The Sweet Music Festival Guide: May 2016

You know all about Coachella, Glastonbury, and Lollapalooza, but why not take the road less traveled?

The first in a five-part series, each dedicated to a month from May through September, this is your guide to the best festivals in the world this summer. Highlighted artists are Sweet suggestions, not just headliners (much like the festivals themselves), so make sure you check out the full lineups online. Have a good one and remember to snap us @wearesweet, wherever you end up! We'll do the same :)

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Where: Austin, TX

When: April 29–May 1

Who: Nicolas Jaar, Caribou, Brian Wilson (performing Pet Sounds)

What: Formerly the Austin Psych Fest, this year Levitation is headlined by Brian Wilson, who will be performing one of the greatest albums of all time, the 1966 masterpiece Pet Sounds, by his band, The Beach Boys. The venue? Carson Creek Ranch, one of the oldest in Texas, on the banks of the Colorado River.

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GrooveFest Malta

Where: Rabat, Malta

When: April 29–May 1

Who: Jamie Jones, Kölsch, Art Department, Route 97, Hot Since 82

What: Is Malta the new Ibiza? Maybe not yet, but that's the best part. British DJ Annie Mac recently held her Lost & Found festival in Malta and now beloved house-music festival GrooveFest touches down. No phone zones here: this one is all dancing, all the time.

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Shaky Knees Festival

Where: Atlanta, GA

When: May 13–15

Who: Florence + The Machine, Explosions in the Sky, Parquet Courts, Wolf Alice, Foals, The Decemberists

What: Centennial Olympic Park is a sanctuary in the very heart of Atlanta, which makes Shaky Knees extremely convenient. But with a lineup like this, we'd hike into a jungle to check it out tbqh. More than 75 bands play across 5 stages at an event that is everything a rock fan could ever hope for, in one of the most vibrant cities in the south.

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FORM Arcosanti

Where: Arcosanti, AZ

When: May 13–15

Who: Bonobo, Four Tet, Tortoise, The Range, Ryan Hemsworth, Skrillex, Hundred Waters

What: Free (yes, free) by application, this experimental festival is now in its third edition, curated as always by Hundred Waters. So, what role(s) does creativity play in your life? How do you see yourself contributing to the experience? Answer these and other questions and you could find yourself in the incredible "urban laboratory" of Arcosanti, conceived by architect Paolo Soleri (a student of Frank Lloyd Wright) in the middle of Arizona's high desert.

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The Great Escape

Where: Brighton, England

When: May 19–21

Who: Stormzy, Shura, Mura Masa, Oh Wonder, Beach Baby, Haus, Liss, Mabel, Cloves, Cullen Omori, Dilly Dally, Elf Kid, Frances, Frankie Cosmos, Muna, Rationale

What: England's quite blatant attempt to tap some of the spirit and energy of Austin's South by Southwest, The Great Escape festival demands similar resilience and forward planning if you have particular artists you're hoping to see. As with SXSW, this is an industry-first festival, but one which provides opportunities for fans you simply won't find at any other event on this list. Every venue is packed but the lineup is truly incredible. Get thee to the website to see what we mean.

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Shaky Beats

Where: Atlanta, GA

When: May 20–22

Who: Nas, AlunaGeorge, Years & Years, Trippy Turtle, Odesza, Floating Point, Major Lazer, MØ

What: A sister festival to Shaky Knees, Shaky Beats focuses, as the name implies, on the electronic side of things. Coming out of the gate with some serious heat, Shaky Beats is aiming to warm up Hotlanta just a few weeks after its sibling and with a lineup like this (alongside the DJs and electronic artists, there's an extremely legit rap lineup, too), there shouldn't be any difficulty there.

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Lightning in a Bottle

Where: Bradley, CA

When: May 25–30

Who: Jamie xx, Grimes, Cashmere Cat, Four Tet, Tourist

What: A festival for those looking for more than just music nirvana, Lightning in a Bottle is all about sustainability, mindfulness, and having the kind of experience that stays with you long after you've packed up your tent, yoga mat, and the clothes you'll never wear again, and shipped out of Bradley. Promoting that rare coalescence of yoga and electronic music, festival-goers can practice in the Lucent Temple of Consciousness before checking out Electro-circus troupe Lucent Dossier Experience. Then, of course, there's the music, one of the most well-rounded electronic lineups of the summer by which we mean: no big-room house silliness and lots of genre-pushing producers who still know how to throw a party. You'll find Four Tet on the Woogie stage.

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Boston Calling Music Festival

Where: Boston, MA

When: May 27–29

Who: Sia, Robyn, Haim, Courtney Barnett, Miike Snow, Børns

What: Any excuse to see Australian musician Sia live is one to be grabbed with both hands, as demonstrated by her appearance at Coachella last weekend. Sia deals as much in performance art, and even theater, as in concerts, and she didn't disappoint in Indio, bringing out Kristen Wiig, Paul Dano, and, of course, Maddie Ziegler. She'll be joined by a stellar lineup and, this being Boston, they'll all be enjoying some of the best craft beer in America.

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Lost Village

Where: Lincolnshire, England

When: May 27–29

Who: Jack Garratt, Joy Orbison, Floating Points, Henrik Schwarz, Fatboy Slim, Leon Vynehall, Doorly

What: "An interactive music experience," Lost Village is put on by the DJs Jaymo & Andy George, who, it turns out, have a lot of friends. Set in a beautiful woodland near the duo's hometown of Lincoln, the lineup of Lost Village is a vision for any club-goer that builds on last year's success, which those lucky enough to attend still talk about in reverential tones. In addition to its phenomenal selection of international electronic artists, Lost Village can also lay claim to the hotly contested "Best Music Festival Website Award;" there, you can learn about the kind of characters you may meet in the shady corners of the forest. Like the impromptu banquets and odd effigies hanging in the trees, it's all part of this quintessentially English experience. So do as instructed and "take the road past the old fishing lake, towards the water tower. Ahead you'll see a rusty gate, nestled amongst the darkened bushes and a sign that reads 'Keep Out!' Beyond that gate is where you need to go…"

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Love Saves The Day

Where: Bristol, England

When: May 28–29

Who: Hudson Mohawke, Joy Orbison, Hot Chip, Dizzee Rascal, Stormzy, Mura Masa, Clean Cut Kid, Stormzy

What: Bristol takes its music very seriously and that nowhere is that better on display than at Love Saves The Day. The birthplace of trip hop (Portishead is actually a part of the city), and some of the best drum 'n' bass to ever emerge from the U.K., Bristol is proudly in the West Country and that not-London philosophy is written into the DNA of Love Saves The Day. Expect a delirious party vibe from the moment the gates open, and one of the best mixes of grime, electronic, and rock 'n' roll music you'll find anywhere. Stormzy live is worth the cost of admission alone.

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