THE granddaddy of Europe’s electronic music festivals is undoubtedly Sonar in Barcelona, which has grown during its two decades into a full week of official and non-official activities around which pretty much the entire electronic music world congregates.

The official festival runs from June 16 to 18, with the usual two venues (Sonar By Day and Sonar By Night) catering to similar though subtly different imperatives.

On the bill this year are the likes of John Hopkins, Clams Casino, DJ Shadow and Nina Kraviz, but the best thing to do is simply go over and immerse yourself in the city for the week, whether at the official festival or the countess Sonar-off events.

It may have gone through the odd dip in quality over the years, but Sonar hasn’t got where it has for no reason, and it remains an indispensable fixture on the European festival circuit.


AT the opposite end of the establishment scale is the upstart Belfast event AVA (June 2 to 4), which debuted last summer amid Fall of Rome-style scenes in a city that adores its music but hasn’t always had a wealth of quality options, and certainly not when it’s come to festivals.

The city has long been a fertile breeding ground for DJs and producers though, and AVA does all it can to showcase their talents while also bringing in the sort of top-drawer international talents that have inspired the home scene.

Bicep, Ejeca and Or:La are among the pre-eminent home names on the bill, while everyone from Midland to Marcel Dettmann are among the international contingent.


UNTIL recently many would have reacted to the prospect of heading to an outdoor festival in Wales by making an emergency dental appointment or suddenly getting started on their taxes, but that’s all changed in recent times, thanks in no small part to Gottwood (June 8 to 11). Taking place in a truly beautiful setting Carreglwyd Wood near Holyhead) and with food and sound to die for, Gottwood’s programmers have been outdoing themselves year on year, and this year’s bill (Young Marco, Zip, Palms Trax and the like will be in attendance) is another testament to their excellent taste.


KIEV’S music scene has been flourishing of late in the shadow of the war with Russia, and Ostrov Festival (30 June to 2 July) has been at the vanguard.

Very much the pride of the Ukrainian festival scene, Ostrov’s bill is relatively down-the-line house and techno (Ben Klock, Woo York, Kink and Rodhad are typical among the names) but done with a certain deftness of touch.


FINALLY, Into The Valley, which goes down in Rummu, Estonia, from June 29 to July 1, may well be the only chance you ever get to see The Black Madonna play in a sunken ex-Soviet prison, and therefore should be seized with both hands and cherished.