Essentially a supersized version of long-running Womb night Sterne, Wire is Japanese techno don Takkyu Ishino's annual extravaganza. Held in a Yokohama baseball stadium, Wire spares no expense on light and sound, although the more freespirited techno fan might balk at the sheep-like system of separating the crowd off into pens. Baaa. Caught in the crossfire this year will be Dave Clarke, Westbam, DJ Koze, Reinhard Voigt, Joris Voorn and Jesse Rose alongside homegrown stars such as Fumiya Tanaka, Ken Ishii, Ishino and of course roughly fifteen thousand nutty Japanese ravers. If you can survive twelve hours of nonstop banging techno, the train ride back to Tokyo on the Sunday morning is another spectacle in itself.
RA pick: Go Dutch and check out the always surprising Joris Voorn.
9. Green and Blue
Some labels throw the occasional club night, but techno giants like Cocoon throw their own festival. Held in a swimming pool complex in the Atlantis Forest fifteen minutes from Frankfurt, Green & Blue is a twelve-hour Sunday rave organised by crazy old Uncle Sven. If you were put off by the raids in Ibiza this year, this is as good a substitute with the cream of Cocoon's roster on show: Ricardo Villalobos, Andre Galluzzi, Alter Ego, Guy Gerber, Raresh etc. Random fact: The swimming pool is apparently near Sven's house, and here he did his first doggy paddle as a Sven tadpole. Isn't that cute? As in previous years, two sets from the festival will end up on the same-named compilation that drops soon after.
RA pick: Live techno from Alter Ego - why not?
Green and Blue
Italy's been playing catch up with Northern Europe in terms of electronic music for a couple of years now, and the latest weapon in their bow is the Nextech Festival in Florence, now in its second year. Held in an 19th century railway station, the lineup has a handpicked feel to it with a variety of genres represented: Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid play with Mr. Oizo, Moodymann plays with Barem and My My plays with DJ Koze. Despite the large space, the festival has more of a club than festival feel with comfy sofas, multimedia and videos and a friendly organiser-driven atmosphere. Three days long.
RA pick: Behind the sheet or on the sofa - Moodymann.
Thursday | Friday | Saturday
Sad to say, but you can count the worthwhile electronic music festivals in North America on one hand, and Decibel is your pinkie. Or maybe your ring finger. Now in its fourth year, the festival is held at nine venues around the city with a programme that includes something for both noodlers and stompers. Highlights this year include a collab between ambient dude Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie from the Cocteau Twins, a showcase of Claude VonStroke's new label Mothership featuring himself and Italoboyz and a Diplo vs. Switch vs Simian Mobile Disco nu rave up.
RA pick: Claude VonStroke for a proper bum wiggle.
Opening Gala | Orac Showcase | Death of the Party | Future Funk | Rage With a Machine | Ambient Landscapes | Sensory Effect | Raster-Noton | Memex | Decibel Finale
6. N.A.M.E Festival
Lille, Roubaix, Laubeuge & Dunkirk, France
September 20 - October 6
N.A.M.E is an art and music festival happening over three weekends in Lille, Roubaix, Maubeuge and Dunkirk in Northern France. Alongside experimental electronic nights, art exhibitions, and this being France, a roundtable discussion with philosopher Yves Michaud (!), the dance side of the equation tends towards the electro end of the spectrum with Modeselektor, Ellen Allien, Alter Ego, Radio Slave, Fairmont, Petter, The Orb, Ivan Smagghe, Nathan Fake and Jennifer Cardini in to spin. Clubwise, first weekend is three nights in Roubaix, followed by a clubnight in Maubeuge and the final blowout is on the shoreline in a Dunkirk casino. Watch out also for the tres chic 'Toilet Disco' in the, er, toilets.
RA Pick: Power electronics from Pan Sonic on the opening night in Roubaix
La Condition Publique | La Condition Publique | La Condition Publique | Le Manege | Le Kursaal
September 22, 23, 29, 30 & October 1
Various cities, Australia
Australia shakes off the winter blues with Parklife once again mixing up breaks, house, electro, hip hop and turntablism. This year there’s a heavy dance-punk contingent including Justice, MSTRKRFT, Digitalism, Busy P, Riot In Belgium and Ajax from The Bang Gang DJs, while Adam Freeland, FreQ Nasty, Scratch Perverts, Kid Kenobi will keep the traditional Aussie breaks crowds out of the house and on the grass. But we have to ask - what is Australia's fascination with breaks all about? Anyhow, stay tuned for the afterparties.
RA pick: Justice for a good old 'D.A.N.C.E' mumblealong
Sydney | Melbourne | Adelaide | Perth | Brisbane
4. Electric Picnic
Stradbally Hall Estate
August 31 - September 2
This one sold out months ago, but it's worth trying your luck with scalpers to sneak into Ireland's biggest and best summer festival. Zigzagging between stages will net you live sets from The Chemical Brothers, Beastie Boys, The Field, UNKLE and Fujiya & Miyagi but you'd do worse than to just stick it out in the Bodytonic Stage where big names in techno (Josh Wink, Derrick May), house (Larry Heard, Derrick Carter, Ame & Dixon), indie dance (Simian Mobile Disco), disco (The Glimmers) and drum n bass (DJ Marky) duke it out over the three days.
RA pick: Larry Heard - will he be excused for playing 'The Sun Can't Compare'?
Friday | Saturday | Sunday
Popkomm is a three day/four night celebration of music of every ilk held and one of Germany's biggest professional conferences/exhibitions. Daytime sees industry bigwigs schmooze it out but at night Berlin's clubs come alive - as good an excuse as any to hop on Air Berlin as it's one of the rare weekends when you can catch many of the city's top dance acts and labels back in their hometown. Label showcases by many of Germany's biggest dance labels: !K7, Minus, Get Physical, BPitch Control, International Deejay Gioolo, Sonar Kollektiv, Poker Flat and Mobilee. There's also non-Germans too - the newly reborn Tresor are hosting a Strictly Rhythm bash.
RA pick: Tiefschwarz, Osunlade and Kenny Dope spin house in the Tresor church of techno.
Wednesday: Mobilee | Wax On | Get Physical
Thursday: !K7 | Ninja Tune | Diamond Traxx | BPitch Control
Friday: Gigolo | Official Popkomm Night | Minus | Sonar Kollektiv
Outdoor festival fans in Japan are usually split in two camps: those who attend commercial techno parties such as Metamorphose or those who make do with loved-up trance doofs in the bush. Labyrinth happily splits the difference, offering the musical variety of the former with the non-commercial attitude of the latter. Strictly limited to 1500 tickets, the four day festival gets the details right: candles instead of crowd barriers, a Funktion One soundsystem, complimentary deckchairs and a stunning lineup - this year sees Cobblestone Jazz, Minilogue, Alex Smoke, Aril Brikha, DJ Three, Ryan Elliott, Adam Beyer, Surgeon and Donato Dozzy heading up to Gunma. And after your four days are up, the local hot spring beckons.
RA pick: Donato Dozzy's set should sum up Labyrinth nicely.
Robin Hill Country Park
The Isle of Wight, England
It's on the site of a country park, it holds the record for the largest fancy dress party in the world and has an inflatable church where people can get married. Plus it's on the Isle of Wight, which is the weirdest part of all. Yes, Bestival isn't really the kind of middle-of-the-road corporate affair many festivals have become – and that's why it's so special. Music-wise there are big names but there's also leftfield (dance) music of all descriptions from dubstep to trendy folk and floppy-haired guitar-playing upstarts. There are ten arenas of various sizes, one of which is run by the BBC, another of which is a dance tent – but not that kind of dance tent; we're talking a 'Come Dancing' style affair with magic mirrors and waltzing lessons. If that's all too much you can always retreat to the Women's Institute tent and be served strong teeth by toothless pensioners. The only drawback is it's sold out, so unless you've got well connected chums, keep your eyes peeled for any competitions still giving away tickets. And if you even think about jumping the fence then Bestival's wizards will transport you to the specially created prison floating five miles out to sea where you'll be fed nothing but bad ham for two months. I swear, they will.
RA pick: Whoa - Soul II Soul Soundsystem live!
Need more festivals? Check out our full international festival listings.