With festival season approaching, it's time to wax your wellies, dig out that novelty hat and check out our rundown of the world's top sonic shindigs.

Best for value

Novi Grad, Serbia
10-13 July

Occupying the grounds of an ancient citadel on the banks of the blue Danube, Exit enjoys one of the most engaging settings in Europe. Originally conceived as a tonic to the bleak Milošević years, its celebratory atmosphere reflects young Serbs' new-found optimism and determination to have a good time.

Acts playing this year include Paul Weller, Gogol Bordello, The Hives and The Sex Pistols. Tickets cost €94 (£72) - very reasonable for a four-day international festival of this calibre.

Best for families

Cambridge Folk Festival
Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire, UK
31 July-3 August

A favourite on the British circuit, the Cambridge Folk Festival is known for its gentle vibe and eclectic line-up that stretches the bearded boundaries of folk to embrace reggae, world music and rock. This year's line-up includes The Levellers, K D Lang, Billy Bragg and Martha Wainwright.

Families with young children will appreciate the atmosphere of good-natured intimacy that pervades the verdant grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall. There's a crèche and musical activities for older kids.

Best for alternative types

Burning Man
Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA
25 August-1 September

A chaotic meeting of wild revellers, unfettered creativity and alternative philosophy that shimmers in the high, pure light of the Nevada desert by day and a thousand winking flames by night.

Burning Man is an experiment in community, a city in the desert where the exchange of ideas is as important as art and music. It's not really a music festival in the strictest sense and there's no official line-up, but it's high on the list if you're looking for an intense, surreal experience.

The week-long event (think Mad Max on acid), which features madcap performances and expressions of the brilliant and the bizarre, climaxes with the torching of an enormous effigy.

Best for dance music

Barcelona, Spain
19-21 June

Slicker than the sun-baked bodies on Barcelona's beaches, Sonar is the most important showcase of digital music in Europe. Divided into the multimedia art-fest of Sonar by day and the frenzied raving of Sonar by night, it's not for those lacking stamina.

This year's line-up includes Justice, Miss Kittin, Goldfrapp, M.I.A and Roisin Murphy.

Best for making a difference

3-6 July

Scandinavia's answer to Glastonbury, Roskilde's a whopper. Just 35km (22 miles) from Copenhagen, it's run by an independent, non-profit making organisation and all proceeds go directly to humanitarian causes. This year's massive 175-strong line-up includes a rare festival appearance by Neil Young as well as Kings of Leon, Radiohead and The Chemical Brothers.

Best for delicate festival fans

Fuji Rock
Naeba Ski Resort, Japan
25-27 July

Silvery streams, pine-scented forests and polite, well-behaved punters set Fuji Rock apart from many of its Western counterparts. The heavenly mountain setting, in a ski resort 75 minutes by bullet train form Tokyo, lends a spiritual air to proceedings that's entirely Japanese.

One stage is only accessible by cablecar and the campsite sits on the manicured fairways of the resort's golf course. Clean loos, teams of recyclers and orderly queues contribute to a thoroughly refined but magical festival. There are even spa baths to alleviate dance-induced muscle problems.

This year's line-up includes My Bloody Valentine, The Go! Team, Ian Brown and Underworld.

Best for dressing up

Isle of Wight, UK
5-7 September

Much-loved 'boutique' festival curated by BBC Radio 1 DJ, Rob Da Bank. A quirky alternative to behemoths like Glastonbury and more corporate events, Bestival is chic, kitsch and playful.

A good-humoured crowd, many in fancy dress, will enjoy acts ranging from 80s electro pioneer Gary Numan to bonkers reggae innovator Lee 'Scratch' Perry. Other acts playing include Amy Winehouse, Underworld, Aphex Twin, CSS, The Breeders and The Human League.

Best for seamless organisation

Indio, California, USA
25-27 April

There's nobody like the Americans to make a festival nice and civilised. At this year's event, there's a 2am noise curfew at the campsite and drinking is only permitted in designated areas. If this sounds a bit far from the spirit of free love, concentrate on the killer line-up.

Veteran Pink Floyd man Roger Waters is set to re-create Dark Side of the Moon and British trip-hoppers Portishead are making a rare appearance. Other acts include Prince, The Verve, The Raconteurs, The Breeders, Madness, Fatboy Slim, Kraftwerk, Hot Chip, Justice and Simian Mobile Disco.

Best for Reggae

Rototom Sunsplash
Osoppo, Italy
3-12 July

The righteous imperatives of reggae and sharp-suited, fast-talking Italy are perhaps unlikely bedfellows, but Rototom Sunsplash has become the genre's spiritual European home.

Taurus Riley, Beres Hammond and Michael Rose join members of The Heptones for skanking reggae and an exploration of Rastafarian and African culture. Dance lessons, debates and creative workshops round off a cultural celebration of Jamaica's most sweet-sounding export.

Best for metallers

Graspop Metal Meeting
Dessel, Belgium
27-29 June

Graspop presents the finest in axe-wielding guitar heroes including UK metal veterans Iron Maiden as well as Kiss, Judas Priest and Def Leppard. Leather-trousered, long-haired rockers descend on Dessel for three days of power chords and face-melting guitar solos.

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