March 31 - April 6
Snowbombing is a week-long English ski'n'rave fest set in the picturesque Austrian alps. If wigging out in an igloo or a club made out of packed snow is your thing, this is the fest for you. Musically, the line-up is Brit-heavy with breaks and drum'n'bass dominating the bill, but there's also big names in dance rock (Surkin, Para One), cosmic disco (Lindstrom, Todd Terje), deep house (Sasse) and fidget house (Trevor Loveys). To be expected, really, with Blighty nights Together, Issst and Bugged Out helping out with the programming. Remember to pack your frillies for some fancy dress street parade action.
RA pick: Disco kid Todd Terje digging out the re-edits at the Tirk party.
Brisbane | Perth | Sydney | Melbourne | Adelaide
March 1, 2, 8, 9, 16
Various cities, Australia
As the Oz summer winds down, this nationwide festival happens in all major capital cities throughout March. This year they've roped in big guns like the Chemical Brothers, John Digweed and Sven Vath, who are all touring for the first time in yonkers so expect plenty of cheers. There's also breaks (Evil Nine, Elite Force), bands (The Black Ghosts, WhoMadeWho), house (Roger Sanchez, Laidback Luke), electrohouse (Mark Knight, Carl Kennedy) with the rest of the line-up filled out by local club nights.
RA pick: The Chemical Brothers for the stadium electronica finish. See them now or wait three more years.
8. Sperm Festival
Prague, Czech Republic
Judging by the line-up of the oddly-named Sperm Festival, we’re picking the Czech Republic as the unsung hero of European party destinations. It’s a three-day run of club, art and cinema nights much like Berlin's Club Transmediale. Opening night has a Raster-Noton showcase with Frank Bretschneider and Byetone, while Canadian dubhead Deadbeat gets on the couch for the Red Bull Academy during the day. Jason Forrest's grindcore-gabba crew night Wasted jets in from Berlin with Modeselektor & Pfadfinderei, Deadbeat and Joakim & His Ectoplasmic Band playing the finale.
RA pick: BPitch Control's nu-rave monsters Modeselektor know how to bring the party.
7. Ultra Music Festival
Friday | Saturday
WMC’s traditional closer is the Creamfields of America. This year the fest celebrates ten years with an all-star blowout that boasts megaDJs like Richie Hawtin, Tiesto, Sasha & John Digweed and Paul Van Dyk spinning alongside part-timers Justice and Moby over two days on seven stages. Underworld's Smith & Hyde are showing their faces, too. Over one hundred DJs and electronic acts in total will perform, bringing prog, trance, dance rock, breaks, drum'n'bass, techno and house to 70,000 or so candy ravers.
RA pick: French dance-metal heads Justice spinning right before Tiesto. Will they or won't they finish on Rage Against the Machine?
6. Klubbers’ Day
Friday | Saturday
In Spain they have Mother's Day, Father's Day and err, Klubbers' Day. Or two of them actually. Klubbers Day is Madrid’s all-out indoor stadium rave put on by Klubbers FM. And, being Spanish, there’s a lot of old school techno (Sven Väth, Vitalic, Alexander Kowalski, Scan7, Misstress Barbara, Marco Carola, The Advent, James Ruskin) but non-believers are also catered for with disco (Juan Maclean, Pat Mahoney), dance rock (autoKratz), house (Blake Baxter), hip-hop (Mos Def, De La Soul) and rock (Black Strobe) as well as new kids too (Sebastian Roya, Marc Marzenit). Expect neontastic eye-piercing green lasers, big screen tellys and tens of thousands of Spanish. Bring your binoculars if you want to see the DJ.
RA pick: Italian stallion Dusty Kid triggering Bodzin-style electrohouse bombs from his laptop.
5. Playground Weekender
Del Rio Riverside Resort
Hawkesbury River, Australia
The most grown-up of fests on the Australian calendar, this unofficial Bestival knock-off happens on the banks of the Hawkesbury River at a holiday resort. Aimed more at the late twenty-somethings rather than the fluffy leg warmer brigade, this is the kind of festival you could probably bring Mum and Dad to. There are three stages of live bands and DJs happening over three days and not a yobbo in sight. On the invite list are record heads Steve Bug, Will Saul, Ben Watt and Ralph Lawson plus live shows from Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown, Kruder & Dorfmeister and others. Oh, and plenty of furry animals—thanks to a resident population of kangaroos.
RA pick: Skin up to G-stoners Kruder & Dorfmeister on the main stage.
Friday | Saturday | Sunday
Set in the historic domed Gashouder, the best of the early lowlands fests is a sure-fire techno thumper with Dutch, British and American techno dons squaring off over three nights. Friday has an all-Dutch line-up (Shinedoe, Steve Rachmad, District One), Saturday has British techno covered (Claro Intelecto, British Murder Boys, Dave Clarke) and Easter Sunday, big on the thump, goes all Detroit (Octave One, Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson) as the Dutch love to do. Expect flames, fireworks and a laser show to beat all laser shows on all three nights. Ask nicely and you can probably score some Easter eggs, of sorts, too.
RA pick: Detroit techno legend Daniel Bell for the win.
Centro Costa Salguero
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Billed as the Latin equivalent to the WMC, the SAMC takes place in Buenos Aires on the week until March 8th with panels, seminars, networking and smaller parties all building up to a main party blowout on Saturday. 22,000 are expected at the port-side Costa Salguero complex for four stages of house (Justin Robertson), trance (Ferry Corsten, Christopher Lawrence), techno (Matthew Dear, Adam Beyer, Marco Carola) and electro/progressive. Expect air-conditioning—vital at this time of year in BA—stalls, flamethrowers, jugglers and sideshows, not to mention plenty of afterparties happening all around the city.
RA Pick: Get in early for stylish Argentinean Nico Purman.
2. Bloc Weekend
Pontin's Holiday Park
Like last year’s BLOC debut, this year’s festival sold out weeks in advance. This 2,500 capacity fest is held in an off-season holiday park over three nights, with the music focusing on dubstep, techno and experimental electronics, particularly of the homegrown UK variety. The dozens of acts include Dave Clarke, Skream, the Black Dog and Appleblim, and internationals such as UR, Juan Atkins, Karl Bartos and Convextion. Top class stuff. The only thing we worry about, though, is the boy/girl ratio. Because it’s a holiday park, you can also indulge in pleasures of a more ironic kind: Go-karts, a death-slide, arcade games and bingo will all be present and accounted for. Hi De Hi, Ho De Ho.
RA Pick: Modern Love hero Andy Stott. If ‘Hostile’ doesn’t make you rave, see a doctor.
1. Winter Music Conference 2008
Hands down the best bang-for-your-buck in March is Miami's weeklong club-hopping conference-cum-festival. With over three hundred parties happening in bars, yachts, art galleries, hotels, record stores, beaches and, yes, clubs, expect to be hitting the pavement of South Beach in Downtown Miami aplenty. Unlike previous years, the parties have diversified with little and big Europeans heading across the pond to headline. 2008's label showcases include (deep breath) Innervisions, Freak n' Chic, Ovum vs Poker Flat, Get Physical, Crosstown Rebels, Mobilee, Spectral Sound, Kompakt, Marine Parade, Minus, Raw Fusion, SCI + TEC, Objektivity, Drumcode, Wave and loads more. See you on Washington Ave!
RA pick: Brothers in rhythm Steve and Chris Martinez at the Objektivity party.
Need more festivals? Check out our full international festival listings.