We're living in an age of peaks: peak television, peak fake news, and peak festival era. More festivals are happening than ever, and sometimes it feels like there's no way to keep track of what you want to go to. Look no further than us here at Magnetic: our team will be on the ground giving you the latest on Earth's best festivals all throughout 2017. But before we get into full swing. we wanted to take a look back at the best festivals of 2016.
Without further ado, I'm pleased to present all of you with Magnetic Magazine's best festivals of 2016.
While the main Bestival in the UK stumbled in 2016, its Toronto counterpart exceeded expectations this year, becoming a premier festival in its own right. Unlike most festivals which expand their brands to multiple locales, the Toronto incarnation feels just as full as its counterpart across the pond, featuring Tame Impala, ODESZA, Porter Robinson, and Grimes, and we expect that Bestival Toronto will continue to show up in 2017.
BPM Fest opens each year with ten days and over 375 artists representing the globe's best house and techno in coastal Mexico. They accomplish this by passing the reins of each stage to influential labels, artists, and crews, and over the years BPM has become an essential congregation with a memorably full lineup. Look no further than their 2017 showcase lineup, going on now and streaming live throughout the next week.
While BPM Festival rages in Playa Del Carmen, a more intimate affair occurs an hour's drive south in Tulum, Mexico. Curated by Damian Lazarus of the Ancient Moons, Day Zero branched off, growing from a Crosstown Rebels showcase into a festival with its own spirit and vibe. The one-day extravaganza began at the end of the Mayan calendar in December 2012 and has continued to confound since then.
Dekmantel has emerged as a force in Amsterdam, as a record company, promoter, and festival builder. Their label consistently puts out new dance music of the utmost caliber, and their grassroots Dekmantel festival has become a who's-who of selectors entering the Netherlands for a few days and nights. Now, their festival operations are expanding in 2017 with a São Paulo bout where Nicolas Jaar and Jeff Mills are headlining this February.
The Desert Hearts festival has been acclaimed throughout the festival community, previously being named #1 festival in the US by fest300, and for good reason: its 100-hour, one-stage, one-vibe mentality trollops all the other festivals in both love and sheer mania. The festival became so popular this year that they took a break from their fall incarnation to tour their City Hearts experience globally, and Desert Hearts returns in 2017 with a 21-date tour bookended by the Desert Hearts Spring Festival from March 31 – April 3.
Since Ibiza's dethroning as Europe's prime dance music spot, the beaches and cities of Croatia have moved into the spotlight in a masterful move towards becoming the continent's new party destination. The number of festivals has ballooned, but Dimensions has emerged as the Croatian season's largest gathering, due to its location (inside an abandoned fort on the coast) as well as its all-encompassing line-up, which last year featured Massive Attack, Hiatus Kaiyote, and Kamasi Washington alongside Larry Heard aka Mr. Fingers (live), Octave One (live), and Motor City Drum Ensemble. Dimensions will return in late August 2017.
As Dirtybird has become one of America's most recognizable house labels globally, they took the ethos underneath its signature touring event, the Dirtybird BBQ, and expanded it into a weekend-long festival, Dirtybird Campout, that has been renowned for its intimacy, activities, and musical prowess. This year was the second year of Dirtybird Campout, featuring tug-of-war and horseshoe alongside yoga and meditation, and veritable sets from the Dirtybird crew including performances from Justin Jay and Justin Martin, and a rare Barclay Crenshaw hip-hop set. Each year, Dirtybird Campout feels like it's getting closer to when the secret gets let out of the bottle, but even though everyone keeps singing its praises, it doesn't feel like it'll be diluted any time soon.
Held at Carson Creek Ranch in Austin, Euphoria Festival takes place in April, before the unbearably hot Texan summer. 2016 marked the festival’s fifth anniversary as well as its expansion to three full days, with a wide slate of artists led by Bassnectar, STS9, and Dillon Francis. That success has spurred the corporate megaliths towards Texas - C3 and Insomniac are teaming up to throw Middlelands in May - but with such a solid lineup, Euphoria doesn’t have much to worry about. Alesso, Chromeo, Pretty Lights (live), Wiz Khalifa, Young Thug, and Zeds Dead headline the 2017 lineup, with support from Moby (dj), Knife Party, Oliver Heldens, and Tennyson. Can we say stacked?
FYF Festival has grown from a rocker's dream into LA's favorite underground festival, providing a lineup of acts across all genres united by large fanbases with big hearts. In 2016, they brought out, and even though they experienced some hassles with festival entry, that didn't diminish the level of talent inside the grounds.
"Respect the ship!" That's been the mantra of Holy Ship!, HARD's most insane festival, since its leader Destructo enshrined it on the tune "Shipfam" featuring Bot, Anna Lunoe, and the festival's mascot, Sgt. Buzzkill. This year, they're outdoing themselves by moving onto the Norwegian Epic (a ship I've sailed on before, and which I can attest is a great damn ship) and hosting both incarnations of the festival back-to-back (previously, they took place in different months). That means, if you have the funds and time to spare, you could spend up to eight days adrift at sea. Madness!
Lightning In A Bottle
I declared Lightning in a Bottle the "Coachella of transformational festivals" this year, and given its mainstream appeal and niche bookings, that's a pretty apt description. The Do LaB patiently waited, building their California festival until it finally sold out for the first time in 2015, and now it's become a ticket that people fight to get. Despite this increased spotlight, LIB hasn't allowed its ethos to be saddled by its new audience, making sure everyone gets into the spirit of the festival, even the latecomers who bought two-day passes this year.
Movement takes place during Memorial Day weekend the same time as Lightning in a Bottle, and brings a very opposite mentality: it's all about the line-up and all about the techno. Movement Festival has become a revivalist tradition for the city of Detroit, bringing artists like Kraftwerk, Maceo Plex, and Richie Hawtin, who have both inspired and been inspired by the movements of the Motor City. It's easily one of America's most foundational techno festivals, and as we moving past its tenth anniversary, it's clear that Movement will continue to define the height of techno in America for years to come.
Iceland's great proximity to the Arctic makes its summer days extremely long: at the height of the season, the nights are nonexistent. Secret Solstice takes advantage of this craziness to bring a seventy-two hour festival where the sun never goes down, and then they make sure to add in super-intimate excursions to the festival experience, like a party in a glacier or underneath a volcano. For those with expendable funds, this is where you should try and spend them.
Unexpected passport issues prevented me from covering this festival in 2016, but word-of-mouth from those who crossed the border into Canada tells of a special place unlike any other. Shambhala brought the most gnarly bass on the planet to a small farm in British Columbia, presenting it during what's often been described as the ultimate camping festival.
Sónar is much more than a festival: it's an art and technology conference, like an SXSW for Europe, and as such it has a capacity to punch well above its weight by attracting insane lineups. Taking over the city of Barcelona for a weekend, Sónar is truly all-encompassing, and their 2017 lineup already boasts heroic headliners including Nicolas Jaar, De La Soul, and Nosaj Thing.
When I went to Symbiosis Gathering in 2015, I said it was my favorite festival ever, and two years later that assessment still stands. A perfect blend of environment and music, Symbiosis eschews away from LED screens and bombastic theatrics in favor of a more naturalistic stage design that embraces the heart of its location. Sadly, 2016 was the last year that Symbiosis took place at the beloved Woodward Reservoir: in 2017, the crew behind Symbiosis is working with a group of the world's most notable festival builders to create Oregon Eclipse, an early favorite for 2017, which will be be designed around a total solar eclipse. Count us in.