Earlier this year, inthemix took a ‘round-the-world trip in our 25 Festivals To Discover Before You Die. Our idea was to side-step the mega-festivals everyone knows – Tomorrowland, EDC Vegas, Coachella, Burning Man, Ultra and the like – and turn the spotlight on some personal favourites of the ITM team. From a five-day camp-out right in the middle of Morocco’s Sahara Desert to the stunning Naeba Greenland in Japan to our #1 party marathon Kazantip, our 25 picks stirred up debate, cheering and a whole lot of FOMO.
With so many hidden and not-so-hidden gems on the festival calendar all year ‘round, we decided it was time for a sequel that travels to New Orleans, Puerto Rico, Poland, New York City and many stops in between. So, what’s missing from our party itinerary?
#25 CREAMFIELDS BA
WHY: In 2001, Buenos Aires became the first international location that UK-based festival juggernaut Creamfields expanded to. By 2012, Creamfields BA was far and away the biggest festival in South America. Every November, dance music’s world-class cast – last year it was David Guetta, Calvin Harris, PVD, Richie Hawtin and more – make their way down to Argentina for one long summer night.
By all accounts, Creamfields BA lives up to its reputation as the best party in South America, keeping the festival running until 6am the next day. When the music stops, spend your hangover unwinding in one of the most picturesque cities in the continent.
WHEN: November 9, 2013
WHERE: Buenos Aires, Argentina
#24 VOODOO EXPERIENCE
WHY: The morning after Halloween, New Orleans dusts off the cobwebs and kicks off three big days of Voodoo Festival. Combining music, arts, bohemian culture and soul food (hello, corn bread!) Voodoo comes complete with art installations, amusement park rides and (if you pony up for a VIP ticket) a lounge with arcade games, massages and more. Part of the revelry goes down in a 40-foot-long cargo container repurposed into a 3,000 person entertainment complex, and it’s all set in the outdoor splendour of New Orleans’ city park. It’s also one of those ‘best of both worlds’ deals – you can camp on site if you want to be in the action 24/7, or retreat to the city to stay in a hotel if you’d rather be close to your hairdryer.
Sure, Voodoo Fest isn’t purely a dance festival – on any given year you’d be just as likely to see Eminem or Red Hot Chili Peppers headlining as you would Deadmau5 – but the bills are always star-studded. This year, dance fans are well catered to, with the likes of Calvin Harris, Bassnectar, Afrojack, Boys Noize and Rudimental all locked in to play.
WHEN: November 1-3, 2013
WHERE: New Orleans, United States
WHY: 2013 marked the 16th year of Germany’s über-popular Nachtdigital festival – two nights and three days of outdoor raving at a holiday camp in Olganitz, that went down on the first weekend of August. Think pine forests, idyllic lakes, alpine bungalows and 30-plus DJs, headed up this year by Michael Mayer alongside Ame, James Holden, Mark E, the Giegling Family’s micro-house and dub-techno, and more from the worlds of bass to minimal.
Tickets are limited to 3,000 and famously sell-out within hours, which means if you’re hoping to check out Nachtdigital you’ll have to be vigilant to secure your spot in 2014. Sign-up to their newsletter to stay abreast of dates and tickets for next year, and find out first-hand why this intimate affair is one of the world’s most desirable festivals.
WHEN: Early August
WHERE: Bungalowdorf Olganitz, Germany
#22 NUITS SONORES
WHY: Welcoming spring to the beautiful (and hard-partying) city of Lyon every May, Nuits Sonores enters its fourteenth year with a reputation as France’s premier electronic and indie rock festival. Their programming remit ranges from the accessible and zeitgeist-y to the (very) experimental, which means 2013 saw everyone from The Raveonettes, Disclosure and James Blake to off-beat Brussels producer Squeaky Lobster.
While the 2014 line-up hasn’t been announced yet, 2013 saw more than 170 acts spread across the city for four days and nights, including countless ‘Sound Aperos’ – free ‘warm-up’ bars all over the city – and the famed ‘Circuits’, where a small entry fee gets you into 10+ clubs with staggered (and staggering) line-ups.
This May, for instance, you could have seen Seth Troxler followed by Black Strobe or the Kompakt crew, moved onto Manoo, Stacey Pullen or Andhim, and wound things up by 6am with Philipp Jung from M.A.N.D.Y. Nuits Sonores also hosts the annual European Lab, where festival and arts event organisers from across Europe come together to network – so if you’re looking for a way into working on a European festival, it’s a good bet.
WHEN: May 28 to June 1, 2014
WHERE: Lyon, France
#21 TIME WARP
WHY: OK, in truth, Time Warp is more a gargantuan party than it is a festival, but it’s as much a destination as any entry on this list. Each March, a staggering roll-call of techno and house talent convenes in southern Germany at Maimmarkthalle for an epic all-nighter across several rooms – some more cavernous than others. 2014 will be Time Warp’s 20th edition, which surely means an all-star cast will be assembled, but you can always count on scene heroes like Sven Vath, Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox, Ricardo Villalobos, Ben Klock and Chris Liebing. Some of the best sets happen as Sunday morning journeys headlong into the afternoon.
As our reviewer wrote in 2012: “There are no overblown headliners booked to draw a larger crowd, no concessions to other genres, and even though the DJs might be playing to 10,000 strong crowds at some points, there are certainly no compromises in their musical selections. Every other scene could only hope to have a flagship party as excellent as this to make the pilgrimage for every year.”
WHEN: March 2014
WHERE: Mannheim, Germany
#20 DANCE VALLEY
WHY: With a reputation as “the Woodstock of dance”, you know the Netherlands’ Dance Valley is going to be one for the bucket list. Since 1995, Spaarnwoude (a small town about 30 minutes out of Amsterdam) has regularly hosted big names like Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, Richie Hawtin and big-room, techno, house, hardstyle and trance fans will find themselves well catered to year on year. Still need persuading? It’s all crammed into one day, it’s set in a postcard-ready Dutch valley at the height of the European summer and tickets start at just €66. The 2013 edition went down on the first weekend of August, with a spectacular mainstage design and rolling green fields to romp on.
WHEN: August 2014; date TBC
WHERE: Spaarnwoude, Netherlands
#19 SUN CITY MUSIC FESTIVAL
WHY: Tired of festival-ing in the well-trod hubs of L.A., Las Vegas and New York? Mix it up a bit and head south to El Paso, Texas for Sun City Music Festival. Just north of the Mexican border, the biggest dance festival in the Lone Star State does outdoor partying in style.
Running from 6pm to 2am over two days, SCMF takes over the 448-acre Ascarate Park and transforms it into a three stage, art installation-adorned rave wonderland. This year, they’ve recruited top-tier headliners Tiesto and Armin and paired them with the likes of Brodinski, Gesaffelstein, Dillon Francis, Steve Aoki and more. The best part? All that will only set you back $120 a pop, and for the out-of-town road-tripper, you get to spend a few days soaking up El Paso.
WHEN: August 31 & September 1
WHERE: El Paso, Texas
#18 OFF FESTIVAL
WHY: Here’s something a little different: tucked away in Dolina Trzech Stawów in Poland, OFF Festival is dedicated to championing new, challenging and ambitious music. So while it’s not strictly electronic stuff, there are still plenty of names on the bill that ought to pique your interest: Kraftwerk, John Talabot, My Bloody Valentine, AlunaGeorge and The Smashing Pumpkins were all there this year.
It’s set in the green oasis of an otherwise industrial city over three days, with the action (including camping) going down in the self-contained ‘festival village’. Plus, with the 2012 European Festival Award for Best Medium Sized Festival under OFF’s belt, we’re not the only ones who think it’s worth checking out. Sweetening the deal, a three day camping ticket will set you back a crippling $80. Bless you, Eastern Europe.
WHEN: August 2014; dates TBC
WHERE: Dolina Trzech Stawów, Poland
#17 ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL, PUERTO RICO
WHY: Any self-respecting EDM fan would already be familiar with Electric Daisy Carnival’s Las Vegas Speedway home base, but that’s not the only venue the Insomniac juggernaut will hit in 2013. Also on the itinerary is San Juan, the capital city of the island paradise of Puerto Rico.
This year, the likes of Knife Party, Steve Angello and Nicky Romero will be making the trip, hitting the picturesque Parque Luis Munoz Marin over two days in September. If you’re sold, there are a couple of ways to do the trip. You could make your own way down and pick up a two-day ticket for a paltry $70 (add $30 for VIP) or go the whole hog and book a travel package through Insomniac, starting at $769 for two people for a two night stay. We’d advise going even larger and leaving a good few days to chill out on the beach on either side of the festival…when in Puerto Rico, eh?
WHEN: September 13 & 14, 2013
WHERE: San Juan, Puerto Rico
#16 ØYA FESTIVAL
WHY: Wu Tang Clan, James Blake, Mount Kimbie, Kraftwerk, Kendrick Lamar and John Talabot are among the names headed to Norway’s Oya festival this year. Set in Oslo’s picturesque Medieval Park (flanked by the city skyline, the Oslo Fjords and Ekeberg Hill, the 360 degree view is a sight to behold) it might be branded a ‘boutique festival’, but Oya regularly attracts 60,000 people over four days. After the sun sets at about 9:30 each night (bless that Scandinavian summer), the party moves on to one of Oslo’s biggest clubs for the official daily after-party.
It’s a festival you can tell your parents all about, too – in Oya’s 14-year history, there’s never been a single arrest, it’s a dedicated ‘green’ event, and the festival site comes complete with Lonely Planet-worthy historical ruins for the viewing. And in true Scandinavian style, it runs like a well-oiled machine: sound doesn’t bleed, the schedule runs like clockwork and getting in and out of the bathroom is a (relatively) queue-free experience.
WHEN: August 6–10, 2013
WHERE: Oslo, Norway
#15 HARD RED ROCKS
WHY: Odds are you’re already familiar with HARD Events festivals like Holy Ship! (you might remember it as the #2 from our first 25 Festivals to Discover list), HARD Summer, HARD NYC and HARD Day of the Dead. Spread across the U.S. (or the Bahamas, in Holy Ship!’s case), the common thread in CEO Gary Richards’ festivals is the consistently excellent, left-of-mainstream line-ups.
For the first time this year, HARD brought all its steeze to Colorado’s Red Rock Amphitheatre for one big rave. Technically it may not be a festival, but it made the cut here because a venue this spectacular can’t be ignored. The line-up of Knife Party, Diplo, Disclosure, Flosstradamus and more went large at one of the best natural venues in the Northern Hemisphere, and we reckon you’re onto a winner when it rolls around again in 2014. In the words of Knife Party, who aren’t known to be the most effusive guys: “Red Rocks. Best venue in the world, no competition.”
WHEN: August 2014
WHERE: Red Rocks Ampitheatre, Colorado
#14 SOUTH WEST FOUR
WHY: This year marks the tenth anniversary of South West Four, London’s farewell to the exhausting summer festival season. Every Bank Holiday weekend for the past decade, a roll-call of the UK’s favourite electronic artists descend on Clapham Common for what Carl Cox once called the “crowning glory” of London’s clubbing calendar. This year, they’ve got Eric Prydz, Boys Noize, TEED, Armin, PVD and a stack more over two big days. Catch the huge sets during the day then make the hop, skip and jump over to London’s array of clubs at night to kick on. (Fabric, anyone?)
WHEN: August 24 & 25, 2013
WHERE: London, England
WHY: How’s this for off the beaten track? Get out of the regular festival traps and catch a flight to Reykjavik for the annual Iceland Airwaves festival. Every October since 1999, Airwaves has dedicated five days to showcasing the best in local and international music. Last year, over 230 performances were spread over five nights in twelve venues (plus the ‘off venue’ gigs, where bands play in bookstores, cafés, hostels and more). For 2013, Kraftwerk are headlining, backed up by the likes of AlunaGeorge, Midlake, Gold Panda and a swag of Icelandic names spanning all genres. When the live bands have done their things, the DJs step up to spin until dawn breaks.
But there’s plenty more to do during Airwaves time than just see music. The journey wouldn’t be complete without a few trips out of the city – get lost in Iceland’s natural wonders, from the hot springs to waterfalls, lava fields, geysers and dormant volcanoes. One must-attend is the famous Blue Lagoon party, where big-name DJs get behind the decks while punters hang out in Iceland’s most famous geothermal spa – that’s a big pool full of naturally heated, milky blue seawater originating from 2000 meters below the earth’s surface. Cool, huh?
WHEN: October 30 – November 3, 2013
WHERE: Reykjavik, Iceland
WHY: This may be another for the Croatia pile, but Suncebeat is a world apart from mega-festivals like UMF or Hideout. With a 2013 line-up that was led by Mark Farina, Derrick Carter, Motor City Drum Ensemble and Kerri Chandler, this is one for a certain kind of dance fan – big-room devotees need not apply in summer 2014. Tucked away on the Dalmatian Coast, in addition to the top-quality bill, Suncebeat boasts a secluded setting with white sand beaches, big Funktion 1 sound systems, an adjacent outdoor nightclub and the Croatian festival requisite: boat parties…only Suncebeat’s dock at the jaw-dropping Kornati Islands.
WHEN: July 2014
WHERE: The Garden Tisno, Croatia
#11 DEKMANTEL FESTIVAL
WHY: How does three days and nights of partying in a forest just outside of Amsterdam sound? The Dekmantel crew have been throwing club nights in the Dutch capital for six years, but this is the first time they’ll expand into a multi-day festival – and they’re keeping things intimate, with only 5,000 tickets on sale for each of the three days.
That doesn’t mean that the line-up is undersized, though – think names like Jeff Mills, Carl Craig, James Holden, Laurent Garnier, Pangaea, Joy Orbison, Blawan & Surgeon, and more from the world of forward-thinking house and techno. The tunes go from 1pm until 11pm across four stages, so there’s plenty of time after to head back into town and get lost in Amsterdam’s nightlife.
WHEN: August 23, 24 & 25
WHERE: Amsterdam Forest, Netherlands
#10 CHEMICAL MUSIC FESTIVAL
WHY: An abandoned train station in Rio de Janeiro. A 2012 line-up featuring Anthony Rother in live mode, Magda and Jamie Jones. A ticket price that won’t leave you poor. Brazilians partying late into the night. What’s not to love about Rio de Janeiro’s Chemical Music Festival?
It’s the largest electronic music festival in Brazil, entering its eighth year in 2013, with one stage dedicated to house and techno, one dedicated to pretty much everything else (trance, electro, dubstep), and a stage for local Rio DJs to strut their stuff. No details of the 2013 event have been released as yet – based upon last year we can expect them in early October – but if you get together a crew of 12 people, you can pick up the ticket package that includes two bottles of vodka and a bucket full of beer and Red Bull. Vamos festejar!
WHEN: November 2013, Date TBA
WHERE: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
#9 EASTERN ELECTRICS
WHY: For lovers of house music, the Eastern Electrics line-up is an embarrassment of riches. The three-day marathon is set in the fields of Knebworth Park, just a short train trip out of London, and 129 DJs just played across the 2013 weekend. You can check out all the photos at the festival’s Facebook page.
Consider EE a summer campout for just about every coveted act working in house and techno. On the mainstage in 2013, the star attractions included Maya Jane Coles, Maceo Plex, the Hot Natured live band, a rare showing from Masters At Work and the live return of Moderat.
For the all-nighters on Friday and Saturday night, picking a stage to stick to was an agonising task. Locking into the groove of the Dirtybird stage? Getting woozy with Damian Lazarus and his Crosstown Rebels? Going deep with Dixon and Theo Parrish? However you played it, there wouldn’t be downtime.
Sunday’s line-up was a day party, spanning Skream in disco mode to London’s underground heroes Secretsundaze. With a comprehensive line-up that’s roused even the most party-hardened festival-goers, this is one festival that four-four fanatics must have on their wishlist for 2014.
WHEN: August 2014 – we hope!
WHERE: Knebworth Park, UK
#8 DIMENSIONS FESTIVAL
WHY: You might notice that Dimensions is held in the same abandoned Croatian fort as Outlook, but there’s plenty to distinguish the two festivals. While Outlook is all about bass, Dimensions caters squarely to a niche, underground crowd. This year, they’ve got the likes of Mount Kimbie, Theo Parrish, Daphni, Moodymann, Dixon, Ben Klock and Derrick May over five days in September.
As well as the top-shelf line-up and one-of-a-kind setting (stages are erected in tunnels and moats), Dimensions boasts “a higher specification of sound systems than you will find at any other festival of its size,” as well as daytime beach sessions and daily boat parties. We can think of few better ways to farewell the festival season.
WHEN: September 5 – 9, 2013
WHERE: Fort Punta Christo, Croatia
WHY: The Dutch are spoiled for choice when it comes to dance music line-ups, but one event that consistently reels them in is Awakenings. The festival happens each summer at an expansive site in Spaarnwoude, 20 kilometres outside of Amsterdam, with two open-air main arenas and at least seven smaller stages. The mind-boggling thing about the party (apart from its long line-up) is how condensed it is: 11am to 11pm, one day only. Understandably, fans have barracked for it to be spread across a whole weekend, but for now it remains just 12 hours of power.
The sound of Awakenings is resolutely techno and house, from the hard-edged to the deep and atmospheric. The 2013 line-up featured selectors like Adam Beyer (the only DJ to have played all 13 editions of the festival), Carl Cox, Jeff Mills, Len Faki, a Ben Klock & Marcel Dettmann team-up, James Holden and Sven Vath alongside live acts Modeselektor, Miss Kittin, Max Cooper, Ben Sims, Extrawelt, Gui Boratto and Fritz Kalkbrenner. You get the picture.
WHEN: One 12-hour day every June
WHERE: Spaarnwoude, Amsterdam
WHY: Chattahoochee Hills might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think ‘festival’, but this September the town will be swamped with ravers. For the first time ever, Belgium’s famous Tomorrowland is crossing the seas and setting up shop in the U.S. With a 150,000 capacity and 8,000 acres to spread the party across, the inaugural edition of TomorrowWorld (as it’s been rebranded for the American crowd) will be one of America’s largest EDM events.
So why should you go? Festival powerhouse ID&T can be counted on to deliver unparalleled production, the line-up boasts names like Tiesto, Axwell, Porter Robinson and Calvin Harris and, if you can make it this year, you’d get to witness the debut of Tomorrowland’s long-awaited international expansion first hand.
WHEN: September 27 – 29, 2013
WHERE: Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia, USA
#5 DREAM VALLEY
WHY: In November, when the Northern Hemisphere is in the grips of winter, summer is just kicking off in Brazil. Smack bang in the middle of the month is Dream Valley, one of the newest additions to the South American festival calendar. For the festival’s debut event last year, 40,000 people rolled up to catch an inaugural line-up that spanned everyone from Guetta and Calvin to Sneak and Dixon alongside a cast of local talent.
So what makes it special? It’s held in the largest theme park in Latin America, adjacent to a wildlife-filled nature reserve (DJs have to make sure the music doesn’t go too far into the red because “the tigers don’t like it”). Importantly, Dream Valley is put on by the same people who run Green Valley – which, you might recall, was crowned DJ Mag’s #1 club in the world earlier this year. If you still need convincing, have a look at 2012’s aftermovie – because if that’s how big they went in the first year, we’re very excited to see how Dream Valley ups the ante for 2013.
WHEN: November 15 & 16, 2013
WHERE: Penha, Brazil
#4 WAREHOUSE PROJECT
WHY: Technically, The Warehouse Project isn’t a festival as much as a series of incredible club nights – but have a look at this year’s line-up and we’re sure you’ll understand why we had to give it a nod. Dance music dons like Four Tet, Caribou and Disclosure are curating nights, while everyone from Axwell to Seth Troxler to Armin van Buuren to Boys Noize to Richie Hawtin to the Chemical Brothers and Hot Chip will be on deck. Even Chic and Thom Yorke will be there.
The general idea is 12 weeks of back-to-basics, no frills, all night raves. “No one here does strictly crowd pleasing stuff,” Nicolas Jaar assured after last year’s event. “Everyone takes risks.” There’s 25 events all up, so pick that night (or five…or ten) that best fits your taste. Alternatively you could go the whole hog, set up home in Manchester and embark on an epic three month long bender. Godspeed.
WHEN: September 27, 2013 – January 1, 2014
WHERE: Manchester, UK
#3 NATURE ONE
WHY: How’s this for a full-throttle festival? Over four days, Germany’s Nature One runs from 6pm till 6am nightly with campsite parties to keep you going during the day (BYO alcohol is allowed), it’s set amidst a disused NATO rocket base, and there are fireworks, smoke bombs, confetti and “enough lights to illuminate half of Germany” operating ‘round-the-clock.
It happens every August, when a 50,000-strong crowd descends on Kastellaun for Germany’s biggest open-air festival. There’s four main ‘floors’, dedicated to trance, techno, house and hardstyle respectively, alongside 19 smaller dancefloors (some in missile bunkers!) and this year, Paul van Dyk, Chris Liebing, Sven Vath and Sebastian Ingrosso were there. In sum: Nature One is every bit as hedonistic as it sounds.
WHEN: August 2014
WHERE: Kastellaun, Germany
WHY: Ultra Music Festival, Dimensions, Hideout – yes, there sure are a lot of jaw-dropping festivals in Croatia. Here’s another one: Unknown. Set on the crossroads of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, in September Unknown will take over the Adriatic Sea-adjacent Camp Amarin for five days and nights of music.
Organised by the same people who put on Hideout, Field Day, Boiler Room and the Warehouse Project, you can be sure that Unknown runs like a well-oiled machine: the festival site boasts a fleet of bars and restaurants, three swimming pools, two supermarkets, a golf course, tennis court, diving centre, and regular shuttle buses (or water taxis, if you’d rather) to the cobbled streets of the centuries-old Croat town of Rovinj.
Unknown is a destination festival, but not as you know it: take your pick of 4 or 3 star accommodation, forest lodges and a range of camping options, all housed on site. You can keep busy with the roster of forest, pool and boat parties or check out the many art installations, and to extend the fun, there’s a few days on either side of the festival proper where you’re welcome to come and chill out on site.
Also on offer is a deposit scheme so you don’t have to pay the full ticket price at once, though with a single ticket going for just €109, we’d imagine that probably won’t be necessary. Oh, and the music? This year there’s Richie Hawtin, SBTRKT, Moderat, Jamie XX, Actress, Disclosure, Dixon & Ame, Cyril Hahn, Four Tet, Erol Alkan, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and many more. Consider that the cherry on the cake.
WHEN: September 10-14
WHERE: Camp Amarin, Croatia
#1 ELECTRIC ZOO
WHY: Three days, five stages and over 100,000 ravers, all on an island overlooking the Manhattan skyline; American EDM festivals don’t get much more epic than Electric Zoo. As Tiesto, a man familiar with the mainstage, puts it: “It is an awesome festival in one of the most incredible settings in the world.”
2013 will see two mainstages take over Randall’s Island Park, with one dedicated to the more accessible strands of EDM (Guetta, Tiesto, Avicii et al.) and the second mainstage delving more into the bass/electro end (Aoki, Bassnectar, Knife Party, and all the rest). Then there’s the house-focused Sunday School Grove, the multi-genre Hilltop Arena, and the Riverside stage, curated by Boys Noize Records & OWLSA, Fool’s Gold and Dim Mak on respective nights. It’s an enticing festival that can offer you Moderat and Mat Zo at one end of the site, and Showtek and Hardwell at the other. Still need convincing? Watch the trailer below and tell us you don’t want to go.
WHEN: August 31 & 31, September 1 2013
WHERE: Randall’s Island Park, New York City