25 Festivals to Discover Before You Die

#5 BPM Festival

WHY: From early January, the immense BPM Festival stages a marathon of day and night events around the beach-side town Playa Del Carmen on the Mayan Riviera. BPM parties are hosted around the clock at multiple venues, surrounded by “warm turquoise Caribbean waters, white sand beaches, mysterious jungles and ancient ruins.”

No expense was spared on the line-up for its sixth edition in 2013, either. The list of mostly house and techno heroes included veterans like Carl Cox, Danny Tenaglia, DJ Harvey, Sven Vath, Masters At Work and Mr. C on the Playa alongside Dixon, Jamie Jones, Luciano, Martin Buttrich, Soul Clap, The Martinez Brothers, Maceo Plex and co.

WHEN: Early January

WHERE: Playa del Carmen, Mexico

WEBSITE: thebpmfestival.com

#4 Sunburn

WHY: If you’re all about trance, then it’s gotta be Sunburn: Asia’s biggest dance festival, set on the beaches of Candolim in Goa, India. Headliners in 2012 included Sander van Doorn, BT, Fedde le Grand (okay, so it’s not all trance), Paul van Dyk and Roger Sanchez, and in true Goa fashion, the music goes 24 hours a day.

Then there’s everything else that goes on: flea markets, fire jugglers, a massage centre and spa, rock climbing, and “slippery football” (we’ll leave deciphering that one up to your imagination). Plus there’s no need to worry about breaking the bank here.

WHEN: Three days at the end of December

WHERE: Goa, India

WEBSITE: sunburn.in

#3 Balaton Sound

WHY: A beach holiday and mega-festival rolled into one, Balaton Sound boasts a 20-hour music schedule and a setting on the largest lake in Central Europe. Dance is the order of the day here: Avicii, Carl Cox, the various SHM members, Sven Vath and the Chemical Brothers have all appeared in previous years – even Snoop Dogg and Beastie Boys have dropped by. Chill out in a hammock, hit one of the special festival site pubs for a $1 beer (bless you, Eastern Europe) and have a sit down dinner at one of the legit four-walls-and-a-roof restaurants, or just rave ‘til dawn – the choice is yours.

WHEN: Four days in early July

WHERE: Lake Balaton, Hungary

WEBSITE: sziget.hu/balatonsound

#2 Holy Ship!

WHY: A lot of the festivals on this list are institutions: events that have run for years (sometimes decades) and had plenty of time to get it right, build a fan-base and earn their legendary status. Not Holy Ship. Hard Events’ latest festival came out of nowhere in 2012 and smacked jaws around the world straight to the ground. The basic premise? Three days on a luxury liner cruising the Caribbean, a rollcall of dance music’s biggest (and hardest partying) names spinning ‘til dawn and a beach party at a private, white-sand island in the Bahamas.

But it’s the little touches that really make Holy Ship! a bucket list worthy experience: with a tiny 2,500 capacity, punters rub shoulders with the DJs all cruise long. You can play poker with Zedd, enter Dillon Francis’ miniature golf tournament on the ship’s deck, take mixing lessons with A-Trak or enter Diplo’s Mad Decent scavenger hunt.

No wonder, then, this year’s Holy Ship! sold out in 28 hours and left a 10,000 strong waitlist in its wake. But you need a look at those Caribbean paradise scenes to really see why Holy Ship! is such a must-do, so dive into the 2012 recap video below (hint: skip to the five minute mark to really get jealous).

WHEN: Early January

WHERE: The Caribbean, departing from Ft. Lauderdale in Miami

WEBSITE: holyship.com

#1 KaZantip

WHY: What is it with Eastern Europe and smutty festival promo videos? Dive into one of KaZantip’s recap videos and you’ll see that the music isn’t the only (or even the biggest) attraction here. That having said, KaZantip still pulls more than 300 DJs over 14 dancefloors to Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula each year, the festival counting Carl Cox, Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Richie Hawtin and Skrillex among its line-up alumni.

But KaZantip isn’t your regular three day deal – it stretches over a whopping five to six weeks in the Ukraine’s summer. Most people pop in for a few days or a week, but if you’re really hardcore you could very well do the full six week challenge. There’s a big community element, too – festival-goers are called “paradiZers” and the festival declares itself a “virtual republic”, held on a 60,000 square metre piece of land. Basically, it’s an unashamedly trashy good time: the booze is cheap, the girls aren’t wearing a whole lot and the music is loud and goes for 21 hours a day, every day.

WHEN: Five-six weeks in July-August

WHERE: Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine

WEBSITE: kazantip-republic.com

Topdeck trips – the best way to explore Europe between attending the world’s biggest music festivals.

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