The European summer is finally back, and with that a new Ozora is on the horizon. Having missed the pilgrimage to the last edition for the first time in three years, I can’t wait to be back.

I remember sitting in a rainy Berlin live streaming Ritmo’s set from the main stage, longing to be on the dance floor, having the only water pouring down on me coming from the fire trucks. Alas, it was not meant to be, but we are most certainly going make up for it this year, and with that being said, here’s my insider’s guide to the Ozorian world 2017.

Let’s dive straight into the music, the heartbeat of this great festival. This year’s menu is a jam packed with exciting sets, some rare, some debuting, returning favourites, and a unique first time versus set. It would be impossible to go through everything, so here are my picks.

On the Main Stage we see Perfect Stranger vs Loud, a first for them, and something undoubtedly special in the making. Upon my last trip to Ozora I saw Ace Ventura play a back to back with Perfect Stranger, so it’s great to see the tradition of introducing these memorable collaborative sets continues.

We also see Ott band this year performing on the main stage, words simply can not do the beauty of his music justice. The launch of the ‘Fairchildren‘ album was probably one of the best live performances I have ever witnessed.

For the night time lovers Loonacy is an act who makes their debut, made up of Obliviant & Dust, both who have played incredible sets in Ozora before. This project has been in the pipe line for a while now, and if their self-entitled first EP ‘Loonacy’, which released was on Looney Moon Records, is anything to go by, this will definitely cause ripples of energy across the dance floor.

Astrix & Ace Ventura combine forces to play as their full-on project Alpha Portal. After what I heard was a fiery first round in Ozora with the new project last year, it’s no surprise they are back on the line up. I look forward to catching their fresh explosive sound for the first time.

There are two live bands I simply would not be able to bring myself to miss, the first being the Novelty Engine, the psy reggae band featuring the likes of Dick Trevor, Ajja & Ott. The second would have to be Juno Reactor & The Mutant Theatre, the genre-straddling, trail-blazing extravaganza of a show is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. If you enjoy having your breath taken away, you know where to be.

Lastly for the Main Stage — the legendary Liquid Soul is a much anticipated set for me, he had such a strong summer last year, managing to produce standout performances whenever I saw him play. Perhaps it’s those melodic leads, or the emotion he conveys in his tracks that I just can’t get enough of, either way, the day he plays will be electric.

Let’s chat activities and things to see. A huge highlight for me is always the Freak Fusion Cabaret in the Circus, a fun and engaging show filled with the most talented individuals. The last Ozora I attended I went to watch them twice!

Checking out the Mirador, which houses all the artists on display and doubles as a look out point over the festival grounds, is something each Ozorian should experience. Going at night is pretty mind bending as they visual map the whole structure, often giving the illusion that it is melting or disintegrating into tiny geometric patterns. It’s also good to see fellow South African Julian Graham aka Aumega, will feature in the Mirador this year.

The Pumpui stage is a cauldron of culture and good music, it’s a much smaller stage decorated usually in flowing eastern fabrics. This more techno based stage, which plays host to the before and after parties, is the place to be on the first nights before the main stage opens.

Under the Dome musical excitement soars for Marcus Henriksson Aka Minilogue and Carbon Based Lifeforms. The dome is also one of the main stops for the parade on the way to the open ceremony, with a collective ohm taking place here.

The opening ceremony of Ozora is something you’ve seen or heard about even if you are yet to experience it. It’s truly a site to behold, so many people coming together in one moment to celebrate life, running together into one dance floor to reunite and connect, it’s magic, or at least something very close to it.

At the Dragon’s nest Gaudi’s Allstars Orchestra will be taking to the stage. Shattering genre divides and pioneering electronic music for the past three decades, his music spans the worlds of reggae, dub, breakbeat and cutting-edge psychedelic bass. The Dragon’s nest is always a welcoming space where you may just find that something beautiful you’ve never heard before.

My final tips for Ozora 2017 would be — look after yourself, you always have your best dance when you are well rested. Try new things, explore the calm spaces like the Artibarn and the Pyramid, get involved in the workshops, or go for a morning yoga session to get your day started. Make your Ozorian experience a broad one, but most importantly, do it at your own pace — we have a whole week together.

For location and travel advice on the various ways to get yourself to paradise, click here.

Photos by: Pierre Ekman, Sam AngeliGabor VajdaIldikó Répáczky & Peter Nemeshazi.