For a scene that 20 years ago was limited to sweaty underground raves and aggressive drum-and-bass music, EDM has come a long way. Fast forward to 2018, and the subculture has become a global phenomenon that now stretches across continents and dozens of genres. Along the way, festivals have been at the forefront of this explosion. To get a taste for how the scene bumps in different cities and countries, here is our hand-picked selection of the best EDM festivals around the world.
Ultra Music Festival
Ultra is widely recognized as the reigning king of electronic music festivals. It pulls huge names from all over like Armin Van Buuren, Hardwell, Carl Cox, and Afrojack. While the original festival takes place in Miami, over the years Ultra has spread to sister locations in Korea, Buenos Aires, Ibiza, Brazil, Chile, and more.
When: Late March of each year.
Electric Daisy Carnival
With 400,000 people attending for the weekend, Electric Daisy Carnival (or EDC) is the biggest dance festival beyond Europe. It started in Southern California, but the most popular location today is in Las Vegas. Located just 15 miles off the strip, the venue (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) boasts a whopping 1,200 acres and eight massive stages. EDC has a huge budget, so it puts on some of the most incredible stage production in all of live entertainment. Avid festival goers should consider EDC Week, a package that includes tons of pre and post-festival events throughout Vegas.
When: Mid to Late May
Electric Zoo has become a Labor Day staple for EDM enthusiasts on the east coast. Taking place in the lush greenery of Randall’s Island Park right on the East River between Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx, it’s one of the best venues around. If you need some fresh air, the park has over nine miles of trails and paths that loop around the madness. It pulls some big acts but also focuses on many lesser-known DJ’s.
When: Labor Day Weekend
The six stages and impressive lineups year after year make Creamfields one of the best festivals in the UK. It’s located in the town of Daresbury, between Liverpool and Manchester, on a beautiful patch of countryside. Elect to bring your camping supplies and set up shop for this outdoor event, which is one of the best around. With around 70,000 attendees, it’s not nearly as large as the others above, so head to Creamfields if you’re looking for something intimate. Also, the best nightlife in the UK will give you more ideas for how to get rowdy in the area.
The visuals at Tomorrowland are arguably just as wild as the music itself. Watch their after movie of the 2018 festival to get an idea for what we’re talking about. It’s truly an other-worldly experience that toys with the surreal and the psychedelic. Taking place in the Belgian city of Boom (fittingly), it’s probably the most famous EDM festival in all of Europe.
When: Late July
Located smack dab in the middle of one of British Columbia’s beautiful evergreen valleys, Shambhala takes the cake as the most naturally stunning venue on this list. From your tent, you’ll wake up to rolling hills, a babbling brook, and fresh mountain air. The grounds themselves aren’t a clear-cut open space either — the stages are constructed around trees and the outdoor environment. Shambhala is the largest music festival in Canada, and it mostly appeals to those keen on minimalist, bass-heavy, low-frequency dance music. Your Guide to Trekking in Canada provides some tips and hints on other great ways to get back to nature in the Great White North.
Cost: $450 (includes camping)
Held onboard a cruise ship with capacity for over 4,000 people, Holy Ship is an exclusive electronic cruise festival that leaves out of Port Canaveral in Florida and makes stops in the Bahamas. You have the option to choose between a variety of cabins ranging from luxurious to bare bones. People rave about the experience and consider it as one of the most unique EDM festivals in both North America and the world. These budget-friendly cruises will spark some other inspiration around the Bahamas that won’t break the bank.
When: Early January
Cost: Anywhere from $800 to $1,600
Nocturnal Wonderland has changed themes and names a bit over the years, but today it stands strong one of the United States’ heavy hitters in the world of dance music. Beginning back in 1995, it’s the country’s longest-running festival. There are several locations, but the primary event is held in Southern California and features artists that range from trance to drum and bass, house, and breakbeat.
When: Labor Day Weekend
Cost: $100 per day plus camping (if desired)
Electric Forest has one of the best reputations in the world of EDM festivals. People seem to either be dying to go, or raving about their past experience — and it makes sense. The festival’s venue in gorgeous western Michigan is an off-the-beaten-path wonderland where stages, campsites, and art installations all mingle together among dense forest. While definitely a DJ-centered event, it also lures the jam band scene with headliners like String Cheese Incident and Lettuce.
When: Late June
Cost: $100 per day, plus camping (if desired)
The Ark Cruise
An electronic dance cruise in the Mediterranean that bounces between Barcelona, Ibiza, Mallorca, and Séte — what more needs to be said? Drawing on concepts of Noah’s Ark and the themes of community and “releasing your inner animal,” the Ark Cruise is an incredible experience in a tropical setting with tons of friends and excellent live music. As long as you obey their 10 commandments of love and respect, it should be a good time.
When: Late August
Cost: Packages start at $630
India’s western city of Goa has long been hailed as the country’s most wild destination for party-inclined tourists. And Sunburn, the now 10-year-old electronic festival, helps support this reputation. It’s wild and crazy, but also has much more of a hippie, laid-back vibe than other festivals on this list. It’s widely considered to be the best electronic festival in Asia, and massive acts from all over the continent flock to the venue every year to embrace the experience.
When: End of December