Goat festival, Goa, India
You need it, you deserve, and it's what credit cards were made for. Don't even think about fighting through the cold without at least one rave jaunt in the sun, so to help our Northern Hemisphere friends make the most of that all important part break, we select our favourite Winter rave destinations.
January used to be synonymous with little other than being miserable and skint. And then BPM, came along and become a fixture in the calendars of the world's most dedicated travel ravers. The Playa Del Carmen event began as a small, post New Year's rave for industry professional in the know and bloomed into one of the world's key dance music gatherings.
Sadly it was axed by local authorities in Playa Del Carmen due to gangland shootings last January. But all is not lost as the region is still home to some ocean-crossing worthy parties. Tulum, the beach side village thirty minutes drive away from the BPM site, has always been a preferred destination for more clued up ravers. Despite no longer being a backpacker's secret, it still holds its original, sleepy paradise, bungalow charm, and if you keep your nose to the ground, is home to some of Mexico's best villa, beach and jungle parties.
Key Party: Hydra at The Papaya Playa Project
The eco-minded hotel and beach club offers visitors the chance to drop out of society for a few days and become at one with the Caribbean and its surrounding jungle. London’s excellent Hydra takeover a stage on January 13 with Fatima Yamaha, Move D, Antal and others.
Hydra at Papaya Project at Tulum Beach, Tulum, Mexico. 13 January. For more info click here.
Next to Ibiza and Goa, Thailand is one of the world's oldest destinations for electronic music fans seeking a rave in the sun. These usually fall into two categories in January: those who come for the Full Moon raves on Gulf islands like Kho Pha Ngan or Samui. And those who go to detox and invariably ruin it all with a belting rave two days before they go back home.
2014's military coup brought instability to the country temporarily but the Gulf islands remained outside the loop of unrest and the tourism industry continues as ever. Bangkok's scene continues to develop also with acts like Seth Troxler announcing an upcoming date at a warehouse rave in the city.
Key Party: Wonderfruit Festival
Thailand's leading electronic music festival runs from December 14-17. The gardens of the Siam Country Club in Pattaya will be taken over by the event and headliners include DJs like Craig Richards and Richie Hawtin joining Roots Manuva on a diverse lineup. Just two hours from Bangkok and an overnight bus ride to the islands, it’s a great way to break up the perfect Thai holiday.
Wonderfruit Festival at Siam Country Club, Pattaya, Thailand. 14-17 December. For more info click here.
The scene in Goa more or less invented the global travel rave scene, serving as the blueprint by which other destinations like Thailand or Tulum developed their own respective scenes. Plenty of ravers visited and never came back. And some returned but are inextricably linked to the area, like Sven Väth, who lived in the region in the early 1990s. Psy-trance is the predominant music of the infamous Goa beach raves but other sounds have taken hold too and there are plenty of beach clubs and bars hosting parties.
Key Party: Goat Festival
In contrast to the trance sounds that can usually be found here, Goat Festival brings a slightly more varied music policy to a three day experience surrounded by lush forests and the picturesque Ashvem beach. DJs like The Black Madonna, Gilles Peterson, Medlar, James Priestley and Marquis Hawkes have played previously and this year's lineup is yet to be announced.
Goat Festival 2018. Ashvem Beach, Goa, India. 26-28 January. For more info click here.
Brazil is home to some of the finest, urban raving scenes in the world. Anyone whose ever been to Sao Paulo's D'Edge or Rio's More Love festival will vouch for this. But for the perfect balance of a holiday in the sun and a clubbing experience, the state of Santa Catarina in the south of the country, is where it's at. Leading clubs in the region include Green Valley in Camboriú or Club Vibe in Curitiba but the one name domineering them all is Warung.
Key Party: Warung Beach Club
This global favourite has been appearing near the top of lists of the world's best clubs for a decade. It is a home from home for the top underground DJs and brands. And its Balinese beach club structure that looks out upon the ocean as dawn arises, is one of the greatest wonders of the rave world. The best time to visit is the run up to Carnival in early February as the club pulls no punches with its lineups.
Warung, Av. José Medeiros Vieira, Itajaí. For more info, click here.
When South America caught the rave bug, Argentina was the country that bit hardest. Its capital, Buenos Aires, and second biggest city Cordoba, have very developed scenes that are as up to speed with trends as their European counterparts. But while great for city breaks, both cities aren't renowned for their beaches. For those in search of the beach and party formula, the country's favourite beach town, Mar Del Plata, is the answer.
Key party: Crobar
There are a few clubs to choose from. Mute Beach and Destino Arena regularly host big, underground names but our pick is Crobar. An offshoot of the Buenos Aires clubbing institution, it leans towards the big room techno sound and in November alone, hosts acs like Ben Klock, Steffi and Dorian Paic.
Crobar, Avenida Patricio Peralta Ramos, Mar del Plata. For more info, click here.
Miami’s party scene runs deep. Since the 80s, parties on Long Beach have been on the hit list for global ravers. Cemented by the Winter Music Conference, the original dance music gathering every March, Miami’s relationship with underground dance music is tight. For the big club experience, Space is still the place. But its smaller clubs, lead by unique Electric Pickle, is even tastier.
Key Party: Rakastella by Innvervisions and Life & Death
If you’re looking for a good time to visit the city, the weekend of December 6-10 is a winner. Globe trotting arts festival, Art Basel is in town, and each year, more and more parties gather around this busy weekend. The most hyped of this year's events is a collaboration between Dixon and DJ Tennis' respective labels and the lineup also features Koze, Roman Flügel, Jennifer Cardini, Octo Octa and Red Axes.
Uruguay has been a hot bed of electronic music for some time. Holiday town, Punta D'el Este has long been tipped as South America's answer to Ibiza and was a stronghold of the progressive house scene in the late 90s and early 2000s. There has been an underground movement brewing in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo for years in clubs like Plaza Mateo and ten year old techno haven Key, but things notably picked up a gear in 2013 after the opening of Phonotheque.
Key Party: Phonotheque
Phonotheque was founded by cult favourite, DJ Koolt. The undeground scene that has sprung up around him is currently one of the hottest in the world boasting current heavy touring favourites like Nicolas Lutz or Z@p as its key heroes. It's heavily linked with Berlin where a constant interchange of artists has been mutually invigorating both cities' music scenes but Phonotheque is the jewel in Montevido's crowd. It boasts little other than a 300 capacity main room, a great sound system and a fanatical crowd that party until late morning.
Key Party: Phonotheque at Piedra Alta, 11800 Montevideo, Uruguay. For more info click here.
It is no secret that Dubai’s party scene caters heavily towards the VIP crowd. Many of the parties revolve around hotels because of the country's strict licensing laws which forbid the drinking of alcohol anywhere else. Drugs are a strict no no, unless you fancy a few decades in a local prison, and despite the alcohol laws, partying in Dubai can be a very boozy affair. As the working week there is Sunday to Thursday, Fridays are Dubai's answer to Saturdays, and parties start with buffets in the afternoon and carry on at beach clubs, like Blue Marlin and Nikki Beach, where some of the biggest DJs in the industry regularly play.
Key Party: Analog Room
Behind the VIP front however, there is a healthy underground scene in Dubai lead by parties like Plus Minus (who frequently throw parties in skyscrapers) or Ibiza Voice favourite, Analog Room. As the name suggests, this small club is home to the city's most discerning, underground guest DJs so expect DJs like Roman Flügel, Delano Smith or Evan Baggs.
Analog Room, Industrial Avenue, Dubai. For more info click here.
Anyone who has visited Vietnam may have noticed a distinct difference in their partying habits to that of neighbouring countries like Thailand. Outside of Hanoi and clubs like Colour and Savage, the predominantly conservative way of life usually means limited alcohol and a subdued nightlife. Some of the islands off the coast of the country however, have been developing, low key scenes that are well worth rooting out.
Key Party: Epizode Festival
Epizode is the follow up to Crimea’s month long festival Kazantip and will takeover Phu Quoc island off the South Coast of Vietnam. The festival will run for ten days, with non stop music for the duration. Loco Dice, Pan Pot and plenty of other heavy hitters are in attendance.
Key Party: Epizode Festival, Long Beach, Phu Quoc, South Vietnam. 31 December - 10 January. For more info click here.