duo named Nid & Sancy on the bill just so you get the idea. But if you're not the greasy haired type, fear not: on the menu you'll also find house (Basement Jaxx, Dennis Ferrer), baile funk (Bondo Do Role), grime (Dizzie Rascal), dubstep (Skream), techno (Laurent Garnier, Dominik Eulberg), drum n bass (Andy C), disco (The Glimmers) and indietronica (James Holden, Apparat). Something for everyone then.
RA pick: Dennis Ferrer in the appropriately named Boiler Room. Hot.
Thursday | Friday | Saturday
4. c/o Pop Festival
The c/o Pop Festival is a great excuse for fans of Cologne's distinct take on techno to make a pilgrimage. Centering around four days of conferences, exhibitions and industry events, the festival spreads out at night into the clubs when labels descend on Cologne to play their wares to the dancefloor. Hometown faves Kompakt will of course be the night to beat: this year's Total party features most of the big players from the stable (Michael Mayer, Superpitcher, The Field, Tobias Thomas) across two floors, but the biggest buzz will be reserved for the live reunion of Wolfgang Voigt and Jïrg Burger - the first time Burger/Ink have performed in ten years. Elsewhere are parties from Innervisions, ICI vs. Dial, Ware vs. Mobilee, Platzhirsch vs. Ostgut Ton, Hartchef vs. Moon Harbour and Traum. No time for sightseeing with that lot happening.
RA pick: Front and centre for Burger/Ink.
Full event listings: c/o Pop week in Cologne
Smack bang between Leipzig and Dresden, Nachtdigital's out-of-the-way location tends to keep the lazy, big city types away and makes it one of the few German festivals filled with real music lovers and fans. Hand-drawn decorations and lifesized wooden cartoon characters make the festival grounds more of a playground than just another field. The festival's signature Hollywood sign perhaps best expresses the light-hearted spirit of the party, but the musical roster is seriously good: Carl Craig, Ricardo Villalobos, Michael Mayer, Mouse on Mars, James Holden, Redshape and plenty more. Not one weak link in fact. But if past years are anything to go by, expect sets by, er, "local" stars such as Mathias Kaden and Daniel Stefanik to trump those of the guests. How rude.
RA pick: Michael Mayer and Tobias Thomas tag team over breakfast on the final day.
Friday | Saturday
2. Creamfields Andalucia
Playa de Villaricos
The Spanish version of long-running UK festival Creamfields trims off the hard dance and trance and transplants itself to a beach on the south coast. A dream come true then. Staged by the brains behind Barcelona's Razzmatazz complex, Creamfields Andalucia is one of the few Spanish festivals where the dance names actually outnumber the indie ones. Expect to see thirty three DJs and live acts spread across four stages covering techno (Derrick May, Josh Wink), electro (Booka Shade, Rex The Dog), electronica (The Prodigy) and (a rarity in Spain) even house. Partying outdoors under the stars on the beach while quaffing San Miguel - it doesn't get much better than this.
RA pick: The new, housey Luciano.
1. Zurich Street Parade
Now that the Love Parade has moved to Essen, The Zurich Street Parade takes the mantle of the biggest outdoor rave in the Europe. But that's no reason to stay away. While trance and prog fans can tuck into the main parade festivities of Paul Van Dyk, Sander Kleinenberg, James Zabiela, Nic Fanciulli and Sander van Doorn, in the clubs there is plenty of undergound action with promoters hosting parties and mini-festivals from Thursday night through to Monday morning. DekaDance are putting on three nights of mini-fest with highlights including Sven Vath, Ricardo Villalobos and local lad Dandy Jack; the Lethargy Festival runs from Friday to Monday with Alex Smoke, Gui Boratto and the Wighnomy Bros on the bill; while Moving City features Jeff Mills, Gabriel Ananda, Radio Slave and more. Elsewhere around the city there are nights hosting Ame, Matthias Tanzmann and Samim that will the rave till the morning. And if you've got a spare hour, you can do some international banking.
RA pick: It's not all trance and prog - Richie Hawtin is rocking the main parade.
Zurich Street Parade | Full event listings: Street Parade weekend, Zurich
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