ELECTRONIC MUSIC FESTIVALS are devoted to celebration and internal reflection, creating a space for people to live in an alternate reality. Commonly held in natural settings, they encourage expression of individuality through music, thought, philosophies, clothes, paintings, sculptures, art, and communication. The attendees are bound by a common love of music, and express their inner selves freely.
Each festival has its own novel theme and vibe. For example, all attendees dress in white at Sensation in Amsterdam, creating a surreal ambiance of peace and tranquility, while at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles, vibrant colors, art, carnival rides, clowns, and daisies make for a festive vibe.
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kaZantip: The Hidden Paradise
A metaphysical structure at the kaZantip in Ukraine, 2008. Photo: Dima Bushkov
kaZantip Republic (or simply Z) is the name of the biggest, longest, craziest, liveliest, and most unusual techno, trance, and house music event in the world. It lasts for 5-6 weeks of summer in the Ukraine, and over 150,000 “paradiZers” attend each year.
It is known as the “Woodstock of the East.” The lineup of artists performing each year is released just before the festival, but some who have performed in the past include Paul Van Dyk, Armin Van Buuren, Ferry Corsten, Carl Cox, and Above & Beyond.
Where: Popovka, Crimean peninsula, Ukraine When: July 31, 2011 – August 22, 2011
People taking shelter from the sun under a mayan tent at the Boom Festival in Portugal, 2006. Like at the Burning Man, thousands of artists create and showcase novel pieces of art here. Photo:Retinafunk
Boom International Trance Psychedelic Music Festival is a biennial week-long festival held near the Ponsul River in Portugal. The festival is much like Burning Man, and features music, paint, sculpture, art, yoga, theater, and cinema. It does not rely on any commercial sponsor and attracts over 30,000 people from all over the world.
Although no world-famous artist ever makes it to this festival, over a hundred independent artists perform each year. For a complete list of those who performed in 2010, check out the Boom Festival page.
Where: Idanha-a-Nova Lake, Portugal When: July 28, 2012 – August 4, 2012 This is a biennial festival, and the next one is in 2012.
Girls walk with the Magic Love Bus as it leads the LovEvolution Parade in San Francisco, 2009. Photo: discoscience
An international spin-off of the German Love parade, this is the largest single-day electronic dance music event in America, which draws people from all over the world.
In the past, artists performed at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium following the conclusion of the LovEvolution parade through the city. The 2010 event was canceled, but artists who have performed at LovEvolution After Party in previous years include Deadmau5, Above & Beyond, Armin Van Buuren, Gabriel & Dresden, Kyau & Albert, Christopher Lawrence, and Andy Moor. An all-ages event, over 120,000 people attend it every year.
Where: Oakland, CA When: September 24, 2011
Electric Daisy Carnival
Electric Daisy Carnival is an annual 2-day festival with rides, top-tier electronic music, and attendees partying day and night. It is the biggest electronic festival outside of Europe. In 2010, EDC pulled in a crowd of 185,000 people.
It was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum until 2010, when a 15-year-old died of a drug overdose. As a result, starting 2011, the festival will be held in Las Vegas. Some of the artists performing this year include Paul Van Dyk, Swedish House Mafia, Tiesto, Above & Beyond, Cosmic Gate, Ferry Corsten, and many more.
Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Nevada When: June 24 – 26, 2011 Other locations and dates: Denver – June 11 Dallas – June 18 Puerto Rico – Aug 27
An incredible image of the arena and the attendees in white, true to Sensation's slogan: Be a part of the Night–Dress in White. Amsterdam, 2007. Photo (also used as feature photo): Sylvain Weber
Originally Sensation White, this event originated in and is held during the first Saturday of July every year at the Amsterdam Arena (and in other countries during the rest of the year).
It’s renowned for extraordinary stage shows, acrobats, light shows, and fireworks. All attendees are required to dress in white only, and the arena is decorated to match. House and electronic music are primarily played, and over 30,000 people attend every year.
Where: Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands When: July 2, 2011 Other locations and dates: St. Petersburg, Russia – June 18 Sao Paulo, Brazil – June 18 London – August 13 Barcelona, Spain – October 8 Copenhagen, Denmark – October 29 Dusseldorf, Germany – December 31
Monster Massive is a halloween-themed, annual electronic music festival held the weekend prior to Halloween night every year at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. It hosts some of the most esteemed artists in the electronic dance music scene. In 2008, it drew over 60,000 people.
The lineup for the 2011 event will be announced sometime in late October, but some of the artists that have performed in the past include Carl Cox, Moby, JohnDigweed, Gareth Emery, Judge Jules, and Paul Van Dyk.
Where: Los Angeles Sports Arena, Los Angeles, CA When: October 29, 2011
Ultra Music Festival
Canadian DJ Deadmau5 performs at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, 2008. He is known for wearing the mau5 head while performing. Photo: Drew" “Rukes” Resseler
The Ultra Music Festival is an outdoor electronic music event held annually in Miami, Florida, during the Winter Music Conference in the month of March.
It’s a e-day event with performances by 200 artists and a crowd of over 50,000. Some of the artists that performed in 2011 include Carl Cox, Armin Van Buuren, Deadmau5, Tiesto, and Ferry Corsten.
Where: Miami, Florida When: March 23-25, 2012
Dance Valley “The Woodstock of Dance”
Three balloon ballerinas dressed in pink, wearing Mardi Gras beads, pose for the camera at Dance Valley in Netherlands, 2009. Photo: fotosbyflick
Dance Valley is an annual 1-day dance music festival held in the summer in Spaarnwoude, Netherlands, attracting over 50,000 people each year. As with most Dutch events, its heart is trance music, but smaller stages are dedicated to hardstyle, dance, and electronic. It’s famous for its after parties. This year, it’s got four stages and has dedicated entertainment all day every day. The festival is marketed on the website as a “magical museum.”
Around 150 artists are to perform this year, including Steve Angello, Cosmic Gate, Above & Beyond, John O’ Callaghan, and Yoji.
Where: Velsen Valley, Spaarnwoude, Netherlands When: August 6, 2011
Nature One is one of the largest open-air electronic festivals in Europe, held annually during the first week of August in Germany. It takes place over three days and attracts over 60,000 visitors each year. The lineup for the 2011 event includes artists like Paul Van Dyk, Markus Schulz, Alex Morph, Ferry Corsten, and many more.
Where: Kastellaun, Germany When: August 5-7, 2011
The MySpace Bus at Global Gathering in UK, 2008. Several artists performed and gave interviews onboard this bus. Photo: Andreas Hunziker
Called “one of the essential festivals in the world” by Armin Van Buuren, Global Gathering is an annual 2-day dance music festival held during the last week of July in Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK. It attracts over 250,000 people each year and is known to have some of the most amazing LED screens around.
Some of the artists performing this year are Steve Angello, Above & Beyond, Markus Schulz, Sasha, John Digweed, and Ferry Corsten. For the complete lineup, check the Global Gathering webpage.
Where: Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, UK When: July 29-30, 2011