10 Festivals with the Coolest, Craziest EDM Stages

Article by: Marcus Dowling|@marcuskdowling

Mon April 06, 2015 | 00:00 AM

Currently, even moreso than the music, stages at EDM festivals showcase a level of progressive ingenuity and refreshing creativity like never before. With dance music making a surge into the mainstream consciousness more than ever this year, festival attendance this spring and summer is rightfully expected to explode in numbers of attendees. Here are 10 festivals (and their stages) that are truly on the cutting edge.

Sahara Tent, Coachella (USA)
April 10-19, 2015

Coachella’s dance-friendly Sahara Tent required over 1,300 separate pieces of equipment to be employed in order to be fully-operable in 2014. Massive LED screens, enormous laser shows and a 17-person crew combined forces to control the goings-on in a tent that exceeds 100 yards in length.

Mysteryland (USA and Netherlands)
May 22-24, 2015 (USA) & August 29-30, 2015 (NED)

Mysteryland Usa

Photo courtesy of Mysteryland USA

2014’s Mysteryland Netherlands event brought what would appear to be an eight-story-tall, multi-colored, lighting-enabled turkey to the event, while its main stage resembled a massive castle with a clock tower, huge light balloons and fireworks shooting out of the castle's turrets. And Mysteryland’s 2014 American debut at the spot where Woodstock was held 45 years prior? That festival’s 90-foot main stage resembled a massive house (a castle, really) of cards with turrets and flags and LED lights spanning an idyllic, 150-foot stretch of land. There’s no word on what 2015 holds, but those will certainly be hard to top.

Defqon1 (Netherlands and Australia)
June 19-21, 2015 (NED) & September 20 (AUS)

September 2012’s Defqon Australia featured a secret main stage design referred to as the “RED” stage which featured a six-story high, flame throwing dragon. Insofar as the Dutch event? Last year’s festival structure was a neon glowing castle that erupted into fireworks displays. Both events play releasing their stage designs very close to the chest, so very little is known (but much is expected) for 2015.

Kinetic Field, Electric Daisy Carnival (USA)
June 19-21, 2015

Electric Daisy Carnival 2014 Official Doug Van Sant For Insomniac 4

EDC's Kinetic Field in 2014. Photo by Doug Van Sant

Electric Daisy Carnival’s piece de resistance of festival staging is what is viewed when entering their Kinetic Field area at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Last year’s structure spanned 440 feet in width, was 80 feet tall and featured 1,000 lighting fixtures, 30 lasers, and required 2.5 million watts of power to operate.

Electric Forest Festival (USA)
June 25-28, 2015

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The main stage set up in 2014. Photo courtesy of Electric Forest

Rothbury, Michigan’s Sherwood Forest is truly made electric via laser shows that appear to slice through the trees and fanciful staging installations that give off a fairytale feel. 2014 stage designers Atomic Design state that everything from Victorian industrial ornamentation, steampunk architecture, Chinese masks, Indian mysticism on steroids and Soviet-era graphics inspired their work.

Tomorrowland (Belgium and Brazil)
July 24-26, 2015 (BEL) & May 1-3 (BRA)

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TomorrowWorld's main stage in Atlanta, 2014. Photo by Art Gimbel

As much as the music is a draw, Tomorrowland’s 2012 main stage featured a volcano that spewed fireworks displays, while 2013 featured a fully-operational water wheel. Ambitious in design and always delivering something more, with American cousin TomorrowWorld excelling in Atlanta’s suburbs and the Tomorrowland franchise now also coming to Brazil this year, Tomorrowland likely will arguably still set the standard for festival staging worldwide.

Ultra Music Festival (USA)
March 18-21, 2016

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Ultra's main stage in 2014. Photo by Casey Flanigan

Regarding 2014’s main stage, THUMP’s Zel McCarthy stated, “[Ultra’s] Main Stage featured a dazzlingly massive structure of LED panels and lights surrounding the DJ platform in a conical shape, giving a sense of depth and dimensionality.” If wanting a display of just how much effort goes into assembling one of these monstrosities, check out the video below as Ultra’s 2015 main stage was being assembled.