Sonar festival

The best Global Festivals for dance music this year

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

by Tat

Earlier this month we explored some of the best festivals in the UK you could go to and hear dance and electronic music. In part two of this article we go further afield to explore the global festival scene and pick some of the best places to go and get your dance music fix.

Going overseas to attend a festivals used to be mostly unheard of. Of course there was Woodstock and The Burning Man, and if we wanted to be pedantic, The Isle of Wight Festival. Yet travelling long distances for dance music usually meant Ibiza, Ayia Napa or the Miami Music Conference. In the last decade there has been a huge explosion in international festivals and given the global appeal of dance music then it should follow that these sounds would soon start to dominate some arenas and in turn create their own weekend events. Out of the many festivals you can go to, here at Trackhunter we have picked some of the very best.

Sónar Festival, Barcelona, Spain. 16-18th June. Tickets €195

Not exclusively a dance or electronic music festival, but more an amalgamation of music and art. Sónar is well established in the global music calendar and started in 1994 with the first ever event hosting the likes of Laurent Garnier, Sven Väth and Mixmaster Morris. So with that kind of heritage you know it will be a great few days. This year the event sees Laurent Garnier return alongside fellow techno heavyweight Richie Hawtin. Ed Bangar hosts his own house party whilst Fatboy Slim will be throwing down some serious shapes behind the decks. Whilst other notable acts include Four Tet, Kenny Dope, Roots Manuva and Jean-Michel Jarre.


Awakenings Festival, Amsterdam, Netherlands. 25-26th June. Tickets €92

The Netherlands has had a long association with dance music, which really started to flourish in the early 1990s rave scene and the house, trance and techno scenes that grew from it. Awakenings Festival is one of many Dutch festivals that have a strong affection for dance music. The festival claims to be the world's biggest techno festival with over 70,000 visitors over the course of the weekend. The festival has been around since 2001 and has seen some of the biggest names in house and techno play there. This year visitors will be spoiled for choice as acts are spread over eight stages dropping the finest electronic sounds. Some of the big names you can expect to see behind the decks include Sven Väth, Speedy J, Dave Clarke, Jeff Mills and Jackmaster. Whilst live acts are aplenty with Extrawelt, Henrik Schwarz, Recondite and Oliver Schories.


Digital Dreams, Toronto, Canada. 2-3rd July. Tickets $150

Held at the Toronto waterside, Digital Dreams is one of a growing number of city-based festivals which seem to complement many clubber's desires of not getting dirty whilst partying in a field. The lineup headliners include Armin Van Buuren, Pendulum, Bassnector and club stalwart Danny Tenaglia. With plenty of support over the two days including Chocolate Puma, Tiga and Cosmic Gate to name but a few. The event began in 2012 and is growing in strength to compliment the rich Canadian electronic and dance scene.

Digital Dreams

Cypress Hill flexbox CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/1sCxJlu

Dour Festival, Dour, Belgium. 13-17th July €150

Going that little bit farther than other festivals, Dour runs from Wednesday till Sunday and has a superb and eclectic lineup of dance and hip hop acts. The festival is held near the Belgian village of Dour, so not to make you think this is some emo event with a very demure attitude. The ticket site even allows festival goers to buy tents, chairs and food packs, so pretty much looking to take care of everything, especially for festival first-timers. There are several ticket options to camp, stay in tipis, huts and cabins, although most options are now sold out. The festival has several areas including the Dub Corner, Jupiler Dance Hall, Boombox and the worryingly named Cannibal Stage. The line up includes Mr. Ozio, DJ Premier, The Prodigy, Roni Size & Krust, Tiga and Bad Company. As you can imagine, a festival that lasts so long is crammed with great dance and associated acts, so check out their website for more details and get on that ferry to Belgium.


Benicassim Chosk CC BY ND 2.0 http://bit.ly/1sCytqN

Benicàssim, Benicàssim, Spain. 14-17th July 3 Day Ticket €130 4 Day Ticket €147.50

Like the other great Spanish electronic festival Sónar, Benicàssim has been around the block. The festival started in 1995 and though wholly not a dance music festival it does have a strong pedigree for dance acts. This year headliners include Mr.Ozio, The Chemical Brothers, Disclosure and Massive Attack providing the live music. One of the bigger festivals in europe and not too far from the beach, so if you are thinking of venturing abroad to party, this might be the best place to start.


Ultra Europe, Poljund Stadium, Split, Croatia. 15-17th July. €199

Already down to their last tier of tickets, Ultra Europe has a superb lineup of DJs and live acts. Like an Ibizan season, Ultra has an opening and closing party and is not your traditional camping festival with various options for accommodation including camping, hostels and recommended hotels. The line up includes some of the biggest hitters in house and techno including Carl Cox, David Guetta, Marco Carola and Deadmau5. Whilst the festival extends to Hvar in Croatia with their own beach party at the Hotel Amfora Grand Beach Resort. The whole weekend is geared up for partying so if you go to Ultra Europe, make sure you get plenty of rest beforehand.

Ultra Europe

Tomorrowland StampMedia CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/1sCyMBZ

Tomorrowland, Recreation area, De Schorre, Boom, Belgium. 22-24th July. Already sold out.

Despite already being sold out we thought we would write a couple of lines about Tomorrowland. Any festival that sells out months in advance is usually worth investigation. This year's lineup includes Laidback Luke, Ferry Corsten, Armin Van Burren, Eric Prydz, Steve Aoki and Lenny Dee. So keep this one on your radar for 2017.


Electric Zoo, Randall's Island Park, New York, U.S.A. 2-4th September $230

The U.S has always served up epic festivals and of course incredible dance music scenes, but it has been slow to accept dance music beyond various geographical hot spots. Electric Zoo in New York are a classic example in the growth of their EDM scene. Headliners as you would suspect include Hardwell, Steve Aoki, Tiesto and Bassnector. Mostly DJ-focused, the festival is held in a large park in central New York and started in 2009 so is quickly establishing itself as a key fixture on the U.S. and global festival scene.

Electric Zoo

These are just a few of the dance-focused festivals that are happening on a global scale. Even though we've focused mostly on Europe, there are plenty of weekend events for those wishing to go further to South America, Asia and the Pacific. It is a reflection on the global appeal of modern electronic and dance music, and possibly just the start of bigger things. In the 1980s and 90s we had raves that lasted a whole weekend, the modern festival is just an extension on that.

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