The wave of festival formation is still surging. Despite dramatically increased competition year-on-year on home soil and abroad, the saturation point we've been expecting still hasn't been reached. The bug continues to spread, gaining momentum as organisers push production boundaries even further, spying out obscurer, more ambitious locations in a bid to unleash the most creative and intense festival experience possible on the planet.
From brave promoters setting up soundsystems in English fields or trekking up European mountains, or multi-million dollar ventures across the Atlantic tapping gushing “EDM” reserves, they're all here, part of DJ Mag's Festival Guide 2013. With more festivals than ever to choose from, we've whittled them down, cherry-picked the finest, making your only concern whether to pack a pair of wellies, a bikini (boys included), or both...
THE ISLES HAVE IT
THE PLAYGROUND FESTIVAL
Famed for booking the likes of Steve Aoki and Borgore to Camden's KOKO, the bods behind Playground have taken a leap of faith and booked out Brixton Academy for two days of carnage, featuring everyone from Gary Numan to Derrick May this June. Prepare to have your retinas fried. More info pg. 92.
Tickets are available for £27.50/£70 from theplaygroundfestival.com
Return of the king
It wouldn't be a guide if it didn't mention lord of the festival rings, the UK's — if not Europe's — most famous music fest, Glastonbury. Unless, of course, it's taking one of its well-earned hiatuses. Like last year. 2013, however, sees the sprawling cultural movement in a field return. There'll be plenty of dance acts to get your stomp on to once again. Don't worry if the thought of Arctic Monkeys, Mumford & Sons or The Vaccines doesn't have you reaching for the poppers. The likes of Kerri Chandler, Julio Bashmore and The 2 Bears probably will.
Tickets are available for £205 from glastonburyfestivals.co.uk
COCOON IN THE PARK
When Sven Väth's Frankfurt club opened in 2004, with its gourmet chef and extra-terrestrial decor, it was hyped as one of the most futuristic, state-of-the-art establishments on Earth. Despite news that the club had entered into administration last year signalling the beginning of the end to its heyday, the label continues on strong as ever, as do its events worldwide, including a seasonal weekly at Amnesia Ibiza. Another consistent force is this day-in-a-field mash-up, reaching its fifth year in 2013. Returning to its giant country garden next to a stately home, Temple Newsam in Leeds, there's nothing overly revolutionary about the concept. One big stage, a few thousand goggly-eyed ravers, a gargantuan soundsystem, mind-blowing visuals and a truckload of fireworks. Works every time.
Tickets are available for £45-75 from cocoon.net/cocooninthepark
Returning for its fourth year, Farr Festival has gone from one of the circuit's best-kept secrets to an automatic shoe-in for anyone in the south with a penchant for decent dance music. Starting as an off-the-radar experiment for a few mates, it now caters for over 2000 house heads and owns a fully-fledged campsite. Modest but certainly not meek, stages hosted by Futureboogie, Numbers and Flux will deliver the likes of Jackmaster, Ejeca and Maxxi Soundsystem, while Bicep look to build on the hype of last year's standout DJ set.
Tickets are available for £75 from farrfestival.co.uk
The Glastonbury of the dance world, you'd be hard pushed not to find something you like at the UK's biggest festival dedicated to dance music, providing of course you're a hardcore rave monster. Even if you fear Steve Aoki will get cake on your party frock (or face) and Radio 1xtra isn't your thing, tech house heads will no doubt find solace at Jamie Jones' Paradise stage, or with the sight of Seth Troxler, Solomun and Maceo Plex over at the Digital tent. With production to rival any other in the world, Global Gathering continues to live up to its name.
Tickets are available for £115-£190 from globalgathering.com
SECRET GARDEN PARTY
Speaking in pagoda
Providing a much-needed ray of sunshine — despite the sticky mud — to a topsy-turvy start to the festival season, Secret Garden Party was one of the most explosive moments of 2012 — and that was just the fireworks. Preferring to keep its line-up hushed up until the last minute to prevent focus falling solely on the music, last time the likes of Jamie Jones, Eats Everything and Damian Lazarus had queues for the waterside pagoda stage stretching though the woods, while Ben UFO and Blawan were highlights at The Drop. Despite its top-class dance line-up though, it's the event's unique magical vision that takes the biscuit every year.
Tickets are available for £115-£190 from Secretgardenparty.com
SOUTH WEST FOUR
Gearing up for its 10th innings this year, SW4 is still the jewel in the crown of the London circuit, fighting off hopeful competition from other less purely electronic events in the capital with bigger and better line-ups every time. 110% dedication to all things dance has won its equally loyal crowd, making it the first choice for anyone in The Big Smoke looking for an all-out summertime stomp. Following live sets from Skrillex and Chase & Status in 2012, this year sees new ground broken once again. Carl Cox & Loco Dice will rekindle the b2b relationship they started at Space Ibiza for a London debut, while Todd “the God” Edwards will meet nu-skool kindred spirits in the booth for a garage frenzy — plus more to be announced.
Tickets are available for £115-£190 from southwestfour.com
ZOO PROJECT FESTIVAL
Ravers rubbing shoulders with families at Port Lympne Safari Park in Kent made for a zoological congregation like no other at the inaugural event last year, but this time the event moves to a recently discovered stretch of forest in Kettering. Offering all the fun and frolics (body painting, lycra, leopard print) of the first minus the wild gazelles and rhinos, the only monkey business here will be on the dancefloor. Cocoon, Jaunt and a main stage manned by us will make sure the music fits the bill too.
Tickets are available for £115-£190 from thezooproject-festival.com
As if UK clubland's cool cats need an excuse to dress like a sailor... Bestival's dress code shouldn't bother too many with a wardrobe this year. Celebrating its 10th anniversary with a nautical theme, the stock of DJ talent on board is stronger than ever, with the likes of Richie Hawtin and Carl Cox crossing paths with old skool legend Kerri Chandler, techno genius Marcel Dettmann and d&b heavyweight Andy C among many others. If classic pop and hip-hop is your thing, you won't be disappointed by the sight of Elton John and Snoop Dogg (or is it Snoop Lion?) also on the jam-packed bill. All aboard!
Tickets are available for £190-£316 from bestival.net
First there was Mint Club. Then Mint Warehouse. Last year, we were presented with Mint Festival. Is there no end to this club's path to total domination? What's next? Mint Space Station? Just kidding. Saying that, with enormous performances from the likes of Jamie Jones, Eddie Halliwell and Ben Klock, UK dance festivals don't come more stratospheric than this. With stages hosted by some of the north's favourite house and techno brands — System, Louche, Flux and Blacklight — Mint Festival is the biggest string to Leeds' bow.
Tickets are available for £TBA from mintfestival.co.uk
Cream of the crops
It doesn't get more definitive than Creamfields, undoubtedly the north's most dance dedicated festival. Whether it's Hed Kandi house or cone-rattling dubstep, stadium-rousing trance or deep dirty funk you want, you're guaranteed to find it at this three-day hurricane of beats, builds and basslines in Cheshire.
Tickets are available for £70/£150+ from creamfields.com
ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL
Starting as a one-day event in California in 2000, Electric Daisy Carnival today has a presence in New York, Chicago, Orlando and most prominently in Las Vegas, for Labor Day weekend. Indisputably one of the most formidable dance festivals in the US, it has only grown stronger with the recent electronic renaissance over in the States, and it's coming to London for a one-day bonanza at the Olympic Village this July.
Tickets are available for £62+ from electricdaisycarnival.co.uk